History, Reviews.

Slavery was the First Cause of the Civil War

Book Book Review, Title Apostles of Disunion, Author Charles B. Dew, Rating 4.0, Slavery was the First Cause of the Civil War

It has always been for me somewhat of a puzzle as to why many in the South up to today insist on the idea that slavery was not a primary cause of our Civil War, but that states rights, economic warfare, etc. or anything but slavery were the deep and the proximate cause of that war. Charles Dew, born and raised in the South, writes a monograph on that very subject. He comes at the subject by researching the various documents created and speeches made by the politicians and government officials of Southern states prior to the start of the Civil War for the purpose of justifying, insisting upon, and finally enacting the secession of the various states from the Union.

The most obvious and damning documents are the formal declarations of secession by individual states, akin to the Union’s Declaration of Independence, which are unambiguous and startlingly clear regarding the need to secede to protect the institution of slavery. Despite Lincoln’s strong appeal to those states to remain in the Union, the Southern states, one by one, effected disunion via secession, and South Carolina, one of those Southern states, ultimately fired the first shots in anger.

After secession, Southern reasoning morphed, surprisingly quickly, into the now familiar states rights arguments, with open denial of the role slavery played, not to mention blaming the war’s beginning on Northern Aggression (as in the War of same). It might be a study unto itself just to examine the tortuous logic required to reach such conclusions. (The argument that the North initiated the Civil War requires an illogical construction, nay, the chutzpah, akin to the old legal joke whereby a young man was charged with murdering his parents, and in court asks for leniency because he was an orphan.)

This book and its clear demonstration of the troubled nature of the Lost Cause is highly relevant to the political and cultural behavior of today’s American South, where the Stars and Bars still fly, and those same old attitudes and behaviors are alive and alas, well.

A gift from Melinda Miles.

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