Total War: March to September 1864
From Dalton to Atlanta
What did Davis say about the cause of the war and the reason for its continuance?
Because it was such a rare event—a frank talk between the Confederate president and two Northern men who professed goodwill to the South—it may be better to quote Davis precisely:
“By self-government you mean disunion—Southern independence?” the Northern men asked.
“Yes,” Davis replied.
“And slavery you say, is no longer an element in the contest?”
“No, it is not, it never was an essential element,” Davis answered. “It was only a means of bringing other conflicting elements to an earlier culmination. It fired the musket which was already capped and loaded. There are essential differences between the North and the South that will, however this war may end, make them two nations.”
One does not have to agree with Davis, or sympathize with the South, to hear the importance of these words. Very likely, the war was not about slavery, at least not in Jefferson Davis’ mind. He could not resist making some more comments on the subject.