Divisions between the free North and the slaveholding South erupted into a full-scale conflict after the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in In Aprilthe first shots were fired and what followed became a national tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
But the elite are hardly alone. In fact, one hundred fifty years after it began, the Civil War remains one of the most misunderstood episodes in American history. Unfortunately, this is just as true on the left as it is on the right.
The Pew findings are less surprising when we consider the confusion among even radical historians of the American Civil War.
Nevertheless, the analyses quoted above miss the central fact about the American Civil War: Fundamentally, it is impossible to understand the American Civil War without understanding slavery.
No matter how often the neo-Confederates try to deny it, slavery caused the conflict and remained at the center of national politics throughout the whole mid-nineteenth century period. In order to assess the nature and significance of the Civil War correctly, we need to understand the character of this unusual social system.
How and why did slavery take root in North America? What was the character of slavery as a way of organizing society?
What was the relationship between the slaveholding Southern states and the industrializing Northern states? How did slaves and their allies resist the planter class? What role did abolitionism and mass protest play in the coming of the war?
These are the vital questions for Marxists interested in the history of this period. Understanding the Civil War is vital for understanding American society today—a fact of great importance for those who want to change the world.
Moreover, at a time when the eyes of many workers and young people are trained on the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, a correct analysis of the Civil War provides vital tools for examining the dynamics of revolutions today. The origins of racial slavery Slavery—the ownership and exploitation of one person by another—is one of the oldest social relationships in human history.
Slave labor was the basis for the wealth and prestige of ancient Greece and Rome. New World slavery emerged as part of the developing capitalist world economy. It was designed to produce raw materials and staple crops such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco for export back to the markets of Europe.
This combination of an archaic labor system and the capitalist profit drive helped to define chattel slavery in the Americas. Chattel slavery did not arrive in North America as a fully formed or complete system. Rather, it evolved as a result of struggles between the colonial elite and the multiracial popular classes of Virginia and the other British possessions.
Less than a generation after the founding of Jamestown inEnglish colonists had discovered the possibility of making a fortune from the cultivation of tobacco, a luxury product with a huge market in Europe.
Potential tobacco planters faced a huge challenge, however.
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Tobacco cultivation required intensive and disciplined labor, and very few colonists were prepared to work for someone else. In order to cope with this labor shortage, colonial authorities at first experimented with enslaving Indians.
They turned instead to indentured servants. These were poor British and Irish working people, including many prisoners, who exchanged passage to North America, and the prospect of a better life, for a fixed term of labor. An indentured servant would contract to work for five or seven years, without pay.
They often faced treatment similar to that which we associate with Black slaves, including brutal physical coercion, being bought and sold on the market, and even being used as stakes in games of chance.
The first Africans arrived in Virginia while the system of indentured servitude was at its height. Indeed, not all Africans came to Virginia as slaves. Some labored under the same contracts of indenture as white servants. For the first few decades of the Virginia colony, Black and white servants worked together on the plantations.Drafted by Marx, it presented the Civil War as a major revolutionary event that would benefit the European labor movement: “The working men of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Anti-Slavery War will do for the working classes.”.
Nov 12, · Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and African slaves helped build the new nation into an economic powerhouse through the production of.
An Analysis of Slavery, by Stanley M. Elkins HIS Civil War History Jason S. Perry 23 January Slavery, by Stanley Elkins, is a text that does its best to analyze the institution of Slavery from all angles in a more analytical, rather than purely emotional, manner.
Ira Berlin and Leslie S. Rowland, eds., Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-American Kinship in the Civil War Era () This volume from the magisterial series, Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, presents the words and writings of enslaved and newly freed people that for a long time sat inside dusty boxes at the National Archives.
May 23, · Egnal's book "Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War", argues the Civil War was caused more by economic reasons than the issue of slavery.
Egnal believes that people have come to view slavery as the sole cause of the war because this provides them with a comforting myth that helps present the history of the .
The American Civil War was the largest and most destructive conflict in the Western world between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in and the onset of World War I in The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states.