Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com The Great American Political Divide
The Cause of America’s New Version
“Set aside that the question of causation in history is a complex one, to say the least. Still it is true that historians of other generations, of vastly greater breadth of learning than most of today’s, ascribed other “causes” to t most critical event in American history: clash of economic interests and cultures, blundering politicians, irresponsible agitators. There is a bit of sleight-of-hand along with today’s false assumptions.
Even if slavery may have in some simplistic and abstract sense “caused” the secession of the first seven Southern States, it does not establish that it “caused” the war. The war was caused by the determination of Lincoln and his party to conquer the Southern States and destroy their legal governments.
Caused, one might say by Northern nationalism – nationalism being a combination of romantic identification with a centralized state and interest in a unitary economic market. The war, after all, consisted in the invasion and conquest of the South by the U.S. government. A very simple fact that most Americans, it would seem, are unable to process, along with the plain fact that Northern soldiers did not make war for the purpose of freeing black people.
One of Lincoln’s many deceptions was the claim that the Founders had intended to abolish slavery but had not quite got around to it. The Southerners of his time, were rebelling against the true Founding by insisting on non-interference, while he and his party were upholding the settled understanding of the Founders.
James McPherson, perhaps the “leading” historian of today in regard to the Great Unpleasantness and no Southern apologist, along with many others, points out that it was the North that had changed by 1860, while the South had remained attached to the original concept of the Union.
Now one may be glad, as McPherson is, that the North changed and triumphed with a new version of America, but to deny which side was revolutionary is merely dishonest.
Historians have devoted vast attention to the South, feeling it was necessary to explain where the South went wrong, find the source of the perversion that led to a doomed attempt to escape the greatest country on earth. But if it was the North that changed, ought our primary focus in understanding American history to be on why and how the North changed during the prewar period?”
(The Yankee Problem: An American Dilemma, Clyde N. Wilson, Shotwell Publishing, 2016, pp. 52-53)