Written by Greg’s History AD
Lyon Gardner Tyler wrote The Confederate Catechism in 1920. The pamphlet blames the Civil War on Abraham Lincoln, and on Northern intolerance, and states that slavery was a benefit to the enslaved. It’s written in the question-and-answer style of a catechism. The pamphlet available online here [the link is to The Online Books Page].
Tyler was an interesting figure, with real academic credentials. He stemmed from aristocratic Virginia, being the 14th child (of 16) of the 10th US President, John Tyler [This link is to an article by Dan Monroe, about Lyon Tyler’s war on Lincoln, and contains detail on his life and some of his writing. Article appeared in Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association in 2003.]
The pamphlet (the 1929 version I read runs 12 pages) is getting some attention, prompted by the reaction to removal of monuments to Confederates in New Orleans. There’s a story about it by Fox News (I include Fox because it will likely inspire some of their viewers to go out and read the thing). US News and World Report has another story, rather similar. As of today, there were two ratings of the pamphlet on Amazon, giving it a cumulative 1.5 stars—that will change once publicity gets more neo-Confederates and their ilk to read it.
Below, I quote some of the 20 questions and answers. I cite the questions fully but provide only part of the “answers.” Punctuation and capitalization is as in the original. I had to copy out the parts I cite because I found no text I could cut and paste, so errors if any, are my transcription. Number 18 is the one that will anger Kos readers the most—as it should. It’s also a point still made by white power people.
2. Was slavery the cause of secession in the war?
No. Slavery existed previous to the Constitution and the Union was formed in spite of it. Both from the standpoint of the Constitution and sound statesmanship, it was not slavery but the vindictive, intemperate anti-slavery movement that was at the bottom of all the troubles.
5. What then was the cause of the war?
The cause of the war was (1) the rejection of the right of secession of eleven Sovereign States by Lincoln and (2) the denial of self-government to 8,000,000 people, occupying a territory half the size of Europe.
Note that the 8 million denied self-government includes more than 3 million slaves!
8. What did the South fight for?
IT FOUGHT TO REPEL INVASIONS AND FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT, JUST AS THE FATHERS OG THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION HAD DONE.
The capitalization here appears in the original.
18. Was Lincoln’s proclamation freeing the slaves worthy of the praise which it has received?
No…The negroes were the most spoiled domestics in the world. The Southerners took the negro as a barbarian and cannibal, civilized him, supported him, clothed him, and turned him into a devout Christian. Booker T. Washington admitted that the negro was the beneficiary rather than the victim of slavery.
There’s a bit more. Tyler wrote that McCormick’s reaper and related technology (he does not use that word) would have meant a “peaceful and natural death” of slavery, without the need for the war, but does not mention what would have happened to the slaves. He says the North imposed its own values on the South by conquest, and that the South had to conform to Northern wishes, implying (but not actually using the words) that the South remains a conquered territory financially exploited by the North. The last item in the pamphlet describes the South as the North’s “milch cow.” Tyler implied that the South was exploited by the North before the war, and that the war was to prevent the South from escaping the North’s economic grip. [That’s my interpretation of the answer to the catechism’s question 20.]
The pamphlet is worth a read, not just because it represents a period piece sort of view, but most importantly because it is being read in 2017 and believed.
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Written by Greg’s History AD
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