Help me own the "Pro-Life" Biden Supporters

So this is a long-shot of a question, but here we go:

I need help tracking down a source. Is anyone familiar with the argument that the Confederacy would have eventually ended slavery peacefully if the South had seceded? I remember reading something to that effect years ago but I can’t find it for the life of me. I thought it was from a neo-confederate source, but maybe it was actually a libertarian. I’ve spent some time Googling and haven’t come up with anything solid. I think whatever I read has been buried by the algorithm.

I’m trying to draw the parallel between “pro-life” Biden supporters saying that Democrat policies will result in fewer abortions with Neo-Confederate apologists arguing that the Confederacy would have eventually ended slavery without the need of a war. This parallel was my first thought when I heard the “pro-life” Bided position, so I think I must have read something that caused me to think this. But memory is a funny thing, so maybe I’ve hoaxed myself?

Thanks in advance.

I found this:
“Was The Us Civil War Inevitable History Essay.” UKEssays., November 2018. Web. 19 October 2020.

Skimming it, it does seem to say that:

By the end of the eighteenth century economic superiority rested with the industrialized North; the South was experiencing growing doubts surrounding the viability of growing cotton. There had been a drop in the importation of slaves and a steep decline of the southern economy. If the economy had continued to decline, slave labour would have eventually died out on its own; there was little need for slave labour. That all changed with the invention of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin in 1793. Slavery was revived because cotton production had become profitable again.

1 Like

Thanks for the reply, but that’s not quite the argument I remember hearing.

The argument I remember is something to the effect that if the South had manage to secede from the Union, slavery would have “naturally” come to an end at some indeterminate point after 1863.

Oops, sorry. I found this, but most of them seem to say “no”:

And WaPo:

This one has “might have…”:

The likelyhood of it happening is immaterial to my argument. The relevant point is that neo-confederates claim it would have happened.

But the more I think about it, the more I think it was a libertarian and not a neo-confederate who made this argument. So maybe this angle is a lost cause (pun intended).

1 Like

I recall something like that argument being advanced in “Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men,” but I don’t have that book on hand. It’s a libertarian argument with two parts. First, slavery was only profitable in the Gulf Coast Confederacy but was dying out in the upper South, which did not secede until Lincoln called for volunteers to suppress the rebellion. Second, slavery would only be profitable if slaves could not easily escape. But if Gulf Coast Confederacy seceded, then the remaining states would have been freed from the requirements of the Fugitive Slave Act, and if slaves only had to reach North Carolina,Tennessee, or Arkansas rather than Canada to be free, then the additional cost of preventing escape would render slavery unprofitable.

1 Like

Something in “Black and Tan” perhaps? Been too long since I read it to recall specifics but my general impression was that there was something about how given a wholistic Christian approach to slavery (slave trade bad, owning slaves permissible) the institution was going to die an inevitable peaceful death given sufficient time for the gospel to do its work.

1 Like

I don’t think it’s a good argument to compare slavery to abortion nor the confederacy to modern democrats. It’s a cheap attack that doesn’t have much basis in actual history and results in the slander of good men who were a part of the confederacy.


Doug Wilson makes this argument in Black & Tan under the heading “Slavery as an Institution”:

Christ died on the cross to set all men free from their sins, and all forms of external slavery are built on the bedrock of slavery to sin. Therefore, the logic of the Great Commission requires the eventual death of slavery as an institution in any place where it might still exist. While Christian slaves were commanded to work hard for their masters, Christian slaves were also told to take any lawful opportunity for freedom (1 Cor. 7:20-24). This indicates that slavery as an institution is inconsistent with the fundamental Spirit of the gospel, who is the Spirit of liberty (2 Cor. 3:17).

See also the headings “Godly Subversion of Slavery” and “Reformation or War?” at that link.



Doug Wilson was on the Apologia Radio podcast ~5 years ago, and may not have made the point in these exact terms, but either he or Jeff Durbin pointed out that no other country on earth required the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of its citizens to end slavery. That seems relevant to the point. Brazil was the last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish it, around 1888, I think, so that’s probably a good marker for where it would have died out.

1 Like

Consider picking up Joseph Jay’s book Sacred Conviction

The Austrian libertarian Thomas DiLorenzo wrote a book called The Real Lincoln that presented several of these arguments. This book may be the best known popular Confederate apologetic of recent years. The book I linked above is superior to DiLorenzo however.

Wilson’s book Black & Tan is likewise a good popular level introduction to both the historical and theological issues involved.

1 Like

I think it may have been from Black & Tan, but I read it so long ago that I think I mis-remembered it as being from an actual Neo-Confederate source (in other words, I accidently hoaxed myself).

I’ve decided not to pursue that specific argument any further.

But I do think it can be useful to compare slavery and abortion as a persuasive tactic. Not because the two are exactly morally equivalent, but because in the modern liberal mind American slavery is the most ghastly abomination imaginable. It can be useful get them to associate it with abortion and to drive a wedge down the middle of their inconsistency.

For example:

Some Christians say they are voting for Biden out of some “pro-life” conviction.

That’s as absurd as supporting the Confederacy out of some “pro-emancipation” conviction.

Excuse me for not thinking that slavery should be “safe, legal, and rare.”

I’d rather persuade a “Biden-Evangelical” that legal abortion is at least as bad as legal slavery than to persuade him that slavery can be moral in certain circumstances.

1 Like

The problem is, if we make some kind of “If slavery’s always wrong, how much more is abortion always wrong!” argument, then when they show (rightly) from the Scriptures that slavery is not always wrong they will say, “there, if slavery’s not always wrong, neither is abortion.” Not only is the false moral equivalence false; I don’t think it can help, either.

Talking about slavery in any terms other than absolute condemnation gets you down in the mud pretty quickly, which I know you were trying to avoid. The thing is, they are the ones who love slavery and who are always enslaving. We are the ones who love freedom and are working to set men free. Much more could be said about this.



That’s not the argument I made. But would you support or oppose a political movement in 2020 to make slavery “safe, legal, and rare?” I assume we would both oppose it, which is not the same as conceding that slavery is always wrong.

I’m skeptical that the “Evangelicals-for-Biden” crowd will suddenly do some in-depth, nuanced exegesis on slavery that is 100% at odds with the Spirit of the Age. This group’s main problem is that they won’t engaging in Biblical argumentation.

However, if they do, then that’s a win. “I see you’re being very careful in handling God’s word on slavery. Let’s apply that same level of care on the topic of murder and see where it leads us. I see you have no problem with believing scripture when it is at odds with modern culture, so you surely have nothing to fear.”

The Pharisee’s prided themselves on their law-keeping while they were breaking God’s law. Modern Evangelicals do the same. What rhetoric did Jesus use to condemn them? “You strain out a gnat, but you swallow a camel.”

It it’s helpful to point out that Jesus made a moral equivalency here that is technically false, since He himself declared all foods clean. Absolute condemnations of eating camel meat are as erroneous as absolute condemnations of slavery. Neither activity is morally equivalent to abortion or devouring widow’s houses, yet our Lord manages to be truthful without being pedantic. I say we are free to imitate him in this.

1 Like

Thomas Sowell discusses this point in his excellent essay The Real History of Slavery, part of his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals (the entire book is well worth the read), although with a little more nuance. The amount of effort, money, political capital, and military threats put forward by Western Europe in general, and Great Britain in particular, in order to end legalized slavery throughout most of the world is somewhat staggering. However, the point remains, no other country required a war with enormous amounts of bloodshed to end legalized slavery.

To quote just a little of the fine essay on this point, one which may shed some information on the OP’s question:

What was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence. This was possible only because the anti-slavery movement coincided with an era in which Western power and hegemony were at their zenith, so that it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery. This idea might seem shocking, not because it does not fit the facts, but because it does not fit the prevailing vision of our time.
Only optimists thought this possible at the time and even the leaders of the anti-slavery movement did not at first attempt the direct abolition of the institution of slavery itself, hoping instead that stopping the buying and selling of human beings would dry up the source and cause slavery as an institution to wither on the vine.
At this juncture in history, Britain was the world’s largest slave trader and the powerful vested interests which this created were able to roundly defeat early attempts to get Parliament to ban the trade. In the long run, however, such powerful opposition to the proposed ban, combined with equal tenacity on the other side, simply dragged out the political struggle for decades, making ever wider circles of people aware of the issue. Something that had never been a public issue before now became a subject of inescapable and heated controversy for years on end. Slavery could no longer be accepted as simply one of those facts of life that most people do not bother to think about. The long, drawn-out political controversy meant that more and more people had to think about it—and many who began to think about slavery turned against it.
Eventually, such strong feelings were aroused among the British public that anti-slavery petitions with unprecedented numbers of signatures poured into Parliament from around the country, from people in all walks of life, until the mounting political pressures forced not only a banning of the international slave trade in 1808, but eventually swept the anti-slavery forces on beyond their original goals toward the direct abolition of the institution of slavery itself.

-Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals


I’ll check for the quote, but Douglas Wilson makes this argument repeatedly. His book Black and Tan mention it, but it comes up in other places as well. The layers of irony are hard to miss.

I thought Robert E. Lee held the view that slavery was inevitably unsustainable.

Separately about slavery, this is a great read to gain perspective: Barracoon by Hurston.

Ending slavery was done in a way like the Democrats accuse us. We are very falsely accused of wanting to bring life into the world without caring for the poor. American slavery and the ending of it and its aftermath was and is tragic.

Allow slavery today? Absolutely allow more exceptions to the minimum wage or abolish it. And more. Having a boss or father or master accountable to church and government is better than being directly “cared for” by the government.

1 Like