Tom Stafford's Jan. 8 letter, Writer has it wrong: Money was root of the war, brings up several issues that are worthy of discussion.
The first question I have is why he chooses to ignore what the Confederates had to say about the cause of secession and the resulting Civil War, but instead relies on people like Charles Dickens, Nikolai Lenin and Karl Marx to make his points. Excuse me, but I dont believe most people would accept these folks as reliable sources of American history.
The statements made in my Dec. 4 letter contained only quotes from the Confederates, themselves, at the time of secession. Im sorry if Stafford doesnt like what Confed-erate Gen. Henry Benning, Vice President Alexander Stephens and the South Carolina Secession Con-vention had to say in regard to slavery and white supremacy being the cause of the Civil War. These quotes were made by the Confederates, not me.
Stafford is correct when he quotes Abraham Lincolns inaugural speech of March 4, 1861 where Lincoln states, I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. Stafford fails to mention that most of the South had already seceded when the speech was made.
Lincoln did everything he could for months to assure the Southern whites that he would not interfere with slavery where it existed, but the problem is that the white South did not believe him, any more than we believe Saddam Hussein when he says he doesnt have weapons of mass destruction. This should be very evident from the quotes in my previous letter. Another point Stafford should consider: If the issue between the North and South was not slavery, why was Lincoln still addressing the slavery issue?
Another issue in Staffords letter concerns the Morril Land Grant Act. It is not the Morril Tariff that he likes to call it. The purpose of the act was to help fund the states in building land-grant colleges. Stafford says this tariff charged a 47 percent tax on Southern imports to pay for 70 percent of the cost of operating the federal government. What Stafford doesnt know is that the Morril Act was not passed until 1862, more than a year after the war had begun. So much for this being the cause of secession.
The last issue is Staffords assertion that Northern-printed public-school textbooks have it all wrong. Well, if Stafford reads Civil War history written by Southern historians in our major Southern universities, he will find that they are saying the same thing as the Northern historians - slavery and white supremacy were the causes of secession and the resulting Civil War. If he reads what the Confederates had to say in their speeches and letters at the time of secession, he will find that they are saying the same thing.
Slavery and white supremacy were indeed the cause of the war ....
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