"On 1 May [1861, Governor John W. Ellis] addressed the opening session of the General Assembly.
Declaring that “the right now asserted by the constituted authorities of that government
[in Washington], to use military force for the purpose of coercing a State to remain in the
Union against its will, finds no warrant in the Constitution,” Ellis proceeded to
demonstrate that neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution gave
or intended to give such authority to the central government.”
The Old State Capitol at Raleigh
"A North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial?"
"A "civil war" is one where two rival factions contend for the control of one government.
North Carolina and other States in the American South followed the letter and spirit of Jefferson's
Declaration of Independence, changing their federal agent with the consent of the governed and peacefully
forming a more perfect union. Southern diplomat to Europe James D. Bulloch stated the following regarding
Northern attempts to dismiss the actual war as against "an insurrection by combinations":
“Eighteen or more great States, acknowledging a central government at Washington, were engaged in
a war with eleven other great States adhering to a common authority at Richmond. This was the actual
condition of affairs. All the special pleadings of the politicians at Washington, all the finesse of diplomatic
reasoning could not alter the facts.
Foreign Powers perceived the actual state of affairs, and the Proclamations of Neutrality…were framed
in accordance with the fact that there was a state of war between two separate Powers, and although one could
glory in the full-fledged title of “a Government de jure,” and the other was shackled with a more restrictive
appellation of “a Government de facto”…. (Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe, Volume I, 1959)
This was truly a "War Between the States."
(read more at our "Civil War or War Between the States" page)
"Our reputation, next to the Greeks, will be the most heroic of nations."
General James J. Pettigrew, writing home on the march toward Gettysburg with his North Carolina Brigade.
"The Sesquicentennial observance of the War Between the States is not going to be anything like
the Civil War Centennial observance. Fifty years ago, there was a broad consensus about American history.
The War was viewed as a national tragedy, with good and bad on both sides, from which a strong nation
had fortunately emerged. The War was furthermore a vast treasury of great people and great deeds, on
both sides, a source of inexhaustible interest and celebration for Americans.
America in 2011 is a very different country than America in 1961. The long march of cultural Marxism
(political correctness) through American institutions, which began in the 1930's, has achieved most of its objectives.
Schools at every level, media, clergy, government agencies, and politicians are now captive
to a false dogma of history as conflict between an evil past and the forces of revolution struggling
toward a glorious future (This is exactly the way that Karl Marx, who knew nothing about
America, described The War).
In regard to the War Between the States, the PC regime means that the demonisation of the South,
chronic throughout American history, has re-emerged with a vengeance. The War is a morality play of
good versus evil -- specifically of the freedom-loving forces of the North heroically and nobly vanquishing
Southern traitors fighting with no other motive than to preserve the evil institution of slavery.
Gone are the days when Dwight Eisenhower and Winston Churchill could speak in praise of the honour
and courage of the Confederacy, its leaders, soldiers, and people. When Robert E. Lee was an exemplary
hero for all Americans. Gone are the days when Confederates were shown in movies and television
as admirable characters. Gone the days when mainstream American historians had come to an understanding
of The War as a complex event, the causes of which were multiple -- economic, cultural, and political,
brought to crisis by extremism and political machinations.
It is now established with Soviet party-line rigour that The War was "caused by" and "about" slavery and
nothing but slavery. This is not because the interpreters of history in 2011 are more knowledgable than
those of 1961. Quite the reverse is true. The new orthodoxy does not result from new knowledge.
It is a consequnece of a change in the national discourse because of the rise of PC and because of the
obsession of many Americans with race and victimology as the centerpiece of American history. Being on
the self-righteous side is also, of course, a disguise for hatred and a desire to dominate others.
No honest student of history can accept a noncausal explanation for as vast and complex an event as
the war of 1861-1865, its causes, and its aftermath. Good history is an account of human acts and
human acts are never, ever that simple. "Slavery" cannot begin to account for the experience of Americans
in what is still the central, bloodiest, and most revolutionary event in our history.
It is near certain that the PC version of The War will dominate the public space in the observance to come.
It is our opinion that history is far too important to be left to official "experts."
It is OUR history. History is about who we are.
The "Civil War" is still the largest and most important event in our North Carolina history by any measure.
Our State lost 12,000 men in World War II. To have lost the same percentage of the population as
North Carolina lost in 1861-1865, would have required 300,000 deaths. We owe it to North Carolinians of
the past to ensure that the North Carolinians of the present and future understand the experience of those days.
Our Confederate forefathers were not monsters, they were largely brave, honourable, and admirable people
who endured greater suffering and sacrifice than any other large group of Americans ever have, and in pursuit
of the American principle of self-government. To share their experience with the people of today, all that is
needed is to present them in their own words, or in the words of scholars before the age of PC. The purpose
of this Sesquicentennial Website is simply to present them as they were. That is all that is needed to
destroy the PC version of history for any honest student.
The material contained on these pages will provide a refreshing relief from party-line official history.
It will not only redeem North Carolina's history. It will go far toward reclaiming American history for
any honest seeker of knowledge."
Clyde N. Wilson, February 2011
(Dr. Clyde N. Wilson is a North Carolinian by birth and a retired Professsor Emeritus of History who taught for
32 years at the University of South Carolina. His exemplary work includes editing the papers of John C. Calhoun,
Volumes 10 through 28; contributing over 400 articles , essays and reviews for a wide spectrum of books, journals
and magazines, and has lectured widely across the American South.
He is the author of Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew; From Union to Empire:
Essays in the Jeffersonian Tradition; and Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture. Dr. Wilson is
recipient of the Bostick Medal for Contributions to South Carolina Letters; the John Randolph Club Award for Lifetime
Achievment; the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair of the Abbeville Institute; and an adjunct faculty member of the
Ludwig von Mises Institute)
Copyright 2011, North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission