To the Editor:
George and Treva O’Neil’s recent editorial about Confederates not being heroes is misplaced. They claim Southerners fought to preserve slavery. That is an old myth perpetrated by the winners to make themselves look noble and the losers look bad.
Why would the South need to secede to protect slavery? As abhorrent as slavery was, it was legal in 15 states. Congress had no power to abolish it. It took an amendment to the Constitution (13th) to do that and there was no way, with the South in the Union, they could have mustered the 3/4th states ratification necessary to pass it. The amendment wasn’t even proposed until three months before the war ended. The South was in no danger of losing slavery in 1861.
Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, nearly two years after the war began, was not designed to free slaves. The states of Missouri, Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky were slaves states still in the Union. The Proclamation did not free a single slave in those states — only in the states in active rebellion. In fact, Tennessee was already under Union control by that time so it didn’t apply to the slaves in Tennessee either. Slavery remained legal and practiced within the Union for months after the war ended. The Proclamation was a punishment to the rebels, not a general freeing of slaves.
At a time when we need serious discussion about our past, we need to be prepared to have an accurate discussion about what really happened and why.
Alfred E. “Sonny” Sanders