The Causes Of The Civil War; Historian's Point Of View?

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DutchieNL

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Hi everybody,

I'm a student teacher from the Netherlands and i'm writing a thesis on the causes of the civil war; more precisely, on the different views of historians on the role of abolitionism on the outbreak of the civil war. I can't seem to find any books and articles from historians that kind of "play down" the role of slavery on the civil war.
I would like to hear our suggestions.
 

Georgia Sixth

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I also think you'll find this highly useful, a blog post by historian Kevin Levin in which he discusses how people in 19th century America thought about topics such as racial equality, slavery and abolition and exactly what they were saying when they argued about slavery. I'm attaching a pdf I made of his post.
 

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Potomac Pride

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A good book on the subject is "The Causes of the Civil War" by the late Kenneth Stampp that was originally published over 50 years ago. This book discusses the political, social and economic issues that resulted in the war. Kenneth Stampp was a Professor of History at the University of California and a noted scholar of the Civil War.
 

Joshism

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I can't seem to find any books and articles from historians that kind of "play down" the role of slavery on the civil war.
Perhaps there's a reason for that?

Professor/Historian Stephen Engle has an interesting take on the causes of the war. He argues the war was about States Rights, with the seceded states believing they had more rights out of the Union while the rest of the country believed their rights were protected best by remaining in the Union. (He concurs the primary Southern right perceived as endangered was the right to own slaves so don't mistake him for a Lost Causer.) Some discussion of the subject here:
 

wausaubob

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People in the 19th century expressed the opinion that the sudden increase in US territory, due to an aggressive imperialist war with Mexico led directly to the Civil War. President Polk had settled the northern boundary and the war with Mexico settled the southern boundary. With no new territory to be added easily, the internal divisions became obvious. And since war with Mexico had worked so well, the people lost their fear of a civil disturbance.
 
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wausaubob

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In addition there were not enough federal institutions in the US. West Point was still new, and the navy was not that strong. There was not a national currency. States were represented in the Senate, so a state entity was still a strong practical necessity.
 

wausaubob

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Once it became clear that the Republicans could vote Kansas into the US, and there were about 9 more western states, eventually to enter the Union, it was clear the south would never dominate in the government.
 

Potomac Pride

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Once it became clear that the Republicans could vote Kansas into the US, and there were about 9 more western states, eventually to enter the Union, it was clear the south would never dominate in the government.
I have always thought that politics played an important role in causing the Civil War. In 1860, the southern states were in jeopardy of losing their political power on the national level. The election of Lincoln from the novice Republican Party signaled the rise of a sectional party that represented northern interests. The demise of the Whig Party in the 1850s created the opportunity for the rise of the Republican Party on the national level. This resulted in the creation of a purely sectional party for the first time on the national political landscape. The subsequent fracture of the Democrat Party into two segments eliminated the traditional two party system in the country. This made way for the election of Lincoln as the Republican candidate in 1860 who promoted a political agenda that favored the northern states. The subsequent population increase in the northern states would also favor this section of the country in terms of the number of future representatives in Congress. This would also increase their political power on a national basis at the expense of the southern states. The new western territories would also provide opportunities for the expansion of the growing population in the northern states to other areas of the country. This would eventually result in the addition of new states and more Republican seats in the Senate.
 
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MattL

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Once it became clear that the Republicans could vote Kansas into the US, and there were about 9 more western states, eventually to enter the Union, it was clear the south would never dominate in the government.
If it and other territories entered as free States especially (which is why their free/slave status was such a bloodthirsty battleground, both physically and politically).
 

matthew mckeon

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Hi everybody,

I'm a student teacher from the Netherlands and i'm writing a thesis on the causes of the civil war; more precisely, on the different views of historians on the role of abolitionism on the outbreak of the civil war. I can't seem to find any books and articles from historians that kind of "play down" the role of slavery on the civil war.
I would like to hear our suggestions.
What age group are you preparing to teach?

Good books on the cause of the Civil War: The Scorpion's Sting and Freedom National by James Oakes
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

Slavery was the cause of secession and the abolition of slavery the most revolutionary result of the war. So a good history wouldn't downplay it.
 
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leftyhunter

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Hi everybody,

I'm a student teacher from the Netherlands and i'm writing a thesis on the causes of the civil war; more precisely, on the different views of historians on the role of abolitionism on the outbreak of the civil war. I can't seem to find any books and articles from historians that kind of "play down" the role of slavery on the civil war.
I would like to hear our suggestions.
Most definitely you should read the various Ordinances of Secession that each of the eleven Confederate States wrote concerning why they chose to leave the Union.
It all comes down to one reason and one reason only and that is slavery. Others may argue differently but read what the secessionists actually said.
Leftyhunter
 
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