Southerners Are Still Revising Civil War History

What we should really call what happened 150 years ago: "Traitors’ Treasonous Terrorism"

Last Tuesday was the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and southern apologists and revisionists continue their rewriting of American history by claiming that the Civil War was not at all, or not even mostly about, slavery. Instead, they say, it was about states’ rights. But really it wasn’t. It was actually about southern whites enslaving black men, black women and black children.

Just ask the southern plantation owners whose wealth increased exponentially with the 1793 invention of the cotton gin, which greatly cut the time it took to separate seeds from cotton and required massive amounts of labor—cheap labor, the cheapest labor, which of course meant slave labor. This new device established the South’s one-crop economy, dependent on cotton and hence on slavery, while the northern economy relied on industry.

Just ask Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a millionaire slave trader and plantation owner, who became the Ku Klux Klan’s first Grand Wizard. He was the same guy who, with a force of about 3,000 armed-to-the-teeth troops, brutally slaughtered 90 percent of the approximately 300 unarmed and surrendering black Union soldiers during the notorious Fort Pillow massacre on April 12, 1864 in Henning, Tennessee. The rules of war didn’t matter to southern racists like Forrest. He murdered black men who were courageous soldiers who had been forced to surrender due to overwhelming numbers and firepower. Even General Ulysses S. Grant noted that those black soldiers had fought bravely but were out-manned and out-gunned. However, they weren’t taken as prisoners of war upon surrender. They were exterminated. And this was because the South was incensed that the North was using blacks as soldiers. Many among the Confederate’s top-ranking officials, like Forrest, contended that black soldiers were illegally taking up arms in opposition to slavery and that as a result they were nothing more than dangerous common criminals with guns who had to be executed. Or as he so eloquently put it, he had to teach the “mongrel garrison” a lesson. By the way, it was about 200,000 of those “mongrels” who ultimately helped kick the South’s ass and thereby end slavery.

Although this war is known as the Civil War, it was nothing more than what should forever and more precisely be called the Traitors’ Treasonous Terrorism because that is exactly what it was. It was American citizens taking up arms against a democratically elected American government and attempting to usurp the United States Constitution. They were therefore traitors. They therefore engaged in treason. And by bombing and shooting, they became terrorists.

So the Civil War wasn’t really about states’ rights. Oh, I stand corrected. It was really about states’ rights—their right to enslave black human beings and to betray their country in the process.