Was Slavery A Contributing Factor To The War Between The States?

“The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” ~ Robert Edward Lee

RE_LeeOf course it was about slavery. To state otherwise would be irresponsible and unconscionable. While any form of slavery or involuntary servitude is despicable and contrary to all paradigms involving freedom and liberty, perhaps the focus of this individual atrocity should rest as much on the slavery created by the war as well as the slavery that preceded it.

Chattel slavery certainly had its impacts, especially the threats to slave owners in the South from fire breathing insane abolitionists like John Brown, including of course the disproportionate number of free blacks who also owned slaves. Originally submitted by the author on July 2, 2015 – it got lost in the shuffle. Our apologies. (Ed.)

Federal Census records from 1860 are most revealing reference the number of slave owning blacks in the South. Official records shows of the slightly less than four million blacks living in the South, 261,988 blacks were free. In New Orleans alone there were 10,689 free blacks. According to Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, approximately 3,000 free blacks owned slaves in New Orleans in 1860. In the state of Louisiana, in 1860, there were at least six blacks who owned more than 65 slaves. Listed on the census rolls are one C. Richards and her son P.C. Richards who are shown to own 152 slaves and a large sugar plantation.

It is important that we remember that New Orleans fell to Union forces on April 29th of 1862, relatively early in the war. It is also important to remember that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation issued just 8 months later did not free any slaves under Union Army control. Therefore, the slaves in New Orleans remained as slaves to Lincoln and his army until the end of the war. Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward wrote reference the Emancipation Proclamation:

“We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”

Then there is Charleston South Carolina, recently in the news for the shooting there and the subsequent movement to have the Confederate Battle Flag removed from state grounds and the banning of the sale of same. In 1860, in Charleston, 125 free blacks were shown on the records as owning slaves. It gets better or worse depending on which side of the issue one stands. Records show there was 1.5 million dollars of taxable property owned by free blacks in Charleston with more than 300,000 dollars of that amount shown as slave holdings.

Federal records in 1860 show the largest slave owner in the State of South Carolina to have been a black man by the name of William (April) Ellison. Again, according to official census records, his wealth outdistanced 90 percent of his white neighbors in Sumter District. In the entire state, only five percent of the population owned as much real estate as Ellison. His wealth was 15 times greater than that of the state’s average for white folks. And Ellison owned more slaves than 99 percent of the South’s slaveholders.
Now, that we have established with official records that slavery was not just a “white” thing in the South, let’s examine more carefully what led from chattel slavery of many in the black race to the total enslavement of the citizens of a country regardless of their race.

The important thing to understand is there are no degrees of slavery; one is either free or slave. So, perhaps we should define slavery and of course liberty and freedom. The size of the confinement area you are in does not denote freedom. As Lysander Spooner noted:

A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.

The 13th Amendment to our Constitution prohibits both slavery and involuntary servitude. Therefore, it is also important we understand the definition of involuntary servitude.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, slavery is defined as:

1. The condition in which one person is owned as property…

2. The practice of owning slaves.

3. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force.

4. The condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence. (Partisan Party Politics anyone)

5. A condition of hard work and subjection as in wage slavery.

Also from the American Heritage Dictionary, involuntary servitude is defined as:

[A] legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person’s will to benefit another, under some form of coercion other than the worker’s financial needs. While laboring to benefit another occurs also in the condition of slavery, involuntary servitude does not necessarily connote the complete lack of freedom experienced in chattel slavery; involuntary servitude may also refer to other forms of unfree labor. Involuntary servitude is not dependent upon compensation or its amount.

Freedom is difficult to quantify, especially when you watch repeatedly a nation of cowardly indentured servants and slaves stand, clap, wave flags and cheer at every refrain of “Land of the free and home of the brave.”

Liberty—now there is the word—especially rightful liberty. Rightful offers the quantification needed to understand the limits on Liberty. Thomas Jefferson offered, in my humble opinion, the best definition available of such liberty.

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often nothing but the tyrant’s will and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

A book could be written reference the import of Jefferson’s definition of rightful liberty. What it does is prove to the nth degree that there is no one in this country today possessed with rightful liberty. By the definition listed in the 13th Amendment, we are all slaves or indentured servants. The government of Abraham Lincoln and the subsequent tyranny of Reconstruction ended any possibility of regaining the rightful liberty of Thomas Jefferson.

Imagine if you will, you have entered into a contractual agreement with other parties, the purpose of that agreement being to make the whole better than the sum of its parts and one of the parties primary responsibility is to protect the rights of that contract. Imagine again if you will that the party tasked with protecting the rights of that contract continually violates the written provisions of that contract to your detriment and to its own enrichment. Imagine you were told that regardless of how many times the contract was violated, you have no choice but to continue under the restrictions of that contract. To understand this is to understand the move for Secession. Does such an arrangement comport more with slavery and indentured servitude or Jefferson’s rightful liberty?

Lincoln destroyed the Constitution and the concept of “consent of the governed” when he invaded the Southern states in order to preserve the Union by force and coercion with bullets and bombs. Lincoln did not invade the South to abolish slavery—he said as much in his First Inaugural Address and in his open letter to Horace Greeley.

Think carefully of Lincoln’s words to the Virginia Compromise Delegation in March of 1861, well before the war began, when asked “Why not let the South go in peace?

I can’t let them go. Who would pay for the government? And what then would become of my tariff?

Samuel G. Alschuler/Library of Congress

Samuel G. Alschuler/Library of Congress

Lincoln and his war was the advent of the indentured servitude of the income tax and the draconian Internal Revenue Service and a liberty crushing weight of a massive public debt. All of this was justified in the minds of Lincoln and the Republican Party in order to pay for their unconstitutional war.

An individual possessed with rightful liberty has the right and the ability to question how money taken from him/her is spent by rightful authority. The Republicans stated just the opposite in their draconian piece of tyranny known as the 14th Amendment; an amendment which was not properly ratified according to Article V of our Constitution, for being coerced or threatened in order to obtain ratification constitutes slavery, certainly not rightful liberty.

Pay careful attention to Section 4 of the squalid 14th Amendment: Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

In the aforementioned contractual agreement, if you as a party to the contract are not allowed to question the validity of how monies are spent, are you a slave, an indentured servant or a person possessed with rightful liberty? Compare if you will the mention of a “public debt…authorized by law” with Jefferson’s statement “the law is often nothing but the tyrant’s will” and therefore the bane of rightful liberty. Is our unpayable public debt a sign of slavery to central government or rightful liberty?



Lincoln and his Republican Party fomented a war, killed hundreds of thousands and made us all indentured servants to their new government. That is why there is an Athenian monument to Lincoln in the District of Criminals. Freeing slaves was never his primary motivation. The answer to who is a slave can be found in the title of a book by Professor Jeffrey Rogers Hummel: Emancipating Slaves; Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War.

“To tar the sacrifices of the Confederate soldier as simple acts of racism, and reduce the battle flag under which he fought to nothing more than the symbol of a racist heritage, is one of the great blasphemies of our modern age”. ~James Webb-Secretary of Navy and Assistant Secretary of Defense under U.S. President Ronald Regan and former U.S. Senator (D.VA.) (Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, New York: Broadway Books, 2004, p. 225)

So, the War Between the States was about slavery—not about the slavery of the black race entirely, but the enslavement of an entire country to confiscatory taxation and a totalitarian form of government.

In Rightful Liberty


Michael Gaddy, an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest. He is also the honorary editor for The Price of Liberty.

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