The prevailing Civil War narrative is that the South committed treason by seceding to protect slavery and the North went to war to protect the union and free the slaves. That’s simply not true, says professor Donald Livingston.
Livington, a historian and founder of the Abbeville Institute, looks closely at the events leading up to the Civil War in It Wasn’t About Slavery. Among his revelations:
– Slavery wasn’t just a Southern institution: the North’s industrial revolution was made possible through slave labor.
– Many Northern states, including Lincoln’s Illinois, prohibited the entrance of free blacks, making the integration of former slaves into society difficult.
– If the federal government had developed a program to help compensate slave owners for their financial loss and aid integration, war likely could have been avoided (and in fact, Britain did have such a program–and managed to end slavery peacefully).
– The governors in Iowa and Ohio angered the South by refusing to extradite fugitives from John Brown’s raid to Virgina for trial–a violation of the Constitution.
– For the North, the Civil War was about preventing secession. Lincoln claimed the South’s secession was unconstitutional, but many historians and constitutional scholars disagree.