The Civil War wasn’t

Written by Michael Badnarik defines civil war as “a war between political factions or regions within the same country”. That does not accurately describe the conflict that began here in 1861. The southern states seceded, which by definition is “to withdraw formally from an alliance, federation, or association, as from a political union”. The southern states did exactly that, thereby forming a new country called The Confederate States of America. Therefore, that conflict was actually an international conflict between two distinct countries.

There is a significant difference between a national and a federal form of government. When the colonies declared their independence from England, they established a federal form of government under the Articles of Confederation. Each state was considered sovereign and independent, and merely a joint member under the Articles. Very similar to the way we imagine the United States to be a member of the United Nations, while retaining our independence and unique identity. One important distinction of a federal form of government is that states can make their own laws which differ significantly from the laws of other states. This explains why you can gamble in Nevada, but not in Utah.

Originally, the federal United States was referred to in the plural, as in THESE United States. When the Constitution was ratified, the United States adopted a more national flavor with a stronger, more centralized government. Eventually this national aspect of government was considered predominate, and people now refer to THE United States. Singular. It is incorrectly assumed by most Americans that any federal law supersedes any state law. The Tenth Amendment clearly refutes this fallacy.

History alleges that the southern states never really left the union. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase ruled in Texas v White (1869) that “the Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.” The court further held that the Constitution did not permit states to unilaterally secede from the United States. “Our conclusion therefore is that Texas continued to be a State, and a State of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions to which we have referred.” How can the government insist that the southern states never left the union, and simultaneously claim that the southern states were “readmitted” via the Reconstruction Acts? If the south never left, it would be unnecessary to readmit them. Finally, it wouldn’t have been necessary for Robert E. Lee to “surrender unconditionally” unless the south was considered a conquered foreign power.

George Santayana is credited with saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Even worse, people with an agenda are actively revising history to suggest things that are not true. This is why numerous monuments related to “The War for Southern Independence” are being dismantled and removed from public display.

Most people are guilty of tunnel vision, focusing on one single aspect of “the truth”, and willfully ignoring any information that mitigates their argument. Consider the parable of the blind wise men who examine an elephant for the first time. Each man gives a different description of the animal based on the body part he had touched, but all of them are making decisions with woefully incomplete information.

In much the same way, nearly everyone has an incomplete understanding of “The War of Northern Aggression”. The national government was taxing agriculture (southern cotton) and investing in industry (in the north). The southern states were already struggling financially, so they were not inclined to spend their money improving life in the north. The original motivation for southern secession was “states rights”. Slavery only became an issue later in the conflict. To insist that slavery was the only reason for the conflict demonstrates a deplorable lack of understanding. And to insist that members of the Confederacy were only interested in slavery is incredibly biased and short-sighted.

Allow me to set the record straight. Slavery is an evil, despicable practice which should never have happened anywhere. However, it did not originate in the southern states. It is justified in the Bible, and the great pyramids in Egypt were built with slave labor. The Founding Fathers attempted to eliminate slavery when they drafted the Constitution, but they were unable to complete the task. The Constitution is often condemned because blacks were considered “three-fifths” of a person. It’s not as if blacks were suddenly reduced to sixty percent of their previous status. And while it is admittedly still a tragedy, it should be understood that blacks were now considered sixty percent more human than they were before. It is unfair to blame the Founders for slavery simply because they were unable to solve the problem immediately.

There is historical evidence to suggest that Thomas Jefferson married Sally Hemmings, his former slave, and had four children with her. The descendants of Thomas Jefferson adamantly reject this suggestion, considering it tantamount to slander. I think Jefferson was a great man. Wouldn’t he seem even more deserving of praise if he “put his money where his mouth is” and demonstrated good race relations by setting an example? During my first job after college I eagerly tried to date a gorgeous black girl who worked at the same company. She was stunning, and she took my breath away. She refused to date me, however. Not because of race, but because her white friend was hoping for a relationship with me, and she didn’t want to betray that friendship.

Do black lives matter? Absolutely! I think that ALL lives matter. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to reduce the ignorance that is inherent in the xenophobia that subsets of the population feel toward groups different from themselves. This kind of fear stems from an almost universal lack of self-confidence. People ask,”can’t we all just get along?” Apparently not. But tearing down confederate statues and vandalizing the Alamo will never lead to mutual respect. I doubt that I will live long enough to see the day that people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

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  1. Kay

    I loved this and I sent it along to others.

  2. Roger Dickson

    At the age of 16 I was off to southern Germany to spend a 13 months as a foreign exchange student. Prior to my flight (my very first airplane travel) across the Atlantic I’d never been out of California. Needless to say, I grew leaps and bounds and my eyes were opened wide. One evening, watching tv with my German family, we watched an incredibly graphic documentary about Nazi atrocities. Beheadings, torture, firing squads all bloody and unbelievable acts performed on Jews and others. I asked my German mother why they showed these films and noted that such graphic history would never be shown on network tv in the US. She casually turned to me and said, “that is so that we will never forget what happened.”

    The monuments and memorials to past events and people may be distasteful to some now, but how can we put history in perspective if we are not reminded of the stories (both good and bad) behind them? Eliminating a monument will never erase the history behind it, unless we have nothing to remind us in the first place.

  3. Louise

    Hadn’t thought this deeply about this subject before. Very interesting position and it makes sense. I know that a black friend told me over 50 years ago that the “Civil War” was not about slavery but about secession.

    You always lead us to think over other ways to examine what we think we know.

    Thank you, friend.

  4. Terry

    True, the Civil War actually wasn’t a Civil War. War between the states, or southern independence very possibly. It is interesting how many northern politicians, newspapers, and so forth actually sided with the south. However, this war wasn’t over slavery it was over states rights and tariffs. After the war between the states the U.S. government actually found out that the south had a very good reason to secede.

  5. Terry

    There is no evidence that Thomas Jefferson married Sally Hemmings and had four children by her. Jefferson was a Christian and he knew that race mixing was a sin. Actually, Jefferson like Washington, didn’t have slaves per say. he had indentured servants or workers on his plantation. There is a difference. However they want you to believe that Jefferson and Hemmings were lovers and had children together, but that isn’t true. Sally Hemmings had children by another slave or worker from another plantation. Thomas Jefferson adopted those children. Jefferson knew that race mixing was and still is condemned by God Yahweh. That is why race mixed children have so many diseases. At that time Children between Jefferson and Hemmings wouldn’t live long. Even now race mixed children have a lot of problems and a lot of diseases, and it is because they are unnatural. God Yahweh condemns race mixing, and all the diseases and genetic problems that race mixed children have prove it.

    There is no evidence that Thomas Jefferson married Sally Hemmings and had four children by her.

    [mjb: I must respectfully disagree with you. In fact the Thomas Jefferson Foundation states that there is “a considerable body of evidence stretching from 1802 to 1873 (and beyond) describes Thomas Jefferson as the father of Sally Hemings’s children.”]
    a considerable body of evidence

    Jefferson was a Christian and he knew that race mixing was a sin.

    [mjb: Jefferson was a deist, meaning that he believe in a higher power, but he did not care for the miracles described in the Bible, so he created his own, essentially by deleting the passages he disagreed with. Furthermore, the concept of sin is a subjective one, and cannot be applied universally.]
    Jefferson Bible

    That is why race mixed children have so many diseases.

    [mjb: This is patently untrue. In fact, the opposite appears to be true.]
    Are interracial children more prone to genetic diseases?

    Even now race mixed children have a lot of problems and a lot of diseases, and it is because they are unnatural. God Yahweh condemns race mixing, and all the diseases and genetic problems that race mixed children have prove it.

    [mjb: This is the same “logic” that Muslims use to justify killing infidels. “Because Allah says so.” I encourage everyone to read the following article.]
    Interracial Couples May Make Taller, Smarter Children Due To Greater Genetic Diversity

  6. Patrick Head


    This is probably the most succinct yet complete article I have ever encountered that explains the “The invasion and conquering of the CSA”. I am saving this link so I can refer others to it. Like you, I abhor slavery and will never make excuses for it in any of the United States, in any of its forms. The re-education and revisionist history that has been foisted on the people of this country since the end of that war is nearly as intolerable as slavery itself.

    While more that one decision made in the Supreme Court and its inferior courts since the end of the war have supported the notion that the states can not secede from the Union, a cursory reading and equally shallow understanding of that document will produce an obvious conclusion for anyone of reason.

    The Constitution of the United States contains absolutely no language that explicitly or implicitly bars a State from succeeding from the Union. In addition, the Constitution is clear that the privileges and powers granted to the federal government are specific, limited and carefully enumerated. All other powers rest in the individual States and the residents of those states. Therefore, discounting the decisions of the Supreme Kangaroo Court, the actions of the United States of America against the Confederate States of America were unjust, unethical, and a complete violation of the sovereignty of the CSA and its constituent States and residents resulting in the senseless deaths of over 600,000 people. 600 THOUSAND!

    While Abraham Lincoln is probably considered the greatest president in the history of the USA, this facet and the actions of the North in the War of 1861-1865, is why I have nearly zero respect for Lincoln as a president.

  7. Pamela Batchelder

    Nice read. I like looking at historical events from many different perspectives. Please note, I respectfully disagree with your assertion that slaves built the pyramids. I have heard quite a bit about this in the last few years and my son has researched it. In the interest of time, I am not going to drop into a rabbit hole. However, for your consideration and possibly for further learning by us both on that minuscule detail in your writing- I submit the following link. Who built the pyramids?
    I am not being a jerk- I just want you and I to both find out if there is any truth to this alternative view of who built the pyramids. Hope you are having a lovely day!

    [mjb: I am always interested in the truth. Thanks for the interesting link.]

  8. Nancy Falster

    As a 6th generation Southerner of Texas, I appreciate your efforts. I’m sending this to Eric Metaxas( he has a Radio Show) who is an outspoken Christian, but sadly, says the War Between the States was all about slavery and great men who fought to defend their homeland did it only for slavery….I pray your article will open his eyes.

    [mjb: Thank you, Nancy. I hope it helps. You may also want to recommend the following book, which even opened my eyes a bit. As the author says, “The problem in America isn’t so much what people don’t know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.”. I hope all is well on the ranch.]

    The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

  9. Tim R

    I Love your work Michael. My son and I took your class in Phoenix 11 years ago and paid you with silver coins. So happy to see you’re still laser sharp and delivering the truth today. Tim R

  10. Pam

    “Civil War” is an oxymoron. There is absolutely no-thing “civil” about war. The terms the State comes up with are usually the complete opposite of the truth, interestingly enough. I have fun playing the “opposite” game every time there’s some new term coined. It can be a great source of entertainment. : ) Thank you for the good article, and hoping you are well.


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