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Yes, You Are Absolutely An Asshole For Flying A Confederate Flag...Ever - The Political Garbage Chute
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Published on October 24th, 2013 | by James Schlarmann

27

Yes, You Are Absolutely An Asshole For Flying A Confederate Flag…Ever


“A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.” — Excerpt from South Carolina’s Letter of Secession; Adopted December 24th, 1860

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.” — Excerpt from Mississippi’s Letter of Secession; c. January 9th 1861

 “And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slaveholding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States” — Excerpt from Alabama’s Letter of Secession; February 4th, 1861

“For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slaveholding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.” — Excerpt from Georgia’s Letter of Secession; January 29th, 1861

 There’s a reason that I started this piece off with four quotes, pulled directly from the actual letters that South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia drafted and sent to The United States of America, declaring their secession from the union. That reason is that I’m sick and tired of watching uninformed people claim that slavery had little or nothing to do with the Civil War, and I’m really sick and tired of people thinking they can wave a Confederate flag around and it doesn’t have any undertones of racism.

The words I made bold in the excerpts are pretty much all you need to know as to whether or not Southern states left the union over slavery or not, and they are just excerpts. Many of the letters contain multiple references to slavery, and the threat that electing Abraham Lincoln was to the institution of slavery. You see, over time there has been a real concerted effort by southern slavery apologists — who happen to stand on the right side of the political spectrum — to throw cold water on the notion that the Civil War was fought over slavery, but instead of over states’ rights. Then there’s the line that “slavery would have died out in another twenty years or so anyway.” We’ll get to that in a bit, but first let’s make one thing clear:

Carrying around a Confederate flag now means nothing but “I’m cool with slavery.” It doesn’t mean you’re a rebel. If it’s a rebel flag you want to tout, how could fly the flag that stood for open rebellion against actual tyranny of the day:

FLAG

Just the fact that these letters of secession exist, and that they contain direct language referencing the practice the slavery, proves that the Southern states’ primary impetus for breaking the union was to protect the slave trade. Yes, they can claim it was economics, but it was the economics of slave labor. They can claim it was states’ rights, but it was the states’ rights to own black people. You cannot extricate the issue of slavery from the Civil War, not unless you have a sinister agenda to paint African-Americans as all having some kind of victim complex, but then, too, you’d just be exposing your disgusting racist underbelly, wouldn’t you?

Flying a confederate flag is a declaration to anyone who sees it that you sympathize with the Southern cause in the Civil War. Sure, you in your own mind and heart may justify flying the flag because of “tradition” (a tradition of owning black people), “heritage” (the heritage of slave-owners), and “cultural pride” (pride in the culture of slavery), and maybe deep down you don’t hate black people. But that doesn’t mean the confederate flag is anything but a symbol of some of the most atrocious and dehumanizing behavior ever perpetrated on this continent.

Since we’re getting into the whole slavery subject and how it pertained to the Civil War, let’s just acknowledge one thing — President Abraham Lincoln did not wage a war to end slavery…initially. In one of the most quoted passages of Lincoln’s prose, he wrote in a letter to Horace Greeley, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

Many who try to disavow the importance of slavery to the Civil War will point to that quote as direct proof that he only cared about freeing the slaves when it became politically acceptable, and when the war effort needed it. That is not wholly untrue, but it’s also very simplistic. Lincoln, it’s true, was not abolitionist, and he never advocated for full-equality of the African-Americans in this country. He also did advocate shipping all the free slaves to Liberia, in Africa, rather than have them try to assimilate among a populace Lincoln presumed could not possibly evolve fast enough to not murder free slaves by the wagon-load. It’s also true the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all the slaves, just slaves in certain areas, so that they could ostensibly sign-up to fight the South.

What Lincoln was, then, was a flawed politician, limited by the education and social mores of his time. He was definitely cynical, and he was definitely a shrewd political mind. Most certainly Lincoln saw the preservation of the Union as being more important than freeing the slaves, but none of this means he approved of slavery either. There are literally dozens and dozens of quotes from the man where he plainly lays out his opposition to it, such as this one, “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel,” in another letter.

When you fly your goddamned confederate flag you aren’t taking a swipe at a war mongering tyrant who tried to squash the rights of the individual; you are simply declaring yourself on the side of the people who left the country specifically to keep practicing the slave trade. In fact, now that we’re about 150 years out from the war, you’re not even referencing Lincoln in your dunderheaded display of derpitude — you’re merely perpetuating the mindset that allowed the Southern states to think they had a divine calling to protect the practice of slavery.

Some argue as they fly their confederate flag that many in the South who fought against the North were too poor to own slaves. They claim that those good ol’ boys were just standing up for what they believed in — their states’ own sovereignty. I say “Fuck that shit on two levels.” First — when those states entered the pact known as The United States of America they gave up their individual sovereignty to the supreme sovereignty of the The United States of America — willingly. They knew that united together in a common cause against the British, their disparate band of colonies was  much more formidable foe.

I’m all for states’ rights because I believe that state government can be the lab in which new paradigms get introduced to the Federal government. Legalized marijuana and LGBT equality issues — like marriage equality — are two brilliant ways to point out how important it is for there to be a separation between Federal and state governments. But in an ironic twist, they are separate but not nearly equal. That’s why Federal laws trump state laws, and the only way to challenge a Federal law is in court, or in Congress. We necessarily set it up that way so that we had balance and compromise.

As one last button on the “many people who fought for the South never owned slaves” rhetoric, I’ll go ahead and just invoke Godwin’s Law right now and do it with a massive grin on my face. There were many, many Nazi soldiers who never personally gassed a single Jew, gypsy, homosexual or mentally disabled person either. So basically what you argue, when you say that Southerners didn’t all own slaves if they fought in the confederate army is, “They were just following orders.” So does that make southern confederate soldiers the original morality-blind Nazi stooges?

Fuck yes it does. And anyone who flies a confederate flag today, or 150 years ago, is just as guilty of shutting off their sense of decency. Suck on that, Slavery Apologists.

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About the Author

James is the founding contributor and editor-in-chief of The Political Garbage Chute, a left-leaning satire and commentary site, which can be found on Facebook as well. You definitely should not give that much a shit about his opinions.



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  • scootingdevice

    No one has a right to not be offended. Get over it.

    • James

      Who said anything about being offended? I say and do very offensive shit, but I don’t wave around a flag that basically says, “I’m cool with the time when black people were property.”

      Because I’m not a piece of shit.

      • scootingdevice

        Thats one (almost entirely) wrong interpretation of the modern day usage of the confederate flag. Usage of symbols can change over time. You do understand that don’t you?

        • miserableoldfart

          Not sure what the “modern interpretation” of that murder flag is, but I believe that the modern interpretation of shove that murder flag up your ass is pretty clear.

          • scootingdevice

            You seem angsty.

          • miserableoldfart

            Just old and tired of stupid people.

          • scootingdevice

            ironic

          • you’re an idiot

            so just because you’re old, that excuses your racism? What new uses for a 150 year old flag ARE there today? Please enlighten us. What? None? You can’t find any cite besides blogs and political boards that list any meaning for the flag besides the obvious ones? That’s what I thought. Shut your racist-ass mouth.

          • miserableoldfart

            Uh, I think you misread my post. I do not support the waving of the confederate murder flag, nor am I a racist, unless you consider cousin marrying right wing white supremacist assholes a “race.”

        • Addam Miller

          Yes, the meaning of symbols can change over time. No one, not even this articles author has argued against or disputed that fact in any way. But, what significant social event or change has happened, to in any way change the meaning of that flag, other than social ignorance? Please, name 1. Symbol meaning are inherently tied to the most significant event or situation tied to that symbol. A swastika’s meaning to everyone who admits the holocaust happened, is that of genocide and Nazi’s. It’s original meaning was benign. But no one cares because that image is the dominate one. Same with the “rebel flag”. Yes, there are and will be other meanings. Unless something happens in direct relation to that symbol to change that meaning to the masses though. Claiming otherwise is just stupid. It’s a symbol of slavery, it’s acceptance and by association the desire to continue it. Plain and simple. It’s the only significant meaning related to that flag for our country. It’s not hard to understand. People, especially those of color, absolutely should be offended by it and should consider those who do either racist or at very least ignorant.

          • scootingdevice

            Okay so there wasn’t a single event that changed everyone’s mind about the symbolism of the confederate flag.
            “It’s the only significant meaning related to that flag for our country”
            wait so now a flag can’t symbolize multiple ideas such as independence and a distaste for authority?

            Symbols have multiple meanings to different people. My point is that calling someone a racist because they fly a flag makes no sense. You’re accusing someone of doing something horrible (being a racist and secretly wanting to reinstate slavery) based on a way they choose to express themselves. if you think someone wearing a rebel flag is a racist then prove it before you make baseless accusations.

            If you want to be offended by the rebel flag then go ahead but don’t assume that you are somehow superior because you express yourself differently than someone else.

          • you’re an idiot

            No. Just…..no. Southerners chose to obey their own laws….not anarchy. C. flag has nothing to do with rebellion. That’s the racists’ excuse to mask their true feelings because they’re too chicken shit to just come out and say it.

  • miserableoldfart

    It’s no different than waving a Nazi flag. And, if people whose immediate family members had been killed or maimed in that atrocious war were still alive, these idiots would be getting their sorry, ignorant, inbred asses kicked for waving it.

  • Lee Redman

    The Political Garbage Chute: Please excuse any poor grammar or any run-on sentences. I am from the South. That was a joke by the way. This article has left me torn in my opinion. I was a history major in college, with a major concentration being in Civil War, and was always taught to never look at the past threw the eyes of today. I agree, boldly, that to fly a confederate flag in any type of public display is definitely not the most PC thing to do. I also agree that the flag today has been misused by mostly young, ignorant people who think that being a “rebel” is cool and have no real grasp on the war and why it was fought. They are just doing what their daddys and grandaddys did. There are also those who fly it out of pure racism and hatred for people different from them in general. This is probably about 95% of people who fly the flag. These people deserve all the racist, bigot, namecalling for sure for they are the trash of the Earth.
    From my personal perspective, I agree the war was fought by and large around the issue of slavery. But we have to remember that both North and South, at the time, were both equally as racist towards African Americans. Only the northern populace decided not to take it the step farther into slavery. Even Col. Robert Gould Shaw, famed leader of the 54th MAss., had a few racist rants in his letters home to his parents and was not extremely excited about his promotion to the 54th at first. I do feel it is my job, not to protect, but to absolve all members of the confederate army of being a bunch of backwoods racists who just decided to up and overthrow the US. Being a native from NC, I am aware, unlike most in my area and state, that NC was the last confederate state to join the union and only after Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to quash the rebellion. Most North Carolinians, by and large, were against the war in the beginning and only took up arms to protect their own farms and interests. However, I am aware that the coastal areas and piedmont were full of plantations such as rice, cotton, and sugarcane. I do not dismiss the face that the slave trade was big economically in NC and probably did, in the end, drive NC towards the confederacy. Who wants to be stuck between VA and SC in a war anyway. What most do not know is that a lot of the mountain counties and communities were very pro-union in their stance. They didn’t own slaves and didn’t see why they were being forced into something they had no stake in. I am from one of those counties and I always find myself thinking about what I would have done in that circumstance. You have to remember that people didn’t usually didn’t enlist person to person but town to town, family to family, community to community. I would have to agree that living in a secluded, rural town you were probably going to go along with whatever your friends, familiy, and relatives did. Even if you had pro union convictions, you would probably join a confederate regiment out of pressure and fear of being publicly shamed a coward if you did not.
    I, like most everyone today, can trace relatives back to the civil war. I have three GGG Grandfathers on the confederate side and one on the Union side. This does not give you the right to fly a flag out of hatred and ignorance, but being historically involved I feel I and others, can look at the flag in ways that don’t necessarily bring up racism or hatred. Either flag, Union or Confederate brings up thoughts of personal heroism and undying attachment. Union and Confederate armies both fought feverishly over the flag and losing ones flag in battle was the ultimate shame of any regiment. Thus showing the ferver that people of the time showed when the flags are considered. After reading countless journals of soldiers in battle, never is the thought “if I die today, at least we still have slavery.” Its usually focused on ones own personal thoughts of home and family and personal struggles. Most of the people wrapped up in the continuation of slavery were the rich plantation owners who could afford no to fight or have someone fight in their stead. I’m sure, on the other hand, their were those who were fighting out of hatred of others, whether it be blacks or northerners in general.
    I know this has been long and probably hard to follow and I apologize to you reading this for that. My thoughts don’t flow well onto paper or forums. My final reason for responding to this is because I do display a confederate flag in my house. However it is the background for a framed picture with confederate money and other CSA relics on top of it. I felt it was fitting for the piece and I declare that I do appreciate the artifacts much more than the flag. I also have the same USA artifacts with a Union flag behind it. Also have a Union cavalry guidon hanging on my front porch. And that is displayed. I don’t feel pride in the fact that I have this flag displayed in my home but I feel it gives to the feeling of the relics that they are encased with. Is that racism? I don’t think so. Is it bigoted? I still think not. I love anything historic or civil war related as well as pieces from the Revolution, Mexican War, and both World Wars. I feel like i know enough about our history that I do not fit into the ignorant flag waving groups or tards that parade around not knowing what the flag or even themselves represent. Again I am sorry for the length of this piece and would greatly appreciate your response on this subject. I assume their are plenty of people who have some relationship to the flag that doesn’t harbor hatred or bigotry. Is this true people? By the way did you see our wonderful NC representative on the Daily Show. HA!

    • AuntySocial

      Which one of our loverly representatives are you referring to? (sarcasm) I saw a republican precinct chair from Buncombe county make a fool of himself on the Daily Show. That would be Don Yelton. The Washington Post mistakenly identified him as the chairman in their printing of a WRAL.com article.

    • AuntySocial

      Wow, I find it interesting that you have GGG grandfathers that fought. I have a Great-grandfather, yes just one great, that was old enough (30) to have enlisted the year it began. Although I have not been able to find any proof that he did or did not fight. His two younger brothers fought, both were at Gettysburg, one died of injuries from Pickett’s charge.

  • Bizarro Mark

    Flying the Confederate flag means you’re a racist douche, period. There is no cultural justification for it. If you’re from the South, big fucking deal. You lost. And you lost because the United States of America was destined for greatness, not for a southern idiocracy. Slavery is ALL that your heritage is about, whether or not your great, great,
    grand-pappy died in the Civil War. The North abused you in Reconstruction because you were ignorant and needed to be kept in line. Traitors! (Sorry Southern friends…I
    can’t hold back anymore.) As for the teahadi’s…you’re traitors too. America
    will set you aside.

    • Phakt

      History is written by those who win the war… Do a little research before spouting your dogmatic hate.

      Anyone with an IQ of at least 2 digits should know slavery is wrong on
      every level but that flag represents the American principles at their
      most fundamental level. This article paints wholes with exceptions. The
      War Between the States began because the South demanded States’ rights
      and were not getting them.

      The Congress at that time heavily
      favored the industrialized northern states to the point of demanding
      that the South sell is cotton and other raw materials only to the
      factories in the north, rather than to other countries. The Congress
      also taxed the finished materials that the northern industries produced
      heavily, making finished products that the South wanted, unaffordable.
      The Civil War should not have occurred. If the Northern States and their
      representatives in Congress had only listened to the problems of the
      South, and stopped these practices that
      were almost like the taxation without representation of Great Britain,
      then the Southern states would not have seceded and the war would not
      have occurred.

      I know for many years, we have been taught that
      the Civil War was all about the abolition of slavery, but this truly did
      not become a major issue, with the exception of John Brown’s raid on
      Harper’s Ferry, until after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862,
      when Abraham Lincoln decided to free the slaves in the Confederate
      States in order to punish those states for continuing the war effort.
      The war had been in progress for two years by that time.

      Most
      southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most
      of them were small farmers who worked their farms with their families.
      They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain
      their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without
      the United States Government dictating to them how they should behave.

      Why are we frequently taught then, that the Civil War, War of Northern
      Aggression, War Between the States, or whatever you want to call it, was
      solely about slavery? That is because the history books are usually
      written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union.
      However, after following my family around since I was just a year old to
      Civil War Living History scenarios in Gettysburg and elsewhere, I have
      listened to both sides of the story, from those portraying historical
      figures, both Union and Confederate. Through listening to these people
      and also reading many different books, including some of the volumes of
      The Official Records of the Civil War, Death in September, The Insanity
      of It All, Every Day Life During the Civil War, and many others, I have
      come to the conclusion that the Civil War was about much more than
      abolishing the institution of slavery.

      It was more about
      preserving the United States and protecting the rights of the
      individual, the very tenets upon which this country was founded. I
      personally think that the people who profess that the Civil War was only
      fought about slavery have not read their history books. I really am
      glad that slavery was abolished, but I don’t think it should be
      glorified as being the sole reason the Civil War was fought. There are
      so many more issues that people were intensely passionate about at the
      time. Slavery was one of them, but it was not the primary cause of the
      war. The primary causes of the war were economics and states’ rights.

      Slavery was a part of those greater issues, but it was not the reason
      the Southern States seceded from the Union, nor fought the Civil War. It
      certainly was a Southern institution that was part of the economic
      system of the plantations, and because of that, it was part and parcel
      of the economic reasons that the South formed the Confederacy. The
      economic issue was one of taxation and being able to sell cotton and
      other raw materials where the producers wanted to, rather than where
      they were forced to, and at under inflated prices. Funny, it sounds very
      much like the reason we broke from Great Britain to begin with. The
      South was within their rights, but there should have been another way to
      solve the problem. If they had been willing to listen to Abraham
      Lincoln, perhaps the war could have been avoided. Lincoln had a plan to
      gradually free the slaves without it further hurting the plantation
      owners. He also had a plan to allow them to sell their products anywhere
      they wanted to and at a fair price. They did not choose to listen to
      the President, however, so they formed the Confederacy and the Civil War
      began.

  • AuntySocial

    Let’s get one thing straight. The flag that everyone is referring to as “the confederate flag” was not it. The flag that everyone calls “the confederate flag” was indeed the confederate battle flag, although what they fly is not it. The battle flag was square, all four sides even. The confederate flag looked very similiar to the union flag when hanging down. So similiar, in fact, the confederates had to come up with another flag for battle because their troops kept firing on their own side. They had a contest and what misguided individuals call the confederate flag was the winning design. For a look at what the confederate flag really looked like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America
    Also look at the picture at the top of the article. The confederate flag is clearly shown and it is not what people are flying.

    • you’re an idiot

      Anyone who cites wikipedia as a valid source of information is just as stupid as their opinion is worthless. Thank you for wasting this planet’s natural resources for your continued existence, and at any point in the future, should you decide you’d like to be taken seriously as an adult….try doing ACTUAL research from a valid source….not one that can be changed by ANYone and ANYtime.

  • shepscott

    This was a brilliant article. Well done. Well done.

  • Jimi Freidenker

    I guess I have to see it as a matter of empathy. How hard is it to imagine, really, how most black folks must feel when they see that “symbol of your heritage”? So if you’re displaying it, you basically don’t give a shit how they feel, and that really doesn’t do a whole lot for peaceful race relations.

  • miserableoldfart

    And yet, they won. Slave labor is everywhere. Slavery 2.0, aka “right to work,” is the law of the land in most of the illiterate places in America. Made in China is the norm. Enjoy, y’all.

    • Phakt

      Slavery exists on many levels in every type of government or social structure. It’s just a matter of what they rename it to and what guise it is under. It is human nature and it will always be around. All we can do is prevent the most egregious types.

  • Greg Agosta

    What if you’re just reenacting? Are still an asshole?

  • Phakt

    Anyone with an IQ of at least 2 digits should know slavery is wrong on
    every level but that flag represents the American principles at their
    most fundamental level. This article paints wholes with exceptions. The
    War Between the States began because the South demanded States’ rights
    and were not getting them.

    The Congress at that time heavily
    favored the industrialized northern states to the point of demanding
    that the South sell is cotton and other raw materials only to the
    factories in the north, rather than to other countries. The Congress
    also taxed the finished materials that the northern industries produced
    heavily, making finished products that the South wanted, unaffordable.
    The Civil War should not have occurred. If the Northern States and their
    representatives in Congress had only listened to the problems of the
    South, and stopped these practices that
    were almost like the taxation without representation of Great Britain,
    then the Southern states would not have seceded and the war would not
    have occurred.

    I know for many years, we have been taught that
    the Civil War was all about the abolition of slavery, but this truly did
    not become a major issue, with the exception of John Brown’s raid on
    Harper’s Ferry, until after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862,
    when Abraham Lincoln decided to free the slaves in the Confederate
    States in order to punish those states for continuing the war effort.
    The war had been in progress for two years by that time.

    Most
    southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most
    of them were small farmers who worked their farms with their families.
    They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain
    their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without
    the United States Government dictating to them how they should behave.

    Why are we frequently taught then, that the Civil War, War of Northern
    Aggression, War Between the States, or whatever you want to call it, was
    solely about slavery? That is because the history books are usually
    written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union.
    However, after following my family around since I was just a year old to
    Civil War Living History scenarios in Gettysburg and elsewhere, I have
    listened to both sides of the story, from those portraying historical
    figures, both Union and Confederate. Through listening to these people
    and also reading many different books, including some of the volumes of
    The Official Records of the Civil War, Death in September, The Insanity
    of It All, Every Day Life During the Civil War, and many others, I have
    come to the conclusion that the Civil War was about much more than
    abolishing the institution of slavery.

    It was more about
    preserving the United States and protecting the rights of the
    individual, the very tenets upon which this country was founded. I
    personally think that the people who profess that the Civil War was only
    fought about slavery have not read their history books. I really am
    glad that slavery was abolished, but I don’t think it should be
    glorified as being the sole reason the Civil War was fought. There are
    so many more issues that people were intensely passionate about at the
    time. Slavery was one of them, but it was not the primary cause of the
    war. The primary causes of the war were economics and states’ rights.

    Slavery was a part of those greater issues, but it was not the reason
    the Southern States seceded from the Union, nor fought the Civil War. It
    certainly was a Southern institution that was part of the economic
    system of the plantations, and because of that, it was part and parcel
    of the economic reasons that the South formed the Confederacy. The
    economic issue was one of taxation and being able to sell cotton and
    other raw materials where the producers wanted to, rather than where
    they were forced to, and at under inflated prices. Funny, it sounds very
    much like the reason we broke from Great Britain to begin with. The
    South was within their rights, but there should have been another way to
    solve the problem. If they had been willing to listen to Abraham
    Lincoln, perhaps the war could have been avoided. Lincoln had a plan to
    gradually free the slaves without it further hurting the plantation
    owners. He also had a plan to allow them to sell their products anywhere
    they wanted to and at a fair price. They did not choose to listen to
    the President, however, so they formed the Confederacy and the Civil War
    began.

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