James Mcpherson's Antebellum Southern Exceptionalism

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Throughout the course of history, one of the most pivotal points was the American Revolution. The independence the colonies gained from England allowed for the creation of the way we live today. However, it is important to know that while some aspects of our country today are based on rules set during the revolution, America, as we know it today, was shaped drastically by the Civil war. The Civil war acted as a second revolution in our country, pushing us closer to how society is now. Historians have wondered what caused the Civil War, was it a matter of slavery? Politics? Or another underlying issue? Historians such as James McPherson, William Gienapp, and Susan-Mary Grant have explored events that occurred before the Civil war and ultimately describe why the South succeeded. In McPherson’s “Antebellum Southern Exceptionalism” essay, it is noted that the argument is focused on the fact that although the South was seen as different and exceptional, it was actually the North who had been changing. The South was only keeping the same values and traditions it had been following for years (McPherson 41). One instance where the North’s change is noted is when McPherson demonstrates the percentage of agricultural work in the North and South; "In 1800, 82 percent of the Southern labor force worked in agriculture compared with 68 percent in the free states. By 1860 the Northern share had dropped to 40 percent while the Southern proportion had actually increased slightly, to 84

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