If continued black labor in the South was essential to the economic survival of the region and the ultimate reason for seeking independence, it was equally essential that the economic survival of Northern financial, textile, and manufacturing industry interests. It was not unexpected that after the Confederate States of America was formed in early February 1861 and enacted a modest 10% tariff which would have decimated northern ports, that those northern interests urged war against the South. It was not about slavery.
The following is excerpted from Mark R. Winchell’s posthumous “Confessions of a Copperhead” recently released by Shotwell Publishing. See www.shotwellpublishing.org.
It Was Not About Slavery
“If the North was fighting for an imperial vision of American hegemony rather than for the abolition of slavery, what motivated the South? The statement of South Carolina’s anti-flag scholars quotes several Confederate officials, who declared they were fighting to preserve slavery.
It would perhaps be more accurate to say that the Confederacy was formed to assure the economic survival of the American South. (The revolutionist’s declaration of independence from England was motivated by similar economic considerations.) In 1861, African labor seemed essential to that survival [just as New England’s poverty-wage slavery held mill workers to their employment.]
Of even greater concern, however, was the agricultural tariff passed by the US Congress on behalf of Northern industrial interests. This tariff made it difficult for Southerners to sell cotton and other crops in European markets. An independent South, free of the tariff, would have prospered among the community of nations. If Lincoln was willing to assure the perpetuation of slavery, this former corporation lawyer was not willing to ease the tariff.”
(Confessions of a Copperhead, Culture and Politics in the Modern South, Mark R. Winchell, Shotwell Publishing, 2022, pg. 183)