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Real Causes

Ask any trendy student of history today and he will tell you that, without question, the cause of the great American bloodletting of 1861–65 was slavery.  Slavery and nothing but slavery.  The unstated and usually unconscious assumption is that only people warped by a vicious institution could possibly fight against being part of “the greatest nation on earth.”  This is an older corollary of the present national dictum that everybody in the world really wants to be an American if they could only be cured of delusions and bad motives—by aerial bombardment, if necessary.

There is an even deeper and less conscious assumption here: malicious, unprovoked hatred of Southern people that is endemic in many American circles.  Thus, according to the wisdom of current “scholars,” no credit is to be given to anything that Southerners might say about their own reasons and motives.  They are all merely repeating “Lost Cause myths” to cover up their evil deeds.  (Of course, no one points out that “Father Abraham,” the “Glorious Union,” and “dying to make men free” might partake of some myth-making, too.)

Set aside that the question of causation in history is a complex one, to say the least.  Still, it is true that historians of other generations, of vastly greater breadth of learning than most of today’s, ascribed other “causes”...

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