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Letter: The South Started It!

August 3rd, 2009 by Brendan Wolfe · 4 Comments

Bombardment of Fort Sumter by Batteries of the Confederate States, April 13, 1861

The following objection was recently submitted by a reader in response to our entry on the Virginia Convention of 1861. In writing about the machinations of the secession convention in Richmond, we write: “Ominously for the Unionists, the vote came a week after Lincoln ended his vacillation over what to do and resolved to send a naval expedition to relieve Fort Sumter.”

Now our reader:

Lincoln did not send a “naval expedition” to Fort Sumter. He sent food and water to resupply the garrison, and he announced this publicly. He sent no arms or munitions. Your description should be changed. There is no doubt that the immediate cause, the start of war, was the South’s firing on Fort Sumter. The South began the war and abandoned political efforts to avoid war.

I’m not convinced we can’t both be right here. Abraham Lincoln did send a naval expedition to Sumter, and that expedition’s purpose was to resupply the garrison with food and water. However, our language could be clearer, and for that reason, we’ve decided to make a small change. The sentence will now read: “. . . Lincoln ended his vacillation over what to do and resolved to send a naval expedition to resupply Fort Sumter with food and water.”

Thanks as always for the feedback.

IMAGE: Bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Batteries of the Confederate States, April 13, 1861; from Harper’s Weekly, April 27, 1861)

Lincoln did not send a \"naval expedition\" to Fort Sumter. He sent food and water to resupply the garrison, and he announced this publicly. He sent no arms or munitions. Your description should be changed. There is no doubt that the immediate cause, the start of war, was the South\'s firing on Fort Sumter. The South began the war and abandoned political efforts to avoid war.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lauren R Baum // Nov 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Marse Robert as he was known to his men, most of who would have followed him beyond the obvious end of the Souths ability to answer the attacks of the North, not because they were such Southern louts without brains as that they revered their commander to that depth.
    He was far beyond the greatness of even such men as George Washington whom we have not glorified enough and Abraham Lincoln whom we have praised beyond the ridiculous.
    Marse Robert never once showed the hatred that has been borne out by the Northern hate mongers, who have consistently used the issue of race and slavery to justify their hatred of the southerner. As General Lee tried to say so often; given a bit of time rathere than leaping into the war, slavery would have died of natural causes and would have saved 100′s of thousands of lives and million of dollars worth of property in a war where we were all family.
    He was a man who chose to support his state and protect his family rather than follow the dictates folly of Lincoln who chose, through ignorance to attack the South. And be not fooled he did attack Fort Sumner.
    The Southern people are now and have always been a proud people, long descended from Celtic tribes who make up the Irish and Scotish. And as Rome could testify, and Cesar has written, they were no people to push around.
    They are descendants of the very same tribes who sacked Rome twice successfully and then left it due to lack of interest. The war was never won by the Northern troops or the Generals, it was lost by the South’s lack of resources. The north never fielded a General who could go head to head with General Lee.
    General Lee is one of my distant forebears both through the Lee family of England but more closely through the Carters and directly through his mother. I make no claim to greatness, due to my relationship. Greatness is earned. But in General Lees case, greatness could have been conferred upon him because of his marriage to Martha Custis Washington’s grand daughter who’s adoptive grandfather was the father of our country, but also that the Lee family can lay claim to no less than two signers of the declaration of independence.
    General Lee’s greatness was earned by his love of God, love of Family and love of his country in that order. It is well known that he was a member of the US military prior to the war of the Rebellion, and he loved America and was bitterly torn by the decision he was forced to make. Part of his his greatness was earned as a fact that he planned his battle strategies to protect his home rather than to attack anothers and his care was for the men who followed him and did their utmost to carry out their duty.
    Lee came as near as Washingto to that apex of adoration; First in Peace, first in war, first in the hearts of his countrymen.
    It strikes me that the diatribesthat have been lifted against some of our country’s greatest heros are nothing more or less than vile, revisionist history.
    America must be brought low and forced to bow at the feet of one worldism. In order to achieve that end, our youth must be brainwashed into the idea that we are descended from not apes alone, but savage apes without love, Justice nor Honor.

  • 2 Brendan Wolfe // Nov 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    We do a lot to encourage discussion around here, but this is just nonsense.

  • 3 Henry // Nov 10, 2009 at 10:35 am

    It would be interesting to see the source for Lauren R Baum’s claim: “As General Lee tried to say so often; given a bit of time rather than leaping into the war, slavery would have died of natural causes.” If Lee really thought that slavery was dying out, he didn’t know the Southern economy very well. And we have to wonder how long Lee thought slavery would hang on — another 50 years? A hundred? The notion that slavery was dying out and that the slaveholders would let it go, if only they were left alone, is a claim often heard–but it is a myth. Slavery was producing huge profits and all the leading indicators were pointing upward. In his book “The Slavery Debates,” Robert Fogel says that “the profitability of slavery was increasing, not declining, on the eve of the Civil War. Moreover, the sharp rise in the purchase price of slaves relative to their rental price meant that slave owners were never more confident about the future of their system than they were during the last half of the 1850s.” In an earlier work, “Time on the Cross,” he wrote “There is no evidence that economic forces alone would have soon brought slavery to an end without the necessity of a war or some other form of political intervention. Quite the contrary; as the Civil War approached, slavery as an economic system was never stronger and the trend was toward even further entrenchment.”

  • 4 Brendan Wolfe // Nov 10, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I would add to Henry’s comment that the claim that slavery would have died out eventually is an easy one to make — when you are not the one in chains.

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