by Al Benson
few years ago I read an interesting book written by Clifford Dowdey entitled
History Of The Confederacy 1832-1865. While I did
not agree with all that Mr. Dowdey said, I felt that, in the main, he sought
to be fair to the South. His book also brought out a point I had
never even considered until I read it. He stated, on pages 411 and
414 of his book, that the confederacy never had a formal, or official end.
He noted that all the Confederate generals surrendered their armies, as
none of them had the authority to surrender anything more. Even Jefferson
Davis, when captured, was only captured. There was never any
formal surrender of the Confederacy as a nation.
I mention Dowdey's book as my source for this information, I have checked
out other sources and have not, at this point, found information to contradict
Dowdey's assertion. Other histories of the Confederacy have been
checked into, and they seem to be in silent agreement that the confederacy
never had an "official" end. Two of the best know are
Of The Southern Confederacy by Clement Eaton, and The Story Of The
Confederacy by Robert Selph Henry. These books, both reliable
histories, can be noted for their lack of any
of a formal end for the Confederacy. They record
surrender of the various armies, and all the rest that
but no mention is made at all of the Confederacy
being officially terminated.
Stephens, in his monumental two volume work
Constitutional View Of The Late War Between The States
much the same thing, except he expresses it in different terms. Stephens
notes, in volume one, the main reason for
war: "The conflict in principle arose from differing and opposing ideas
as to the nature of what is known as the
Government...It was strife between the principles of Federation on the
one side, and Centralism, or Consolidation,
the other." Stephens is stating clearly that the struggle was over
liberty on the one side vs. collectivism on the other.
our struggle today any different?
we not still engaged in this battle?
goes on to disclaim slavery as the real cause of the
He notes that "Some of the strongest anti-slavery men
ever lived were on the side of those who opposed the centralizing principles
which led to the war."
reiterates that fact on page 631of volume two.
Reason Is Still There
Mr. Stephens contends that the true cause of the
For Southern Independence was not lost in the surrender of confederate
armies. He states, in volume two of his work, starting on page 651:
you see, my opinion is that the Cause which was lost at Appomattox Court
House, was not the Federative Principles upon which American Free Institutions
was based, as some
very erroneously supposed. This is far from being one
the results of the War. The Cause which was lost by the surrender
of the confederates, was only the maintenance of this principle by arms.
It was not the principle they abandoned.
only abandoned their attempt to maintain it by physical force...
principle, therefore, though abandoned in its maintenance on battle-fields,
still continues to live in all its vigor, in the
of Reason, Justice, and Truth, and will, I trust, there continue to live
what Stephens has said. The Causes for which the Confederacy came
into existence, Christian self-government
the rights of the individual states within the framework of
federation (confederacy) still exist. They have not been, nor can
they ever, be truly done away with. They can not be done away with
because the concepts of self-government and limited national power are
5:22-23 and Romans 13:1-7).
true reasons for which the Confederacy was organized
though some of its founders may not have fully realized them) are not gone.
They remain to this day. The struggle called the "Civil War" did
not resolve anything. It only proved that one nation can prevail
over another if it has superior numbers and resources. The Northern
bayonet may drive
to the ground, but it will not be able to keep it there.
just may be, in God's Providence, that the Confederacy had
formal end because the truths she stood for (though imperfectly),
rooted in Holy Scripture, have no end.
Stephens has borne eloquent testimony that the Cause still lives, even
as its adherents still live today. The spirit of secession, which
is akin to biblical separation, thrives in our day. What remains
is for those that understand these truths in this hour in our history to
proclaim them from the housetops.