Civil War and Education

I'm a relatively new resident of North Carolina, as I'm going to graduate school here. But yesterday a friend of mine who's from North Carolina, Durham in fact, said something that just boggled my mind.

We were talking about how people can't change what symbols mean in the minds of others, and my example was that even though some people might say that the Confederate flag is a symbol of states rights, to the majority of people its a symbol of slavery. I then quipped that the people who say that the Confederate flag is a symbol of states rights and not slavery just don't get it, because its a symbol of the states' rights... to own slaves, and that thats what caused the Civil War.

She responded that slavery was not a major cause of the Civil War, and the reason that I thought slavery was the major cause of the Civil War was because of my Northern education.

I'm sorry, but how can someone get through 12 years of primary and secondary education, 4 years of college, and the start of a graduate program and think that slavery was not a major cause of the Civil War? And how can Governor Perdue think about cutting money for education when people can get a full education at North Carolina public schools, from kindergarten through grad school, and still think this?

My personal opinion is that education should be the absolutely last thing cut and the first thing to get more money, but it never really works out that way.



We have a long way to go. Too bad kids can't vote.

Welcome to BlueNC.

When I was in College

I took a course called the History of History. And much of it was the counties reaction to that war in both the north and south. Within a decade following the War the public opinion turned very negative towards the war in both the north and the south for several reasons, one the high loss of life, another the terrible mistreatment the Union veterans received from nation and also after the war the country went into a deep recession. In the south in which the war effort was not as popular either, the Conferderate government was not known to be something worth remembering, but the reconstruction governments were no better, they were corrupt and inept, just as the Grant administration was, for a long time historians thought of him as the worst President is our history. This lead many in the country that war was as much about economics than about civil rights.

After the second World War historical opinion of the war began to change, at least in the north. However many in the south have been tought the more traditional method. The battle flag itself was just that a battle flag which sole purpose in the war was to keep both sides from firing on themselves, because the offical government flag of the Confederacy look too much like the American flag and it caused both sides got the flags confused.

Now as for your question was slavery the main reason for the war I do not know, but one other thing most folks in the South did not own slaves because the did not have the money to afford them. And the institution of slavery looking back was probably not going to survive another ten years anyway. So in the end the question becomes if the was was about slavery was it worth it, and that depends on who you ask, the countries first reaction was no, but now that time has passed it is more accepted at least in the academic field.

I'm not so sure about this

most folks in the South did not own slaves because the did not have the money to afford them.

A few years ago, a group of my relatives that are scattered all over the place recruited me to get involved in their genealogical research of our family tree. Because our ancestors lived in the Hillsborough/Chapel Hill area back in the early 1800's, they needed someone here to do research and follow up on leads and such.

Anyway, I spent countless hours poring over microfilm copies of actual hand-written Census lists, as the pre-1850 documents were not alphabetized; basically, the guy just wandered around farms and neighborhoods counting heads and inking them into his book. So I couldn't skip around, lest I miss what I was looking for.

In the first column went the last name, and then there were columns for male and female adults, male and female children, and male and female slaves. I didn't count them as I went, but families having one or two slaves was very common. If I had to guess, I would put slave ownership at about 2/3 or so. And yes, one of my ancestors had at least 3 slaves by the outbreak of the Civil War (they'd moved to Georgia by then).

I am not sure

What exactly information you were using, but I have been told any pre-1850 census is not a good guide becasue it most likley only list land owners, more over one county in an entire region is not a good enough sample.

This link

Shows the southern population at 5% of the Southern population owned slaves, I have seen some run as high as 25% but I have not heard a reputable historian go above that. In North Carolina most slave lived in the coastal plain area, the further you get from the plain area the fewer slave owners you find, and the smaller farms you find. Other states had similar results in Alabama there were far more slave is the southern part than in the northern part, in Florida it was the opposite more lived in the Northern part of Florida than the South.

Of course there is also the issue of the Domestic or house slave, and the field hand slave but that really is not relevant here.

Anyway I too have studied my family history and I find it fun. Good luck with it hope you find neat things.

I think you're right about the Census

I ended up focusing more on the post-1850 records because the earlier ones lacked detail. But I did look at a lot of them from N.C. and Georgia, and I saw a lot of families with 1-2 slaves. The next time I'm at our main (local) library, I'll grab a few random counties from the 1860 count and see if my memory is correct.