Letter to the Editor: Civil War was a “Tax Quarrel”

The following Letter to the Editor was originally posted as a comment on our page regarding the “Myths of Confederate History”, which was originally posted at the http://www.rulen.com  website.

Send all submissions to: mobushwhacker@yahoo.com  – Editor

Sir,

this list of falsehoods about Confederate history and its corrections is very useful. May I make a suggestion: you might want to further detail the reason why the North would not let the South go its own way, namely the revenue from the Southern ports. The fear, voiced by U.S. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, was that the Confederacy would establish a free-trade zone with very low import taxes and port duties, or even none at all. This would have massively diverted trade with the European nations from the North to the South, with disastrous consequences for the industrial North’s finances and terms of trade, which it imposed on the far more agricultural South.

Naturally there was a political angle as well: lower income for the federal government would have meant a curtailing or even an end to ‘internal improvements’, public works supposedly for the common good but rife with corruption, that were controversial decades before the ‘civil war‘ (itself a misnomer) broke out.

No less a personage than Charles Dickens pointed this out, when he called the North’s justification for war ‘specious humbug’. He was right, and this should be highlighted. Monstrous as it sounds – and as it is – the ‘Civil War’ was first and foremost, in reality, a tax quarrel.

As you correctly point out, the slavery issue did exist, but was later pushed forward by the Lincoln Administration in a thinly veiled attempt to occupy the moral high ground in its pursuit of a war whose brutality, scale and intensity disgusted the civilized world.

In case you are wondering, I became a Southern sympathiser out of only one concern: the pursuit of historical truth. A war that must be historically defended with lies cannot have been a just war.

Best regards,

Johan F. Temmerman
Oudenaarde, Flanders, Belgium

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