Today, when we think about the Civil War and the Confederate States of America or the “South” as it is commonly referred as, we immediately think of racism and slavery. However, the south did not fight exclusively for slavery, and all slave owners certainly weren’t racist. Slavery absolutely played a part as a catalyst for the civil war, but it was not the only thing. The overall reason that the south had seceded was in order to preserve their way of life.
When Abraham Lincoln became president in 1860, the country was already in a heated point involving the topic of slavery, so when he took office, he was seen as a major threat to the Southern way of life. This in turn lead the southern states to secede and form their own separate confederacy. They felt that it was their states’ rights whether to enforce slavery or not. It was what the south fought for, but it wasn’t because they were all racist towards black people. The south fought for slavery because it was their source of income. The south thrived off of farming and agriculture, that was their way of life, and slavery made the farmers work easier by providing free labor.
Now, I’m not looking to justify slavery by any means, but when it comes to the treatment of slaves during this time, there were certainly cruel slave owners, but there were also slave owners whom of which, treated their slaves with dignity and respect. There were the slave owners who allowed their slaves off on Sundays and who also gave their slaves ample food and drink for their labor. Not every slave holder used sticks, there were those who used carrots or in other words, yes there were the cruel slave owners, but there were also the fair ones.
Despite slavery being abundant in the south, there were southerners who did not believe in slavery. The Confederate General himself, Robert E. Lee believed slavery to be a sin against God. However, he fought for the south as he believed he was a Virginian first, and an American second. Lee held a great sense of pride for his state, which is ultimately what many other southerners held as well.
The south fought not only for slavery, but for their livelihood, their lifestyle. Racism was not a driving force for them and not all southerners were racist, that is for certain. It should stand to reason that slavery is a terrible act and the fact that it was abolished when it was, is a great thing, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the justifiable parts of the Civil War-era south.