Do people realize that the focus of the Civil War wasn't actually slavery?
I'm going to be honest, I never understood the whole "States rights" thing myself. Growing up, I was always taught the focus of the war was slavery until people began teaching otherwise.
Thanks to all of you who answered, these points were really interesting to hear.
- LiliLv 74 weeks agoFavourite answer
It actually was.
Some people like to claim it was really about "states' rights," but that's true only in the sense that the Confederate states were fighting for the right to maintain a way of life and an economy that depended on the enslavement of human beings.
The claim that it wasn't about slavery is by now a rather desperate and worn-out cliché, and it simply is not true. Fundamentally, it was indeed about slavery, whether people like to admit it or not.
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
It was slavery, but not only.
- MandyLv 64 weeks ago
The Civil War was fought because the Southern states wanted to be able to allow other states to enter as slaveholding states. The thought the Southern states should be allowed to maintain slavery and for new states to be able to enter as slave states, as well. So, yes - state’s rights - but the right to own slaves.
- 4 weeks ago
People who "educated" in a government school do not realize that. They even believe Lee Oswald killed JFK and George Washington never told a lie.Source(s): www.FFF.org
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- Anonymous4 weeks ago
The term "focus" is vague. But the cause of the Civil War was absolutely about slavery. The South was, within their own public sphere, very up front about this. For example, the articles of secession which were passed by several Southern states mentioned slavery as the reason and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens gave a major speech saying that secession was about slavery and protecting slavery. This was, after all, what the two sections had been fighting about for much of the past decade. Essentially all other issues of controversy in American politics in the 19th century were partisan. For example, the tariff split people along Whig-Democrat lines, with Whigs, North and South, usually supporting protective tariffs, and Democrats, both North and South, usually opposing them. Slavery was really the only issue which divided the North and South. The war wasn't about "states rights" either, as Confederate apologists sometimes claim. For one thing, everyone in the 19th century supported the idea of a federation government where most power devolved to the states. Furthermore, the South was not uniformly in favor of "state's rights". In fact, one of the big concerns of Northerners in the years leading up to the Civil War was the idea that the South was trying to trample on states rights and "nationalize" a slave regime which they opposed.
The war began because Abraham Lincoln was elected President. He was the first President elected on a platform calling for the, eventual, end of slavery. Every other American President had been either a Southern slaveholder (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc) or a Northerner who was willing to go along with slavery to preserve sectional harmony (the Adamses, James Buchanan, etc). Lincoln was something new: a President who had pledged to do what he could, within the law, to hamper slavery's expansion and ultimate existence (both pro and anti-slavery forces in the 19th century thought slavery needed to expand to keep itself alive). Lincoln was elected by a purely Northern political party, disrupting the bi-sectional partisan alliances which had kept the Whigs and Democrats in line with slavery for decades. And he refused to compromise his principles, even in the face of threats of secession, a tool which Souherners had been using for decades to cow Northerners into accepting slavery. The South probably didn't have a lot to fear from Lincoln since Democrats still controlled the Senate. But they saw the writing on the wall. His election augured a new reality for slavery, one where it would no longer be secure within the Union. Rather than wait for that future to happen, and let slavery get weaker and weaker as an institution, they decided to break up the country.
Now it's certainly true that the Union did not have the abolition of slavery as an official war aim until the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 (the Preliminary Proclamation was in 1862). But the Republicans worked from the very beginning of the war to try and undermine slavery, such as by declaring escaped slaves of rebel masters "contraband of war" and forbidding slave hunters from entering military camps or outposts to look for runaways. Everyone, including rank and file soldiers, understood the war as having been caused by, and being about, slavery.
- TinaLv 74 weeks ago
The Confederate Vice President, Alexander H Stephens certainly thought it was. According to his famous 'Cornerstone Speech'
"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the ***** is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science"
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
It certainly was. The only differences between the US Constitution and the Confederate Constitution was the length of Presidential term, Confederate Constitution stated the President served one 6 year term and could not serve more than one term, the US Constitution states the President serves a four year term and can serve two terms. The other difference was the Confederate Constitution stated slavery could never be abolished by any Confederate state or any future states to join the Confederacy... even if they wanted to.
- dain978Lv 54 weeks ago
That's what the rich slave owners told the poor non slave owners.
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
Exactly what Lili said. Calling it about slavery is simply cutting through all the BS about "state rights." It was specifically about state rights to continue to enslave human beings. Several confederate states publishes declarations of succession explicitly stating this at the time. You can't revise that away.
Not-so-nonpartisan, I have an MA in history, thanks for the study tips. Most soldiers who are not conscripted against their will go to war for emotive reasons, to protect what is familiar and dear to themselves. The arc of history as decided by the movers and shakers has little to do with it. His reasons were valid to HIM, but he was not the cause of the war. Yes, the American Civil War was largely about economic disparity, but when you cut through the Gordian Knot it still comes down to wishing to preserve a dying economic system which relied on slavery. The forest has many interesting trees but you need to look at the overall character of the forest.