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Primary Sources

James Loewen and Edward Sebesta have compiled a grip of documents which look into why the South seceded. Often I get e-mails from Southerners who often find themselves debating friends and family. I highly recommend copping The Confederate And Neo-Confederate Reader. Let it be your shield against the brigands of history.

Here, for instance, is a sample from Confederate fire-eater Robert Rhett. It is titled, "The Address of the people of South Carolina, assembled in Convention, to the people of the Slaveholding States of the United States."

Citizens of the slaveholding States of the United States, circumstances beyond our control have placed us in the van of the great controversy between the Northern and Southern States. We would have preferred that other States should have assumed the position we now occupy. Independent ourselves, we disclaim any design or desire to lead the councils of the other Southern States. Providence has cast our lot together, by extending over us an identity of pursuits, interests, and institutions. 

South Carolina desires no destiny separated from yours. To be one of a great slaveholding confederacy, stretching its arms over a territory larger than any Power in Europe possesses -- with population four times greater than that of the whole United States when they achieved their independence of the British Empire -- with productions which make our existence more important to the world than that of any other people inhabiting it -- with common institutions to defend, and common dangers to encounter -- we ask your sympathy and confederation. 

Self-complacency is a great element of happiness, with nations as with individuals. We are satisfied with ours. If they prefer a system of industry in which capital and labor are in perpetual conflict -- and chronic starvation keeps down the natural increase of population -- and a man is worked out in eight years -- and the law ordains that children shall be worked only ten hours a day -- and the sabre and bayonet are the instruments of order -- be it so. It is their affair, not ours. We prefer, however, our system of industry, by which labor and capital are identified in interest, and capital, therefore, protects labor; by which our population doubles every twenty years; by which starvation is unknown, and abundance crowns the land; by which order is preserved by unpaid police, and the most fertile regions of the world where the Caucasian cannot labor are brought into usefulness by the labor of the African, and the whole world is blessed by our own productions.

 All we demand of other peoples is to be let alone to work out our own high destinies. United together, and we must be the most independent, as we are the most important among the nations of the world. United together, and we require no other instrument to conquer peace than our beneficent productions. United together, and we must be a great, free and prosperous people, whose renown must spread throughout the civilized world, and pass down, we trust, to the remotest ages. We ask you to join us in forming a confederacy of Slaveholding States.

Heh. "A Confederacy of Slaveholding States." Dig the ambition in the second paragraph. "A great slaveholding confederacy, stretching its arms over a territory larger than any Power in Europe posses." This is when you start seeing the true villainy. They weren't just dreaming of protecting slavery, they were dreaming of expanding it.