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Letter: U.S. Revolution, Civil War were similar fights vs. oppressive power
Civil War cannon
The sun sets over cannons arrayed on the Civil War battlefield at Manassas, Va. The first Battle of Manassas occurred in July 1861. (AP Photo/Chris Sullivan) - photo by Associated Press

A recent letter maintains that the goals of the American Revolution and the Civil War were different. When the Revolutionary War was fought, slavery was legal, present and practiced in every one of the 13 colonies. If England had chosen to paint our revolution as a war to maintain slavery, they could have done so, but they were more honest than “Dishonest Abe” about their motives for waging a war against a people desiring independence. 

Maybe they said nothing about the situation since they were great supporters of the slave trade carried out by the North. In reality, the Revolution and the Civil War were each fought by a stronger power that sought to economically dominate a weaker power. 

Through the system of tariffs created by Abraham Lincoln and other Whig/Republican politicians before the war, the Southern states were paying the lion’s share of the federal government’s expenses. In turn, it was the Northern states who reaped most of the benefits. The Constitution forbids nonuniform taxation, but clearly the document was ignored just as readily back then as it is now. 

Lincoln couldn’t allow all that money to leave the federal coffers after secession, and he wouldn’t have been up to explaining to all his wealthy northern donors that they were going to have to finally pay their fair share. For him, war was the answer to that quandary.

The writer attempted to conflate the Confederacy’s fight for independence with Nazi Germany’s attempt to conquer the world. If he would examine Mein Kampf, he might be surprised to note that Adolf Hitler commented on the war and agreed with Lincoln’s interpretation of it, not the South’s. 

In fact, Hitler had the same attitude about states’ rights as Lincoln (that they don’t exist) and carried out the same actions against the German Lander (states) as Lincoln did against the Southern states. He occupied them and completely subjugated them to the national government in Berlin.

Confederate soldiers in general did not commit war crimes. Federal soldiers carried them out as a matter of national policy, as did German World War II soldiers and Communist soldiers in a number of wars. By the way, Hitler is not the only totalitarian who agreed with Lincoln. Karl Marx sent a congratulatory letter to him upon his victory in the 1864 election.

If the Revolution was legitimate, then both slave-owning and nonslave-owning Northern and Southern Americans had the right to determine their own government. If so, then the later secession of Southern Americans (some of whom were slave-owning) from Northern Americans (some of whom were slave-owning) was also legitimate. 

Russell Crow


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