‘Was the Civil War About Slavery?’

Ever since the tragedy in South Carolina on June 17, when a 21-year-old suspect motivated by white supremacist beliefs shot and killed nine African-American worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, there has been a renewed attention on Confederate history and what caused the Civil War. We here at TFN have even received a number of press inquiries for our work in making sure Texas textbooks teach history accurately.

The thing is, there actually is no debating what caused the Civil War. It was slavery and the insistence of the Southern states to keep it.

Here, Colonel Ty Seidule, professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point, is out with a video that will make those who like to skew history to fit their agenda — looking at you, far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education — uncomfortable.

19 thoughts on “‘Was the Civil War About Slavery?’

  1. Excellent educational video. Thank you for sharing. Have shared it on my Facebook page.

  2. Well it was Radical Republicans that wanted the slaves freed. 40 acres and a mule so they could be independent.

    The whole thing is just a sad chapter in US History.

  3. I think it is good for people like Don McLeroy to hear the truth forcefully from a person in a historically conservative institution like the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

    I grew up down South and my ancestors go back in the South (Virginia) to a time long before the Revolutionary War. My ancestors owned slaves, and I have the historical records to prove it right here in my upstairs study.

    The sad and inescapable FACT is that the South and its conservative religion were totally amoral in all respects in their defense of Southern slavery during the American Civil War, and no attempts at rewriting American history to make our Southern ancestors LOOK BETTER is ever going to change that simple fact. The American South and its many Southern Baptist and Southern Methodist churches not only supported slavery—but they were willing to destroy the United States and create an unconscionable bloodbath to support their massive sin and money lust—all based on the theft of the black man’s labor. Slavery is theft—10 Commandment theft. Plain and simple.

    What Don McLeroy and the conservative members of the Texas SBOE need to do is shake their fists at their Southern ancestors in defiance and tell them that they were wrong. They sinned against both God and man—and they did it bigtime—no excuses. They then need to repent in sackcloth and ashes themselves for trying to put lipstick, rouge, and a pretty purse on the Old South Pig known as antebellum Southern Culture and its support of slavery and the American Civil War that was fought to save slavery. Personally, I think it is not just historically wrong. I believe it is morally reprehensible in the most specific of Biblical terms to lend such support to the Old South in modern times. It is taking pleasure in the evils that other people committed 150 years ago and pleasure in the ones who committed those sins against God and humanity.

    I see the American Civil War as historically useful for just two reasons:

    1) It shows that evil can be put to an end at great price—a price one must weigh carefully to determine whether it is a price that needs to be paid.

    2) It should be a warning to all nations and groups like ISIS throughout the world. They should look at the American Civil War for a lesson in their own behavior. Any sane foreigner who seriously studies the American Civil War can conclude only one central thing and one central message:

    “My God!!! If they could do all that violence to themselves for 5 years while divided, what on Earth will they do to me and my country or organization when they are united against me.”

    It is a lesson that no world leader, including Vladimir Putin, should ever take lightly. When you rattle this dog’s cage, he bites—and he bites hard and long!!!

  4. TFN is throwing gasoline on the fire just as the original story in the Washington Post did early last month. Except here, you are telling a lie that it was the supposed “far-right” members of the State Board of Education that were responsible for skewing history. You are wrong on both counts.

    The standards in question were written by the board’s social studies curriculum experts and a comment made by a board member five years ago and used to justify this scandalous attack, was made by a board member who is also a social studies curriculum expert and definitely not considered part of the “far-right.”

    Please calm down over there at the TFN and get your facts straight.

    Don McLeroy
    Former Chair
    Texas State Board of Education

    1. Our facts are straight on this, Don. The State Board of Education refused to identify slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War and voted specifically not to do so after one member argued that slavery was a “side issue.” Those are facts.

    2. It is so disappointing to see the former Chair of the Texas Board of Education write such an unintelligible sentence as the second paragraph. If I were your high school English teacher, I’d have you re-write it for clarity.

      Facts are straight, and don’t go telling people to “calm down” unless you are now Chair of the Patronizing Board.

    3. I understand wanting to keep one’s heritage near and dear Don. Coming from another country, I often think of the immoral constructs of past political and bureaucratic systems from my homeland and how they are perceived across borders through media and education. America has no religion in school and politics, which seems brilliant to me. Many men have influenced others by their interruption of the mysteries of life (religion). In Russia, facts about the past are changed based on interpretation daily. I’m sadden to hear the same is true in Texas.

      1. Charles,
        How are you. We haven’t heard
        The official word on this from David Barton
        (NYUK! NYUK!! NYUK!!!)

  5. This video has been making the rounds on social media for about a week. I’d have loved to have had Colonel Ty Seidule as my American History instructor instead of the one I had at EOC in La Grande, OR who insisted that slavery was only a tertiary “issue,” not the cause of the Civil War. We Texans must never forget that Sam Houston vehemently opposed Texas joining the Confederacy because he perceived the North to have industry, agriculture and infrastructure to outlast the Southern states in a protracted conflict. Houston was ostracized by his fellow Texans for that conviction. That’s one reason why Sam Houston is a Texas hero.

  6. Thanks for posting this! The video is very detailed and thorough in its presentation. It will be hard for the advocates for the alternative interpretation to craft an argument that isn’t spongy!

  7. Slavery was an abomination. I will shake my fist at the immoral justifications for legitimizing slavery. It was awful.

    Now, what Charles and his friends need to do is shake their fist at today’s moral abomination – abortion. It too is awful. Will you shake your fist?

    The Bible says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Would any of you choose to have been aborted?

    1. Don: Trying to change the subject? The discussion here is about teaching bad history, not abortion or some other culture war issue. But we’re glad you shake your fist at justifications for slavery. It’s too bad you didn’t shake your fist at efforts to downplay the role of slavery in causing the Civil War when the SBOE revised the social studies standards.

      1. No, I was not changing the subject, I was just replying to Charles’s comment.

        Again, it was not the board conservatives that made any statements about the slavery issue. It was your friend Pat Hardy – a moderate Republican. Why can’t you get it straight?

        1. I think Pat Hardy, a true Goldwater supporter, considers herself a conservative Republican. But it’s true that she isn’t part of the board’s radical faction. In any case, the record shows that both Pat Hardy and David Bradley spoke against efforts to emphasize slavery as the cause of the Civil War. And the board’s Republicans — including the radicals — voted with them to prevent it.

          1. Dan: Will you, as well as Charles, shake your fist at today’s moral abomination – abortion? You have to know in your heart it is even a greater evil than slavery – which is saying a lot.

            Slavery advocates constructed elaborate justifications for slavery but they had to know in their hearts it was an abomination. For them to claim they had the liberty, the right to claim another as property thus denying that person their liberty is beyond appalling.

            Do you not see that abortion advocates today are making the same startling justifications? Do you believe in the “Golden Rule?” Are not you glad someone did not abort you?

            Just as we are puzzled today how some people justified slavery, maybe 150 years from now people are going to be puzzled why so many people justified abortion.

          2. I’ll be happy to debate abortion with you another time, Don. But the discussion here is how the State Board of Education has helped mislead millions of Texas students about our nation’s history. Even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has criticized the board for that.

    2. I absolutely would have NO problem having been aborted, that would have been a choice of my Mother. If I had been aborted I wouldn’t know it, it would be the same as before I was a conscious human being – *I* didn’t exist yet. I was merely in the process of forming. It’s no different than the billions of sperm and millions of ova that fail to form into full human beings every day or the millions of blastocysts that your “God” aborts every year (God’s plan right?) I’m officially renaming “miscarriage” to “God-ordained-abortion” — how’s that?

      So yes, Do Unto Others holds here. Which is also why the Golden Rule is GARBAGE, it’s not a moral guide at all, it ONLY speaks to hypocrisy, not morality (you and I BOTH can claim our positions are compatible with the Golden Rule). One of the many failings of Christianity (and other religions, since the Golden/Silver rule predates both Judaism & Christianity).

      I believe this holds until about week 22-24… after that point I would be willing to say the choice should be a medical one between a doctor and their patient.

      When my brain is non-functional in old age I’m also fine with someone pulling the plug – once my brain goes that’s it.

      But I’ll tell you this — once that kid has a functional brain I’m 100% behind doing everything we can to ensure they have a full and productive life — that includes ensuring they have a proper education, food, shelter, health coverage; and I DO NOT mean leaving it up to the charity of others — can you say the same? Or do you so worship the almighty dollar that you ignore the dozens of admonishments to care for the poor? http://www.openbible.info/topics/serving_the_poor but turn and invoke the Bible when it serves your own greed?

      I also wonder, when you read the Bible and read God murdering every first-born of Egypt and commanding the genocide & infanticide of the 7 nations including the children and infants — how do you justify that?

      Is it ok to murder a LIVE child just because ‘God created them’? Isn’t that how you justify such things? God commanded Abraham to murder his own child and he was going to do because NOTHING GOD COMMANDS CAN BE IMMORAL — right?

      So please spare us the putrid hypocrisy of your religion.

      You know what — we MIGHT be wrong about when a human life begins but Christianity is UTTERLY wrong about when it’s ok to end those lives and what it is ok to do with them (like stone disobedient children to death).

      Until our knowledge advances the best information we have is that a full human life really ‘begins’ about week 22 — and until you can demonstrate that your claims are empirically true, these remain deeply personal decisions of conscience that are NOT YOUR DECISIONS TO MAKE FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

      Especially not on the basis of a deeply hypocritical and repulsive goat-herding mythology.

      However, I respect & defend YOUR right to believe and (to the extent it doesn’t harm others) practice this nonsense so long as you follow the Constitutional admonishment against establishment of your religion.