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States Rights vs. Federal Rights

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Timothy Corey

on 13 May 2015

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Transcript of States Rights vs. Federal Rights

The Civil War had many causes but in the end it all came down to the fact that the Confederates in the south wanted more power for their state governments and the Union in the north wanted more power for the federal government.
Slavery and States Rights
So what does the Constitution say?
Let's Review!
Background Information
How States Rights vs. Federal Rights Affected the War.
The Union point of view
The Confederate point of view
The debate over whether the states in our country or the central government has gone on since the constitution was written. These arguments came to a peak in the 1850's eventually leading the southern states to secede from the union in 1861 and to the American civil war.
These discussions discussed the issue of whether slavery was legal should be decided by the states or by the federal government.
Knowing that this issue led to the death of 620,000 citizens of the United States that it is probably important to discuss.
This debate even led to violence in the Senate when one senator beat another senator over the head with his cane.
By: Timothy Corey
The Union sympathizers and government officials believed that a strong central government should make laws governing all the states and that the states should not have the right to defy these laws or change them. On the issue of slavery they believed that it should quickly and decisively abolished. They believed that the south was pushing for their own interest and wealth, and therefore wanted to have their states that reflected their interests make laws for them. This however did not reflect all of the Northerners views, but these were the views that were presented.
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States at the time of the issue between States rights and Federal rights. He was strongly in favor of Federal rights. He however did not much care for the issue of slavery as many think. His goal was to preserve the Union. He once said this: "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. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."
The Confederates in the South believed that the federal government in the North was making them slaves. They believed that the North was similar to the British government that America sprang from in the beginning. They believed that the North was trying to take over their way of life and strangle the way that they thought things should be done. This is why they fought for state's rights because their state's ideas reflected their ideas and the federal government didn't. They thought of the Civil War as the Second American Revolution. They thought of themselves as patriots fighting against a corrupt government. These did not represent the whole south but most of them believed this.
General Robert E. Lee
General Lee was the commanding general for the Confederate army for most of the Civil war. Before the war he was asked to command the Union army but refused on these grounds: He would not fight against his home state of Virginia which was in the South. His state was more important to him than his country. He had more pride in Virginia than he had in the U.S.
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis was the president of the newly formed Confederate States of America. Before becoming the president of the Confederacy he fought for slave expansion and states rights in the U.S. senate. He voiced the views of the Southern public. Davis fought for more rights to the states, and less for the Federal government.
Quotes from Abraham Lincoln about the issue at hand
Abraham Lincoln, 1861

-"Having never been States either in substance or in name outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of 'State Rights,' asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the 'sovereignty' of the States; but the word even is not in the National Constitution, nor, as is believed, in any of the State constitutions. The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status."

-"Unquestionably the States have the powers and rights reserved to them in and by the National Constitution; but among these surely are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive, but, at most, such only as were known in the world at the time as governmental powers; and certainly a power to destroy the government itself had never been known as a governmental, as a merely administrative power."
"JEFFERSON DAVIS." N.p., n.d. Web.
"Civil War Casualties." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.
"Amendment X - Rights Reserved to States or People." National Constitution Center – Constitutioncenter.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.
"19th Century Quotes on Federalism and States' Rights." 19th Century Quotes on Federalism and States' Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
"States' Rights." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
Kelly, Martin. "Top Five Causes of the Civil War - American History." N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
"The Not So Civil War & the Issue of States' Rights - Freedom Outpost." Freedom Outpost. N.p., 01 Nov. 2013. Web. 13 May 2015.
When we discuss the North supposedly taking away the rights of the people in the South, the right that is supposedly being taken away. The civil war still started because of slavery but the soldiers in it weren't fighting for slavery. They were fighting for their rights as citizens of their state. In other words they were fighting for their rights as a whole, but the specific right that the war was started over was slavery.
Since the Union was partially fighting to free the slaves, runaway slaves began joining the ranks of the army. This is a group of Union soldiers with blacks mixed in among them.
To the Confederates the whole reason they were fighting the war was for their rights. In this they meant states rights. In Michael Shaara's bestselling Civil War book, "The Killer Angels", a captured Confederate Soldier is asked why he is fighting the war, he responds that he is fighting for his rights. He does not say to keep slavery. He says he is fighting for his rights.
The tenth amendment to the Constitution states that anything not stated in the U.S. Constitution would be left for the States to decide so by law it's okay for the Southern states to have slavery, right?
Actually that is not true because the Constitution does the slave trade should become illegal in 1820, and the Civil War started in 1861 so that didn't exactly happen.
Also in 1863, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution completely abolished slavery so that anyone who owned slaves was a criminal from then on so Federal rights win.
A major reason for the Civil War was the battle between states rights and federal rights.
The Union believed in a strong central government.
The Confederates believed in a weak central government and strong state governments.
Abraham Lincoln was for a strong central government
Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were for strong state governments.
The war was about rights, and slavery was one of the specific rights.
Based on the U.S. Constitution slavery should not have been in the United States in 1861.
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