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The True Cause of the American Civil War

Hello Tedsters, I'm a student of an Advanced Placement United States History Class or APUSH in short. Recently for the class, we had to write an essay about the Civil War, and it's inevitability due to extremism and failure of leadership. We discussed how the cause for the Civil War was not merely slavery and definitely not only slavery. Our teacher also emphasized that we should "DIG DEEPER". One of the few examples she gave us was; the riots of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry led to the South's nervousness and responded to Lincoln's victory in the Election of 1860 by establishing the Confederacy and proposing secession.
One of my arguments was that the South wanted economic freedom to continue their agricultural lives, practice of slavery and trade with Britain. I agreed with a comment stating this was a Second Revolutionary War, due to the South desiring to escape the economic restrictions from the North (such as the Tariffs), like how the colonies did from Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

Now when I look back to the regular history classes I've taken in the past years, I thought to myself, why isn't this taught in basic classes? Must a student be eligible to be in an AP class or wait till College just to realize history isn't that vague, and everything taught in the textbooks isn't exactly true but merely one of the many perspectives on a single issue? So I have two main questions:

Why isn't this concept of thinking taught in basic classes in middle school or high school? Is it because there's a fear that students can't learn or understand such concepts? Isn't it a bit problematic that while I can argue a couple of deep causes to the Civil War, a few of my friends believe and only believe the true cause is slavery?

My second question is:

What do you think the true cause of the Civil War was? If you’re going to say without an explanation, slavery and only slavery, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to dig deeper or at least explain why.


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  • Jan 2 2013: Former Reb Soldier and poet Maurice Thompson was a special speeker at the GAR convention in New York around 1900. Read his poem. My maternal grandfather was born in 1890. He knew some of those old survivng coots I am sure. All this suggests to me that it's like so many stupid things - Some self-important men started this thing,and they didn't do the fighting. In fact, the real soldiers and potential soldiers were aware this was not a good thing quickly. As a character in the tv show Wagon Train said "a rich man's war but a poor man's fight. "Mark Twain was very explicit about his experiences as was Albert Pike. Remember what history does not often tell us - As the Union gunboats headed down the Mississippi the big planters who helped start the thing took the pledge and made fortunes from the best cotton prices in history. Of course, there were heroes,but they are not usually the ones to start such messes. But as Thompson told the GAR "Thank you for saving our country." God bless President Lincoln and the United States. Time has made the actions of those who started the war rather than negotiate indifensible. No man has ever grown so much in such a short period of time than Abraham Lincoln. It is sad that manipulation by a selfish elite make the future production of a Washington,Lincoln,Douglas,Teddy,Woodrow Wilson, or FDR unlikely at this time. Okay, maybe these men were not perfect,but........ Tolstoy tells us about meeting with an obscure Kosack tribe who asked him about Lincoln.
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      Jan 3 2013: Yea and so did Hitler as he wanted centralized power.

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