American Historians’ Debate on the Civil War
The American Civil War has without a doubt left a permanent divide on this great nation’s past and present. American historians still debate the causes of a war that began in 1861 between the Union states and Confederacy states. The war can be seen as caused by the principle of slavery, the growing tension between northern and southern ideology or due to a crack in the political system of the time. United States’ history classes focus on teaching students different views as to the origin of the Civil War. Three renowned American historians who explore this topic beautifully are Eric Foner, James G. Randall, and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Foner provides the best explanation to the origin of the Civil War, while Schelsinger focuses on refuting Randall’s view that the war could have been avoided. The origin of the Civil War that seems the most plausible is the one that Eric Foner explains through the growing tensions between the states’ ideologies that were inevitably a cause for the Civil War. In Foner’s article, Slavery and the Republican Ideology, he provides an in-depth analysis of the Republican political party and many ideologies present at the time. To Foner, the leading politicians during 1860 in the north, whether behind the Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln or the Democratic candidate Stephen Douglas, were concerned with slavery in an “abstract” way but were also threatened by the expanding slave force of the south. The north was afraid that the south’s slavery system was a threat to the industrialization and free labor the majority held in the north. The tensions between the two sections of the nation had far exceeded any tolerable limit and were evident in the war that arose. Foner best describes the driving force behind the north as “the creation and articulation of an ideology which blended personal and sectional interest with morality so perfectly that it became the most potent political force in the...
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