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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: Justin, This was well argued about two months ago in a conversation posted by Pat Gilbert. As in any conversation there are those who are only interested in personal insults and arguing with no true or valued input to the conversation. It is up to you to determine what is factual and what is not.

    I believe that you have discovered the major points and have validated your argument on Lincoln. It may interest you to also know that Lincoln had a Admiral Fox stationed off of Fort Sumtner for a very specific purpose. This will be interesting for you to read also. Lincoln was a lawyer for the railroad and made some decisions on inside information ... look up his land buy in Iowa and how he steered the railway to his property. It casts some seroius doubts on the title "Honest Abe".

    Your question of why are we taught what we are .... Educators and teachers are far down the ladder in the process. The educational textbook publishers and the test writers and developers are the very essence of what is and has been taught. You are only tested on what is made available to you ... thus the textbooks.

    It is my opinion that APUSH is great. What you are experiencing is a combo of Poli-Si/Econ/History. You have learned a valuable lesson at a young age ... your friends are not always right .... do your own research and thinking ... keep an open mind ... and the value of the subject of economics.

    I will be waiting to hear a summary of what you gained from this conversation and please include what your teacher gives as feed back to the assignment.

    I wish you well. All the best. Bob.
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      Jan 7 2013: Bob can you elaborate or link more info regarding Fox?

      Thanks Pat
    • Jan 8 2013: I'll research more about Lincoln and his decision with Fort Sumter. I remember slightly but its a blur to me.

      The assignment was given back a while ago actually and my teacher said she liked some points but I could have went further. I guess I didn't satisfy her with enough connections between my reasons. In class before we handed in our essays, she gave us a couple of deep causes for the Civil War that was written in someones essay. I didn't want to feel obligated to use all of them but I guess that's what she had wanted.

      Sorry for the late reply and I posted a summary not too long ago. I hope it makes sense of everything that was discussed in this debate but I apologize once again. I've been busy with APUSH work and haven't had much time to come back onto Ted.

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