REVIEWSrnWhat CausernWas Lost?rnbyBienan R. NieimanrnA Government of Our Own:rnThe Making of the Confederacyrnby William C. DavisrnNew York: The Free Press-rn550 pp., $27.95rnThe War for Southern Independencernreminds us of many things, notrnleast of which that there were once manyrnmen who were wilHng to take up armsrnto defend what they believed to be theirrnbirthright as Americans. It was not byrnchance that the Great Seal of the newrnnation featured George Washington, forrnthe Confederates saw themselves as followingrnthe road that the great Southernerrnhad trod in leading the secession fromrnEngland.rnAs Jefferson Davis said, “When therncause was lost, what cause was it?” It was,rnhe went on, not “of the South only, butrnthe cause of constitutional government,rnof the supremacy of law, of the naturalrnrights of man.” The war to subjugate thernSouth was “on the part of the UnitedrnStates Government, one of aggressionrnand usurpation, and, on the part of thernSouth, was for the defense of an inherent,rnunalienable right.” Looked at anotherrnway, the War for Southern Independencerngave us the Gilded Age ofrnplutocratic plunder and created the dynamicsrnfor the multicultural muddlernthat is already driving America into openrnethnic conflict. Southerners realizedrnwhere things were headed when an ambitiousrnprairie lawyer was elected thern16th President of the United States.rnThomas R.R. Cobb recognized Lincoln’srnelection for what it was: the triumphrnof the first avowedly sectional partyrnin the Union’s history, a party that didrnnot shun—indeed, that welcomed—thernTo order these books, (24hrs, 365 days)rnplease call (800) 962-6651 (Ext. 5200)rnsupport of the zealots who fueled JohnrnBrown’s rage with financial and moralrnsupport. “These people hate us,” he toldrnhis wife. The reason was simple: “Theyrnare a different people from us, whetherrnbetter or worse and there is no love betweenrnus.” Cobb recognized that tworndifferent cultures would be best off asrnseparate entities. He then proceeded tornhelp create a new nation.rnWilliam C. Davis’s book is a detailedrnchronicle of how this new nation camernto be, from the tocsin of Lincoln’s electionrnto the Confederate government’srntransfer from Montgomery to Richmondrnin May 1961. Like Davis’s biography ofrnJefferson Davis, it does not give thernSouthern cause the benefit of the doubtrnon issues of historical controversy (suchrnas the place of slaverv as a feature ofrnSouthern nationalism). But it docs fixrnthe men assembled in convention atrnMontgomery in the role that thev understoodrnthemselves as plaving: heirs of thernKramers of the original Constitution,rnand heirs to the legacy of 1776. As thernReverend Basil Manley prayed, in thernopening prayer of the convention of thernseceded states, “Oh, thou heart-searchingrnGod, we trust that Thou sees we arernpursuing those rights which were guaranteedrnto us by the solemn covenants ofrnour fathers, and which were cemented byrntheir blood.” Davis is quite clear in hisrninterpretation that this is a conservativernrevolution; indeed, as he points out,rnManlcy’s voice was the first of many tornstrike this theme.rnThe enterprise, then, was more of arnrestoration than a revolution; and nothingrnhighlights this truth more than thernuse of the old federal Constitution as thernframework for the Confederate Constitution.rnDavis’s treatment of this part ofrnthe story is solid, and reaffirms from thernperspective of anecdote the point thatrnMarshall DeRosa has made so well in hisrndefinitive work on the subject. The ConfederaternConstitution of 1861: that thernConfederacy was an effort to maintainrnthe liberty which flourished under thernold Republic.rnOne facet of the historical record thatrnconstantly surprises is the difficulty prosecessionistsrnhad in convincing the massrnof people that a long train of abuses hadrnnecessitated the final step. This suggestsrnthat, for all the great sacrifices enduredrnby the men and women who stood byrnher, the South was not as united on a singlerncourse of action as might be expected.rnThat lack of unity bode ill for such arndesperate bid for liberty.rnIt has been likewise throughoutrnSouthern history, and in ever-increasingrnmeasure in the present age. This is onernreason why any contemporary talk ofrnSouthern secession is naive and prematurernat best. If Southerners were unwillingrnto close their public schools for goodrnin the wake of Brown v. Board of Educationrnin 1954, there can be little doubtrnthat today, when issues of much greaterrnimportance generate far less emotionrnand threaten what is left of their nativernculture, they will meekly obey the powers-rnthat-be rather than show somernspunk. Which merely confirms an oldrnprediction.rnThe cause of the South will neverrnagain take quite the same form that itrntook in I860. The Southern Agrarians’rnprediction that the Industrial Revolutionrnwould eviscerate the particular regionalrnidentity of the South has come all toorntrue, and anv future effort to revive thernpolitical philosophy of regional particularityrnand decentralized governmentrnmust take into account the economicrnties that strap these states into the networkrnof a larger, ever more despotic federalrnunion. It may well be years beforernany sense of regional, ethnic, and culturalrnidentity causes Americans to rebelrnagainst their fate beneath the wheel of arngovernment that panders to Wall Streetrnand to the managerial elite that profitsrnfrom plutocracy. It may well be years beforerndisgust at the sight of self-appointedrnleaders groveling at the feet of ever-unsatisfiedrnspecial interests causes MiddlernAmerica to determine that the time hasrncome to show these charlatans the door.rnEventually, the contradiction of impoverishmentrnin a land of plenty, and thernconsistent war upon traditional values inrna culture that is disintegrating preciselyrnbecause those values have been undermined,rnwill become too glaring to ignore.rnIt is then that the cause of thernSouth will be seen as the cause of Westernrncivilization.rnBrenan R. Merman has taught governmentrnat George Mason University andrnMount Vernon College.rn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn