TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Comment deleted

    • Jan 8 2013: The fact that people resist such knowledge is quite puzzling, don't you think? For some reason many believe "ignorance is bliss."

      I agree with your second paragraph as well. History is practically all written by the "victors" as Howard Zinn states it, and is probably written all wrong. We can't know for sure what exactly happened and that fear of not being able to know or understand it is frightening. That's possibly why so many people tolerate and become so gullible to what we are told because we don't know what else to believe in.

      Additionally, we should also question everything. We should always remain hungry to know more and to ask about everything. We shouldn't fear the notion of not knowing something or to not be able to find answers, we should accept what we've achieved so far and enjoy the curiosities we're capable of making.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.