Book Review: Pulpits of the Lost Cause: The Faith and Politics of Former Confederate Chaplains during Reconstruction

Pulpits of the Lost Cause: The Faith and Politics of Former Confederate Chaplains during Reconstruction. By Steve Longenecker. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2023. Hardcover, 257 pp. $54.95.

Reviewed by Max Longley

According to historian Mark A. Noll, “if the community of professional historians came late to recognize the earthquake in religious life occasioned by the Civil War and Reconstruction, that community has been working diligently over the last two decades to make up for lost time.”[1] While written no later than 2017, Noll’s comment remains particularly applicable to the present as well.

Steve Longenecker’s Pulpits of the Lost Cause: The Faith and Politics of Former Confederate Chaplains during Reconstruction is one of the new studies that enhances our understanding of religion in the Civil War era. The book covers the postwar (not just Reconstruction) careers of several ministers who had been Confederate chaplains during the conflict.

Some of these men served on the front lines for the duration of the war; others not as long, but they all saw the horrors of war as they tried to spiritually serve and revive their soldier charges. After the war, most of them latched onto some variation of the “Lost Cause” belief, appearing at services at Confederate memorials, giving pro-Confederate speeches, and perhaps writing memoirs of the war.

Variations of these Lost Cause views differed in details but covered various key claims, these being the righteousness of the Confederate cause (which either did not involve slavery or else was provoked by hypocritical Northern interference with the institution); the military prowess of the Confederate armies (especially the sainted Lee); the reason for their defeat was Federal advantages in manpower and resources rather than defects in the efforts of the Confederate defenders; and the postwar need for both sides to recognize the others’ courage and move forward without recrimination.

But being professional ex-Confederates was not the primary focus of these ex-chaplains. Their postwar careers, which were impressive, involved serving as influential figures in the Baptist, Methodist, and Episcopal churches as pastors, educators, and humanitarians. Church-building, preaching, teaching future ministers, aiding the education of White and Black children, and elaborating works of theology illustrate some of the efforts of these tireless clerics.

A key theme of the book addresses what Longenecker sees as a significant paradox that requires some explanation: The ex-chaplains supported the Lost Cause ideology, which Longenecker describes as conservative. Some of the former chaplains were also theologically conservative, preaching and writing in support of a literal biblical interpretation and a rejection of modern Bible criticism and evolution. But – and here is what Longenecker believes needs to be explained – some of the former chaplains were theological liberals, eschewing a literal reliance on Biblical accuracy in favor of a broader spiritual message, and challenging other conventional teachings.

Randolph H. McKim is one of the ministers who intrigues Longenecker. McKim’s postwar peregrinations eventually led to a pastorate at the high-toned Episcopalian Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D. C. When he touched on the subject of the war to Northern and Southern audiences, McKim expressed a hard-core neo-Confederate version. According to McKim, the Confederates were carrying out the work of the Founding Fathers, defending the heritage of Anglo-Saxon liberty, and serving bravely under the Christ-like Lee. Despite defeat, the Confederate revolt revitalized the cause of states’ rights in the reunited country.

On the pastoral plane, McKim spoke against drinking, sweatshops, gambling, dancing and child labor – including taking aim at traditional vices, as well as evils fought by those espousing the social gospel. Theologically, McKim took what we might view as a modernist, historically critical approach to Biblical interpretation. He was welcoming to Darwinism, seeing evolutionary principles as explaining the origins of species and the development of nations.

To Longenecker, this is an inconsistent, facing-both-ways set of positions: “When robed in Confederate gray, McKim looked to the past, but in his vestments, he looked to the future.” (p. 178) Longenecker sees McKim and similar theological liberals as holding mutually-contradictory positions; full consistency would presumably require preaching fundamentalism alongside Lost Cause-ism, since fundamentalism is supposedly the conservative religious counterpart to Lost Cause advocacy.

After all it is true that fundamentalism among White Southerners was a defensive repudiation by some of Northern “isms.” Before the war, defenses of the Bible’s seeming endorsement of slavery took precedence over liberal Northern theology, which focused more on the generic principles of the Sermon on the Mount rather than on Israelite slavery.

Yet there’s nothing necessarily inconsistent about being an enthusiastic Darwinist in the late 19th century while also glorifying the allegedly pure Anglo-Saxonism of the Confederacy. Quite the contrary! Some (though by no means all) of the evolutionists of the period saw differing groups of humans as the product of evolutionary processes. To these ideologues, the descendants of Anglo-Saxons represented a pinnacle of evolution in contrast to other groups (including non-White groups). So McKim’s liberalism could have been a manifestation of his neo-Confederate views, not a repudiation of them.

This engagingly-written book introduces the reader to key religious figures who emerged from the Confederate chaplaincy. It serves an extremely enlightening and welcome study about one aspect of the war’s religious heritage.

[1] Mark A. Noll. “Reconstructing Religion.”

38 Responses to Book Review: Pulpits of the Lost Cause: The Faith and Politics of Former Confederate Chaplains during Reconstruction

  1. I’ve not had a chance to read it yet but am inquiring: Is there any mention in the book of a Scottish immigrant Presbyterian minister by the name of James Menzies Sprunt? He was from North Carolina, served with a regiment in D. H. Hill’s Division in 1862 (Hill greatly admired his courage under fire) and after leaving the army due to illness in 1864, he returned home and started a school for wayward boys and young black children; that school exists today as Sprunt Community College. I’m doing research on him, and it’s difficult to uncover much. Or, if anyone has information on him, please get in touch. Thanks!

    1. (sorry, this site does not allow responses to later posts).
      Yes, it’s an online treasure trove of military records. I have found quite a bit on James Sprunt. If you like I can send you what I have. You can reach me at historyandhorseplaying at gmail dot com.

  2. “To these ideologues, the descendants of Anglo-Saxons represented a pinnacle of evolution in contrast to other groups (including non-White groups). So McKim’s liberalism could have been a manifestation of his neo-Confederate views, not a repudiation of them.”
    Oh please– some of the foremost yankee Progressives (in the original sense of the term) of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were very much into the “Anglo-Saxons = pinnacle” mindset. To try to connect that with “neo-Confederate views” is ludicrous. Was Margaret Sanger, that New Yorker, a “neo-Confederate”?
    And again, no idea what the term “Lost Cause” means, let alone “advocacy” of it. When the term is used, poor historicism and bigotry is likely to follow.

    1. Well said. Those who will tell us that the North engaged on a Noble Crusade will in the same breath insist that the “Lost Cause” was invented after the Civil War – and that it was only about slavery, that “States’ Rights” was a sham post-war invention. I always respond by mentioning States Rights Gist, born in 1831. They suddenly fall silent…or begin calling me names because they hate facts.

      1. Well, those people have likely never heard of the Andrew Jackson v John C. Calhoun rift, or read JFK’s essay on the latter in his “Profiles in Courage”.

  3. “After the war, most of them latched onto some variation of the “Lost Cause” belief, appearing at services at Confederate memorials, giving pro-Confederate speeches, and perhaps writing memoirs of the war.” … Wow, someone believes the CSA served no positive purpose, at all! God forbid, someone should say something positive about the CSA.

    1. The CSA fought to preserve the concept of Federalism. It’s astonishing how many Americans have no idea that the Constitution was drawn to restrict the government from intruding on the rights of the people – “analysts” on CNN were stunned last night to hear that Donald Trump’s Constitutional rights were violated right, left and center in the hush money trial – they wanted to believe that Trump had violated THEIR rights. Nor do people understand what Federalism is, and reflexively think the Federal government should be allowed to beat the shit out of any individual state(s) that has annoyed it.

      1. I know what the Confederacy fought for, and it wasn’t federalism. It had one central principle, and the rest was negotiable.

        As far as Donnie Two Scoops is concerned, the state tried him, not the federal government(in this case). As good believers in federalism, we should respect the state’s jurisdiction, not whimper that the “his” Supreme Court should some to his rescue. But like the Confederates, he has only one central principle, and the rest is negotiable.

      2. Wow – you need far more edjicatin’ than I ever do for free. But in brief, your lack of understanding of Federalism, and your failure to have read a single political document or speech from Southern politicians 1828-1860 is painfully apparent, which is why you don’t understand why this was the central issue. But you can read about States Rights Gist on Wikipedia if you like.

        As for the fraudulent Trump trial, no, he was not tried by the State. Alvin “I”m worth $18 million on a local DA’s salary” Bragg is not a New York State prosecutor, but a local, in this case Manhattan, DA…who illegally brought Federal charges…in a fraudulent State case…in a city courtroom…so he could hand-pick a corrupt judge who wasn’t even on the list to handle such a case…before a corrupt jury… As you clearly don’t understand elections, either, Trump ran for a Federal position, and thus it can only be a Federal case…which even Merrick Garland’s fascistic Department of Justice refused to prosecute because, oh lord, what did they say? Oh yeah, “No crime here. No evidence here. All the witnesses are convicted perjurers.” So of course, Trump’s attorneys are 100% correct to insist the case immediately go to the Supreme Court where it will be dismissed faster than Kentanji Brown Jackson can define “Woman…who got free tickets to a Beyonce concert worth $20,000″…and it may soon be dismissed without even going there, because it seems one of the jurors’ cousins was tipped off in advance that the fix was in.

      3. Both the North and South fought for federalism; federalism is a governmental structure wherein (most often because of geographical size), there are two distinct political units, each with their respective spheres of jurisdiction, though there may be shared/cooperative areas of co-jurisdiction.

        Significantly, the political units can not simply (or are not supposed to be able), to ‘will the other out of existence’ by unilateral action. Most often, there is a national government and some form of ‘state’ or provincial governments. At the same time, a given version of federalism may well have one or the other set/s of political units designed to be the paramount one/s, or this may occur over time more or less unintentionally.

        Examples of countries with federalism are India, Australia, Mexico, China, Canada.

        From 1707-1997, Great Britain was the exact opposite; it was a ‘unitary’ country, meaning, the national government existed, but below this, was merely city and borough government councils with very limited and comparatively unimportant authority.

        New Zealand is an example of a country that had federalism and gave this up; until 1876, NZ had provincial governments exactly like Canada and the USA. It abolished these by legislation to have a unitary system like the UK. The CW/WBTS was specifically cited as a reason to make this move.

        Canada was designed to be a country with federalism wherein the national government was meant to be paramount to the provinces; this is the model of federalism the ‘Union Paramountcy’ camp of Washington, Adams, Clay, Jackson, Taylor, Lincoln and Grant harked to and which prevailed in the war.

        Switzerland was a county of federalism wherein for centuries, the cantons were expressly meant to be paramount to the Republic which bound them. This was the ‘States Rights’ camp of Jefferson, Madison, Calhoun, Van Buren, Tyler, Davis, SWJ and Lee which lost the war.

        On both sides of the CW/WBTS, Americans we’re fighting for a particular form of federalism.

  4. Eric, when it comes to Donnie Two Scoops, every accusation is a confession.

    As far as antebellum Southern politicians I suggest you check on John C. Calhoun, who said, in so many words that if anyone touched a hair on slavery’s head, the South would secede. And eventually they pulled that trigger. That states rights mumbo jumbo could be discarded if the sacred institution of slavery required it and was. You might want to read the ordinances of secession, where Mississippi is peeved that abolitionists are allowed free speech in the Northern states. Willing to try to exert control over another state, and violate the first amendment.

    That the protection of slavery was the motive for secession isn’t really a question anymore. States’ rights? What right was at issue in 1860? Or yeah, that one.

    1. No, every charge against Trump is specious. Wait and see how many trials are held – and of those that are, how many get overturned. Can you say Apellate Court?

      John Calhoun was just one man – and he did have more than one thought, and one grievance. And look at the 93% of Southerners who neither owned slaves nor benefited from slavery. You’re living in your country that your grandfather fought to free, you own no slaves, you may well be anti-slavery. Meanwhile, slavery is legal. And then, Northern politicians, who have been taxing and tariffing the hell out of you – in blatant violations of the Constitution – and preachers and newspaper editors are screaming not for Congress to abolish slavery, but for the U.S. Army to be sent into the South to kill any whites they can get their hands on, and end slavery…and if the government won’t do that, then they will recruit mobs of unorganized men, arm them, and send them into the South to loot, burn, rape and murder any whites they can get their hands on…just because they want their cause served – and the law be damned. Well, if you’re a non-slaveowning Southerner, you reach for your rifle… Oh, and meanwhile, how about slavery in the six states that stayed in the Union? “Why, slavery is LEGAL, boys! Keep it up!”

    2. It’s interesting that John C Calhoun was a hero of John F. Kennedy’s, as explained in his “Profiles in Courage”. And mine as well, for many of the same reasons.
      As for “like the Confederates, he has only one central principle”… there were hundreds of thousands of Confederate troops. What “central principle” did ALL of them personally have? And how on Earth can you possibly know that? Heck, I served in the US Marine Corps and US Army for years, and I wouldn’t dream of saying that each and every Marine I served with had a “central principle”… much less every single military member.

      1. Very well said. As I briefly said, as well, Calhoun was not a one-trick pony. My bottom line is that those who believe the Civil War was about slavery review only facts that suit their purposes, while the rest are ignored as inconvenient.

    3. “But like the Confederates, he has only one central principle, and the rest is negotiable.”
      Remember that you have to apply the same principle to both sides of the conflict– “Like the Union soldiers, he has only one central principle..” And have to be able to apply it to all American militaries, at all times. “All the millions of American soldiers who were drafted into fighting into WW2 had only one central principle, and the rest is negotiable”.. “Everyone who was drafted to go to fight in Vietnam had one central principle, and the rest is negotiable”. What was that principle? Avoiding going to prison for evading the draft? “Everyone who served in the Global War on Terror had only one central principle.” Now THAT one I know for a fact is not true, from personal experience. The idea that hundreds of thousands of troops, or hundreds of thousands of different people in general, do anything with “only one central principle” is ludicrous. And frankly, it sounds like you’re trying to impugn one side… while giving the other side a pass. Were I to ask you what were the motivations of the hundreds of thousands of Union troops, your answer would likely be “oh well we’d have to look at each one individually, I’m sure the reasons were differing and complex” etc. But the Confederate troops? Oh no, they only had ONE CENTRAL PRINCIPLE– one which I don’t happen to like. Tell me you’re biased without telling me you’re biased.

      1. Every army is made up of many, many individuals, and they have individual motivations. However, the armies of the Civil War were created to do something. The Union army was created to preserve the Union. The Confederate army was created to achieve southern independence. Why did the south want to become independent from the United States? What was the rationale for secession? Loud and clear it was to protect slavery from a larger nation increasingly hostile to the institution of slavery. Why was slavery so important, so central to antebellum society? Those are interesting questions, but that slavery was that important, worth seceding over, is not even a question.

        If you want to ask questions about the motivation of the Lincoln administration or the Union generally, the central goal was preserving the Union, which means preserving representative democracy. Other issues were negotiable, as Lincoln very famously said in his letter to Horace Greeley(“if I could save the Union by freeing some of the slaves…). Why Unionists thought the Union was worth fighting for, is another question, but that the United States was that important to them, is not even a question.

        Of course the question is complicated by the freedpeople. The USCTs and other African Americans fought for the Union, because, the Union meant the end of slavery.

      2. No, it was not. Only 7% of Southerners owned slaves. The other 93% did not benefit one whit from slavery. Despite the value of cotton, the South actually made very little from it – it was northern industrialists who became multimillionaires from cotton. Slavery is a very poor economic model, and it’s why the South was far poorer than the North. Southern militias, and then their armies, were formed in order to protect their homes, their families, and their rights, all of which were threatened by the North. As noted, Northern politicians, newspaper editors and preachers were urging war upon the South, and if the government would not cooperate, then they wanted mobs of unorganized me to be armed and then invade the South to rob, rape and murder in the name of ending slavery…which happened to be legal and protected by the Constitution. Thus, the 93% of Southerners who had no stake in slavery, whose Constitutional rights were being suppressed as Federalism came under assault, and whose lives, property and the lives of their families were endangered, were legitimately alarmed (John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry) – and reached for their rifles. And…how ’bout those six slave states that remained in the Union…and no one ever took away their slaves?

        In fact, the more strident issue that was at stake was not slavery as it existed, but the expansion of it into the Western territories. The South had the legal right to expand it, but as usual, Northern politicians and abolitionists wanted to deny this (see above: suppression of Constitutional rights). Ironically, the West was unsuited to slavery and it would have failed there, but the concept of expansion probably brought far more heat than the reality of it but, as I’ve already pointed out, using the example of James McPherson’s ‘For Cause & Comrades,’ almost nobody was fighting over slavery. As one slave observed, “They’re not fighting over us – they’re fighting over each other.” I had 25 ancestors fight in the war – on both sides. I have voluminous primary source documents from them – diaries, letters, articles about them in hometown newspapers. Not once, in thousands of pages, is slavery, slaves or blacks mentioned. Not once.

        And then, beginning about 40 years ago, historians that wanted to get tenure and have their books published turned Lincoln into a marble man and threw away 150 years of historical writing and began selling us the snake oil that America is permanently and forever evil, that it was founded on slavery, built on slavery, and the war was about slavery. Hokum. Snake oil.

    4. “Every army is made up of many, many individuals, and they have individual motivations. ”
      Exactly– which proves that you were incorrect. That was my entire point, to show that your statement was incorrect.
      “However, the armies of the Civil War were created to do something.”
      Not sure what that has to do with your original statement, that “I know what the Confederacy fought for, and it wasn’t federalism. It had one central principle, and the rest was negotiable”. Especially when you then went on to contradict yourself again, by stating “The Confederate army was created to achieve southern independence” –which arguably is exactly what the other poster was saying– to preserve Federalism. So I guess that’s the “central principle” being mentioned… which, according to you now, IS Federalism. Truly confusing.
      And then, you contradict yourself yet again, by stating “The USCTs and other African Americans fought for the Union, because, the Union meant the end of slavery” just sentences after writing “every army is made up of many, many individuals, and they have individual motivations.” Which is it? It can’t be both. (You are actually correct in the latter, which means that in the former sentence you are assigning your own personal opinions on the minds of others whom you have never met, and of course never will be able to.) My point is that your statements are full of contradictions. And I’m a lover of the Hegelian (some would say Marxist) thesis-antithesis method.
      And as for “but that the United States was that important to them, is not even a question”, need I go into how that also contradicts “every army is made up of many, many individuals, and they have individual motivations”? Like I said, for a statement to be true, it must ring true when applied to any other conflict in history. “The United States was that important to everyone who was drafted to go to Vietnam”… or “The United States was that important to everyone who participated in the US Global War on Terror” etc etc. When someone says “is not even a question”, this is usually covering for extreme weakness in the statement itself. EVERYTHING is a question, or can be questioned.

      1. I apologize for being confusing. To restate: The Confederate project was to protect and preserve slavery. The Confederate army was the most important instrument of the Confederate project. Secession was to protect, preserve, and extend slavery, in space and time. The secessionists were crystal clear about their motivation: to protect, preserve and extend slavery. No slavery, no secession. Its hard to respect any argument that doesn’t acknowledge that as true.

      2. All things being equal, i.e. the economic, political and social repression of the South, there would have been war without slavery. However, What Ifs are dangerous, because for example, had there been no slavery, there would have been no Republican Party, with its platform of ending slavery, and its encouragement of violence against the South. Abigale Adams noted on the day the Constitution was ratified, at a time when slavery had a much smaller percentage of the economy, was practiced more widely in the North, and there were less than 1 million slaves in America, that there would be civil war between the North and South because of the Constitution – not that it was bad, but that the one side would use it to abuse the other, without any mention of slavery. This is the American history that has been forgotten, or erased, in “favor” of making the Civil War about slavery. All one has to do is look back at recorded American history in order to see that the cause of the war was not slavery. Slavery was like a drop of blue ink in a tumbler of water; it had no substance, but colored everything. For that matter, if one examines the history of Vietnam and the civil war fought there between north and south from 1946-1975, the issues were remarkably similar, yet they had no slavery. So what caused their war?

      3. Now the United States didn’t fight the war for slavery. The Unionists fought to preserve the Union. They thought preserving the Union was worth fighting for, that the Constitution and the United States were worth fighting for. And to preserve the Union, they destroyed slavery. The two sides of the Civil War didn’t share the same motivation. It wasn’t pro and con.

        However the North was anti-slavery. They had ended slavery in their own states, and the Republican party was going to pursue a policy of preventing the spread of slavery into the west, a policy that people thought would end American slavery. The “Black Republicans” and their leader, Abraham Lincoln, were a credible threat to slavery. And they would have pursued a policy, using legal and conventional politics, against slavery.

      4. Matt McKeon-


        Historically wrong!

        In fighting to put the Union back together as it had been at war’s start, at bare minimum de facto, the North was fighting for slavery, and it made crystal clear it was willing in that to fight to reconvene all the rights to slavery as they had existed on 1860 and establish these irrevocably.

    5. (Sorry, I have to respond to a different post because this site does not allow responses to later posts).
      Once again, you contradict yourself entirely.
      Earlier, you wrote: “every army is made up of many, many individuals, and they have individual motivations”… but in this later post, you wrote: “The Confederate project was to protect and preserve slavery”, and “The secessionists were crystal clear about their motivation”. These last two statements are contradictions of your first statement. Namely– did the motivations of the secessionists vary, or, were they singular and “crystal clear in their motivation”? There were several hundred thousand secessionists, at the very least. Are you claiming to know for a fact that all their motivations were “crystal clear”? That would be quite a feat, and I’d be interested to know how you know. Furthermore, I notice that you did not address what I posted about your statements such as “The USCTs and other African Americans fought for the Union, because, the Union meant the end of slavery” and “the United States was that important to them, is not even a question” being directly at odds with your previous statement that “every army is made up of many, many individuals, and they have individual motivations”. I generally find that where there are contradictions, the source of those contradictions usually produces a multitude of other contradictions and their reasoning is faulty.
      As for “Its hard to respect any argument that doesn’t acknowledge that as true”, what one respects, argument or otherwise, is completely irrelevant to argumentation and producing evidence for one’s claims. One often respects things that may not be logical and correct, and disrespects things that are true but uncomfortable, and vice versa. Personal respect is irrelevant.

    6. Your statement is demonstrably incorrect: If it is wholly true, explain how Alexander Hamilton wrote so presciently of how the Great American Conflict would come in his essays in the 1787 ‘Federalist Papers’? Slavery can not be argued as the reason he perceived this at the time.

      As well, to say states rights was 100% tied to slavery, then explain the 1837-38 Aroostook War when Maine claimed openly, as a sovereign state of the Union, like the 13 states that created the Union, it had the rights to do what it did?

      Do you want me to recount what that was openly here? I’m very happy to in front of one and all.

      And it’s hard to take anything as ignorant at best, or dishonest at worst, any historical argument that doesn’t explicitly concede the Confederacy was willing to emancipate. The evidence is irrefutable.

  5. Why is it an article on events in the 1800s turn into tirades on events in 2024? Intelligent discussions on ECW articles seem to have disappeared. ECW comments are turning into the same cesspool of social media discourse we see too far too often. Perhaps the solution is just to read the article and move on, ignoring the inevitable outrage that follows.

    1. We’re discussing how those who forget history – or try to erase it – are doomed to repeat it. Since 1865 the United States has never been closer to having a second civil war. What’s more, the 21st century Communist creation CRT relies heavily on twisting or outright lying about the Civil War in order to achieve its aims in today’s society. Thus the discussion is entirely appropriate.

      1. The lives and careers of the Confederate chaplains, the paths they took, their understanding of the experience of fighting the war and how its shaped their beliefs and actions in different ways, is an interesting one.

        I think, with most historians, that the institution of slavery, and its complex of ideology and economics that extended its influence southern society, was the cause of secession. Because slavery, and the justification for the practice of slavery are abhorrent to most Americans, people can get preachy about it. But the centrality of slavery to secession isn’t a moral judgement, its a historical one.

      2. However, it has been revived as a moral issue by historians and political activists today in order to lash people into submitting to their illegitimate desires by making them feel guilty. And if the history don’t fit…why, they just make it up! But let’s face facts: no 25 million strongly or lightly racist white people are ever going to go to war with each other over the fate of 4 million black non-citizens who have only a minor place in the country’s economy. In fact, at no time in history has anyone ever gone to war over slavery; people just don’t feel they have enough stake in either side of the issue to do so. And in 1860, “abhorrent” was not a word Americans connected with slavery. In the North, just 2% identified as being anti-slavery, and just 0.5% joined abolitionist societies. In the South, 93% had no stake in slavery. No way either society went to war over it.

    2. I apologize for my part. I didn’t start it maybe, but I kept it going. You’re right.

  6. This is a reply to Eric’s 7:42 PM post. You argue that slavery wasn’t the cause for the war, and then go on to describe the controversies that brought on the war: all having to do with slavery.
    You can’t get away from slavery being the cause of the war. You make the comment that 93% (which is not true) of the South weren’t slaveowners and had nothing to do with it. Over a third of the population of the Confederacy were enslaved. Do they not count as people? In fact in two of the states keenest on secession, South Carolina and Mississippi, the majority of the population were enslaved. The eagerness to secede and the percentage of slaves and slave ownerships tracks very closely, if not surprisingly. In fact, the states seemingly most impact by self liberating slaves, were the last to secede, and didn’t at all. The actual site of the John Brown raid, western Virginia, choose to leave Virginia and stay in the Union.

    1. No, I pointed out the key details about slavery that demonstrate that it didn’t mean so much to the nation that people were willing to go to war over it. Only 2% of Northerners identified with being anti-slavery; only 0.5% joined abolitionist groups. 93% of Southerners did not own slaves or have a stake in slavery. No one was going to go to war over that.

      In addition, I said that slavery had been revived only in recent decades as a moral issue, because it can be used by current activists who want to cause division in America by spinning lies about the country – that America is evil, was founded and built on slavery, etc. – and not a bit of that is true. Slaves did not build America, and slavery was not responsible for America’s fantastic economic growth. That was industry and technology, not slavery.

      As for the John Brown raid, its location is meaningless in relation to the eventual (illegal) formation of West Virginia; it took place at Harpers Ferry because the US arsenal and arms factory was located there. Brown wanted guns for the insurrection he claimed he would instigate. (Actually, he had no such intention of doing so, as he had no idea how to do it. Brown was a delusional megalomaniac, always looking to promote himself, and in slavery he at last found the servant that would make him nationally famous. What he wanted was to be arrested so he could pontificate in court. He got his wish – and then was hanged for it.) But we grew up on lies that West Virginians wanted to leave Virginia because they disapproved of slavery. This was completely untrue; they were fine with slavery, they just didn’t like secession.

      So, in the greatest piece of irony in a very ironic war, the West Virginians, who hated secession, seceded from Virginia – and took their slaves with them when they joined the Union as a new state…a country that supposedly was fighting a war to end slavery, and yet had not gotten around to outlawing slavery, and was allowing five, now six, slave states to be in the Union. What better example do we have that the war was not about slavery when you have the Union, the side supposedly fighting against slavery, having six slave states and twenty-some free states fighting the war? They weren’t fighting against slavery, they were fighting to bring the South back into the Union. And why? Read Lincoln’s address to Congress in March 1861 – he clearly states he is prosecuting the war in order to bring tax and tariff dollars owed by the South into the Federal government. There’s the war.

    2. First, yes, only 7% of the people in the South owned slaves. You are confusing numbers when you say, “Over a third of the population of the South was enslaved” and thus figure that a huge number of Southerners MUST have been slaveowners. There were 5 million whites, approximately 4.25 million blacks in the South. 250,000 blacks were free – and some owned slaves. 7% of the 5 million whites owned the 4 million slaves. And, no, the slaves don’t really count in the population of the South because they were non-citizens. It’s like in America today: we have 300 million legal Americans, and 55 million illegal aliens. The population of America is thus: 300 million. Tragically, Democrats have gamed the system in order to have voting districts drawn including the illegal aliens they jammed into the country in contravention of US law, and thus we have reached the point where State and Federal representation is being affected by people who have no business being in America. And this is why Democrats now want to give illegals the right to vote…on top of being handed driver’s licenses for which they never took a driving test. It is, also, pure myth that the majority of the populations of South Carolina and Mississippi were slaves. This slippery bit of sleight of hand was done by only counting whites who owned land and paid taxes, e.g. the 7% who owned slaves, and not counting the whites who did not. Don’t they count as population too? White trash do not count? How racist!

      Look, Civil War history can be divided into two parts. Part one is books filled with facts. Part two is imaginary fantasy invented by hysterical activists who want people to believe that EVERY SINGLE BIT of American history is of, by, for and about the most important – nay, the ONLY important people here: blacks. This nonsense will pass; people are not believing it.

      Read the economic history of the South. Start there. From it, the truth about slavery is gleaned.

      1. Did you receive my email? I sent you what I had on Sprunt. Sometimes the gmail is fickle in whether it sends.

    3. I’m leaving the Confederacy and siding with the Union, West Virginia did not at all demonstrate any disavowal of slavery. It was created as a slave state in the Union, nor is there any realistic evidence in any way it’s population disavowed the White Supremacy that slavery was built on, even after slavery came to an end there (and even its state-wide abolition of the institution was contested legally in the state).

      Why do you constantly engage ‘the circle in the sand’?

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