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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 5 2013: Questions: Why isn't the level of information in AP Classes taught in middle or high school and what was the true cause of the civil war. One response could be that middle schoolers are in the throws of puberty. Middle school teachers are happy if their students even realize there was a civil war. High schoolers are more discerning. They want to know why we engaged in such a costly war. The noble causes of free slaves and preserve the union satisfy the why. My knowledge of the civil war is about what Justin noted. Mark pointed out on the philosophic quantum level we don't really know.
    Justin seems concerned that his friends don't understand the causes of the civil war as he does. I would only be concerned if these students were in his AP class. I think the real question is: what is acceptable for the level of knowledge of high schoolers or middle schoolers.
    • Jan 8 2013: Highly agreed. To answer your question I believe middle schoolers or at least high schoolers should be able to have a certain level of knowledge where they understand more than whats required. Students these days are given test that evaluate their averages which permits them to pass and advance to the next grade. But the subjects and questions on these test are sometimes irrelevant to the actual knowledge students should learn. Students now only temporarily memorize what they need to know to fill in for the questions, rather than knowing and understanding the subject because that's their responsibility.

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