Category Archives: Racism

Why We Still Debate the Civil War

Here we are, in 2017, we’re still debating the causes of the Civil War, which began in 1861 with roots that stem from centuries before. This blog post isn’t about statues, racism, social justice or the like, it merely is written to clarify the actual primary cause of the Civil War. No doubt there are many reasons, that were evident at the time, but those were subordinate in the grand scheme of events leading to the war.civil_war_stamp

The Civil War, also known as “The War Between the States,” was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. The CSA was a collection of eleven southern states who left the Union in 1860 and 1861 and formed their own country in order to protect their continued usage of the institution of slavery.

Slavery was introduced to North America by the British as far back as the early 17th century. The south believed in the dissolution of the Union after they couldn’t come to an agreement with the dominant north over the rights of states to control commerce. Slavery was a component of commerce, not in its entirety, but an essential component. It was legal at the time the country was formed, and the southern states saw no justifiable reason to change when they knew most of the northern leadership agreed with them. Negroes, as they were called, were not equivalent to Caucasians. They weren’t allowed to vote, own property, inter-racially marry, or if they lived in the south, couldn’t participate freely with the fruits of their labors.

The northern leadership believed, once the union of states were created, no one or more states had the right to leave that union. They were willing to negotiate, but when the matter came to a head, they willingly took up arms to preserve that union and stop the south from seceding.

events leading to the American civil war
The slavery extension question was thought to have been settled by the Missouri Compromise nearly 40 years earlier. The Mexican War, however, had added new territories, and the issue flared up again in the 1840s. The Compromise of 1850 provided a temporary respite from sectional strife, but the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, a measure Stephen A. Douglas sponsored, brought the slavery extension issue forward again. The Douglas bill in effect repealed the Missouri Compromise by lifting the ban against slavery in territories north of the 36°30′ latitude.

The Supreme Court decided a case brought forward by an escaped slave. He in effect was suing for himself and his family’s freedom. The Dredd Scott decision rendered in 1857, declared he wasn’t entitled to his freedom; that Africans were not and could never be citizens of the United States; and that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had declared free all territories west of Missouri and north of latitude 36°30′, was unconstitutional.

This further set in motion the events leading up to the Civil War. In effect, it supported the institution of slavery, and the southern states now believed it was their personal right of sovereignty. In effect, the Constitution was a voluntary agreement, as easily broken as it was initially agreed upon.

The Douglas doctrine of popular sovereignty, was to permit new territories and states the right to self-determine their status as a free or slave state. This slavery extension proposal, provided the background for the Douglas – Lincoln debates of 1858. Their debate, addressed the problem that had divided the nation into two hostile camps which threatened the continued existence of the Union.

Slave_kidnap_post_1851_bostonIn 1859 John Brown, an abolitionist, working in concert with others, formed a rebellion in Harpers Ferry Virginia (now West Virginia). Brown had previously met abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth while living in Springfield Massachusetts. Brown was convinced slavery wasn’t going to end through peaceful negotiations. Brown’s personal attitudes evolved in Springfield, as he observed the success of the city’s Underground Railroad and made his first venture into militant, anti-slavery community organizing. In speeches, he pointed to the martyrs Elijah Lovejoy and Charles Turner Torrey as whites “ready to help blacks challenge slave-catchers.”

The choice of allowing slavery for some admittedly was a compromise, so the fledgling nation had enough backing to form a binding union, and thereafter break away from British rule. As we see today in politics, challenging problems are pushed forward in hopes that someone will solve the problem in the future. Doing so, means a crisis builds until the inevitable fateful day, and it can no longer be ignored.

Flawed From the Beginning

Many of the Founders wished to abolish slavery in the Constitution. The irony and hypocrisy were not lost on them, and they weren’t shy about saying it. The compromises in the Constitution regarding slavery placed the short-term need to form a Union ahead of a contentious debate with no resolution. The alternative was two countries, one without slavery and one with. Several founders later emancipated their slaves.

In 1807, Congress passed a law and Jefferson signed banning the importation of slaves to begin on January 1, 1808, the very first day permitted under the Constitution. Some have argued that this only made existing slaves more valuable and the South already had sufficient slaves to breed to meet their needs. I give our Founders the benefit of the doubt. If for no other reason, a slaver would vote against this to maintain his right to hold slaves on principle.

After the law passed, US Naval forces commenced to patrolling the African coast and seizing slave ships. Great Britain was already doing the same.

Slavery, was officially ended by the British, and the US was trying to figure out how to completely eliminate it within its own borders, and not criminalize its own citizens. Those same citizens were part of the framers of the Constitution, and supporters of Independence. Virginia was the home of Thomas Jefferson and the cradle of independence. It was a natural place to be the capital state for the Confederacy.

tenth_amendment_states_rightsThe dilemma for America was from its very beginning. As an ideal, the framers and leaders knew that all men were created equal but their society, their practices, had accepted distinctive differences in race as a basis to allow slave holdings.

Slaves were the means by which the south could compete against the more industrial north. This economic disparity, along with punitive tariff’s against the south, created additional friction. After the insurrection by Brown, the southern states believed violent uprisings were going to part of their future, they also thought they had a legal right to secede, and no peaceful option in which to exercise that right.

“Historians agree that the Harper’s Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that a year later led to secession and the American civil war.” Put down by Colonel Robert E. Lee of the United States Army, assisted by First Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart the temporary insurrection was quickly suppressed.

There are many who insist the Confederate States of America were formed through a common cause theme just as the United States did against Great Britain decades before. They believe the south chose independence because of the continued encroachment against states rights by a central federal government. They see Lincoln as a dictator not an emancipator. Lincoln, despite his Illinois state speeches against slavery in the 1840’s, and his famous debate’s against Douglas in 1858, stated if he could keep the Union, he would have accepted slavery as a compromise. History shows that he didn’t.

That’s the historical irony, the individual states agreed to be part of the union at the Constitutional convention of 1783, as long as they could keep slaves. By 1860, after decade of debates, court battles, and slave rebellions, the south’s insistence that slaves were property, not equal as humans, and they had every right to decide what they could do with their property. This property kept the wealthy land owners in business. It also increased their wealth, a wealth which was the driving force for southern economy, seemingly threatened by the more industrialized north. As in all things, contemporary, or historical, there are many reasons, and aspects to conflicts.

compromise_of_1850As much as some people want to “window dress” the motivations of the Civil War, the overwhelming unresolved problem was slavery. To say it was over states rights, economic factors, or encroachment of federal law into individual states commerce, is by varying degrees, true. The long-standing tensions and disagreements about the use of humans as a means to an end, in providing an economic base were the ultimate catalyst. None of those would have been significant factors if not for the conflicting arguments over slavery.

Between election day and Lincoln’s inauguration in March, seven states had seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. They were to be followed by four more: North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Missouri, and Tennessee were divided within specific geographic boundaries, depending on who were the predominant community leaders. Kentucky started out neutral, but voted to become part of the union. West Virginia broke free of Virginia in 1863 to become part of the Union.

Republicans captured over 60 percent of the Northern vote in 1860, and won three-fourths of its Congressional delegations. The Southern press said that such Republicans represented the anti-slavery portion of the North, “a party founded on the single sentiment…of hatred of African slavery“, and now the controlling power in national affairs.


The cause of rebellion – Civil War 1861-65.

Opening volley – Why Fort Sumter?

The Top Nine Events Leading to Civil War

An Educators Guide to the Civil War

Here is an excerpt of the Declaration of Secession by the State of Georgia.

“The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization.”

“For forty years this question has been considered and debated in the halls of Congress, before the people, by the press, and before the tribunals of justice. The majority of the people of the North in 1860 decided it in their own favor. We refuse to submit to that judgment, and in vindication of our refusal we offer the Constitution of our country and point to the total absence of any express power to exclude us.”

Continue to read this secession document.

” … It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty: that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood.”

Lieutenant General John B. Gordon, CSA



Morals – Secular – Judeo-Christian

This is a response to the ideas proposed by some about their concerns of America becoming a secular nation rather than a Christian nation.

Dennis Prager frequently talks about how secular humanism is destroying the fabric of society. Let’s examine this claim, not only from his point but that of other independent thinkers.

I have to assume when people like Prager refer to Judeo-Christian values, he’s using the Bible as a reference. Using Deuteronomy 17, we find people should be stoned if they didn’t believe in their god. For many centuries, national religions had to be adhered to or people could be put to death for their failure to not only swear allegiance to the King or Queen, they had to believe in the official state religion. This is why you see secular influence in the Constitution, the founders of the United States wanted to ensure that people wouldn’t have to be swearing allegiance to a state religion. As a matter of fact, they’re isn’t a test of citizenship or holding the highest office, only if you believe in the supernatural. This in spite of the tradition of swearing-in by holding a hand on the Bible. We are after all, a nation of many contradictions.

You could suggest, this is old news, Christians don’t kill anymore because of the ideals in the new Testament, about loving your brother & sister, and to treat others as you want to be treated. Even this isn’t a new concept or one uniquely held by Christianity.

Cart – meet horse.

“One should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated.” – Hitopadesa; Hinduism: 3200 BCE
“Thou shalt not avenge nor ear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Leviticus 19:18: 1300 BCE

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ took obedience and the threat of a horrible after life for failure to comply one step further by introducing the idea of thinking about banned ideas. If you think about committing a sin, you have broken the law. From the sermon on the mount ~
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

If, as some insist, we take the Bible literally, if you even think lustful thoughts, you’re going to be in trouble and your only get out of jail free card is issued by the person telling you that your eye isn’t all that important, so get rid of it if you see something which makes you think of sex with anyone other than your spouse. That assumes you’re married, and if you aren’t, even the man or woman you might marry could be an object of sin.

I served in the Marine Corps for six years, and at that time was a believing Christian. I thought I was a moral person, but I was being trained to kill other people. The Marines first train everyone identically as infantry. Later, they’re assigned an occupational specialty which usually defines their military career. In my case, I was given the opportunity to go on to electronics schools and thereby was never placed into a kill or be killed situation. Many of my peers weren’t given that choice, they went to Vietnam. We didn’t leave that theater of operations for two years after I enlisted. So what about those who had to take the life of another person? They were told that it was for god and country, but was it really? We killed a lot of people, including our own for a cause our secular (supposedly Christian) government told us it was the right thing to do. Historically, that would be a very tough call, as the country ended up being led by corrupt leadership and becoming communist with Pol Pot taking over Cambodia. This isn’t a dilemma you consider when you’re placed into a life threatening situation, because most of the time you’re going to decide you must kill the other person to preserve your life. How does that fit in with, “Thou shall not kill”, or turn the other cheek when injured by someone?

We constantly see examples of people and their life, their homes, and their values being threatened by a powerful group that uses the authority of law to take away their possessions and their land. How is that justified if we base our laws on Judeo-Christian values? Contradictions in the Bible?

Moral problems have constantly challenged our humanity. Slavery was justified for hundreds of years by Christians, even though Prager said that Christians ended it. We’ve witnessed changes in attitudes toward various ethnicity, black people couldn’t hold leadership roles in the Mormon church until the late 1970’s. A former Mormon prophet once declared that even having one drop of African blood, a person couldn’t hold a leadership role or be married in their temples. This in spite of the fact that one of their past Biblical heroes, Joseph (Coat of many colors), was married to a woman who was black. Asenath was an Egyptian, who some deny her African heritage, stating that Egyptians have various skin tones. That’s a ridiculous stretch in logic to say, she might have had lighter skin, therefore she was Caucasian. Skin tone isn’t a test of African heritage. DNA would certainly be a more accurate marker. The truth is, we may never know for sure, but it’s fairly safe to conclude there were many LDS people who had African heritage but passed for Caucasian and therefore held office in their church prior to 1978.

There are many who insist the Bible tells them homosexuality is a sin, and for some they believe you can pray away the gay. If that’s the case, how do you do that, because I know most of us didn’t make a conscious decision to be heterosexual. There’s a lot more to this than someone going through puberty and becomes straight or gay. Leviticus 20:13 – Romans 1:27 Are we supposed to kill homosexuals. Again the Christian response doesn’t seem to be the higher moral ground, unlike the secular “non-believer” response of kindness and equality. This has changed over the years by many religious organizations, seemingly because of secular influence.

There are many religious organizations who believe having a pair of testicles, gives you greater insight into the workings of god. They insist that anyone who could give birth to another human, isn’t insightful and compassionate enough to be a priest, or in some churches, can’t make public pronouncements officially for their organization. Many churches have changed that view and now have female clergy. Did god tell them that was a good idea, or was it a secular nudge to do what is right?

When it comes to some of the most major criminal activities, we’ve seen Christians adopt changing standards, like murder, rape, or theft. It all depends on the reasons given by the one doing the crime? Justification for these activities have repeatedly been authorized in the Bible. Even the concept of original sin by Adam and Eve seems a bit over the top. Am I to be held responsible for my fathers sins? The LDS church said we were to be held responsible for our own sin and not Adams transgressions but then again, isn’t death itself supposed to be part of the original sin and the introduction of baptism a ritual to signify the person being born again into a new life free of these past problems? Even the death of Jesus Christ and the Garden of Gethsemane was supposed to be an act of getting rid of the past and allowing all who believe this to be factual, were going to be given a ticket into the kingdom of god.

Even the idea proposed by Prager is incorrect. The label “Judeo-Christian” tends to assume, at the expense of Judaism, that Christians and Jews believe essentially the same things. They don’t, and you can find numerous explanations for that if you wish to research it. Secular moral values don’t favor one tribe of civilization over another, unlike what we saw in the Bible or later proposed through doctrines of “manifest destiny in the US”. Just because one tribe of people supposedly has a very particular contract with God, it doesn’t negate the importance of the rule of law for everyone else. That’s a secular concept, too.

The Schism of Left & Right Thought

Surrender of Cornwallis at YorktownThis is my example of and an answer to a question about the great divide, and the antipathy between left vs right ideology. It reinforces my opinion about what is happening within our country. Professor emeritus Nell Irvin Painter makes several assertions based on her knowledge of history. Her points are well made, however I think her conclusions about Donald Trump are also part of the paranoia and fear on each side of the political equation. Why?

I hear her concerns and how she’s explaining historical reference for a continued theme of racism in America. I’m not discounting what she says in this video. I just think her conclusions about Donald Trump supporters don’t necessarily give an accurate portrait as to why he is the Republican nominee. She sees support for Donald Trump as a white backlash against people of color, especially as she concludes “Trump is the white voter answer against President Barack Obama”. Her statements include, “without Barack Obama as President, there would be no Donald Trump as nominee.” She goes on as I’ve heard repeated, any issues with the politics of Barack Obama as President are all racially motivated. She explains Republicans are to blame for any of the economic problems of the middle class and the poor, are because they (Republicans) vote for tax cuts for the rich. This is a classic Democrats rebuttal to nullify any argument that might prove bothersome. The historical data points she uses are to create her overall diatribe based on race against Donald Trump.

Allow me to examine what she says, not argue against but rather than ignore other data points, as she does here, I want to include hers and add to them. This isn’t me trying to create, a she’s wrong, and I’m right scenario, I’m suggesting that she’s right in some ways but her conclusions are simply feeding her ideological bias. That’s a strong accusation, but I ask for those who can be objective, look at what I write, too. I also hope we don’t fall into the simple trap of, she’s black and I’m white. That’s part of the reason I’m taking the time to write this, because her summary uses words like, “brutality”, “contaminating our whole society”, “inflicting”, “poisoning our public”, “too much blood to elect this man”. These are words which push people into survival mode, and as we know when people are pushed to those limits, the fear of imminent danger, initiates our baser instincts of fight or flight.

This is where we’re at today. Rather than trying to bring us closer together, almost every response to a debate or argument are, it’s based on racism, classicism, greed, xenophobia, or some other type of phobia. Where can someone with a differing point of view have an intelligent, thoughtful disagreement? It’s as bad as saying, if you disagree, than you’re anti-American, a communist, a left-wing looney, a liberal. The difference though in tone, is that descriptive labels or name calling, results in an immediate dismissal of the other person’s point of view. Words of fear or skewing the narrative towards instincts of survival, create the greatest polarization and dissolve any discussion onto an emotional argument. The words she used, as well as other people who have repeatedly used these phrases almost as often as saying these “right wing reactionaries” or conservatives are, “fostering extremism or hatred”, or sometimes use, “Godwin’s Law”.

I suggest these additional ideas for review.

The nation was started by imperfect people, who attempted to create a written foundation that was better than themselves. Even the founders who owned slaves were of the mind, they needed to do something, but the prevailing opinion in the new nation wasn’t as advanced. Many who owned slaves decided to release them upon their death. It may seem as a half-hearted effort, but this was the beginning of recognition something was very wrong. The whole question of having slaves was debated for the next 80 years. Sometimes those squabbles boiled over into more than verbal struggles. John Brown, a white man from Ohio, was among the most famous of the active abolitionists. In 1855, he along with 5 sons, began abolitionist reprisals in the Kansas Territory. A group of abolitionists were murdered by pro-slavery forces, and on May 24, 1856, he and his sons killed 5 pro-slavery advocates. This animosity towards slavery and it’s practice culminated in an open act of violence by a group of men led by John Brown against a federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on October 16, 1859. Two days later, a militia, led by Colonel Robert E. Lee, killed 10 of Brown’s men, including 2 of his sons.

Two years before John Brown and his men went to Virginia, the Supreme Court came up with the infamous Dredd Scott decision. The court decided on a slave’s petition to find protection under the Constitution, they ruled, no person with African blood could become a U.S. citizen. It also altered the 1820 Missouri Compromise, which restricted slavery in some U.S. territories. Abolitionists saw little recourse under the law. The northern and southern states could no longer find a compromise. Not surprisingly those whose livelihoods depended on the use of slaves, decided they would no longer be part of the union and thus the beginning of secession and civil war. An overwhelming number of white people lost their lives for a black cause, although people still argue to this day, it was all about preserving the union. Argue as you must, the facts show the beginning of the end of slavery began when the first shots were fired at fort Sumter.

Decades went by, and whites dominated the nation through political & financial power, and educational opportunities. The 1950’s and especially the 1960’s found a resurgence in the struggle for equality. Many white people participated and also died during this historical change. Here are a couple of references from which to read.

These acts of courage don’t absolve anyone today who might still harbor resentment, prejudice, hatred, and anger toward others, but to the point, instilling fear in black people and guilt for people born white, isn’t going to advance a cause or create a way of bringing the masses together.

Let’s examine her claims that Republicans have placed America into a class based system and impoverished those who are in the middle. Most people stare at you blankly, and already left the conversation by now, but the facts require more depth than quick sound bites.

First, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
No democrat-controlled congress has balanced the federal budget in 40 years. No republican president has balanced the federal budget in 50 years.
IRS - data - Income vs SpendingHow does that effect you or I? The answer is in how the circulation of money works. Currency in circulation represents an agreed upon value. The value we place on something is arbitrary. We say this person’s time or material has a value. If the value changes, some may benefit, while others may not. It’s not the value assigned that is as important as what it represents to the individual and their time. Someone who possesses things with small valuation, requires more time to create or own things than someone with a lot of value assigned to their work or materials. The government will use some of this collective time to buy or expend for its services. The more the government spends, the more they withdraw from this means of trade. The government doesn’t create wealth, it distributes it, hopefully for public good.

President Eisenhower was the last Republican president to preside over a balanced budget in 1960. A Democrat-controlled Congress elected in 1958 approved the appropriations for that fiscal year in 1959.

The federal budget was balanced in fiscal years 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. A Republican-controlled Congress approved the appropriations for each one of those years and a Democrat President, Bill Clinton signed them. When President Clinton governed with a Democrat-controlled Congress, in fiscal years 1994 and 1995, the federal government ran deficits of $203.2 billion and $163.9 billion respectively.

calendar days congress sworn inIn the U.S. we use the dollar to value our trade. When someone is wealthy, they possess more dollars or own materials with higher value, or a greater number of valuable materials. Therefore if the government requires 30% tax to their aggregate earned value, a tax on this value may be less of a hardship on those who have substantial wealth. This gave rise to the popular idea of a progressive tax. Those with more at their disposal, were in theory able to spend more for government, which was supposed to benefit all. Somewhere along the way, things got altered by those who had a lot of dollars and could use those dollars to get their friends, colleagues, and generally friendly sympathizers winning elections. Laws were changed to shelter some of this gain from the same level of tax as someone who was employed. Those with fewer dollars at their disposal, could vote, but the information they learned about candidates was from sources owned by the wealthy, and their colleagues.

Each political party has used their wealthy supporters to gain control of the political machinery that manages our nation. Overall, the Democrats generally out spend and are more successful at getting their party candidates into office. Congress has usually been controlled by the same party, and that has mostly been Democrats. If you examine this chart, you will see in all fairness, The Democrats have been far and away the ruling party in this country. Under President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960’s, a “war on poverty” was initiated. It’s interesting sometimes, and mind numbing at others, when someone claims this has helped the poor, then turns around a few minutes later and declares we’re even more impoverished than before and the Republicans who have been mostly in the minority are to blame.

I’ve read a fair amount about Donald Trump and I’ve seen shoddy hit pieces done by people using anything they can to confirm their bias. My conclusions are, I don’t know if he is a racist or just someone who hasn’t a filter between his brain and his mouth. I don’t think anyone, short of a clairvoyant knows exactly what motivates him. I think it’s partly ego, partly frustration with the political system, and mostly a blindness to his own faults. His lack of experience, his dramatic and often not well thought out public statements, and his overall impulsiveness, lead me to believe, he’s not the person I want to place my trust in to lead this nation.A recent set of interviews with the ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal”, Tony Schwartz, paints a picture of him that is all too believable.

I can give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s a man that loves his family, and he’s someone that has been successful in making money. He’s not the most successful, even in New York, nor is he the best architect of New York landscape. To me, he wasn’t the most interesting person to watch on TV. In fact, I changed the channel if I saw him. I could never sit down and watch an entire episode of “Celebrity Apprentice”. All of the superlatives of which he likes to use in his public speeches, best, most, greatest, etc., simply show me a person caught up in his own shadow. I wish for him, continued good health, and a happy family life. Not one of my wishes include him as a leader of our nation.


Abraham Lincoln prophetically stated in 1838: “At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa…combined could not by force take a drink from the Ohio in a trial of a thousand years…If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.

Further reading.