Free Traders, Not Traitors -- Economic Issues And The War For Southern Independence
By: John Sophocleus
The quickest way to sort the Rebels from the Yanks is with this simple question: Who was the last president of the United States? Any Southerner who is worth his/her salt knows (or intuitively understands) that James Buchanan was the fifteenth and last president to preside over a voluntary coalition of sovereign states under a compact called the Constitution of the United States. Eleven of these sovereign states, believing they were free to leave this coalition, formed a new coalition in 1861 and struggled to carry on the tradition of free association until 1865. Slowly, these states were forced back into what is now an involuntary coalition of states under a revised Constitution. This transition from a voluntary coalition adopted in 1789 to a forced coalition of states was completed with the surrender of Lee at Appomattox. This simple distinction between a voluntary government where one is free to exit, and a despotic government where one is forced to remain seems to escape many -- particularly when applied to one's own government. Even our language provides evidence of a subconscious acceptance of this loss of freedom as author Shelby Foote points out the poor but completely accepted grammar to say the ‘United States is,’ instead of the ‘United States are.’
Few have been taught the legacy of the Southern Patriots of 1861 and the events that led to their firing upon Fort Sumter. It is largely over the difference between free trade and forced exchange. The issues of free trade, open shipping lanes and taxes were often inseparable even back to the days of the Pharaohs. The word ‘freedom’ in ancient times referred to one’s tax status. These same issues were an integral part of major events in recent times including the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Nullification Crisis, the War Between the States, and even the Great Depression.