Monday, November 23, 2009

Texas Stated Its Reason For Secession

The debate on what exactly caused the Civil War has been going on since South Carolina first decided to dissolve the Union on December 20, 1860. In the years since then some have claimed that it was a states' rights issue that led to war; some said tariffs; and some said cultural and economic differences between the North and South brought about extreme sectional egocentricity, and eventually the guns of war. To my understanding its all pretty simple. The underlying reason for secession (and therefore war) was a fear that slavery would be cooped up in the states that allowed it, and thus, not allowed to expand by the newly elected president, Abraham Lincoln, the South's economic, political, social, and cultural way of life was in jeopardy. To solve the problem...start your own country and write your own constitution that allows your way of life to continue...just like the Revolutionary War generation did.

Several Southern states felt the need to explain why they were seceding. States such as South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas all spelled out why they wanted out of the Union, and the overwhelming reason was a desire to perpetuate slavery.

The Texas version of sentiments for secession is one of the most clear on this matter. On February 2, 1861, delegates put pen to paper to explain why they wanted out of the Union. They explained that, "Texas abandoned her separate national existence [indpendence in 1836]and consented to become one of the Confederated Union [annexed to the Union in 1845] to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-a relation that had existed from the first settlement of the wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and the other slaveholding States of the confederacy."

In spelling out their grievences delegates took time to berate the federal government's inability to protect Texas citizens from "Indian savages on our borders" and "murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico..." The Northern states, too ,were held responsible for not supporting the fugitive slave act, and thus creating animosity between the sections.

When push came to shove, the Texans' commitment to the institution of slavery was clearly spelled out. "In all the non-slaveholding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color-a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as negro slavery remains in these States."

The Texas delegates said that the abolitionists "have invaded Southern soil and murdered unoffending citizens [see John Brown's raid], and through the press their leading men and a fanatical pulpit have bestowed praise upon the actors and assassins in these crimes, while the governors of several of their States have refused to deliver parties implicated and indicted for participation in such offenses, upon the legal demands of the States aggrieved. They have, through the mails and hired emissaries, sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides."

Finally, they stated their firm belief. "We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, of the the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable. That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slaveholding States."

The vote to secede was not even close. Of the 174 delegates who voted, only 8 thought it unwise to leave the Union.

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