Causes of the Civil War

Civil War Chat

(July 18, 2018) In a PBS interview seven years ago historian and Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust identified slavery as the cause of the Civil War. “Historians are pretty united on the cause of the Civil War being slavery,” she said and elaborated by adding, . . . “when the various states announced their plans for secession, they uniformly said that the main motivating factor was to defend slavery.”

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But she commits three errors. First, the American Battlefield Trust suggests that only four of the first seven seceding states issued formal statements citing slavery as a prime reason for leaving the Union. Second, the four upper-South states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas only joined the Confederacy after President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to coerce the seven Gulf states back into the Union. They…

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