W.E.B. DuBois on States Rights and the CSA
DuBois is not one of my favorite historical figures but he is essentially right on this point. One could add that states rights or the rights of the states is not even mentioned in the secessionist declarations of South Carolina and Mississippi. Essentially, the main theory these documents put forward was the Northern states had violated the “compact” by obstructing and otherwise failing to enforce the Fugitive Slave clause.
The Fugitive Slave clause:
“Copperheads like the New York Times may magisterially declare: “of course, he never fought for slavery.” Well, for what did he fight? State rights? Nonsense. The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.”
David T. Beito is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at the University of Alabama, and co-author with Linda Royster Beito of T. R. M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer (Independent Institute, 2018).