Roger Braxton’s ideas concerning the Civil War and the reasons it was fought are very interesting. Each year as we approach the celebration of the Fourth of July, we are treated to sermons by neo-Confederates who proclaim that taxes and states’ rights explain the South’s rebellion, not slavery or racial malice.
I wonder, then, if the Confederate revisionists could answer a simple question: how do you explain the South’s enthusiastic support for the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850? This legislation, passed by Congress in the Compromise of 1850, sent federal marshals into Northern states to hunt down and return runaway slaves to their Southern masters. The law totally bypassed Northern judicial methods, which required that a jury hear evidence about a slave’s status before sending him/her back in chains to the South, and it also invalidated legal protections passed by Northern states meant to protect not only runaway slaves, but free African Americans living in the North.
For Southerners who proclaimed states’ rights at the top of their lungs, it seems odd that they would be willing to overlook the violation of local autonomy of Northern jurisdictions. The fact is Southerners were quite willing to throw out the ideology of states’ rights when it was consistent with their beliefs that slavery should form the backbone of the U.S. economy. Thank God they were wrong. Thank God they lost.
Joshua L. Bearden