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Dear students,

Please first read the southern states’ secession documents pdf under “content” in d2l which features some primary sources of southern states’ governments indicating that they (The Civil War ppt. features a video link from The Washington Post which shows how a state can legally secede from the Union according to the Constitution) illegally seceded from the Union because they wanted to keep practicing slavery.  They justified slavery in many ways; among other reasons, they believed that Black people were “inferior” and that slavery “civilized” them.  They had assumed that Lincoln would end slavery upon becoming president in 1860 when he did not call for slavery to be abolished in the South until 1863 during The Civil War with the Emancipation Proclamation.  This is why slavery, which was part of an overall attempt to preserve “white supremacy”, not states’ rights, caused The Civil War.  The 11 southern states that seceded (broke away from) from the Union (The U.S.) claimed that they had “voluntarily” joined the Union so they could leave it as well, asserting what they believed to be their states’ rights to practice slavery.  The 13th Amendment, passed in 1865, after Lincoln’s assassination abolished slavery all over the U.S.  Some northerners secretly had practiced slavery long after their states had abolished it.  Lastly, the slaves who fought on the Confederate side did not do so willingly; they were made to.  In fact, the slave masters received compensation if their slaves participated.

Then please read each of the following news articles and then please tell us at least 2 new things you learned from each of these news articles featured below in their entirety, in addition to the NPR weblink at the bottom:


Five myths about why the South seceded

The Confederate flag on display, from 1938 to today

View Photos

Public moments featuring the Confederate flag.


By James W. Loewen

February 26, 2011

One hundred fifty years after the Civil War began, we’re still fighting it — or at least fighting over its history. I’ve polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even about why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States’ rights? Tariffs and taxes?

As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war’s various battles — from Fort Sumter to Appomattox — let’s first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began.

1. The South seceded over states’ rights.

Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states’ rights — that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery.

On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” It noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” and protested that Northern states had failed to “fulfill their constitutional obligations” by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states’ rights, birthed the Civil War.

South Carolina was further upset that New York no longer allowed “slavery transit.” In the past, if Charleston gentry wanted to spend August in the Hamptons, they could bring their cook along. No longer — and South Carolina’s delegates were outraged. In addition, they objected that New England states let black men vote and tolerated abolitionist societies. According to South Carolina, states should not have the right to let their citizens assemble and speak freely when what they said threatened slavery.

The politics behind the Confederate flag controversy in South Carolina

Why is there a Confederate flag on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol? (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world,” proclaimed Mississippi in its own secession declaration, passed Jan. 9, 1861. “Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. . . . A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

The South’s opposition to states’ rights is not surprising. Until the Civil War, Southern presidents and lawmakers had dominated the federal government. The people in power in Washington always oppose states’ rights. Doing so preserves their own.

2. Secession was about tariffs and taxes.

During the nadir of post-civil-war race relations — the terrible years after 1890 when town after town across the North became all-white “sundown towns” and state after state across the South prevented African Americans from voting — “anything but slavery” explanations of the Civil War gained traction. To this day Confederate sympathizers successfully float this false claim, along with their preferred name for the conflict: the War Between the States. At the infamous Secession Ball in South Carolina, hosted in December by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, “the main reasons for secession were portrayed as high tariffs and Northern states using Southern tax money to build their own infrastructure,” The Washington Post reported.

These explanations are flatly wrong. High tariffs had prompted the Nullification Controversy in 1831-33, when, after South Carolina demanded the right to nullify federal laws or secede in protest, President Andrew Jackson threatened force. No state joined the movement, and South Carolina backed down. Tariffs were not an issue in 1860, and Southern states said nothing about them. Why would they? Southerners had written the tariff of 1857, under which the nation was functioning. Its rates were lower than at any point since 1816.

‘Take it down’: The fight to stop the Confederate flag from flying in S.C.

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Demonstrators campaign to remove the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capitol.

3. Most white Southerners didn’t own slaves, so they wouldn’t secede for slavery.

Indeed, most white Southern families had no slaves. Less than half of white Mississippi households owned one or more slaves, for example, and that proportion was smaller still in whiter states such as Virginia and Tennessee. It is also true that, in areas with few slaves, most white Southerners did not support secession. West Virginia seceded from Virginia to stay with the Union, and Confederate troops had to occupy parts of eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama to hold them in line.

However, two ideological factors caused most Southern whites, including those who were not slave-owners, to defend slavery. First, Americans are wondrous optimists, looking to the upper class and expecting to join it someday. In 1860, many subsistence farmers aspired to become large slave-owners. So poor white Southerners supported slavery then, just as many low-income people support 

the extension of (former president) George W. Bush’s tax cuts

 for the wealthy….

Second and more important, belief in white supremacy provided a rationale for slavery. As the French political theorist Montesquieu observed wryly in 1748: “It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures [enslaved Africans] to be men; because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians.” Given this belief, most white Southerners — and many Northerners, too — could not envision life in black-majority states such as South Carolina and Mississippi unless blacks were in chains. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Henry Benning, trying to persuade the Virginia Legislature to leave the Union, predicted race war if slavery was not protected. “The consequence will be that our men will be all exterminated or expelled to wander as vagabonds over a hostile earth, and as for our women, their fate will be too horrible to contemplate even in fancy.” Thus, secession would maintain not only slavery but the prevailing ideology of white supremacy as well.

4. Abraham Lincoln went to war to end slavery.

Since the Civil War did end slavery, many Americans think abolition was the Union’s goal. But the North initially went to war to hold the nation together. Abolition came later.

On Aug. 22, 1862, President Lincoln wrote a letter to the New York Tribune that included the following passage: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

However, Lincoln’s own anti-slavery sentiment was widely known at the time. In the same letter, he went on: “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.” A month later, Lincoln combined official duty and private wish in his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

White Northerners’ fear of freed slaves moving north then caused Republicans to lose the Midwest in the congressional elections of November 1862.

Gradually, as Union soldiers found help from black civilians in the South and black recruits impressed white units with their bravery, many soldiers — and those they wrote home to — became abolitionists. By 1864, when Maryland voted to end slavery, soldiers’ and sailors’ votes made the difference.

5. The South couldn’t have made it long as a slave society.

Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860. That year, the South produced almost 75 percent of all U.S. exports. Slaves were worth more than all the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. No elite class in history has ever given up such an immense interest voluntarily. Moreover, Confederates eyed territorial expansion into Mexico and Cuba. Short of war, who would have stopped them — or forced them to abandon slavery?

To claim that slavery would have ended of its own accord by the mid-20th century is impossible to disprove but difficult to accept. In 1860, slavery was growing more entrenched in the South. Unpaid labor makes for big profits, and the Southern elite was growing ever richer. Freeing slaves was becoming more and more difficult for their owners, as was the position of free blacks in the United States, North as well as South. For the foreseeable future, slavery looked secure. Perhaps a civil war was required to end it.

As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of that war, let us take pride this time — as we did not during the centennial — that secession on slavery’s behalf failed.

[email protected]

Sociologist James W. Loewen is the author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and co-editor, with Edward Sebesta, of “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.”



Washington Post



Let’s get real about Robert E. Lee and slavery

Was he a hero, a traitor, an abolitionist or a slave whipper?

Workers remove Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond

Workers removed Virginia’s biggest statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Sept. 8. (AP)


Gillian Brockell

Staff writer

September 10, 2021 at 8:24 a.m. EDT

People in Richmond clapped and cheered on Wednesday as a huge bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from its place of honor on Monument Avenue.

“Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!” they chanted.

But around the country, there were some different takes. Former president Donald Trump released a statement condemning the removal and claiming that Lee, commander of the force that lost the Civil War, would have won in Afghanistan. The Associated Press drew criticism after describing Lee as a “hero” in a headline. On social media, many revived old claims that Lee was against secession and slavery, was practically an abolitionist and never personally owned enslaved people.

The truth about Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee: He wasn’t very good at his job.

So, is any of that true?

On the one hand, it is true that Lee opposed secession in early 1861, before Virginia seceded.

On the other hand, there’s everything else.

For example, Lee also said he would “never bear arms against the Union” except to defend Virginia — a vow he did not keep at Antietam or Gettysburg.

And despite what old revisionist history or social media memes claim, Lee owned enslaved people. He drove them hard, and he pursued and punished them when they escaped. He separated families to pay off debts and fought in court to prevent them from being freed.

Crews remove the Lee statue’s torso from his horse during the dismantling of the statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond on Sept. 8. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Robert E. Lee personally inherited “three or four families” of enslaved people from his mother upon her death in 1829, when he was in his early 20s, according to the American Civil War Museum. Then, a few years before the Civil War broke out, he became the executor of his father-in-law’s estate, which included nearly 200 enslaved people.

Lee’s father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis, was the step-grandson of George Washington. Though the first president never had biological children, he helped raise Custis and many other children in his extended family. Custis owned several estates in Virginia, which he maintained with the labor of people he enslaved. He also used them to build the grand mansion he named Arlington House, which still stands, and had at least one Black child from the rape of an enslaved woman named Arianna Carter. That child, Maria Carter, served as the personal maid of her White half sister, Mary Anna.

In 1831, Mary Anna married Lee, a recent West Point graduate. For the next three decades, the Lees lived at Arlington House whenever Lee wasn’t stationed somewhere else; they raised their seven children there. So when Lee’s father-in-law died in October 1857, Lee was the natural choice to take control of the estate.

But there was a catch: In his will, Custis requested that the people he enslaved be freed as soon as possible and no later than five years after his death. According to a letter published by the New York Times in December 1857, Custis on his deathbed had told some of the people he enslaved that he wanted them to be freed immediately. Also, the letter claimed, the heirs were trying to sell some of the enslaved people South and slow the emancipation of others.

Devon Henry, owner of the construction company that removed the Lee statue, shakes hands with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, right, after he removed one of the country’s largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy. (Steve Helber/AP)

The Times subsequently published a letter from Lee that he said corrected the record on those points. But over the next few years, he twice asked state courts to extend the five-year deadline, concerned that Custis left his heirs with so much debt that it would take longer than five years of slave labor to pay it off. He took a two-year leave from his military career to oversee the work himself. He also hired out some of the enslaved to plantations farther South, separating families who had been together since Washington’s Mount Vernon, according to historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor in “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters.”

In 1859, there was another scandal. Two anonymous letters published in the New York Tribune claimed that Lee was a strict disciplinarian and that he had harshly punished three enslaved people after they were caught in an escape attempt. “Col. Lee ordered them whipped,” 

one of the letters

 claimed. “They were two men and one woman. The officer whipped the two men, and said he would not whip the woman, and Col. Lee stripped her and whipped her himself.”

Lee didn’t seek a correction or comment publicly this time, although in private wrote to his son: “The N.Y. Tribune has attacked me for my treatment of your grandfather’s slaves, but I shall not reply. He has left me an unpleasant legacy.”

In 1866, Wesley Norris, one of the formerly enslaved men who had tried to escape, gave this testimony about the incident in an abolitionist newspaper:

“… We remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to ‘lay it on well,’ an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”

While Norris doesn’t repeat the claim that Lee personally whipped his sister, he does say Lee went to great lengths to see them whipped and even ordered that their wounds be doused with salt water to increase their suffering.

Lee still did not comment publicly, although he denied it in a letter to a friend. For many years, some historians cast doubt on Norris’s account, implying that abolitionists had manipulated him into exaggerating or just plain lying. In Pryor’s book, however, she presents a number of other accounts of the incident that more or less agree with Norris’s. And in Lee’s own papers, she located a receipt for a payment to the constable on the day in question.

Workers cut the torso of the Robert E. Lee statue from his horse, Traveller, in order to transport the statue after its removal from Monument Avenue in Richmond on Sept 8. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Lee is sometimes defended as a “man of his times,” who, by the standards of the day, could not have concluded that slavery was wrong or that he could choose loyalty to the United States over Virginia. The former claim ignores the millions of Black Americans who were able to divine slavery’s evil at that time, not to mention White abolitionists and White Southerners such as Cassius Marcellus ClayJames Birney and Elizabeth Van Lew, who inherited enslaved people and freed them. As for the latter claim, it is worth noting that other high-ranking military officers from Virginia remained loyal to the United States, among them generals Winfield Scott and George Thomas.

A freed enslaved person became a Union spy. Then she took down the Confederate White House.

So, Lee participated in slavery. But did he at least hate it, as Ken Burns claimed in his landmark 1990 documentary, “The Civil War“?

In public, he was neither strongly pro- nor anti-slavery. In private, many point to a letter Lee wrote to his wife in 1856, in which he called slavery a “moral & political evil.” It sounds unequivocal enough, but then Lee expands on his reasoning:

“I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.”

Sooner by the mild and melting influence of Christianity than the storms and tempests of fiery controversy.

That is not how things went.

By the time Lee officially freed the people his family held in bondage, the Civil War was in full swing and the Arlington estate had been seized by the Union army. In the end, Lee blew the five-year deadline by a handful of weeks, officially freeing them on Dec. 29, 1862.

Three days later, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.



“The lies our textbooks told my generation of Virginians about slavery”

State leaders went to great lengths to instill their gauzy version of the Lost Cause in young minds

The seventh-grade edition of the history textbook issued to Virginia pupils from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

By Bennett Minton

Bennett Minton, a policy analyst, blogger and grass-roots political organizer, was a Virginia resident until 2018. He lives in Portland, Ore.

July 31, 2020

A series of textbooks written for the fourth, seventh and 11th grades taught a generation of Virginians our state’s history. Chapter 29 of the seventh-grade edition, titled “How the Negroes Lived Under Slavery,” included these (false) sentences: “A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.” The masters “knew the best way to control their slaves was to win their confidence and affection.” Enslaved people “went visiting at night and sometimes owned guns and other weapons.” “It cannot be denied that some slaves were treated badly, but most were treated with kindness.” Color illustrations featured masters and slaves all dressed smartly, shaking hands amiably.

This was the education diet that Virginia’s leaders fed me in 1967, when my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Stall, issued me the first book in the series deep into the second decade of the civil rights movement. Today, Virginia’s symbols of the Lost Cause are fallingBut banishing icons is the easy part. Statues aren’t history; they’re symbols. Removing a symbol requires only a shift in political power. A belief ingrained as “history” is harder to dislodge.

How hard becomes clearer when you understand the lengths to which some of Virginia’s White majority culture went to teach young pupils that enslaved people were contented servants of honorable planters — and why for all of my six decades we have been intermittently dismantling the myth that the Confederacy represented anything noble. That dismantling began with Reconstruction 155 years ago and still isn’t finished.

Historian Adam Wesley Dean explored the origin of my textbook in his 2009 article “ ’Who Controls the Past Controls the Future’: The Virginia History Textbook Controversy.” It was President Harry Truman’s 1948 integration of the armed forces that spurred Virginia’s leaders to create it. A state commission took control of the history curriculum from local school boards, choosing the writers and supervising the text. The publisher, Charles Scribner’s Sons, sold the books to every public school for the three grades. All students were taught the same narrative. My fourth-grade edition included this: “Some of the Negro servants left the plantations because they heard President Lincoln was going to set them free. But most of the Negroes stayed on the plantations and went on with their work. Some of them risked their lives to protect the white people they loved.” And “General Lee was a handsome man with a kind, strong face. He sat straight and firm in his saddle. Traveller stepped proudly as if he knew that he carried a great general.”

The lead historian for the seventh-grade edition was Francis Simkins, of Longwood College in Farmville. His 1947 book, “The South Old and New,” was an articulation of the Lost Cause. (The following statements are false): Slavery was “an educational process which transformed the black man from a primitive to a civilized person endowed with conceits, customs, industrial skills, Christian beliefs, and ideals, of the Anglo-Saxon of North America,” he wrote in that book. During the Civil War, enslaved people “remained so loyal to their masters [and] supported the war unanimously.” During Reconstruction, “blacks were aroused to political consciousness not of their own accord but by outside forces.” Spotswood Hunnicutt, a co-author, believed that as a result of post-bellum interpretations, students were “confused” that “slavery caused a war in 1861.” The commission was “looking after the best interest of the students.” The “primary function of history,” she concluded, was “to build patriotism.”

In the fall of 1967, I suppose I digested what I was fed. But later in the school year, I would absorb events that defined an era: the Tet Offensive and the erosion of our acceptance of the government’s assertions; the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy; the riots outside the Democratic National Convention. By the time fifth grade started, I was reading this newspaper and questioning everything. My particular curiosity propelled me beyond my textbook. But only while watching city workers take down Stonewall Jackson’s statue in Richmond did I wonder how that series of books came to be.

The next Lost Cause?

Here’s what Simkins and Hunnicutt (and their colleagues) left out: the revolution that had begun in 1951 in their hometown. In Farmville, Black high school students went on strike over unequal facilities and then sued. The students, led by Barbara Johns, lost in trial court, but Dorothy E. Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County became one of the five cases consolidated in the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education.

Mrs. Stall, bless her heart, didn’t mention that Virginia students — perhaps some of my classmates’ siblings — didn’t go to school for several years as state leaders executed “Massive Resistance” in response to Brown‘s directive to integrate schools. We weren’t taught that most of the state’s newspapers participated in an allied effort coordinated by the editor of the Richmond News Leader, James J. Kilpatrick, who went on to a respectable career as a columnist and a slot on “60 Minutes” opposite Shana Alexander.

No one told us that state Attorney General J. Lindsey Almond Jr., who described himself as “the most massive of all resisters,” Dean writes, was invited to edit the seventh-grade text. Or that (White) voters elected Almond governor with 63 percent of the vote in 1957, the year the textbooks first appeared in classrooms.

Massive Resistance collapsed in 1959, when federal and state courts ruled, on the same day, that closing public schools was unconstitutional. Arlington schools, where I started kindergarten in 1963, quickly admitted Black students (I, a White kid, remember none in mine, after attending a predominantly Black preschool), but other districts slow-walked integration long after the 

Supreme Court 

ruled against Prince Edward County again in 1964.

With the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Virginia politics shifted, but the books stayed. The State Board of Education renewed them in 1966 for six years despite growing criticism. In 1968 the board, led by Lewis F. Powell Jr., proposed a unit in “citizenship education” emphasizing “the rule of law, now so gravely endangered by crime, disorders, extremism and disobedience.” The board’s proposal contended: “There is abroad in this country an escalating unrest which has led already to unprecedented crime, discord and civil disobedience. If unchecked, this unrest could lead to revolution and the end of all freedom.”

Is this why President Richard Nixon asked Powell to join the Supreme Court in 1969? Powell had not yet written the confidential memo for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calling for a coordinated campaign to defend American capitalism. He was only a name partner in the law firm that had defended Prince Edward County, the champion of “citizenship education” and, he told Nixon, an inadequate choice.

Powell joined the court in 1972. Days after he was sworn in, the education board voted unanimously to withdraw the books. Yet they remained: Pat Lang, a McLean mother, protested my fourth-grade book in a letter to The Washington Post in October 1977 — the fall I started at the University of Virginia and two decades after its initial dissemination. “Roll over, Kunta Kinte,” Lang wrote, appalled, and went on to quote some of the lies her fourth-grade daughter was being taught.

Well, yes, that’s what political leaders have done for generations. Just read my Virginia history textbook.

3) https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/02/04/582468315/why-schools-fail-to-teach-slaverys-hard-history

Thank you,