Access your downloads at our archive site. Visit Archive
Magazine Article

The Rage of the Abolitionists

Even now, so long after the end of the War of Northern Aggression, the Abolitionists rage. The Abolitionists provoked that war; they sundered the confederated union that had existed since the 1770s.

  • Ben House,
Share this

Even now, so long after the end of the War of Northern Aggression, the Abolitionists rage. The Abolitionists provoked that war; they sundered the confederated union that had existed since the 1770s; they divided the churches, political parties, and nation; they set brother against brother in the most horrific blood-soaking this land has ever known. And they, like the monster Grendel from the Beowulf saga, delighted in the gore.

The Abolitionists were religious folk too. They were the sons and rebel heirs of the Puritan fathers of Old and New England. They trimmed the edges of the hearty Puritanism that was theirs to inherit, whittling away at such "trifles" of orthodox theology as the Trinity, original sin, the deity of Christ. They adorned themselves with the wolfishly fashionable theological idols of their times theological liberalism, Unitarianism, Transcendentalism. They cursed the Constitution and the flag when it protected the slave-holding South; but they divinized (made a god of) the state and assumed that the tramping and pillaging of the Union army represented God's truth marching on. (And to think that some Christians still sing their anthem!)

The Abolitionists, who largely consisted of apostate New England Puritan rebels, held, in typical heretical fashion, to certain Biblical doctrines with additional twists. At the center of their heresy was the idea of creating the perfect society inhabited by perfected men perfected, of course, by adhering to the latest New England impulse. They spawned utopias; promoted free love and the feminist movement; and advanced the idea of secular government schools. The Abolitionists twisted the Biblical doctrines of sanctification and glorification and of the millennial kingdom to create a militant millenarianism.

This meant that they would inflict their version of the millennium the golden age upon all who disagreed with them. The standard stereotype of this was the self-righteous, hard-driven, old-maid New England school marm, armed with a hickory switch and a copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays. The reality was even more horrifying.

More could be said about Abolitionists and Abolitionism as a historical movement. It should be pointed out that the Abolitionist movement was not the same as the anti-slavery movement. The antislavery movement found supporters in the Northern states, but at one time had more societies in the Southern slave states than in the Northern free states. Many Southerners and Northerners were antislavery, but were not Abolitionists. The Abolitionists were extremists, radicals, and terrorists. Slavery was not to be merely opposed, but rather abolished preferably with violence. By the end of the War of Abolitionism, they were tagged the Radical Republicans. During the Reconstruction Era, they sought to use the South as their political laboratory for devising their version of society.

William Faulkner's novel, The Unvanquished, presents this story well. In that novel, Colonel John Sartoris fights to save his society, home, and land from, first, the invading Union army and, second, from the more dangerous carpetbagger government. Faulkner states our plight well through the mouth of Ringo, a slave in the The Unvanquished. Ringo comes home stating the Abolitionist position when he says, "I ain't a nigger any more. I done been abolished." Faulkner shows through his powerful character Colonel Sartoris that the end result of the millenarian, apostate Puritan, utopian Abolitionist scheme was to be the abolishing of the South, the Constitution, the American civilization, and the freedom and dignity of man. In exposing the designs of the Abolitionists, Otto Scott, Christian historian, created a lever that moved the intellectual world when he wrote his book John Brown and the Secret Six. The intellectual and academic world largely ignored the book. The elect found it and the rest were blinded.

The Abolitionists are still among us, raging as roaring lions. The goal is now to abolish history, specifically, the history of the Southern Confederacy. Abolitionists, better than many Christians, understand the importance of symbols. So every symbol and vestige of heritage of the Old South must be abolished. Hence the Confederate battle flag must go, along with the statues of Confederate heroes, the street names honoring such heroes, and the memories of the Confederacy.

The Abolitionists tried to reeducate and reprogram the South. One hundred plus years of controlling government schools and imposing Yankee-fied textbooks on students has failed. Twelve bold Southern scholars and poets proclaimed that failure in the classic book, I'll Take My Stand. The high school boys who yearned for pickup trucks and deer season never read that book; but, thankfully, they didn't bother to read the textbooks either. Hank Williams, Jr.'s song "If the South Had Won, We'd Have Had It Made" and Charlie Daniel's "The South's Gonna Do It Again" did more to fortify Southern school boys in trusting the "fierce pull of blood" (to quote William Faulkner) than the schools did in erasing memory and heritage. The flags went on the license plates and baseball caps and the battle raged on.

The Abolitionists still insist on their religious superiority: The Confederate loss was the judgment of God (after all, they saw it in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps of Yankee marauders); Abraham Lincoln restored the Union and then died on Good Friday (and was resurrected in stone where he thoughtfully ponders current-day Washington); and most of all, the South was wrong because it was a slave society ruled by politically incorrect rich white male elitist racists. This last point is continually used to hammer the South. The Southerner bears the yoke of slavery like a dead and rotting albatross around his neck. Southerners who have never wronged a black man must feel guilty, the Abolitionists insist, because our ancestors owned slaves. The unforgivable sin of modernity is racism.

We cannot in this article begin the refutation of the Abolitionist creed. We will stand against slavery with the very same words that the Old and New Testaments used to attack "the sin of slavery." Let the hearer understand; the others can search their concordances. We will state our opposition to the enslavement of the black man, but will add to our opposition the enslaving of all Americans (via the IRS), drafting men for foreign police actions, and the imposition of government schools.

In the meantime, concerning the Confederate flag and other portions of the Confederate heritage, we recommend the following: Fight for the cause the flag, etc. but not at the expense of the more important principles. Maintaining a godly family, having a doctrinally sound church, educating your children in a Christian day school or home school, spreading the gospel, and other aspects of the Christian life are more important than arguing over a flag waving over some small portion of Dixieland. Also, study the Confederacy and its Christian leaders Robert E. Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson, in particular. Learn about the war its causes, its battles, its results. As opportunity affords it, seek to win opponents over to the cause. Educate your fellow Southerners. Above all, remember that it is far more important that the Abolitionist embrace Christ than that he embraces the Confederacy. Having the truth, let's win them with love.

  • Ben House

Ben House is the author of Punic Wars & Culture Wars: Christian Essays on History and Teaching and the the editor of HouseBlog.

More by Ben House