The U.S. Civil War:  Confederate Aims (Part 2)

By | March 28, 2020

[March 27, 2020]  In my previous post yesterday on Union Aims about the U.S. Civil War, I wrote that Union aims.  U.S. President Abraham Lincoln made it clear that any surrender terms of the South must be to preserve the Union and a pledge of equality for freed slaves.  Today, I will address Confederate aims and how they differ from the Union’s position.

Recall that my understanding, until recently, was that Confederate aims were all about the importance of state’s rights.  All other issues were secondary.  Slavery was not essential but was a concern.  In other words, teachers in the South taught the legalization of slavery was to up to each state and that no federal level of government should decide on the issue.  For a national government to do so would, in effect, immoral.

Yet, elite southerners feared that the rest of the United States threatened slavery.  Leading southern politicians advanced the position of states’ rights in response.  Such thinking is the reverse of our teachings.  Furthermore, southern intellectuals developed the myth of the cavalier, which claimed that elite southerners, unlike northerners, descended from aristocratic Englishmen.1  Thus, northerners and southerners were distinct and separate peoples.

“Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.” –  Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens

Confederates quickly shed their American identity after the election of Lincoln and adopted a new Southern Nationalism.  This nationalism was based on several ideas.  First among these was slavery.  Second, religion helped shape this ideology, as southerners believed that the Confederacy was fulfilling God’s will.  And third, southerners believed that northerners had betrayed the original intent of the American Revolution, and thus the Confederacy was the true heir of the American Revolution.

The U.S. Civil War ended badly for the South.  While the North sustained more casualties, 360,000 to 260,000,2 the South could ill afford such losses.  Also, with the majority of the battles fought on southern soil, there was far more destruction of critical infrastructure.

After the South’s surrender, events would quickly overtake the U.S. government, trying to mend long-simmering political quarrels that would simmer for decades to come.  Nothing is ever as simple as it may appear from far away.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “The U.S. Civil War:  Confederate Aims (Part 2)

  1. Wendy Holmes

    I’ve really been enjoying your articles over the past few weeks. While I’m still a new reader, I did go back to read a few of your more popular articles from the past. I found them very educational for me – as I try to improve my leadership skills. Some will say now is not the time to be looking at face-to-face type of interaction but that doesn’t mean we have to stop learning about leadership. In fact, now is a great time to look at the successes and the failures of our leaders and learn more from them.

    1. Randy Goodman

      Yes, Wendy. I too am new to Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog and I find not only are the articles worthy but the comments here in this forum are also helpful. I’ve kinda got a small following of those who like what I write and I find that encouraging.

  2. Joe Omerrod

    Most interesting series! Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. I never really gave this much thought.

    1. Roger Yellowmule

      I would expect a discussion of that here and for Gen. Satterfield to write on this later.

  3. Santa Fe Mae

    Following from the issue with slavery and the south feeling they were losing control the south turned to rights through law to protect their interests further. To do this they tried to use states rights as their argument for slavery rights to continue.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      I don’t think people care about history any more because it is taught as a bunch of dates and hold men and not as a way to learn valuable lessons of life and leadership.

  4. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Getting back on topic here, it is the job of leaders to coach, teach, and mentor. Our school teachers are leaders whether we want to be or not. That means we have a moral and ethical responsibility to teach as best we can without bias and without injecting our personal opinions. Otherwise we become just like the Stalins, Maoists, and Hitlers of the last century.

    1. Jerome Smith

      Thanks Mr. TJ for keeping our children on track with being patriotic Americans and not some liberal,whacko child of a socialist PC’er.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Gov. Whitmer is an embarrassment to all independent, free thinking women.

      1. Gil Johnson

        To say that she is an embarrassment is an understatement.

    2. lydia

      “I love Michigan, one of the reasons we are doing such a GREAT job for them during this horrible Pandemic,” the president wrote. “Yet your Governor, Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is way in over her head, she doesn’t have a clue. Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude! #MAGA”

  5. Dead Pool Guy

    Also, good points at the end that the US federal government was after a bringing together of all the citizens both north and south into one nation (both legally and socially). Eventually, economics played a key role but there was always resistance. That resistance is what Gen. Satterfield refers to when his teachers taught him a biased view of the war.

  6. JT Patterson

    Thanks for a strong finish with your series on the US Civil War. What we are often taught — even leadership lessons — are culturally influenced. Maybe that is a good thing but we must be able to recognize that fact.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Good point JT and one that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Since I’m from Texas, I have been influenced by my friends and family that “Texas shall rise again.” Sort of based on the same “South” shall rise again theme. Texas was once an independent nation that broke away from Mexico. But they never really lost their independence streak. Wondering what will be next as the leftists start to take over the political landscape here.

    2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Now that you made the comment and Gen. Satterfield pushed out this idea of cultural influences, then maybe we can be more self-aware.


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