The power of III

Summum ius summa iniuria--More law, less justice

22 February 2011

Jefferson Davis on Slavery and the right of the Federal government to intervene

The reader ... might naturally enough be led to the conclusion that the controversies which arose between the States, and the war in which they culminated, were caused by efforts on the one side to extend and perpetuate human slavery, and on the other to resist it and establish human liberty.

The Southern States and Southern people have been sedulously represented as "propagandists" of slavery, and the Northern as the defenders and champions of universal freedom, and this view has been so arrogantly assumed, so dogmatically asserted, and so persistently reiterated, that its authors have, in many cases, perhaps, succeeded in bringing themselves to believe it, as well as in impressing it widely upon the world.

The attentive reader of the preceding chapters—especially if he has compared their statements with contemporaneous records and other original sources of information—will already have found evidence enough to enable him to discern the falsehood of these representations, and to perceive that, to whatever extent the question of slavery may have served as an occasion, it was far from being the cause of the conflict.

I have not attempted, and shall not permit myself to be drawn into any discussion of the merits or demerits of slavery as an ethical or even as a political question. It would be foreign to my purpose, irrelevant to my subject, and would only serve—as it has invariably served, in the hands of its agitators—to "darken counsel" and divert attention from the genuine issues involved...

...As for the institution of negro servitude, it was a matter entirely subject to the control of the States.

No power was ever given to the General Government to interfere with it, but an [Constitutional] obligation was imposed to protect it...

Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, 1881

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