The Civil War Essay

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The Civil War

In this meeting of the Southern Historical Association great emphasis has been placed upon a re-examination of numerous phases of our history relating to the Civil War. While several papers have dealt with certain forces which helped bring about the Civil War, none has attempted a general synthesis of causes. This synthesis has been the task assumed by the retiring president of the Association.
Before attempting to say what were the causes of the American Civil War, first let me say what were not the causes of this war. Perhaps the most beautiful, the most poetic, the most eloquent statement of what the Civil War was not fought for is Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. That address will live as long as Americans retain their
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A systematic study of both northern and southern opinion as expressed in their newspapers, speeches, diaries, and private letters, gives irrefutable evidence in support of this assertion. Their ideology was democratic and identical. However, theoretical adherence to the democratic principles, as veil we know all too well in these days of plutocratic influences in our political life, is not sufficient evidence that democratic government exists. I believe that I shall not be challenged in the assertion that the economic structure of a section or a nation is the foundation upon which its political structure must rest. For this reason, therefore, it will be necessary to know what the economic foundations of these sections were. Was the economic structure of the North such as to support a political democracy in fact as well as in form? And was the economic structure of the South such as to permit the existence of free government? Time does not permit an extended treatment of this subject; it will be possible only to point out certain conclusions based upon recent research. By utilizing the county tax books and the unpublished census reports a group of us conducting a cooperative undertaking have been able to obtain a reasonably accurate and specific picture of wealth structure of the antebellum South, and to some extent that of the other sections. We have paid particular…

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