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Letter: Time to acknowledge primary reason for war

In Savannah, Georgia, on March 21, 1861, barely three months after South Carolina seceded from the Union, newly minted Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens delivered what became known as the “Cornerstone Speech.” The purpose of his address was to clearly state the principles on which the Confederacy had been founded.

Stephens declared the authors of what he referred to as the “old” U.S. Constitution apparently believed “that the enslavement of the African was a violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically.” He further stated, “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 moral condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

This spring marks the 156th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Surely, at last, it is time for all Americans, and especially white Southerners such as myself to acknowledge the primary reason for which the war was fought. Also, we should recognize the terrible consequences of slavery that have followed us throughout our history. I can assure you that our African-American neighbors know the truth.They have had to experience it every day of their lives.

“We live best, and understand best when we remember well,” Bret Stephens wrote in the New York Times on April 4.

— Keith Townsend

Mt. Ulla

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