Friday, January 14, 2011

Five Myths About Why the South Seceded

From the Jan. 9, 2011 Washington Post by James W. Loewen.

Mr. Loewen wrote a good article summarizing what he considers to be five reasons for Southern secession that are often given, but actually not completely true.

I just gave the title of each one (except one). You can check out his article if you'd like to read about the particulars.


1. The South seceded over states' rights.

2. Secession was about tariffs and taxes.

3. Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, so they wouldn't secede for slavery. I found this one of interest. Mr. Loewen says it is true that most didn't own slaves. But Americans tend to look at the upper classes and expect to join it some day.

In addition, there was also the belief in white supremacy which was used as the rationale for slavery.

This seems to be a plausible explanation for why so many Southerners went along with secession even when they didn't own slaves, something I've always wondered about. Why would the middle or lower classes support the rich folks who stand in their way of rising?

4. Abraham Lincoln went to war to end slavery. Actually, he went to war to save the Union and would have been more than happy to do it without freeing any slaves if he could.

5. The South couldn't have lived long as a slave society even if they had won. Slavery was definitely not on its last legs in 1860 when Southern exports accounted for 75% of US exports.

An Interesting Look at Misconceptions. --Old B-R'er

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