Good stuff: “No, the Civil War really was about slavery.”

Ahoy! I’m back on the tubez, and in scrolling through the tubez’s more pleasant corners (because, honestly, leaping directly into “apparently now we’re using drones to assassinate American citizens” is not what I want to do, straight from the holiday and Shabbat glow), I wandered over to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Friday open thread and found this, written by fellow commenter HappySurge, in honor of Ta-Nehisi’s 36th birthday.*


This civil war was not about slavery
It was about states rights, specifically
The right of a state to be slave or free
Particularly if that state loved slavery.

Oh, the civil war was not about slavery
It was about a young man named Robert E. Lee,
A general who fought so courageously,
For some states who all just happened to love slavery.

If the civil war was about slavery
What about the black soldiers of the confederacy?
I read about them in poorly sourced histories
Citing slavemasters who loved slavery.

The civil war was just a tragedy
A case of misplaced empathies
See, all of these people trying to be free
Imposed their federalist authority
On poor lowly states, just preserving their rights
To keep men shackled for all of their lives.

So, the civil war was not about slavery
I wish I could say more but I’ve got to leave
I’ve got a plantation wedding this evening
After a war recreation at three.

Dude wrote a song (in about four hours, apparently) with the line “I read about them in poorly sourced histories.” Which he rhymed. History geek swoon!

I really, really recommend that you listen to more of HappySurge’s oeuvre, which can be found here. And then please invite him to play in a Chicago-area coffeeshop or bar, so that I can see him live. Kthx.

*For those who don’t know, TNC is writing a Civil War-era novel and has essentially turned himself into a self-educated scholar on the topic, often doing online battle with those who continue to claim that the Civil War was not, in fact, about slavery. (One of the best arguments against that position, by the way, can be found in the seceding states’ own ordinances of secession).

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.



  1. Nice to see you’re back.

  2. caoil

     /  October 2, 2011

    I have to admit it’s such a catchy tune, I’ve had it stuck in my head for 2 days now.

    • I know, right?! I mean, seriously — when I woke up in the middle of the night last night, there it was, keeping me company.