“Grandpa, there is an article in the Washington Post about the cause of the Civil war written by E.J. Dionne and claims that slavery was the reason for the Civil war. How does that affect our conclusions that we have come to from our own research? Is he right or wrong?”
Grandpa sat down in front of the computer and began reading the article that I had brought up entitled, Don't Spin The Civil War. When he had finished reading he turned and looked at me with a smile upon his face. Then he asked me a couple of questions.
“Boy, the man is guilty of doing exactly what he accuses others of doing in regards to this issue of cause. First of all who were the men he quoted as to justify his claim?
I reread the article and said, “one of the men he quoted was Alexander Stephans who was the Vice President of the newly formed Confederacy, grandpa and the other one was Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.”
Grandpa then asked, “Boy, there is always two sides to every war do you see any quotes from anyone that would be representative of the Northern side?”
I only shook my head so as to indicate that there was no quotes as asked about.
“ That in itself would indicate a biased opinion, boy and that is the first thing you should notice in any opinion piece that is written. Be very wary of these type of arguments. They only reveal half of the story.
Alright, boy, let's examine those quotes and see if they are pertinent to the actual cause of the war. First of all the vice President's quote was referring to a past event not a future event. Thus the “late” rupture that he refers to is the secession of the southern States from the Union not the war itself and these are two different issues even though one led to the other. That speech was given in March of 1861 and the war did not start until April of that year.
In the quote of Jefferson Davis one can see very clearly that he was referring to the issue of secession and not the war. Given these facts we can only conclude that Douglas Egerton doesn't understand his own facts when he declared that the position of the cause of the war kept changing. Both, Davis and Stephans were being consistent in their words because they were addressing one issue, secession and their reasons for secession, prior to the war and another issue after the war, the reason of the war itself.
From our own research, boy, we know that slavery was not the primary concern for President Lincoln, maintaining the Union as it existed was his concern as we discussed in a previous post. We also learned that the federal government at that time recognized that slavery was a State's right when the Corwin amendment was proposed. And we can declare this as a truth from the fact that 16 States by their own power and authority outlawed slavery. We must concede that without the power and authority to do so then slavery would have been legal in every State not just in those southern States.
So, boy, given this, who is spinning the cause of the Civil War, Dionne or those he accuses of spinning the war? Remember, boy, you should not believe everything you read. Learn to ascertain the difference between opinion and facts and just believe the facts. And don't forget to get both sides of the story before making a decision on issues. Lastly, don't allow your feelings about a certain issue corrupt your thinking in regards to the events of history. A biased viewpoint will never reveal the whole truth, and this is especially true in politics"
I just grinned and smiled as my faith in the wisdom of grandpa was renewed.