There was a recent interesting interview with Civil War historian and filmmaker Ken Burns on Face the Nation where he talks about slavery and racism. Here’s an excerpt from it:
He points out that while revisionists claim that the Civil War was about “state’s rights”, the overwhelming evidence shows that it was absolutely about slavery. And the repercussions from this are with us to this day:
And we struggle with it. We try to ignore it. We pretend, with the election of Barack Obama, that we’re in some post-racial society. And what we have seen is a kind of reaction to this. The birther movement, of which Donald Trump is one of the authors of, is another politer way of saying the N word. It’s just more sophisticated and a little bit more clever. He’s ‘other,’ he’s different.
It is interesting that this keeps coming up. Yes, secession was about states’ rights… actually one particular state right: the right to own slaves. Another complaint being that some (Northern) states were not fulfilling their constitutional obligation to return lawbreakers (runaway slaves) to the states from which they came.
This is not opinion, but history; and the states which seceded from the Union each make the reasons clear in their individual (each state had one) Declaration of Secession.
Read them. They’re available on the internet. They’re all very well written and very clearly spell things out. It was ALL about slavery, the practice of which, yes, was considered by each and every seceding state to be a state’s right.
I think the real question is ‘was it only about slavery’. No one denies it was about slavery, but people stop there.
It seems that if they wanted to keep slavery going, it would be better to stay in the union where you have influence. But maybe that’s just hindsight.
The Emancipation Proclamation happened after the Civil War started. And Lincoln once commented that he would have let slavery continue if he thought it would keep the union whole.
But I cannot think of an issue that, if you dig into it, didn’t involve slaves at some level. Issues that didn’t didn’t apply to rich people, so didn’t matter.