This letter seeks to correct an assertion in the July 16 letter by Culpeper resident Kris Deal, “County board lacks courage; buries their head in red clay.”

Deal’s letter states, “let it be known that the Civil War was fought over Southern states’ intentions to preserve the institution of slavery. That is it.”

No, that is not it. The preservation of slavery was without question the driving force behind the Southern states’ decision to secede from the Union. The South believed the U.S. Constitution gave them that right.

The Union, essentially, said “No, it doesn’t,” and invaded to force the Southern states back into the Union. The preservation of the Union was what the Civil War was fought over, and the fact that the slaves were freed in the process is possibly the only silver lining to that brutal, bloody time.

If anyone would like primary-resource documentation for this assertion, look no further than President Abraham Lincoln’s Aug. 22, 1862, letter to Horace Greeley, in which he wrote: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 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.”

It’s important historically to note that Lincoln’s “oft-expressed personal wish” was that “all men everywhere could be free”—but that was not the Union’s justification for invasion.

Maggie Lawrence


(Editor’s note: Ms. Lawrence’s assessment leaves out the critical role of African Americans, enslaved and free, in gaining their freedom in a war that was about slavery. Freeing enslaved people may not have been the government’s stated intent. But it was a major outcome of the Civil War.)

(6) comments


The first shots fired in the Civil War were by the Confederate forces of General Beauregard in Charleston, against Fort Sumter. After a heavy bombardment, the fort surrendered. After that, there were small skirmishes and bombardments, but the first major battle was 1st Manassas on July 21, which the Confederates won. Let's get our history straight. That being said, it is crystal clear that the South seceded to preserve slavery. The North invaded to bring the South back into the Union. They succeeded, and slavery was abolished, finally, with the 14th Amendment. After that, diehards of "the Lost Cause" reversed reconstruction and instituted draconian Jim Crow laws that led to disenfranchisement and far worse crimes that still continue to this day. And, many in Culpeper seem just fine with this state of affairs.

Allen Martin

I don't know anybody in Culpeper who is "just fine with this state of affairs."

Michael McLamara

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. These laws were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by Black people during the Reconstruction period. The Jim Crow laws were enforced until 1965.

Allen Martin

There was no justification for an "Editor's Note" to Ms. Lawrence's letter. She expressed an opinion and that was it. One could point out things that are "left out" of pretty much any letter that is posted. The editor should have let her opinion stand as given.

Ronald Winter

Allen Martin: THANK YOU... this is the exact reason I was looking for the comments section here. HER OPINION is her opinion. The "Editor" was OUT OF LINE and was basically saying that HER OPINION doesn't matter because she is wrong. The editor in fact could not dispute the facts specified in the OPINION so the editor inserted his/her own opinion at the end ... I guess in an effort to nullify the letter. This is basically like the FB fact checking services that can't DISPROVE a post so they flag it and then talk about everything BUT the facts of the post. AND there is no way to have it removed.

David Reuther

In light of South Carolina's "Ordinance of Session" which rationalize its move as a defense of slavery and which other southern states copied, Ms. Lawrence's arrow seems to have missed the target.,state's%20withdrawal%20from%20the%20union.&text=The%20document%20they%20produced%2C%20the,the%20convention%20on%20December%2024.

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