Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Causes of the Civil War

Slavery versus abolition?
Nationalism versus states' rights?
You hear both sides.

Tonight as Andrew and I were listening to a presentation on the Civil War, I think I finally figured out something. Both issues brought on Southern secession.

Basically, the states that seceded between Lincoln's election and inauguration were the southern Southern states that wanted to protect the institution of slavery and even expand it by importing more slaves and making slaves cheaper to buy so that everybody could have one. But the northern Southern states were waffling; they were still in the USA when Lincoln became president. Virginia and the other border states bailed on the USA and joined the CSA after Fort Sumter. For them, nationalism could not overcome the thought of the federal government trampling states' rights.

This makes sense to me. That would be why you hear primary-source material which sounds, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as if the war were most certainly fought over the issue of slavery and because some Americans thought dark-skinned people weren't really people but property. And yet other primary-source material just as clearly and surely makes the case that the war was not about slavery but about political power. The viewpoint would depend on which part of the South we're talking about, and when they left the Union, and why.

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