What Cause Was Lost?

The War for Southern Independence reminds us of many things, not least of which that there were once many men who were willing to take up arms to defend what they believed to be their birthright as Americans. It was not by chance that the Great Seal of the new nation featured George Washington, for the Confederates saw themselves as following the road that the great Southerner had trod in leading the secession from England.

As Jefferson Davis said, "When the cause was lost, what cause was it?" It was, he went on, not "of the South only, but the cause of constitutional government, of the supremacy of law, of the natural rights of man." The war to subjugate the South was "on the part of the United States Government, one of aggression and usurpation, and, on the part of the South, was for the defense of an inherent, unalienable right." Looked at another way, the War for Southern Independence gave us the Gilded Age of plutocratic plunder and created the dynamics for the multicultural muddle that is already driving America into open ethnic conflict. Southerners realized where things were headed when an ambitious prairie lawyer was elected the 16th President of the United States.

Thomas R.R. Cobb recognized Lincoln's election for what it was: the triumph of the first avowedly sectional party in the Union's history, a party that did not shun—indeed, that welcomed—the support of...

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