Jefferson Davis addressed the topic of negro equality in his own Farewell Speech to the U.S. Senate.
The Black Republicans were justifying the doctrine of racial equality by citing the Declaration of Independence. The people of Mississippi found this disturbing enough to secede from the Union:
“It has been a conviction of pressing necessity, it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us, which has brought Mississippi to her present decision.
She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races. That Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were declaring their independence; the people of those communities were asserting that no man was born—to use the language of Mr. Jefferson—booted and spurred to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were created equal—meaning the men of the political community; that there was no divine right to rule; that no man inherited the right to govern; that there were no classes by which power and place descended to families, but that all stations were equally within the grasp of each member of the body politic. These were the great principles they announced; these were the purposes for which they made their declaration; these were the ends to which their enunciation was directed. They have no reference to the slave; else, how happened it that among the items of arraignment made against George III was that he endeavored to do just what the North has been endeavoring of late to do – to stir up insurrection among our slaves? Had the Declaration announced that the negroes were free and equal, how was the Prince to be arraigned for stirring up insurrection among them? And how was this to be enumerated among the high crimes which caused the colonies to sever their connection with the mother country? When our Constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable, for there we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men—not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three-fifths.
Then, Senators, we recur to the compact which binds us together; we recur to the principles upon which our Government was founded; and when you deny them, and when you deny us the right to withdraw from a Government which thus perverted threatens to be destructive of our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our independence, and take the hazard. This is done, not in hostility to others; not to injure any section of the country, not even for our own pecuniary benefit, but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our duty to transmit unshorn to our children.”
Davis explains that Thomas Jefferson was not referring to the African negro in the Declaration of Independence. On the contrary, the Declaration condemned King George III for inciting slave insurrections in the Southern colonies. The negro did not even have the same status as paupers and convicts.
(1) Jefferson Davis told the U.S. Senate that Mississippi was seceding over the Radical position on racial equality.
(3) Robert Toombs told the U.S. Senate that the people of Georgia rejected negro equality and would meet them at the border with the sword in their hand.
(4) The Confederate commissioners appealed to the Upper South and Border South to secede over the threat posed by racial equality.
(5) Robert E. Lee testified before Congress during Reconstruction that Virginia would be better off after the expulsion of the negro.
(7) The State of Texas justified secession on the Republican Party’s support for “the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men” in its declaration of the causes of secession.
(9) William Lowndes Yancey said he would rather go down like the Spartans at Thermopylae and crawl into a grave than be degraded to the level of the Northern free negro.
(10) Gov. Zebulon Vance of North Carolina opposed the Federal Elections Bill of 1890 for subjecting the intelligence and property of the South to ignorance and poverty during Reconstruction.
(11) John C. Calhoun said that “ours is a government of the white race” and that we had “never dreamt” of incorporating any other race into our country. He argued at length that slavery was a positive good, that the states had a right to secede, and that liberty was a curse rather than a blessing to the negro.
(12) The great John Wilkes Booth on why he assassinated the tyrant Abraham Lincoln:
“That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make.”
That’s only the tip of the iceberg:
“As the conflict with the Yankees loomed, there was renewed interest in the old Tidewater theory that racial differences were to blame. In wartime propaganda, the Deep Southern elite was explicitly included in the allegedly superior Norman/Cavalier race in an effort to increase the bonds between the regions, with the (decidedly un-Norman) Appalachian districts often embraced for good measure. For Tidewater in particular, casting the conflict as a war for Norman liberation from Anglo-Saxon tyranny neatly sidestepped the more problematic slavery issue. The Southern Literary Messenger, Tidewater’s leading journal, conceded in 1861 that “the Roundheads” may gain many victories in view of their superior strength and their better condition” but assured “they will lose the last battle and then sink down to their normal position of relative inferiority.” The journal argued the Confederate aim was to create “a sort of Patrician Republic” ruled by people “superior to all other races on this continent.”
This propaganda was embraced in the Deep South as well. In an 1862 speech, Jefferson Davis told Mississippi legislators that their enemies were “a traditionless and homeless race … gathered by Cromwell from the bogs and fens of the north of Ireland and of England” to be “disturbers of peace in the world.” The war, DeBow’s Review declared, was a struggle to reverse the ill-conceived American Revolution, which had been contrary to “the natural reverence of the Cavalier for the authority of established forms over mere speculative ideas.” By throwing off monarchy, slaveholders endangered the wondrous “domestic institution” that rested “on the principle of inequality and subordination, and favored a public policy embodying the ideas of social status.” Democracy “threw political influence into the hands of inorganic masses” and caused “the subjection of the Cavalier to the intellectual thralldom of the Puritan.” Other Tidewater and Deep Southern thinkers came to agree that the struggle was really between respect for established aristocratic order and the dangerous Puritan notion that “the individual man was … of higher worth than any system of polity.” As Fitzhugh put it, it was a war “between conservatives and revolutionists; between Christians and infidels … the chase and the libidinous, between marriage and free-love.” Some even championed the dubious notion that the Confederacy was fighting a Huguenot-Anglican counterreformation against Puritan excess. Slavery was not the issue, they argued – defeating democracy was.”
The idea of a “Rainbow Confederacy” is preposterous. Secession was an explicitly conservative revolt against the perceived excesses of liberal democracy. The counterrevolution was crushed and we are still suffering from the consequences.
Note: President Andrew Johnson, the arch unionist from East Tennessee, vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and opposed the 14th Amendment which threatened to “create such a tyranny as this continent has never yet witnessed.”