2011 Pew Poll: 48% Believe "States Rights" is Main Cause of the War

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ForeverFree

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Concerning the causes of the Civil War, history scholar Elizabeth Varon has noted that:
there's emerged in recent years a strong consensus, which scholars call the fundamentalist school, that slavery was the root fundamental cause of the civil war and that the political antagonisms between the North and South flowed from the fact that the North was a free labor society while the South was a slave labor society which remained committed to slavery and indeed to extending its domain.

Interestingly, that is not what most Americans believe. A 2010 2011 poll from Pew notes the following - see the last question at the bottom:

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Almost a near majority believe that the main cause of the war was "states' rights." Only 38% said it was "only" about slavery.

I find the poll interesting, in that, I've seen people blast "the educational system" as teaching American children that the war was about slavery, or that, differing or contrasting views of war causality are not being taught. But this poll would indicate otherwise.

The full story is here:

Civil War at 150: Still Relevant, Still Divisive

http://www.people-press.org/2011/04/08/civil-war-at-150-still-relevant-still-divisive/1/

- Alan
 
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CharacterGroove

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Polls like these are discouraging for me as much for the questions as the answers. How in the world are "slavery" and "states' rights" mutually exclusive?
 
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Potomac Pride

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The results of the poll are suprising but in a way I can understand the reason for it. States' Rights have always been an important issue in the history of the USA even before the Civil War era. The passage of the 10th amendment to the Constitution was an important event for the states. In addition, the McCulloch vs. Maryland case in 1819 and the Nullification Crisis of 1832 were important events in terms of the balance of power between federal and state governments. In todays political spectrum, issues such as abortion and the death penalty have become part of states' rights issues.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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I don't know- if I'd been taking that poll, for instance, I think I'd have found the questions irritating and wonder what they wanted by way of answers in the first place? You'd see 'states rights' and equate that with slavery since what in earth else would they be referring to-it's the Civil War, for Heaven's sake. Then to have them throw 'slavery' in there- redundant. By the time you got to 'both equally' I'd be thinking they were lucky they got an answer out of me at all.
 
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whitworth

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Of course, it only confirms that most Americans are weak in American history and the American Civil War. And Americans have a great aversion in accepting tough choices and hard facts. It's a wonder the fact that slavery was practiced in the slave states has survived in American annals.
Of course many lack because of their government education and the total inability to face hard facts. How many have actually studied the Constitution of the Confederate States. Probably few or none. One can spout off a defense of the Confederacy, the defeated rebel states, and not know the real Confederates never included the term, states rights, as a right in their constitution.
In fact, the Confederate Constitution, denies state right in one important area -the states had no right to ban slavery in their Confederate state.
The Confederate Constitution reads, No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves, shall be passed.
But then most Americans do not have the legal education, to know what the sentence even means. But the knowledgeable few would know if no Confederate or state law could not deny or impair the right of property in negro slaves, the Confederacy was denying any Confederate state the unilateral power to ban slavery and not having any "state right" to ban slavery.
 

Nathanb1

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Of course, it only confirms that most Americans are weak in American history and the American Civil War. And Americans have a great aversion in accepting tough choices and hard facts. It's a wonder the fact that slavery was practiced in the slave states has survived in American annals.
Of course many lack because of their government education and the total inability to face hard facts. How many have actually studied the Constitution of the Confederate States. Probably few or none. One can spout off a defense of the Confederacy, the defeated rebel states, and not know the real Confederates never included the term, states rights, as a right in their constitution.
In fact, the Confederate Constitution, denies state right in one important area -the states had no right to ban slavery in their Confederate state.
The Confederate Constitution reads, No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves, shall be passed.
But then most Americans do not have the legal education, to know what the sentence even means. But the knowledgeable few would know if no Confederate or state law could not deny or impair the right of property in negro slaves, the Confederacy was denying any Confederate state the unilateral power to ban slavery and not having any "state right" to ban slavery.
Then you'll be happy to know at least 50 teachers in Texas know that. :smile:
 
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OpnCoronet

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As pointed out by CharacterGroove 'slavery' and 'state rights' are not mutually exclusive, in the context of the CW In point of fact it was not a question of a state's right to sanction slavery, but one of how far outside a state's borders could such a right be maintained, either by the laws of other states or the national gov't.
The question of 'state rights' is still a valid subject of discussion(or even of debate). However, the question of the right of a state to sanction chattle slavery, has already been settled.


P.S. the only state right in the United States to cause a civil war, was the growing debate over the right of sanctioning slavery, anywhere in the Union and its territories..
 
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timk

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Polls like these are discouraging for me as much for the questions as the answers. How in the world are "slavery" and "states' rights" mutually exclusive?
I agree, except probably I would say irrelevant rather than discouraging. I would probably toss the poll once I got to this question.
 

littledoug

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This illlustrates one of the typical problems with polls--the answer choices are not nuanced, they are black and white, take it or leave it. And then when you consider the instructions on some tests to select the "best" choice, not necessarily the only "correct" choice, it is no wonder that some of us prefer all essays with a careful delineation of facts and assumptions. If left to my own devices with multiple choice I would always go with "none of the above", "all of the above", "not really", or "so what". Perhaps simultaneously.
 
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RobertP

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Very interesting poll.

1. Blacks (10 pct,) are more likely than Whites (8 pct.) to react favorably when seeing the CBF.

2. Whites in the South (49 pct.) and Whites outside the region (48 pct.) are virtually the same in the belief that the Cw was about States Rights.

3. People under 30 are more likely (60 pct.) to believe the CW was about States Rights than are older folks.
 
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