Author Topic: Only 8% of High Schoolers Can Identify Slavery as Civil War's Root Issue  (Read 3229 times)

Online Shiranu

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The history of slavery in America continues to be inadequately taught in schools nationwide — a reality that's causing damaging ramifications on student learning and present day racial tensions, according to a recently released report.

"Teaching Hard History: American Slavery," released by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday, revealed that only 8 percent of 1,000 surveyed high school seniors identified slavery as a central cause of the Civil War. Further, only 22 percent knew protections for slavery were included in the Constitution and just 39 percent correctly acknowledged that slavery shaped the fundamental American beliefs about race.

There were no cases where more than two-thirds of students answered the same question correctly, according to the report.


Great work, America. Great work.

Also, there was just recently an article about how only something like a third of students could tell you what the Holocaust about and even less could tell you what Auschwitz was.


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Offline Mr.Obvious

Tbh. While a Central cause, i've heard it wasn't 'The' Central cause.
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Offline SGOS

About 20 years ago, I first heard a rather odd twist in history:  "The Civil War was not about slavery.  It was about economics."  In a way, it's not too hard to believe that, because it's partially true.  At the time, the wealthy plantation owners were using the cheapest form of labor imaginable.  Without slavery, their profits would be reduced.  So economics?  Well, yeah, kind of.  I don't know who was behind promoting the perception.  I haven't heard that position voiced recently, but for a while it caught on, and I would guess still exists among some.  It's a clever sounding paradox kind of thing, and people seem to be drawn to clever paradox kind of things, maybe because it makes them feel thoughtful.

So it was about economics for some, but the much greater motivation for the Civil War was the inhumanity of slavery, the inhumanity of owning other humans, and forcing them to do anything you wished, while housing them in leaking dirt floored hovels and feeding them gruel and all the accepted beatings and cruelty associated with people being treated as private property.

I'm surprised it's no longer stressed in school.  It was when I was in school and the idea of the practice was horrifying.  But with time, we seem to forget the past.  We remember it as our past to an extent, but we disassociate ourselves from the worst parts of it.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 12:05:53 PM by SGOS »

Online Shiranu

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Tbh. While a Central cause, i've heard it wasn't 'The' Central cause.

That's thanks to some heavily revisionist history (the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" strategy) pushed by several groups to portray the South as "noble"; one of the biggest of these is the Daughters of the Confederacy who have invested millions upon millions of dollars in rewriting textbooks and putting up monuments to Confederate leaders and soldiers to portray them as the "good guys just fighting for their state rights".

The problem is when you look at the text and speeches of Confederate leaders, you see it's 100% about slavery. For example, the declaration of war from South Carolina when they fired upon Fort Sumter...

(Note: Not trying to wall of text with these quotes; the paraphrased version of all of them is, "We began this war to defend the institution of slavery". You read one of them, you have pretty much read them all... it's just trying to show how adamant the Southern leaders were about it being about slavery.)

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...A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.


Or Mississippi...

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Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…

Texas...

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...in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states....

As well as several other states.

You also had Jefferson Davis saying for years before the Civil War that, should abolition of slavery be implemented, the South would wage war upon the North. The Muskogee Herald ranted about how it was a bunch of egg-heads up North who wanted to destroy slavery and it would cause war.

Shit, the South even warned the North that they would never treat African Americans as equals because it would mean the destruction of the Southern way of life, and it's a promise they hold to this day...

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The slave-holder and non-­slave-holder must ultimately share the same fate—all be degraded to a position of equality with free negroes, stand side by side with them at the polls, and fraternize in all the social relations of life; or else there will be an eternal war of races, desolating the land with blood, and utterly wasting and destroying all the resources of the country.

And finally there were plans by Southern states to expand into Central America and open new plantations there, which the abolition of slavery would put the brakes on.

I think it's a hard concept today to grasp, being 153 years removed from legalized slavery (which when you think about it, is not even the blink of an eye in historical terms and is practically yesterday), but the South's entire foundation was slavery... it's entire economy and social structure revolved around the system. So for the Southerners, it very much was the end of the world for them if slavery was abolished. The problem is that, spoiler alert, slavery was really fucking terrible and the Southerners in following generations wanted to make their ancestors look like decent human beings.

It is, to me, one of the most unique events in history... an instance where the loser of an extremely bloody war was the one who wrote history. I think one of Lincoln's biggest mistakes was believing that the Southern culture could be reasoned with and would eventually see things from a more civilized way, so he didn't punish them once the war ended. 153 years later, and the South is still fighting to this day that cultural battle.

These were men who took up arms against the government, who lead to 620,000 Americans being killed in their uprising against the government, and they were allowed to walk away scott free once they lost... and allowed to use the wealth they built on the backs of millions of  slaves to continue oppressing African Americans and to paint themselves as the "good guys" in the Civil War.

Again, it's actually quite fascinating to me. Horrifying, but fascinating.
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Offline Johan

I'd wager that only about 8% of high schoolers can identify how much 8% is.
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Offline Baruch

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Tbh. While a Central cause, i've heard it wasn't 'The' Central cause.

The Union (aka abolitionists from New England) were space aliens with a higher culture millennia ahead of other Americans).  Von Daniken says so.

The people who want to "guilt" the South, have a ready reason.  But war would have happened if no slaves existed.  Politics leads to war, and the South and North were at variance on a number of political issues, most importantly "nullification".  Lincoln said, he would stop the war, and leave slavery in place (to be removed by peaceful means) if the States would agree to not secede.  Even President Jackson, was ready to go to war with S Carolina over "nullification".  What that means is, is the Union, a union of the whole people or of the States.  If of the States, then State law can choose to ignore national law or supplement it.  Lincoln proved on the battlefield, after much difficulty, that "nullification" was wrong.  Democrats in California are bringing it up again, over immigration ... no slavery involved this time, just Democrats being rebels without a cause.  They are assuming that all illegal aliens will vote Democrat.  In the next century, after California is flattened ... people living there will be nut cases, claiming "California will rise again".

Marxists say, everything is about economics.  So the Marxists here, should agree with that particular spin ;-)  There were multiple reasons, but the Union isn't a bunch of saints.  They are assholes, same as the folks down South.

What should have been just, is for there to be no colonization of the New World at all.  Or at least no US (rebellion against GB).  It has been one bad thing after another, since 1492.  Of course the Native Americans aren't saints either, in spite of Joseph Smith ;-)

In alternate time-line land, it is easy to make claims.  But had I been alive then, in America, of whatever race (even Native American), given what people believed back then, I would have supported Lincoln, just because I can't support stupidity like shelling Ft Sumpter.  Even Rhett Butler thought that was stupid.  In that, I agree with Gen Sherman, who loved Southern culture, hated Blacks, but couldn't tolerate treason.  I disagree with Gen Sherman in that I have never hated Blacks.  But I appreciate Gen Sherman's struggle with mental illness.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 03:41:44 PM by Baruch »
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Offline Draconic Aiur

Slavery wasn't the main cause. It was states rights.

Fun fact: did you know the fist slave owner in America was African American? Did you also know that there were free African Ameericans in thee South that at 1830, a few hundred free blacks had slaves and at 1860, around a thousand free blacks had slaves?

 Many states succeeded the union because the Union was pushing their states rights away.
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You have to understand that in those days slavery wasn't really a issue even Lincoln didn't really care that much about it. It was all about political and economical as well as a sense of superiority (I give you that) to people of different skin. Also modern notions we have today weren't in place back then.

Offline Baruch

The problem with history, is we are just projecting contemporary prejudice back onto long past events.  Was Julius Caesar a good guy or not?

Picking White hats and Black hats, is as close to bigotry as one can get.

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Of course Romans are always wrong and Jews are always right ... Caractacus said so ...

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Bush Sr's New World Order ...

but Calgacus, leader of the Caledoni ... said "to ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 04:25:13 PM by Baruch »
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Online Hydra009

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Slavery wasn't the main cause. It was states rights.
A state's right to do what, exactly?

Also, I don't remember the South being very pro-states' rights when some northern states refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

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Fun fact: did you know the fist slave owner in America was African American? Did you also know that there were free African Ameericans in thee South that at 1830, a few hundred free blacks had slaves and at 1860, around a thousand free blacks had slaves?
Assuming for a moment all that's 100% true, what's that have to do with the price of tea in china?

5 seconds of googling later:  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  Your source, I presume?

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You have to understand that in those days slavery wasn't really a issue even Lincoln didn't really care that much about it.


Lincoln early on took a "free soil" stance, opposing the expansion of slavery into US territories.  He later wrote "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong."  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  It was most certainly something he cared about.

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It was all about political and economical as well as a sense of superiority (I give you that) to people of different skin. Also modern notions we have today weren't in place back then.
No kidding.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 09:29:15 PM by Hydra009 »

Offline Cavebear

Here we go again...  I majored in Political Science and minored in history specifically about the US Civil War.  In realiy, The Southern States succeeded from the Union because their influence was diminishing due to increased economic and population influence by the North.  BUT, that was caused because they had slaves who counted only 3/5 of a person.  BUT they couldn't get any agreement among themselves that slaves were "whole" beings to count as 1 person for Electoral College votes without declaring the slaves real people.

So they did what every group does when they were losing political influence.  They "doubled down" on the argument.  And I state outright that they meant it.  Slaves were not "people to them.  It is reflected in almost all the State Succession declarations.  They specifically did argue that slavery was "right and proper".  And it is also true that they were both ethically failing AND on the wrong end of history. 

They DESERVED to beaten into submission in order that they caught up to the rest of the world about an abhorrence to slavery.  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if in 1858, the Congress had outlawed slavery and then counted the freed slaves as citizens to be counted among the Southern State Electoral College count. 

I suspect the South would have still objected.  They could not understand a society without slavery.  That's why they mentioned it in all their succession documents. 

Lincoln disliked slavery.  But he took office intending only to limit it's spread.  He specifically said he did not intend to end it.  Initially, he expected to bring about the eventual extinction of slavery by stopping its further expansion into any U.S. territory, but not take ant direct action against it, trusting to time to make it unsuccessful.

The Southern States left the Union before he took office ANTICIPATING harsh laws against slavery (which he did not intend to propose).

It is also true that the Unionist North originally found Succession a bad thing for the American experiment and only later rallied around ending slavery.  Ethical arguments in the north solidified that idea.  Shifts from theoretical arguments to emotional ones are typical in wartime.
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Offline Baruch

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A state's right to do what, exactly?

Also, I don't remember the South being very pro-states' rights when some northern states refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.
Assuming for a moment all that's 100% true, what's that have to do with the price of tea in china?

5 seconds of googling later:  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  Your source, I presume?


Lincoln early on took a "free soil" stance, opposing the expansion of slavery into US territories.  He later wrote "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong."  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  It was most certainly something he cared about.
No kidding.

I don't agree with "States Rights" ... but if I did, certainly secession would be OK, and in today's technology, nuking DC would be an option.  Don't let John Wilkes Booth do all the work.  Lincoln did care about slavery, but he was willing to compromise.  John Brown didn't ... lotta John Brown molderin' in the grave around here.  New England self righteous Puritanical stink.  Nuke New England, starting with Boston .. .while we are at it.
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Offline Baruch

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Tbh. While a Central cause, i've heard it wasn't 'The' Central cause.

To put it simply ... Yankees and Southerners were both ass-holes.  A lot of them needed to die.
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Offline SGOS

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To put it simply ... Yankees and Southerners were both ass-holes.  A lot of them needed to die.
Slave owners were the assholes.

Offline SGOS

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...So they did what every group does when they were losing political Influence.  They "doubled down" on the argument.  And I state outright that they meant it.  Slaves were not "people to them.  It is reflected in almost all the State Succession declarations.  They specifically did argue that slavery was "right and proper".  And it is also true that they were both ethically failing AND on the wrong end of history... 

...They could not understand a society without slavery.  That's why they mentioned it in all their succession documents... 

It is also true that the Unionist North originally found Succession a bad thing for the American experiment and only later rallied around ending slavery.  Ethical arguments in the north solidified that idea.  Shifts from theoretical arguments to emotional ones are typical in wartime.
Also, typical in modern prewar fervor, the early stages of "wartime."

The invasion of Iraq was to... Well, few can be sure exactly, but probably much like the Civil War, to get a critical mass behind the war effort, you need to appeal to a broad base.  This requires more than one single argument.  We pleased the war mongers, by promising shock and awe.  We appealed to the frightened by saying Saddam had WMD.  We stirred the emotions of the bleeding hearts with the cry, "Free the Iraqi People."  The only group that did not need convincing were the capitalists who don't care what the war is about and never do as long as there's profit.

All you need is 67% support, and then fuck the other "unpatriotic" 33.

So it's not surprising that political leaders in the South would use multiple arguments to build their case.  Today, some Southern supporters would prefer to focus on, and probably even invent, justifications for the war that sound the most noble by modern standards.  It's not surprising that defenders of the south attempt to paint inhumanity of slavery as just a minor tangent that is blown out of proportion.  True, slavery was perfectly normal and moral to the troglodytes who wanted to remain in the 18th Century, but it was just as inhumane then as it would be today.  Welcome to a modern world, a more progressive than regressive, and a more inclusive than exclusive society.  And if that's too bitter a pill, you need an attitude adjustment.


Offline Baruch

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Slave owners were the assholes.

Every human has one.  We are all assholes ... I admit it, you won't ... virtue signaling like St Joan of Arc.

History revision works both Right and Left.  I would be happy if they all died.  If everyone in the US died in 1861-1865 ... then this issue would be over.
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