February 26

Post #95 – Why We’re Still Fighting the Civil War

You’re in an Advanced Placement U.S. History class that analyzes different approaches to history.  As we have learned, history’s interpretation can change – use the formation of the Constitution’s interpretation as an example (Blog #93).  History can also be used as a weapon to support or discredit opponents like the way Richard Nixon / Watergate, Frederick Douglass, and Japanese internment camps are being used to discredit President Trump.  In the same way that history can be weaponized, the history of the Civil War has been discussed and fought over ever since General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.  Using the article, “The Way We Weren’t,” author David Von Drehle dissects the way Americans have viewed the bloodiest conflict in our history.

People in 2011 were polled in the 11 states of the Confederacy, and they answered that the primary cause of the Civil War was states rights, or in this case, the primacy of the states over the federal government, despite what the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause said.  However, as we have seen with the recent history we’ve studied, states rights was not just a Southern thing.  Northern states and cities resisted the new Fugitive Slave Law (and the federal government) and tried to foil sending slaves to their original owners.  Eminent Civil War historians like James McPherson and David Blight state that almost everything in the events leading up to the Civil War dovetail w/ slavery.

Confederate soldiers and citizens, the losers in the conflict, had to mentally hold onto their “due pride” after fighting so hard, so they invented the states rights cause.  Many historians, novelists, and filmmakers were willing to go along with this denial and write narratives that supported the states rights cause.  Confederate generals wrote their memoirs in the post-war world which distanced their sacrifice from slavery and attached it firmly to something more noble (in their minds) like states rights.  Insidious inside the states rights cause was the Lost Cause, the belief that slavery was a benign institution and that Black people had it better under slavery than freedom.  Freedom, as defined by the profit-hungry, industrial North, included working for tiny wages and ruthless competition. In Jefferson Davis’s book about the war, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, he portrays the South as hopelessly outgunned and outmanned (which it was) and compares the North to the serpent infiltrating the Garden of Eden (the South) where slave owners lived with their slaves in paradise.

However, this is not to blame the Civil War on just the South.  Yes, they were treasonous.  Yes, they killed hundreds of thousands of Northern soldiers, but EVERYONE was complicit in slavery.  As mentioned in the article, many Northern states, including Wall Street, benefitted dramatically from it.  Check out the New York Historical Society’s online exhibit, Slavery in New York.  There should be little doubt that the war was a long time coming, exacted a horrific toll on the nation, and still leaves us with a legacy that we are dealing with as a nation.


CSA states evolution.gif
By User:GolbezOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Questions to answer:

  1. Why was the Lost Cause or denial of slavery as the central cause so attractive to Americans in the aftermath of the war (even up until the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement)?
  2. On page 40 (1) of the article, it mentions several different causes of the Civil War:
    • Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation;
    • High tariffs like the Tariff of Abominations;
    • Blundering statesmen like Stephen Douglas, Roger Taney, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan;
    • Clash of industrial vs. agrarian cultures;
    • Caused by fanatics like John Brown and Southern “fire eaters”;
    • Representive of a Marxist class struggle – Southern aristocracy vs. Northern factory workers.

Which of these is most persuasive as a cause and which is the least persuasive cause?  Why?

3. The article focuses a lot on Bleeding Kansas as the pivotal point in which the Civil War seemed inevitable.  Would you agree with this assertion?  Why or why not?

Image result for gone with the wind

4. What are some major arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause?  Think of movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind  and their portrayal of the South.

5. When and why did America finally start to break away from the Lost Cause mythology (a.k.a. The Dunning School of Post War America)?

Pick 4 of the questions (including #1) and answer them in 400 words minimum total.  Due Friday, March 3 by class. 

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Posted February 26, 2017 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

65 thoughts on “Post #95 – Why We’re Still Fighting the Civil War

  1. Zacharie Chentouf

    1. The Lost Cause or denial of slavery as the central cause was so attractive to Americans in the aftermath of the war (even up until the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement) because it kept their pride. It meant that they had fought the war for a noble reason, the idea of states’ rights, and that they were fighting for a good cause instead of slavery. This stayed this way even up until the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement because the families and descendants of the fighters in the Civil War would remember their ancestors as supporting a good cause, a just cause, and that was the reason for which they were fighting in the Civil War. Furthermore, historians, novelists, and filmmakers also supported this to soothe memories, and make the differences that were seen between the North and South during the Civil War less evident to keep the country united, and make reconciliation easy, everyone mourning for the deaths during the Civil War, together.

    2. The most persuasive as a cause of the Civil War is the clash of industrial vs agrarian cultures because the farming in the South was most of its economy, and the way that slaveowners made all their money. The slave labor system in the South was based on farming, and was the reason that the South wanted to keep slavery, as most Southerners hoped to one day own their slaves, and have farms for them to work on, and have wealth. In the North, the industrial culture had mostly people working and manufacturing, even women joining in instead of staying on farms, and did not involve slaves. The loss of slavery would not affect manufacturing, and the economy in the North nearly as much as in the South. The least persuasive cause are the fanatics like John Brown and Southern “fire eaters” because they were the symptoms of the problem, the seen violent actions that were taken, but they were just the last straw on the camel’s back, and the original problems and different views on slavery were already there. A war on slavery would have eventually happened either way, as abolitionists that were not fanatics were still pushing strong.

    3. The article focuses a lot on Bleeding Kansas as the pivotal point in which the Civil War seemed inevitable. I would agree with this assertion because before then, the Missouri Compromise had set strict borders of where slavery was legal, and where it wasn’t. Congress decided these areas, and despite disagreements, slaveowners, and abolitionists did not clash directly. This all changed with the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, and it almost seemed Congress was inviting for the war to come to their doorstep. This allowed the settlers to decide whether slavery would be legal in the territories, and this was devastating as abolitionists and slaveowners were able to clash with violence and directly, as we see with the destroyed town of Lawrence, with John Brown, with Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks, foreshadowing the fight on slavery in the West that would lead to the Civil War.

    4. Some major arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause are that the Lost Cause follows the theme that slavery had become less important, and that slavery was a problem that was the South, and that the North solved it. Slavery had not become less important, and the Civil War was more about slavery than states’ rights, there were 4 million slaves, including women and children, and it was central to the success of the slaveowners, and the economy of the South. Second, slavery was a problem in the South, but the North was also complicit in it, and processed the cotton that was made in the South. It also defended slavery in the South before the civil war, only saying it shouldn’t spread to the West. The Union was made up of the South and North, the South’s problems were the North’s problems. The images portrayed in Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind are biased by the Confederacy, and illustrated the South as a paradise before the Civil War, which it was not, especially with the slaves, and made the South seem like preaching liberty against an oppressive North when it was actually the North liberating the slaves in the South, preaching liberty, against the oppressive North.

  2. Camille West

    1. The Lost Cause appealed appeals to so many Americans after the Civil War because of various degrees of racism. The North was focused on Reconstruction, so the quality of life of the freed blacks was not a concern of theirs, but rather ease tensions between North and South and get the country moving forward again. In the South, people were unhappy to lose their slaves and the war, so they were crybabies and claimed that black people were happier without their freedom. It was also a scapegoat in the South, so they could blame problems on it, and most importantly, the Civil War (and losing it). During the Civil Rights Movement, white Southern Americans were forced to face the fact that their families had in fact defended and fought for slavery when in reality black people did not want it.
    3. I do agree that Bleeding Kansas was a pivotal part of the Civil War. If the Southerners did not cross borders to vote illegally and expand slavery, the war might not have started. The lengths that the Southerners went to win this state showed how dead set they were on keeping slavery, and that they would fight (as many of them did) to their last breath for the cause. The South also showed a lot of other violence on this topic, such as the Caning of Charles Sumner, and general reluctance to let slavery go, like in the Dred Scott decision.
    4. Something that pokes holes in the Lost Cause idea was the fact that slaves were actually really unhappy. Not only do we know that slaves were whipped, underfed, overworked, and deprived of our families, we also have evidence such as Charles Douglass’ autobiography that illustrates the emotion suffering that slaves had to deal with. We also were able to listen to interviews with freed slaves in class discussing the same things. There is also the fact that slaves often rebelled or ran away, which seems like it would key in white people to the fact that people didn’t like being forced to work and not have control of their lives, but clearly some of them missed the memo. We also know that white slave owners would want to deny all of these things because they exploited people to make money off of them, which was really what it was all about.
    5. America finally broke away from the Lost Cause because black people we able to become more influential as the 20th century, so they had platforms from which they were able to speak up and tell supporters of the Lost Cause idea that they were, in fact, wrong. As time went on, people were also able to distance themselves from the personal/emotional bonds that tied them to the causes of the Civil War, so they were more able to realize, with an unbiased perspective, what caused the war.

  3. Nick

    1)The lost cause and denial of slavery being the main reason for the civil war was attractive to many southern Americans because it was a peaceful ending for both sides in the war. The north had completed one of its goals of freeing the slaves in the south, but instead of provoking and continuing to aggravate the southerners, especially those who were involved the war, including farmers to soldiers, the north had decide to come to terms and agree that the best for the country was to agree on what causes the civil war, being states right. In the end the actions of the union wanted to be remembered as respectable and noble actions, thus guiding them to agree that they were truly fighting for states rights and not the institution of slavery.
    2) In my opinion i would say that the most persuasive as a cause to the civil war would be fanatics like John Brown and Southern “fire eaters”. I believe these types of fanatics brought large amounts of attention to what they wanted to be heard. In the case of john Brown it was that slavery was evil and should be abolished, and in the case of the fire eaters it was the separation of the southern states from the north and slavery was good. These few fanatics were seen on a large scale and in some cases brought worry to the opposing people’s views which triggered the start of the civil war. For the least persuasive cause of the civil war i would choose Clash of industrial vs. agrarian cultures. I picked this because i feel it had little to no impact on the actual war and starting it. If it was one thing that both the north and the south needed from each other it was there industries. The North needed the southern cotton to produce goods, and without the north the south wouldn’t be able to produce goods from the raw cotton. Making it not persuasive to the cause of the civil war.
    3)I do agree that Bleeding Kansas was the point of no return. Bleeding Kansas was multiple wars on the border of Kansas. Pro-slavery and antislavery/abolitionists went into Kansas to defend their view on slavery and influence weather it would be a free or slave state. The reason why i feel this was the point of no return is because at this point there was already violent battles over people’s political view on slavery. I Like verbal or political debates about the topic this was actual violence used to influence the outcome of whether the state would be free or not. At this point people were not afraid to use contact violence to express their opinion on slavery, meaning it was inevitable that they were ready to finally take it to a level of war.
    5) I feel America finally broke away from the lost cause because people over time were forgetting their “need” for slavery and people didn’t feel the same way about fighting over protecting slavery. Southerners started admitting the true cause of the civil war and that it all centered around slavery. As people grew unattached from slavery it was easier to admit that it was the true cause of the civil war. As the country advanced and African Americans and other minorities gained power in the government along with more rights the truth about the civil war was not as hard to say for supporting southerners.

  4. Eric Ajluni

    1. In the aftermath of the Civil War, The Lost Cause was very commonly brought up when American’s attempted to explain the causes of the war. For the Southerners, they had just suffered a major defeat while the North enjoyed victory, so using this reasoning was somewhat a form of damage control. They already looked bad for losing the war, so trying to make their cause sound noble and good could make them be seen as a little better. The majority of the South was going through a lot at the time, including being divided into 5 districts, losing all slaves, land being redistributed and more. So amongst all these failures and bad occurrences, trying to use The Lost Cause to make their purpose sound good was a popular thing to do.
    2. Of the listed possible causes for the Civil War, the most persuasive cause are the actions of John Brown and the “Fire Eaters”. This was one of the main reasons, or pushes to start an inventible war because it ignited both the North and South in different ways to really fight for their beliefs. Brown was seen as a symbol for abolitionists, and generally was seen as a hero in the North. Seeing what he did for their cause made others want to fight to. In the South, this showed that they could not just sit back and fighting had to be done. The South gradually built its military as more of these conflicts started to occur. These would also spark the South to secede from the Union. The least persuasive was easily saying it was the clash between Industrial and agrarian cultures in the North and South. This cause itself does not even make complete sense, as economically these 2 systems went hand and hand with the other. As the South produced crops, the North manufactured and then shipped out to Britain, so this would not be a main cause for the war between the North and South.
    3. I do agree that leading Kansas was the pivotal point where the Civil War became inventible. Kansas was essentially a playground for conflict between the North and South both politically and in terms of conflict. The arguments over whether Kansas should be a slave state or not, and how to compose the states government and constitution made it a battleground between the 2 ideals and beliefs. This also resulted in real violence as a hotel was burned and real violence and death occurred. All this conflict in just one new state to the country showed there would be no other way to get around these issues other than war.
    4. The Lost Cause was a flawed argument that was poked at more and more overtime for its ridiculousness. Before the war began, slavery was very obviously the reason the war began, but after the defeat of the South it makes no sense for the story to be changed that slavery was a great thing that made everyone happy, and that other issues were to blame. This was simply damage control to make the South look better after losing just about all they had, and losing the war itself. Slavery was known as the cause of the Civil War, so trying to direct the blame at something else because you lost is not valid. Within these pop culture movies, this idea is often shown as slavery was a great thing for everyone including slaves. At the time everyone knew this was not true, and because it was far from the truth a war began because of it.

  5. Henry Van Faussien

    1.) Denial, and blaming the war on slavery was very attractive to post-war South. The times were changing and they were now living in a world where slavery was wrong and illegal. Many southerners recognized that controlling someone’s life and treating a human as property was not really morally right. So instead of flaunting the true cause of the war angering the Union that controlled their states during Reconstruction, they decided that they keep the true motives of the war under something that someone who did not like slavery could agree with. The Lost Cause or denial was an attempt to reconcile the South, it’s goal was to convince people that the South was not full of racists just people that did not want a federally controlled government. Not only this they used it as an excuse for losing the war. If they fought the war over slavery then they lost, but if they fought the war over state’s rights then the battle was still being fought. This is how the Civil War is still being fought, because state’s rights was a large piece in things like Jim Crow laws which extended the cause, state’s rights, of the Civil War into the Civil Rights movement.
    2.) I think that the largest cause of the war was blundering statesmen. People like Stephen Douglas that introduced the Kansas Nebraska Act did not solve the problem of slavery they just poured salt in the wound. All that they accomplished is that now slavery was approved by the government. With the Kansas Nebraska Act they made it possible for someone to argue that because the government would give us the choice slavery is legal anywhere. Taney in the Dred Scott case approved the southern ideal that slaves were property and made banning the expansion of slavery into the west was not legal. I think that the least plausible was the clash of agrarian and industrial societies of the South and the North. While the differences between the two regions were immense the two were very dependent on each other. Even on the previous test, the primary source from the South approved of the fact that the South depended on the North for manufacturing supplies. In addition, Wall Street very much depended on the cotton industry and it overall helped out the national economy very much.
    3.)Bleeding Kansas was the point in the slavery debate in which the Civil War was inevitable. This is the point in which the topic of slavery moved away from compromise and diplomacy to violence and war. There was no longer Missouri Compromises that could appease both sides there was only fighting to get what you believed in.
    4.) The Dunning School could never last. Every piece of evidence lets us know that slavery was most definitely caused by slavery not not state’s rights. Confederate generals and officials in multiple speeches and multiple times have disproved state’s rights. Pop culture in the early 1900’s made it out to believe that slaves were happy and the South was perfect like Song of the South and Gone with the Wind where a slave sings about how he loves his life and Gone with the Wind about the effects of Reconstruction on a Southern farm and how unfair it is.

  6. Gus Koza

    1.The denial of slavery became extremely popular throughout many americans and there live since it attracted americans to support their growing nation, do something about the things they disliked and overall becoming a beneficial citizen. Soon after the civil war America truly realized what they had done was extremely wrong at least in the north and wanted to do anything they could to help please previous slaves such as giving them rights and a citizenship. As for the Southerners the didn’t really care what they were doing during the time of slavery nor do they care. Originally they believed that their farming would appeal to other nations in which would want to give aid to them for goods.As we know in history the south received little to no aid throughout the war. Towards the beginning the south seemed they could keep up with the north but as time went on the south had little weapons, food and clothing to support them throughout the fight causing them to be pulverized by the norths manufacturing head quarters.
    2. There were many causes of the civil war, depending on who you ask it can be a biased answer. many believe the main cause was John brown including others nicknamed the “fire eaters”. John Brown was known for being a gruesome killer and started many different slave revolts. Not surprisingly the south disliked the man since he was hard to stop as well as he was an abolitionist. The south then called for war upon the north which in my opinion wasn’t a very smart choice since most of the manufacturing happened to occur in the north and the south was known for its farming with little to no manufacturing facilities.
    3. This became a driving force which the north built up in order to win the civil war. It created a great tension from the newly founded states and a fight for wether or not it would be a slave state. The south felt that as the north acquired more non slave states that the south would be outnumbered in votes making them irrelevant to elections and decisions being made for the country.One revolt that occurred from this is known as Bleeding Kansas and happened when John brown and followers began slaughtering people as a revolt. This caused an uproar throughout america as many would follow in Browns footsteps to get their way as shown in Bleeding Kansas and Americans aren’t gonna stop until their goal has been met.
    4. The creation of the KKK portrayed them as saving the country from African Americans it seemed. Little did they know they would only slaughter these men including jews since they were disliked greatly throughout the clan. The movie portrayed the clan and the south as pretty and a nice place to live.

  7. Aaron Stottlemyer

    1) The South was always a firm believer that their cause was just, and that the union was completely in the wrong during the entirety of the civil war. When the south lost the war, it was quite obvious that the anti-slavery perspective would be held as the “correct” view that would stick for centuries (much like how slavery would have been regarded correct if the confederate army did in fact win). This idea made the south very uneasy, as they predicted that they would eventually loose political power. Thus, they tried to claim that the lost cause was the true cause of the war, and not slavery. The south’s goal was to not let slavery be seen as the cause of the war, but merely a side affect.
    2) Blundering statesmen like Stephen Douglas, Roger Taney, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan were most definitely the biggest cause of the Civil war, as a bad leader can be much more devastating than no leader, and in some cases the mentioned people displayed traits of both. James Buchanan was seen as one of the worst presidents of the US, mostly due to the fact that he stood idly as the southern states began succeeding from the Union. Stephen Douglas, being a man with a fair amount of influence, intentionally spread hate throughout the South, and attempted to divert the country’s focus on slavery. If these figures actually attempted to stop the increasing problem of slavery, the war could have easily been prevented. I believe that the least important factor in the matter were the fanatics like John Brown and Southern “fire eaters”. These people were not so much a cause of the war, but a result of the rising tensions, and like previously stated, the government’s determination to play as little of a roll in the outcome of slavery. I’d also make the claim that this was the last straw in the matter, and thus didn’t have a role in sparking/igniting the war.
    3) I agree that bleeding Kansas was the point where the war became inevitable. The Kansas-Nebraska act did three major things to cement the aggression: Push the division of the north and the south over the edge, give all southerners the cause/means to arm themselves, and truly show how little Politicians cared about the matter at hand. First of all, Bleeding Kansas gave thousands of Americans the means to voice their opinions, and make a huge change in politics (that being weather Kansas became a slave or free state). Americans from the north and south flooded the state, causing a massive population growth, and countless acts of aggression (such as John Brown). This showed everybody that, if given a say in the matter, people were willing to go to many extremes to achieve their goals. Secondly, John Brown’s actions were seen by some by an assassination attempt, and southerners assumed that the northerners were planning more and more acts of violence. Thus, they started building up an army, which would soon be known as the infamous Confederate Army. Finally, the whole act of popular sovereignty was a clear sign that politicians didn’t want to deal with the issue, as it allowed the people to decide such a crucial factor in the rest of the nation. Over all, Bleeding Kansas was the ultimate act of pouring salt on a massive wound, and then pouring itchy powder on it for good measure.
    4) The Lost Cause got quickly shot down by northerners as it was generally uncovered that the Lost Cause was able to easily boil back down to slavery. Every single claim made by the south, be it agricultural, or northern aggression, could also be initially caused by slavery itself. Thus, the entire notion quickly boiled down.

  8. Ny'dea Terrell

    1. The Confederates gave many reasons as to why they fought in the Civil War, but none truly fit to what makes since. This is proves in the article, when discussing the lost for the Confederates tarnished their ego. They were outnumbered and their military strategies did not hold up to the Union troops. The concept of changing why they fought the war, made losing bearable, because they considered losing an embarrassment. Admitting their loss would truly mean they lose the war and they in turn lost everything that they held precious in their estates. Especially their homes and farm lands.

    2. The most persuasive concept was the influence of John Brown and Southern “fire eaters”. John Brown acted with a countless amount of violence, specifically in the Bleeding Kansas incident and attempted to in Harper’s Ferry. This showed that radicals minds were not going to back down on their opinions. This lead to people feeling as if they are sitting ducks and others wanted to protect themselves. They felt the best way to handle John Brown was to take his life, but he then became a martyr. Then Southern “fire eaters” followed in his radical footsteps. In my opinion the least persuasive reason was the Tariff of Abomination, because it only affected the Southerners. It was something that was going to keep the Southern government in line, with holding the amount of trade they could do with their, ally in progress. The North had nothing to do with this, therefore they could not be blamed for the government imposing that on the Confederates. But in truth despite it sounding like a large burden onto the Confederates, they did not acknowledge it as a barrier to their plans.

    3. The Bleeding Kansas made the Civil War become inevitable, because tensions of what do with the and in the west caused a collision between Northerners and Southerners. The North believed that the South should not expand any further, which was contrary to what the South wanted. The Drehle said that it was a question of “is he a free state man? Or is a proslavery man?”. Even those in the middle such as Stephen Douglass, could not find a way rest the situation. It was also a matter of constant events after the Bleeding Kansas incident that help march towards the Civil War. Especially considering that most or all the situations after the Bleeding Kansas event could connect back to that. For example in the Lincoln- Douglass debates, Stephen Douglass said that he does not care if slavery expands or not in the West, also why he created the concept “Majority Rule”. That statement was the downfall of his Presidential chances, considering that most of his supporters were southerners. This goes to show the Bleeding Kansas event connected to the Presidential election, but there were far more events it connected with.

    4. The movies Gone With The Wind and Birth of the Nation showed that the “Lost Cause” had holes in the concept. The “Lost Cause” said that slaves were happy and content with their serve to lines. Even going farther to portray the Northerners as terrible Yankee’s. While in the listed movies above they are the stories of slavery from the point of view of former slaves. Explaining the harsh treatment of slavery. It exploits all the things stated in the “Lost Cause”, which showed how the Confederates contradicted themselves with their reasoning for war, showed that they still wanted to defend the positives of slavery.

  9. Brooklyn Scott

    1)I believe that the Lost Cause or the denial slavery was attractive to Americans after the war because I believe that people felt better about saying that the Civil War was over states rights and or that black people were happy under slavery than saying that it was because they were enslaving human people. I believe that slave owners knew that what they were doing when they were taking people from Africa, selling them for money and exploiting them for money. I believe they used excuses like the bible and the lack of melanin in their skin to say that they are better and more superior than that person. I also feel as they traveled farther into the 1800s America was one of the few countries to still enslaved people. I also believe they argued it was over states rights is because the southern states were trading with Britain and France before the Civil War. During the war the trade stopped due to Britain and France realizing that the war was about slavery and slavery was something those countries abolished years ago.

    3) I would agree that after Bleeding Kansas the war inevitable because we saw people fighting for their beliefs and their cause. The origin of this conflict began with the opening of the Kansas and Nebraska Territories. There was no control in Kansas and Nebraska. There were rivaling governments and didn’t get along. Some were pro-slavery and some were anti-slavery. In Lawrence, Kansas after a free state supporter was killed there was an attack on a hotel and people shot cannons through the hotel. Also during a meeting the Crime against Kansas took place. The crime against Kansas was when Charles Sumner, a republican senator from Massachusetts, took the floor and talked about how slavery in Kansas wouldn’t survive. He criticized Butler, a South Carolinian senator. The next day, after they reconvened his cousin Preston Brooks attacked Sumner with a cane a nearly beat him to death. Next, John Brown an Ohio Abolitionist led an attack with his five sons and they killed any pro-slavery person or people who owned slaves. After all of the conflict and the fighting I do believe that the Civil war inevitable.

    4) One of the holes in the Lost Cause was that slaves were happy and content with slavery. Slaves were not happy. Anyone who argues that slaves were happy need to go look at the horrific pictures of slaves with welts from whippings, pictures of people chained together on boats and so stuck packed tightly together that they can’t move and that they lie in their own waste because people considered them property. If someone can find me a picture of a smiling slave I will give them five dollars because just the thought of someone even thinking that slaves were happy are utterly in denial. Slave rebellions are evidence that slaves weren’t happy being enslaved. People only rebel if they feel they are not being treated fairly or correctly.

    5) I feel like people began to look away from the Lost Cause theory during the Civil Rights Movement. While this may seem contradictory just bare with me. Many white people can use the argument that black people wouldn’t have to fight for their rights and didn’t have any like they did in slavery. However, the fact that a whole race of people can come together, near and far, to stand for basic human rights is incredible. Also the fact that an entire race can due majority of this peacefully without violence is eve more beyond credible.

  10. Celia Crompton

    1. The Lost Cause (denial of slavery) of the Civil War was attractive to people up to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond even to today because they seek to erase embarrassing history, the absence of which allows them to deny systemic racism that prevails even in today’s world and deny the fact that black people are not entirely equal and suffer from a dearth of privilege, and concurrently deny that they have any privilege over them because they, “never fought to keep slavery, it was just a part of the system when they came to be.” And so they are inherently not responsible nor regretful of the wrongs of the past, so they don’t have to help or support those people now.
    2. The least persuasive cause of the Civil War proposed was the “southern fanatics” or people like John Brown. My reasoning is that there have always been fanatics for radical causes and they have almost never caused a war. An example today is a self-proclaimed ISIS advocate that attempts and/or succeeds in a terrorist act. Much like John Brown, these people have not caused a war between France and ISIS nor the US in ISIS, only some conflict. Another example from history are the DNC protests in 1968. Although the intense criticism from tens of thousands of protesters and boycotters was a direct attack upon the candidates, the only conflict that came to be was mistreatment of the protestors by police, not a war or even close to a war. Most persuasive would be the “Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation” although I disagree with the wording. I believe many southern people believed the North was infringing on their rights which caused a sort of national tension, because it was a direct attack on how the southern economy which was the foundation of their way of life, so it was much more severe.
    3. I agree that Bleeding Kansas was the pivotal point that led up to the Civil War because I see it as a sort of mini civil war of Kansas by people of the nation from other regions. Kansas was a house for all the tension that every corner of the nation was under, and Kansas was the catalyst that finally pushed the country passed the point of no return.
    4. Some arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause are the fact that slaves were beaten and treated like dirt as slaves in almost every case and were doing unpaid work simply for being born a different color. The South was far from a paradise, and even white people lived in abject poverty, where the rich were a very small percentage of the population. Also, it neglects to mention that abolitionists also made up a small percentage of the population, and most people were complicit in slavery, even in the North. Movies like Gone with the Wind portray the South as a paradise before the Civil War, where even the field hands and house hands were happy to work for free and be slaves. Another false image movies like GWTW portray is the South being the victim after the civil war, not the slaves.

  11. Danielle Lutz

    1. The Lost Cause and denial of slavery were attractive to Americans after the Civil War because the South wanted their cause to be known as imperial. After the war, during the reconstruction era, the South struggled socially, politically, and economically. The Lost Cause aided them to deal with all of these changes. The Lost Cause was the belief that blacks were better off enslaved than free. The Lost Cause would cause people to believe slavery wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. People believed this because the South proved the North wasn’t doing as well as the South economically before the war and this was because they did not have as many slaves. This would make states rights look like the main cause of the war. After this, people would argue that if the federal government had allowed more states rights, both sides would’ve gotten what they wanted.
    2. The article gives many different possible causes for the Civil War. The many ideas include high tariffs, clash of industrial vs. agrarian cultures, Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation, caused by fanatics, representative of a Marxist class struggle, and blundering statesmen. I believe that they cause of the war was slavery. If slavery had never been present in the United States, i do not think the war ever would have occurred. The cause that I do not believe with is Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation. In 1861 the South was the first to start a battle so the South was not invaded. This is stating that the South was a victim only defending themselves while the North fired at them.
    3. I agree that Bleeding Kansas was the point when the Civil War became inevitable. The Kansas-Nebraska act allowed popular sovereignty in territories to decide if slavery would be legal or not. When the Kansas-Nebraska act was passed it caused tensions in Kansas. When Lincoln was elected president and the South succeeded from the union pushed the United States into war but Bleeding Kansas was the point when America knew the was was inevitable.
    4. The Lost Cause was a belief that blacks had it better as slaves than free. There was a flaw in this thinking though, slavery was the reason for the Civil War. States rights were part of it but people did not become violent or as angry as abolitionists such as John Brown. Movies like Gone with The Wind show the the Lost Cause because they make the South look like a happy place until they were invaded by the North but in reality the South were the first to strike on the North.

  12. Stav D

    1.) The Lost Cause or denial of slavery as the central cause was so attractive to Americans in the aftermath of the war (even up until the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement) because it allowed the soldiers and their families to have pride in what they did. They argued that they fought for states’ rights not against slavery, which the idea was passed down for years to come. This was one way of helping to reunite the nation, but it’s sad to think that so many people were ok with ignoring something that happened in history. Even the news has been known to have pushed for the idea of the war with states’ rights ending, and it not being about slavery.
    3.) The article focuses a lot on Bleeding Kansas as the pivotal point in which the Civil War seemed inevitable. I would agree with this assertion because Bleeding Kansas was a civil war in itself, which seemed to have erupted into the large scale more famous civil war. The Kansas Nebraska act seemed like a reason for a war proposed by congress, which in turn led to bleeding Kansas. The people were starting to actually have bloody battles with one another, and this made a full on civil war inevitable.
    4.) Major arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause are that the slaves weren’t happy and that the South had extreme racial tension. First of all, the southern claims can be easily shot down because they all lead back to tensions over slavery. Secondly, the slaves were happy to have been freed, but they still suffered and were miserable in the south with all the racial tensions. The KKK was formed as a way to “protect” the whites from blacks, which just shows how divided it was. All of this proves that the war was really over slavery, showing how mad the south was when they lost and their slaves could be people like them.
    5.) As we pushed deeper into the 20th century, the lost cause idea began to fade. Black people started having the resources and respect to be listened to, enough to show that this wasn’t true. Also, the more time went on, the further away the war was and that means the stories, emotions, and anger towards the war began to fade. All of this shows how the Lost Cause argument went away.

  13. Rania Abbasi

    1. The Lost Cause/denial of slavery as the central cause being so attractive to Americans in the aftermath of the war just goes to show how much people deny their history and choose not to own up to the brutal truth. Many Americans wanted to make themselves feel better, all the way up to the Civil Rights Movement, by saying it was just a matter of “states’ rights” and “keeping the Union together”. Many are embarrassed by the history of their ancestors or are ignorant to the actual conflict in the country in that time–slavery. Slavery, as we read in the article, “had broken one nation in two and fated its people to fight over whether it would be put back together again”. This horrifying system of slavery was the one that had the nation divided already, which lead to more division among other issues. It was easier for people to blame the war on these other issues and not dig deep into the root cause of the war.

    2. I believe the most persuasive cause out of these would be “Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation”. The North and the South at the time were in two very different boats with very different lifestyles. With all the anti-slavery and abolitionist groups coming into Kansas and the South, Southerners were of course taken aback by their violence and this is would be a pragmatic reason for the Civil War beginning. I would think the least persuasive cause is high tariffs because it only really affected the South. Things like tariffs can be disputed in a number of ways and don’t require a full-on war.

    3. I would agree that Bleeding Kansas was a sort of foreshadowing for the Civil War. The horrific violence that occurred between the different groups in the country (pro-slavery, anti-slavery, abolitionist) most definitely gave everyone the belief that something bigger–a war–was coming. We saw abolitionists like John Brown killing five pro-slavery men in Pottawatomie Creek, and pro-slavery men like David Rice Atchinson taking an army into Kansas. It even went into the Senate chambers, where Senator Charles Sumner had been clubbed, almost to death, by South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks. The violence just kept escalating and inevitably, it would lead to war.

    4. The biggest flaw with the “Lost Cause” is the belief that slaves lived great, privileged lives under the care of their masters. This was false, of course. Slaves had horrific lives and suffered through things many could not even begin to understand. Movies like Gone With the Wind reinforce this belief; that the South was heaven on Earth and slaves had it better than many. Movies like Birth of a Nation and books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin portray the brutal truth, that many chose to deny. We watch and read of scenes where slaves are beaten and/or raped. Books and movies like these enflamed the South and riled up the North because they went against the normative train of thought in the Lost Cause.

  14. Claire Hornburg

    1. After the Civil War, many southerners and even a few northerners bought into the idea of the “Lost Cause” as a way to deny the fact that the civil war was about slavery. Southerners, even today, continue to deny the fact that the civil war was about slavery and instead assert that it was about states rights, or economics. They do this to try to get rid of some of the shame cast upon them after the war. Today, if you go down into Texas, Virginia, or any southern state, you will find that the people there have a unique sense of pride about being a southerner, and a citizen of whichever state they live in. The situation was the same in the 1800s; you’d find this same sense of pride regardless of whether you lived in 1817 or 2017. Naturally, after the civil war, the southern pride and the south as a whole was destroyed. They had just faced a huge military defeat, and were now being militarily controlled by the union until they agreed to emancipate their slaves. In order to preserve their dignity, they adopted the idea of the Lost Cause, which was that the civil war was not about slavery, but about protecting the southern way of life, and the south was desperately outgunned and outnumbered (that part is actually true) and fought valiantly to protect their culture as the oppressive union crushed them. Other southerners deflected the issue in other ways by saying that the war was about states rights, economic purposes, etc. This way, they could retain their pride by saying they fought for their state, and their rights and way of life, as opposed to slavery.
    2. Out of all the alternate causes that have been stated as major causes of the civil war, I’m honestly having a hard time choosing one out of the list because they’re all so ridiculous, but I’d say that the most believable one is “northern aggressors invading an independent southern nation”, because technically, this is what started the war, although I would have phrased it differently. The Confederacy was calling itself its own country, even thought the union refused to recognize it, and the union army was on the offensive, and therefore were the aggressors. The one I find the least believable is the one about tariffs, because come on now. The tariff of Abominations was instituted in 1828. If it truly was about tariffs, they would have seceded much earlier. This statement is so ludicrous I’m having a hard time coming up with a good counterargument. Nowhere in the secession declarations of any of the Confederate states does it ever even use the word tariff.
    3. The article had a section in it devoted specifically to bleeding Kansas, pointing to this incident as the start of the violence, and the point of no return where war became inevitable, and I would agree with this assertion. I believe civil war became inevitable as soon as the country started looking west, and the Kansas-Nebraska act shattered the unstable peace brought about by the Missouri Compromise. Most republicans at the time were actually okay with slavery continuing to exist where it already was in the deep south, they just didn’t want it to spread westward. Big problems arose regarding slavery as soon as we began establishing new states in the west after slavery had been outlawed in most northern states. Issues of where to allow slavery and where to outlaw it were temporarily quelled with the Missouri Compromise, but the peace didn’t last long, ending with the infamous Kansas-Nebraska act. Kansas was the first time there was any large-scale violence between the north and south about the slavery issue. Freesoilers were fighting with proslavery settlers directly about slavery. After the issues in Kansas, it became clear to the northerners that slavery was not going to die out as they hoped it would, and might, in fact, continue to grow and spread to the west.
    4. Pretty much any document written by anyone during the time of the civil war would poke holes in the Lost Cause school of thought. Alexander Stephens, in the Cornerstone speech, literally says, “African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. If that doesn’t clearly spell out for you that the civil war was about slavery, I don’t know what will. The problem is, the Lost Cause has been reinforced time and time again throughout history so that it’s hard to determine what’s actually real. Movies like The Birth of a Nation and Gone With The Wind portray the idea that the antebellum south was a paradise and that the Union cruelly destroyed their way of life, which was peaceful and beneficial to both races.

  15. Lindsay Martin

    1. After the war, the Lost Cause was appealing because it provided a peaceful compromise. The South was able to say that they had fought for, and won, states rights, while the north achieved their ethical goal and freed the slaves. The lost cause was comforting to the southerners, because they had just lost their slaves and a war, so they wanted to think it was a noble cause they fought for. It was attractive all the way until the Civil Rights Movement because the descendants of the Confederate soldiers were comforted by the thought that those soldiers had fought for a good cause. This evaporated during the Civil Rights Movement because it was then brought to attention that the south was indeed fighting in favor of slavery, and the blacks weren’t happier enslaved.
    3. I agree that Bleeding Kansas was pivotal in starting the civil war. It was because of bleeding Kansas that the war was inevitable. The southerners who crossed into Kansas to illegally vote sparked the war. It showed that slavery wouldn’t gradually die out as the founding fathers had hoped. It was the beginning of large-scale violence between slavery advocates and abolitionists. It foretold all the fighting that was to come.
    4. Some major arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause are that slavery was the most important issue that caused the fighting in the war. Slavery was major to the souths economy, with a whopping 4 million slaves who were doing hard labor for free. And the North hadn’t wanted the emancipation of slaves. Their economy was dependent on the South’s production of cotton. They needed to cotton so they could process it. The North only didn’t want slavery to spread to the West. All the pictures in Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind are created unrealistically by the Confederacy. The showcased the south as paradise before the civil war. This made the North seem oppressive while they actually were trying to liberate the slaves.
    5. The lost cause argument wasn’t really broken away from in my opinion- it was faded away from. As time went on, the direct connections to the Confederacy went away. They weren’t the soldiers who fought, they weren’t the sons who looked up to their fathers. These things weren’t personally offensive to them. The time passed and allowed people to be able to accept the facts- the south fought to protect the institute of slavery.

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