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A service for political professionals · Friday, August 7, 2020 · 523,496,059 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

The Cornerstone of The Confederacy Was Permanent Black Enslavement and Destruction of the United States; Confederate Flag Wavers, Is That What You Honor?

July 6, 2020

By Joe Rothstein

On the Fourth of July, two friends of mine, Stephanie and Joe Kelly, posted on my Facebook page a speech by Alexander H. Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy. Stephens delivered this speech to a cheering crowd in Georgia a few weeks before the south fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina to launch the Civil War.

The speech summarizes the rationale for secession, why southern states were leaving the United States to establish their own country. In posting the speech on Facebook, Joe Kelly, said, "The speech is a powerful history lesson for better perspective on our current times.”

And that it is, for it neatly packages the “heritage” that those who fly the Confederate flag and defend Confederate monuments, identify with and honor.

Here, edited from the full version (available on line at
https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles) is what the Civil War was all about:

“The new (Confederate) constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution, African slavery, as it exists amongst us as the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.

“Thomas Jefferson had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted.

“The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away.

“This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; 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. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics.

“Our government is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law.

"Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system.

“The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator.

"It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made "one star to differ from another star in glory." The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws.”

In his speech, Stephens held out hope that this view, that Negro enslavement was ordained by god and represented the natural order of the universe, could be negotiated with the north because both sides would benefit economically. The speech is known as the “Cornerstone” speech, because, as Stephens said, it describes the cornerstone of the new nation the southern states planned to build.

“We are passing through one of the greatest revolutions in the annals of the world,” said Stephens. “Seven States have within the last three months thrown off an old government and formed a new. This revolution has been signally marked, up to this time, by the fact of its having been accomplished without the loss of a single drop of blood.”

A few weeks after delivering this speech, Confederate troops fired on the U.S. outpost at Fort Sumter in an act of war against the United States. Four years after that, more than 600,000 men died in battle. In the years since Robert E. Lee surrendered, countless more have died—-as slaves, by lynching, in places like Tulsa, and Detroit, and currently, on streets as far apart as Minneapolis and Denver and Louisville, because for many, the question of racial equality has not yet been settled.

Celebrating the nation’s founding each July 4 honors the noble, and at the time unique idea that “all men are created equal.” Reading Alexander H. Stephen’s speech on July 4 reminds us how difficult it has been, and still is, to fully redeem that promise.

(Joe Rothstein’s political thrillers, “The Latina President” and “The Salvation Project” are available from all on line book sites and most independent book stores. Questions? Comments? Rothstein can be contacted at jrothstein@rothstein.net)



Joe Rothstein is editor of U.S. Politics Today. His career in politics spans 35 years, as a strategist and media producer in more than 200 campaigns for political office and for many political causes. He was a pioneer in professional political consulting and one of the founding members of the American Association of Political Consultants. During his career Mr. Rothstein has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anchorage Daily News and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. He has a master's degree in journalism from UCLA.