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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 8 2013: On the issue of certain lessons being taught or not taught in early classes or in basic classes, I disappointingly realized, perhaps students truly aren't capable of learning such anomaly. There are many factors to why lessons taught in AP classes or College aren't taught in earlier classes, such as their determination and interest to learn the subject, their capability of comprehending certain amount of knowledge and the text books themselves, which dictate what should or should not be taught.

    On another note, we are sadly in a society in which students are categorized and separated as "honor" students or as an average student, rather than a place where all students are pushed to be inspired to become successfully smart and to actually care about what they're doing. Now when most teachers or adults view students who don't care about school, or don’t bother to take that extra step to pass with a better grade than just a passing grade, they disregard them and walk away saying "let it be." I do not believe it’s always the teachers fault, or the school systems fault, but the students and their parents. If only parents would encourage their children and get them determined, then perhaps they would actually care to attempt to learn, to comprehend or to understand the lessons behind every class. It’s depressing that the students give such little devotion and care.

    Before I begin to get non sequitur, I’ll conclude that there is simply many faults in education, pertaining to the dictating and restrictive textbooks to the careless students who don’t have the determination or capability to excel and learn something more than “basic education” (although basic education has already been dumbed down.)

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