Of Course the Civil War Was About Slavery, Say Civil War Historians





...The Charleston “Secession Ball” — advertised as “an event of a lifetime” — includes a theatrical re-enactment of the signing of the Ordinance of Secession (the original version of which will be on display), as well as dinner and a dance.

“We’re celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government,” one of the event’s organizers told The New York Times. “Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause.”

“Of course, when South Carolina did secede, there was enormous celebration, dancing in the streets and so on,” said James McPherson, a Princeton Civil War historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history Battle Cry of Freedom....

“Probably 90 percent, maybe 95 percent of serious historians of the Civil War would agree on the broad questions of what the war was about and what brought it about and what caused it,” McPherson said, “which was the increasing polarization of the country between the free states and the slave states over issues of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery.”...

“One hundred and fifty years ago Christmas Eve day, everyone knew why South Carolina was seceding because they said so — it’s a wonderful document,” said James Loewen, a sociologist and co-editor of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.

Four days after South Carolina seceded on Dec. 20, 1860, the state adopted a second document titled “Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” Loewen considers the record, central to his new collection, one of the five most important documents in the history of the country, launching as it did a seminal chapter in America’s ongoing struggle to define itself.

“So why does nobody ever read it?” he asked. “Everybody knew [secession was] about slavery. This document is all about slavery.”...



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