Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Texas, Textbooks, and the "War of Northern Aggression"

Maybe we should all learn more than we did in school about the Civil War. As this excellent article suggests, there were issues involved that still reverberate today in the public discourse—not least of which is federalism itself and the balance between the states and the central government.


Six said...

I was curious if you were going to post anything about the Texas Textbook controversary. Overall this was a good article... the whole notition that I was taught in school that downplayed slavery as the primary issue for the Civil War and played up the theme of 'States Rights' is bogus. The civil war was about one thing for the South - Slavery. I agree with the author... they should be honest with the roots of the war and call it what it is... a war that was motivated by the deepest, worst kind of racism.

There was one line I failed to follow in the article in referencing the South's descion to go to war, "They threw libertarianism overboard and mobilized for war."? I don't quite get what the author was going for there... there is nothing about slavery that is consistent with libertarianism. In fact, the article points out how Jefferson at his core in his writings expressed that slavery violated the individuals natural rights - a libertarian philosophy from Jefferson - and those from the South thought Jefferson was wrong to believe such natural rights existed? I think* this goes back to the misunderstanding that libertarianism is about states rights... when in fact it is about individuals rights. A TRUE libertarian would contend that arguing a states right to allow for slavery is a violation of the individuals natural rights which trump any authority a state could lay claim to. Simply changing the tyrant who violates individuals natural rights from the Federal Government to the Local State government does not change the fact that those individual natural rights are being violated.

One thing I do find fascinating about history is how lost-in-translation things can become. For example, most people don't know this, but it wasn't the South who advocated for the 3/5ths's of a person rule, it was the North and it has it's origins along with the census. Anti-Slavery folks from the North were concerend that that pro-Slavery states in the south would be more greatly represented in the Federal government. Obviously Pro-slavery states wanted every PERSON counted including slaves for the representation assignment of seats in the House - making it harder to abolish slavery. So the irony of it was that those arguing for abolishment of slavery were also the ones arguing that slaves were only 3/5s of a person.

Citizen Jane said...

Thanks, Six, for that interesting bit of trivia regarding the "3/5s" argument.

I guess convoluted logic in the name of politics is not unique to our era.