By Fahim A. Knight-El
It was cotton and other cash crops (rice, tobacco, rum, etc.), but cotton was considered the king of the cash crops, that allowed the South to become economically empowered, and the Elitist (planters class) had deep seated interest in keeping slave labor in tact (for them it was profit motive and capitalism incentive and slavery had become a way of life). Carl N. Degler in his book titled, Out of Our Past: The Forces that Shaped Modern American stated: “For two decades the southern people had been growing in the conviction that their culture, entwined about the institution of Negro slavery, made them a separate nation”. Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders knew and understood that the South could not easily relinquish their economic livelihood, and therefore, opposed the United States Government of essentially having no legal jurisdiction over the South and that the issue of slavery should be enforced and determined on the state governments levels without Union intervention.
Historian Merrill Jenson, in his book titled, The New Nation, argued and stated: “The Civil War itself was the bloody climax of a social conflict in which the ultimate nature of the Constitution was argued again and again in seeking support for and arguments against antagonistic programs. But even the Civil War did not finally settle the constitutional issue. The stresses and strains that came with the rise of industrialism and finance capitalism produced demands for social and regulatory legislation. The passage of such legislation by the states involved the interpretation of the nature of the Constitution, for business interests regulated by statement governments denied their authority and appealed to the national courts. Those courts soon denied the power of regulation to state legislatures. The when regulatory laws were passed by the national government, the regulated interests evolved a ‘states right’ theory that limited the power of the central government, and the national courts once more agreed”.
This argument would become one of the main impetuses for the Confederate states to attempt to secede in rebellion against the
This writer, is of the opinion, that it was perhaps, a combination of all the above historical variables, because some of the historiography that this writer reviewed presented scholarly and empirical data defending the validity for all above said factors, but overwhelmingly historians and social scientist debated slavery as being the main and undeniable cause of the inciting the American Civil War. This writer finds validity and credibility in the slavery arguments put forth by historians Stampp, Beard, Jenson, and Degler as being the central theme of the Civil War. Yet, this writer thinks that the Confederates had a deep conviction to southern patriotism and pride in southern institutions and often these sentiments got overshadowed, because of the evilness and dehumanization affect slavery had on millions of human beings—this writer, thinks many in the Confederate South had internalized their racial politics as being rooted in a culture, which was believed by them to be as being American as baseball and apple pie.
I think, as much as I appreciated Donald’s interpretation about the validity of all the above stated causation factors, that he attributed to the Civil War, but in my opinion, what possibly led to the Confederate downfall was that the North had just to much man power and economic resources and tactically and strategically used the question of slavery as a social and political disruption in order have the Southern Confederates distracted on two fronts. I think Davis and Lee thought that sense they were of the South and controlled the cotton commodity economy that this alone would have enticed, perhaps the British and French to intervene on the side of Confederate against the Union; however, this did not happen and U.S. imposed naval blockades all along the Eastern Seaboard, which furthered crippled the war efforts of the Confederates.
Also, the rise of the abolitionist movement such as the Quakers of Pennsylvania, John Brown (1800-1859) and Fredrick Douglas (1818-1895) who brought attention to the question of slavery as a moral and ethical contradiction (August 10, 1863 - The president meets with abolitionist Frederick Douglass). Their activism was impacting the Union or the United States Government to be more politically and if necessary militarily proactive in ending Chattel Slavery and it was their pressure that led to the inevitable, which was the gradual dismantling the system of Chattel slavery. Also slave rebellions and slave insurrections were becoming heightened throughout the South. The U.S. Courts would play a huge role in defining slaves (free slaves, runaway slaves and free territory (Missouri Compromise in 1850 and the Dred Scott Decision in 1857).
Brief Pre Civil War Background and the African Connection
The American Civil War (1861-1865) has to be viewed and interpreted from various historical events and proceedings, and must be placed in its proper historical context relative to the African slave labor correlation and dilemma, it would be remised to overlook how this came about. This writer, will briefly addressed the African slave trade in order to give a succinct understanding of how and why the black labor force became to be so important within the Confederate and Southern economy. With the advent of Chattel slavery, which predated the bloodiest war in American history by two hundred forty-two years (242) and it did not come to an end until 1865. Most historians have traced the beginning of the African Slave Trade to about the 1440s where the Portuguese ventured into West Africa and brought twenty Africans back to
It was in1619 that the British brought 20 Africans slaves (or Indentured Servants) to
Claud Anderson in his book titled, Black Labor, White Wealth stated: “Black slavery was, purely and simply, racial and economic exploitation, that caused economic revolutions and entrenched disparities between blacks and whites. Economically poor, non-industrialized nations of Europe, like Spain, Portugal, Germany, and England, commercialized human exploitation and suffering for the primary purpose of looting gold, silver and precious commodities in Africa and the New World. Old forms of mercantilism were converted to new capitalism. Banking, currency, and marketing reforms were created.
European Settlers Enter the
The new European settlers who arrived in the 15th century to the
Also, they were not accustomed to working long unbearable hours under the hot sun and many Native Americans died from sickness and diseases from being in contact with the Europeans. Nevertheless, if it were not for the alliances and treaties that took place between the Native Americans and the European Settlers, which allowed for the early Settlers to survive; because of their keen knowledge of agriculture and agrarian society —planting, cropping and taught them how to grow food and which crops to plant based on the planting season, the gathering of food was essential to the early settlers survival. The Native Americans taught them about how important it was to rotate crops and if were not for these early alliances with the Native Americans such as the Creeks, Yamasees, Seminoles, etc., that attributed to the early settlers’ survival. 
Some historians maintain that the early settlers’ alliances with the Native Americans was pragmatic and beneficial to their ultimate survival in the ‘New Word’ and some even believe that the Lost Colony that was sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to Roanoke Island (now part of North Carolina) in 1587 who disappeared either died due to starvation and/or were massacred by warring Native American tribes. The geography of the eastern seaboard and the landscape were very dense with woods and forest (possessing hot summers and mild winters). However, the British had economic interest relative to seeking valuable natural resources (initially the fur trade was lucrative because of the abundance North American animal skins) and to further empowering the financial coffers of King James of England and Queen Elizabeth of England. The venturing into the so-called New World was motivated by the economic projections that there were possibility of gold and silver to be found and this was most the important variable to the Europeans explorers and colonists motivations throughout the Americas—from Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Ponce Da Leon, Amerigo Vespucci, Magellan, Desoto, etc., the European explorations were rooted in economic interest.
The settlers were motivated to create a homestead and this would involve clearing off land in order to pursue agriculture and farming and develop these territories into livable homesteads. Slavery would play a huge role in the development of
The Advent of Chattel Slavery
Some historians argue that the first African slaves arrived to North America on a Slave Ship piloted my Sir John Hawkins of Lubeke in 1555 and it was this event, which led to chattel slavery, but most historians agree that the first slaves arrived to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 (some argue that they were initially viewed as indentured servants). Nevertheless, the exploitation of black human labor made its way on the scene in
The Civil War
James McPherson in an article titled: “A Brief Overview of the American Civil War: A Defining Time In Our Nation’s History” stated: “The event that triggered war came at
There were a number of key battles that was fought between1861-1865 pitting the Confederates and Union troops against each other, although, this research will not focused primarily on that aspect of the Civil War, nevertheless these conflicts cannot be entirely omitted. For example, First Battle of Bull Run in
So this writer believes that the Civil War (1861-1865) was inevitable and it was going to happen whether, it was
But beneath this argument and rationale, was their effort of maintaining slavery, which was rooted in racism and economics. The Confederates in the South felt that the Civil War was the only route left to challenging the federal government and their centralization of authority and control over Southern slave states, and the North simultaneously would use the Civil War to keep the
Jefferson Davis and Robert Lee, the faces of the Confederate South had declared that the South would secede from the
David Herbert Donald in his book titled, Why The North Won the Civil War stated: “was the political system of the South to blame, as so many historians persuasively argue? What was the germ of death planted in the Confederacy at birth? Was it possible to create a nation on the basis of states rights, to fight a war, which required centralization of authority, on the basis of particularism? Well, the
The South loses the Civil War
The South lost the Civil War and most reasonable historians would agree that slavery was the central theme of the Civil War (1861-1865) conflict, because it was the economic driving force of the nation at that time and perhaps the most value commodity in the history of America; but one should not be mistaken, because both the North and the South benefited from slave labor. This writer recently read a piece authored by Donald W. Livingston titled, “Why the War Was Not About Slavery”
Civil War Historiography: Contradictory Historical Thoughts
Lastly, the historiography, was vast and contradictory on the history of the Civil War relative to the cause and effect and there were a wide range of diverse historical interpretations and opinions. Harry Steels Commager in his book titled, The Defeat of the Confederacy: A Documentary , he maintained that North had better resources monetarily and militarily (better armament, equipment and more human resources) and this gave the North a clear advantage over the South during Civil War and he also points out the South having ‘lost of nerve’. Commager argument does stands to have some validity based other historians also pointed out similar contentions relative to the reasons for the North’s successful victory over the South and were equally critical in blaming some level of intellectual and military incompetency relative to the mindset of the Confederate leadership and poor military infrastructure (reference: scholars such as David Potter, Norman Graebner, T. Harry Williams and Harry Steels Commager, etc.).
The North as this writer stated above had a distinct economic advantage, because almost all of the nation’s factories were been located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (industrialism was evident—machinery and mechanized armament). Students of military history such as T. Harry Williams, J.F. Fuller, B.H. Liddell Hart and Kenneth P. Williams agrees that the North had superior availability to assets and resources and this placed the Southern Confederate at a distinct disadvantage, and also the African American Historian Charles H. Wesley in his book titled Collapse of the Confederacy, agrees with above historians, as well. The
Now, furthering, the question of slavery, historian Ulrich B. Phillips in his seminar work titled, Life and Labor in the Old South he wrote as a sympathizer and as an apologist of Southern Confederate slave states in which he interpreted, the institution of Chattel Slavery as being benevolent and good for the African slaves. Phillips’ scholarship was no doubt in defense of the white Elite planters class, he stated: “The bulk of the black personnel was notoriously primitive, uncouth, improvident and inconstant, merely because they were Negroes of the time and by their slave status they were relieved from the pressure of want and debarred from any full-force incentive of gain”.
But it was this type of racist reactionary scholarship that gave way to the work of John Blassingame in a book titled, Slave Community who challenged this contention that the slaves were happy loyal and docile and were content with being a slave on the plantation in which he pointed to three distinct personalities that evolved from plantation life, but often in American slave literature, it is always the ‘Sambo’ character that gets the most attention and the defiant slave personality that the slave plantation also created was often overlooked. Phillips’ scholarship was an attempt to justify slavery and bring credibility and justification to white slave plantation owners and protect their economic interest and define their place in American history as a dubious and justifiable evil.
The Southern wealthy white property owners financed and used poor white Confederate soldiers as mere cannon fodder and would literally do almost anything to maintain and protect their economic interest—slavery had not only become a way of life in America, it was big business. The passing of 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution ended slavery and freed the slaves in 1865 and it was not the Emancipation Proclamation, as many have come to accept. I think one must come to the realization that slavery was wrong and evil; it was justified based on economics, theology and the American jurisprudence system (law and God). There was no other way to look at the ‘peculiar institution’ other than being morally wrong; moreover, it was this compromised labor force that propelled the
A. Knight-El Chief Researcher for KEEPING IT REAL THINK TANK located in
 Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. (New York: Random House, 1956) 398-400.
 Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the
 Carl N. Degler, Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modern
 Merrill Jensen, The New Nation: A History of the
 David Herbert Donald, Why the North Won the Civil War. (New York: Touchstone, 1960), 14.
 Paul Finkelman, Slavery in the Court Room: An Annotated Bibliography of American Cases. (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1949) 43-54.
 Richard Roscoe Miller, Slavery and Catholicism. (Durham, NC: North State Publishers, 1957) 22-69.
 Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower: A History of Black
 Ibid. Miller, 40-69.
 Claud Anderson, Black Labor, White Wealth: the Search for Power and Economic Justice. (Edgewood, MD: Duncan and Duncan, Inc., Publishers, 1994) 68.
Henry Bamford Parkes, The
John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans; 5TH Ed.. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980) 13-14.
 Samuel Eliot Morison, The
 John Henrik Clarke, Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust. (New York: A& B Books Publishers, 1992) 57-58.
 W.E. B. Dubois, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade 1638-1870. (New York: Kraus-Thomson organization Limited, 1973).
James McPherson, “A Brief Overview of the American Civil War: A Defining Time in Our Nation’s History” Internet medium: (http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/overview.html).
John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans; 5TH Ed.. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980) 214.
 Ida Hakim, Dorothy Blake Farden, Jamil Hakeem,& amp; Len Moritz, Reparations: The Cure for America’s Race Problem. (Hampton, Virginia: U.B. & U.S. Communications Systems, 1994) 121.
David Herbert Donald, Why The North Won the Civil War .(New York: Touchstone, 1960)
 Donald W. Livingston, Internet medium. “Why the War Was Not About Slavery” http://www.scv.org/pdf/Livingston.pdf
 Ibid., Commager. pp.10.
 Ibid., pp. 10.
 Ibid., pp. 9.
 Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South. (South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1929) XIX.
 John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: