If I Taught a Similar Class on the American Civil War…



Over the course of this semester, I have found that a few things conflicted with things I have learned previously. Some themes of ‘The Lost Cause’ memory were present in my middle school and possibly some of my high school education without realizing it until taking Dr. Meier’s American Civil War course. When learning about the civil war at a young age you learn that it was in fact fought over slavery and the union fought to end slavery. However, over the course of middle school and high school I do remember mentioning of the protection of states’ rights being the reason for secession and the resulting civil war. For both these cases I know all too well to be untrue.

While the war evolved with a military goal of emancipation to attack the South’s economic constructs, it was not fought to end slavery, it was fought to put down the rebelling states. And while it was not fought for or to end slavery the southern states seceded because of slavery, and southern states felt its domestic institution of slavery was being encroached upon. While I do not plan to teach about the American Civil War, if I had to there are certain themes even in a middle school or high school atmosphere, I would put certain emphasis on. First and foremost being the myths of ‘The Lost Cause’ memory with regards to the south being doomed to lose, the war being a war to end slavery, and what states’ rights role truly was in secession.


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