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Quotes / The American Civil War

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Abraham Lincoln

"Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool.note  A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer'!"
Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union speech. February 27, 1860.

I can't spare the man - He fights!
Abraham Lincoln on Ulysses S. Grant. 1862.

It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and the usages and customs of war as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person, on account of his color, and for no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age.

The government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our possession.

It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war.
Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation of Retaliation in response to Confederate threat to enslave or execute black US soldiers and their white officers. July 30, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. November 19, 1863

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two-hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. March 4, 1865.

Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
Abraham Lincoln's Speech to One Hundred Fortieth Indiana Regiment (March 17, 1865)


Loudest are the yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes.
Samuel Johnson, at the time of the American Revolution

Mark me, Franklin. If we give in on this issue, there will be trouble one hundred years hence. Posterity will never forgive us.
John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, on Congress deleting the anti-slavery paragraph from the Declaration of Independence. 1776 - 85 years before the Civil War

I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.
Thomas Jefferson on the Missouri Compromise that divided the country between the slave banning north and slave allowing south. 1820 - 41 years before the Civil War.

Resolved, That all petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions, or papers, relating in any way or to any extent whatever to the subject of slavery, or the abolition of slavery, shall, without being either printed or referred, be laid upon the table, and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon.
Congressional resolution forbidding the topic of abolishing slavery from being brought up. 1830 - 31 years before the Civil War.

... the Tariff was only the pretext, and Disunion and a Southern Confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the Negro or Slavery question.
Andrew Jackson after the Nullification Crises, where South Carolina declared its right to nullify federal law and secede if its demands were not met. 1833 -28 years before the Civil War.

If you men are taken in rebellion against the Union, I will hang you with less reluctance than I hanged deserters and spies in Mexico.
Zachary Taylor in response to Secessionist threatening rebellion if California was admitted as a Free State.

They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it.
Chief Justice Roger Taney, Dred Scott v. Sandford

I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.
John Brown, at his trial. 1 year before the Civil War

The South is invaded. It is time for all patriots to be united, to be under military organization, to be advancing to the conflict determined to live or die in defence of the God given right to own the African
—Mississippi planter Richard Thompson Archer writing to the Vicksburg Sun. 1 year before the Civil War


The anti-slavery party contends that slavery is wrong in itself, and the Government is a consolidated national democracy. We of the South contend that slavery is right, and that this is a confederate Republic of sovereign States.
Laurence Massillon Keitt (D-SC), Speech to the House, January 1860.

We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority.
Senator Jefferson Davis (D-MS) (29 February 1860)

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
South Carolina Articles of Secession. December 24, 1860.

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 white man 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.
Convention of South Carolina, Address of the people of South Carolina to the people of the Slaveholding States. December 25, 1860.

Our people have come to this on the question of slavery. I am willing, in that address to rest it upon that question. I think it is the great central point from which we are now proceeding, and I am not willing to divert the public attention from it.
Laurence Massillon Keitt (D-SC), South Carolina secession debates. December 1860.

Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice President of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the Constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security.
Alabama Ordinance of Secession. January 11, 1861.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
Mississippi Articles of Secession. January 15, 1861.

It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.
Mississippi Articles of Secession. January 15, 1861.

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war.
Georgia Ordinance of Secession. January 29, 1861.

The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution.
Georgia Ordinance of Secession. January 29, 1861.

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility [sic] and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery—the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits—a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association.
A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union. February 2, 1861.

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color—a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.
A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union. February 2, 1861.

Better, far better! endure all the horrors of civil war than to see the dusky sons of Ham leading the fair daughters of the South to the altar.
William M. Thomson to Warner A. Thomson. February 2, 1861.

The South is now in the formation of a Slave Republic. This, perhaps, is not admitted generally. There are many contented to believe that the South as a geographical section is in mere assertion of its independence; that, it is instinct with no especial truth—pregnant of no distinct social nature; that for some unaccountable reason the two sections have become opposed to each other; that for reasons equally insufficient, there is disagreement between the peoples that direct them; and that from no overruling necessity, no impossibility of co-existence, but as mere matter of policy, it has been considered best for the South to strike out for herself and establish an independence of her own. This, I fear, is an inadequate conception of the controversy.
L.W. Spratt, The Philosophy of Secession: A Southern View. February 13, 1861.

Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas....I protest....against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.
Sam Houston, Governor of Texas, March 16, 1861, upon being removed from office for refusing to swear allegiance to the Confederacy.

After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.
Sam Houston, explaining his refusal above, April 19, 1861

No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
Article I, Section 9(4) of the Confederate Constitution

We recognize the negro as God and God's Book and God's Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him. Our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude.
Jefferson Davis, March 1861

The prevailing ideas entertained by [Thomas Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew.
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, Cornerstone Speech, March 21, 1861.

Whereas, In addition to the well founded causes of complaint set forth by this convention, in reselutions adopted on the 11th March, A. D. 1861, against the sectional party now in power at Washington City, headed by Abraham Lincoln, he has, in the face of resolutions passed by this convention, pledging the State of Arkansas to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any state that had seceded from the old Union, proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such states, until they should be compelled to submit to their rule, and large forces to accomplish this, have by this same power been called out, and are now being marshalled to carry out this inhuman design, and to longer submit to such rule or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas.
Arkansas Ordinance of Secession. May 6, 1861

That all commissioned officers in the command of said Benjamin F. Butler be declared not entitled to be considered as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare but as robbers and criminals deserving death, and that they and each of them be whenever captured reserved for execution.
Jefferson Davis, GENERAL ORDERS, No. 111.. December 24, 1862.

That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.
Jefferson Davis, GENERAL ORDERS, No. 111.. December 24, 1862.

This country without slave labor would be completely worthless. We can only live & exist by that species of labor; and hence I am willing to fight for the last.
CS Lieutnant William Nugent to Eleanor. September 7, 1863.

If slaves make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong.
General Howell Cobb, protesting the idea of arming slaves to fight for the Confederacy. January 8, 1865.

It is to maintain slavery, God’s institution of labor, and the primary political element of our Confederate form of Government, state sovereignty, that we have taken the sword of justice against the infidel and oppressor. The two must stand or fall together. To talk of maintaining our independence while we abolish slavery is simply to talk folly. Four millions of our fellow-men in the domestic relation of slaves have, in the providence of God, under His unalterable decree…been committed to our charge. We dare not abandon them to the tender mercies of the infidel. Like the marriage, parental and fraternal relations, slavery enters into the composition of our families, and like those God-ordained relations, it has the sanction of His law and His gospel. The family relations are incorporated into civil government, and with us slavery is one of those relations.
South Carolinan newspaper Courier. January 24, 1865.

That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I will put him through. That will be the last speech he will ever make.
John Wilkes Booth to Lewis Powell after Lincoln last public address (11 April 1865)

It is well that war is so terrible, or else we would grow too fond of it.
General Robert E. Lee. December 13, 1862


My inclination is to whip the rebellion into submission, preserving all Constitutional rights. If it cannot be whipped any other way than through a war against slavery, let it come to to that legitimately. If it is necessary that slavery should fall that the Republic may continue its existence, let slavery go.
General Ulysses S Grant. November 27, 1861.

I am with Fremont as many of the boys are. I have no heart in this war if the slaves cannot go free.
Chauncey Herbert Cooke, Union private from Company G of the 25th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, letter to Doe Cooke (January 6, 1863)

No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.
General Ulysses S. Grant, earning his nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. Battle of Fort Donelson. February 16, 1862

That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
Emancipation Proclamation. September 22, 1863.

I have given the subject of arming the negro my hearty support. This, with the emancipation of the negro, is the heavyest blow yet given the Confederacy. The South rave a great deal about it and profess to be very angry.
Ulysses S Grant. Auguest 23, 1863.

Mix 'em up. I'm tired of states' rights.
General George Thomasnote , after being asked if the dead from the Battle of Missionary Ridge should be organized by state. November 25, 1863.

Last night I talked awhile to those men who came in day before yesterday from the S.W. part of the state about 120 miles distant. Many of them wish Slavery abolished & slaves out of the country as they said it was the cause of the War, and the Curse of our Country & the foe of the body of the people—the poor whites. They knew the Slave masters got up the war expressly in the interests of the institution, & with no real cause from the Government or the North.
James B. Lockney, 28th Wisconsin Infantry, Diary. November 29, 1863.

"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!
Admiral David Farragut, Battle of Mobile Bay. Popularly paraphrased as "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" August 5, 1864.

Atlanta is ours and fairly won.
General William T. Sherman, after winning the Battle of Atlanta and ensuring President Lincoln's re-election. September 3, 1864.

In the name of common sense I ask you not to appeal to a just God in such a sacrilegious manner; you who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into war, dark and cruel war; who dared and badgered us to battle, insulted our flag, seized our arsenals and forts that were left in the honorable custody of peaceful ordnance sergeants; seized and made "prisoners of war" the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians long before any overt act was committed by the, to you, hated Lincoln Government.
General William T. Sherman, response to Confederate General Hood's complaint over his expulsion of Confederate civilians from Atlanta. September 10, 1864.

The South began the war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or tittle of provocation... You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices today than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.”
General William T. Sherman, shortly before burning the city of Atlanta. September 12, 1864.

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah,
General William T. Sherman, telegram to President Lincoln after capturing Savannah, Georgia.

You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it...Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.
Sherman again (before the war, to to Prof. David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860)).

I had known General Lee in the old army, and had served with him in the Mexican War; but did not suppose, owing to the difference in our age and rank, that he would remember me, while I would more naturally remember him distinctly, because he was the chief of staff of General Scott in the Mexican War ... When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each other, and after shaking hands took our seats. I had my staff with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the whole of the interview. What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.
Ulysses S. Grant, reflecting on Lee's Surrender.

The war is over — the rebels are our countrymen again.
Ulysses S Grant, stopping his men from cheering after the Confederate surrender. April 9, 1865.

The hoarse and indistinguishable orders of commanding officers, the screaming and bursting of shells, canister and shrapnel as they tore through the struggling masses of humanity, the death screams of wounded animals, the groans of their human companions, wounded and dying and trampled underfoot by hurrying batteries, riderless horses and the moving lines of battle-a perfect Hell on earth, never, perhaps to be equaled, certainly not to be surpassed, nor ever to be forgotten in a man's lifetime. It has never been effaced from my memory, day or night, for fifty years.
Union Private William Archibald Waugh, 1912, about the battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.

Writers (Historians, Essayists, Artists)

For the present, and so long as there are living witnesses of the great war of sections, there will be people who will not be consoled for the loss of a cause which they believed to be holy. As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885)

James Ford Rhodes, citing [Louis] Agassiz, said that "what the whole country has only learned through years of costly and bitter experience was known to this leader of scientific thought before we ventured on the policy of trying to make negroes [sic] intelligent by legislative acts." John W. Burgess wrote that "a black skin means membership in a race of men which has never of itself succeeded in subjecting passion to reason." For William A. Dunning, blacks "had no pride of race and no aspiration or ideals save to be like whites." Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer quoted approvingly the southern observation that Yankees didn't understand the subject because they "had never seen a nigger except Fred Douglass." Blacks were "as credulous as children, which in intellect they in many ways resembled.
Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession about the Dunning School (1988)

Why is the authentic culture...that of the masters and not of the slaves?...There are plenty of people today who claim to be advocate for or aficionados of "Southern heritage" - but who choose to define that heritage as a celebration of the Confederacy and the antebellum South. But doesn't Southern heritage also belong to those who fought, resisted, and endured slavery, and who created wonderful music, food, and literature in spite of slavery? Why celebrate the former and not the latter?

They [Neo-Confederates] will continue to revere Robert E. Lee as the greatest general of the Civil War—perhaps the greatest general in American history. But they probably will not appreciate Lee’s role in the greatest irony of the Civil War—one that goes a long way toward explaining the evolution of Union military policy into Mark Grimsley’s "hard war". When Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862, the Confederacy was on the verge of defeat. Union conquests in the West had brought more than 50,000 square miles of Confederate territory under Northern control and had caused profound discouragement in the South. General George B. McClellan’s large Army of the Potomac had approached to within six miles of Richmond. The Confederate government had packed its archives and treasury on trains to evacuate the capital. If the war had brought an end to the Confederacy in the summer of 1862, slavery and the antebellum Southern social order would have remained largely intact and the Southern infrastructure relatively undamaged. But Lee’s counteroffensive in the Seven Days battles and other major victories during the next year ensured a prolongation of the war, opening the way to the emergence of Grant and Sherman to top Union commands, the abolition of slavery, the “directed severity” of Union policy in 1864–65, and the Götterdämmerung of the Old South. Here was the irony of Robert E. Lee: His success produced the destruction of everything he fought for.
James McPherson, The Mighty Scourge

It should always be remembered that America did not "go to war" in 1860. America was attacked in 1860 by a formidable rebel faction seeking to protect the expansion of slavery. That faction did not simply want slavery to continue in America; they dreamed of a tropical empire of slavery encompassing Cuba, Nicaragua, and perhaps the whole of South America. This faction was not only explicitly pro-slavery but explicitly anti-democratic. The newly declared Confederacy attacked America not because it was being persecuted, but because it was unable to win a democratic election.

''As we mentioned once before, we are trying to take a neutral path between the North and South. We find ourselves in a situation that cannot help but give our books a 'Northern' tinge. For some reason, while the South turned out much colorful story material on the war, the North seems to have documented the actual history of the war a lot more completely."
Harvey Kurtzman, The EC Archives: Two-Fisted Tales, Volume 3, Editor's Note, sarcastically making fun of the idea of "neutrality".


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence in the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
Glory, glory...
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal";
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory, glory...
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory...
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Glory, glory...
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory...
Julia Ward Howe, "The Battle-Hymn of the Republic", published in The Atlantic Monthly of February 1862.

We are coming, Father Abra'am, 300,000 more,
From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore.
We leave our plows and workshops, our wives and children dear,
With hearts too full for utterance, with but a silent tear.
We dare not look behind us but steadfastly before.
We are coming, Father Abra'am, 300,000 more!
We are coming, coming, our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abra'am, with 300,000 more!

If you look across the hilltops that meet the northern sky,
Long moving lines of rising dust your vision may descry;
And now the wind, an instant, tears the cloudy veil aside,
And floats aloft our spangled flag in glory and in pride;
And bayonets in the sunlight gleam, and bands brave music pour,
We are coming, father Abr'am, three hundred thousand more!
We are coming, coming, our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abra'am, with 300,000 more!

If you look up all our valleys where the growing harvests shine,
You may see our sturdy farmer boys fast forming into line;
And children from their mother's knees are pulling at the weeds,
And learning how to reap and sow against their country's needs;
And a farewell group stands weeping at every cottage door,
We are coming, Father Abr'am, three hundred thousand more!
We are coming, coming, our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abra'am, with 300,000 more!

You have called us, and we're coming by Richmond's bloody tide,
To lay us down for freedom's sake, our brothers' bones beside;
Or from foul treason's savage group, to wrench the murderous blade;
And in the face of foreign foes its fragments to parade.
Six hundred thousand loyal men and true have gone before,
We are coming, Father Abra'am, 300,000 more!

We are coming, coming, our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abra'am, with 300,000 more!
- "We are Coming, Father Abra'am". A Northern patriotic song by James S. Gibbons, originally published in the New York Evening Post.

Oh right down south in the land of traitors
Rattlesnakes and alligators!
Where cotton's king and men are chattles!
Union boys will win the battles!
—"Dixie's Land"

''John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave; (3×)
His soul's marching on!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! his soul's marching on!
John Brown's Body

Yankee Doodle is no more, sunk his name and station. Nigger Doodle takes his place!
Nigger Doodle Dandy (1864), an anti-war song sung by northern Democrats against the U.S. war effort and the Republicans.

When our land is illumined with Liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained, who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave!
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., additional verse added to "The Star-Spangled Banner" (1861)

We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although he may be poor, he shall never be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

The Union forever, hurrah! boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitors, up with the stars;
While we rally round the flag, boys, we rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
George Frederick Root, "Battle Cry of Freedom", 1862


Follows next, a period spannin'
Four long years with James Buchanan
Then the South starts shootin' cannons
And we've got a civil war!
A war, a war down south in Dixie!

"Yankees! In Georgia! How'd they ever get in?"
Aunt Pittypat, Gone with the Wind

Cordelia: You're in charge now. And you've got a long road ahead. Slavery has ended, but reconstruction has just begun.
Groo: What is this "reconstruction?"
Cordelia: Gunn, you wanna field this?
Gunn (only black guy): It means: sayin' people are free, don't make 'em free. You've got races that hate each other. You got some folks getting work they don't want, others losing the little they had. You're looking at social confusion, economic depression and probably some riots. Good luck.
Angel, "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"

Charles Hamilton: Are you hinting, Mr. Butler, that the Yankees can lick us?
Rhett Butler: No, I'm not hinting. I'm saying very plainly that the Yankees are better equipped than we. They've got factories, shipyards, coal mines, and a fleet to bottle up our harbors and starve us to death. All we've got is cotton, and slaves, and... (glances around) arrogance.

Sergeant Clark: Lee's surrender was not the end of the South, it was the birth of the United States.
Run of the Arrow (1957), directed by Samuel Fuller