Debate on Civil War Essay

1080 Words Mar 1st, 2013 5 Pages
American Historians’ Debate on the Civil War

The American Civil War has without a doubt left a permanent divide on this great nation’s past and present. American historians still debate the causes of a war that began in 1861 between the Union states and Confederacy states. The war can be seen as caused by the principle of slavery, the growing tension between northern and southern ideology or due to a crack in the political system of the time. United States’ history classes focus on teaching students different views as to the origin of the Civil War. Three renowned American historians who explore this topic beautifully are Eric Foner, James G. Randall, and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Foner provides the best explanation to the origin of
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A great example of this is the Wilmot Proviso that was proposed in 1846 onto the appropriation bill that was used to settle the dispute of territories that had been acquired from Mexico. The Wilmot Proviso passed the House of Representatives but not the Senate. Foner argues a speech delivered in the Senate by John Miles, “listed a dozen different reasons for his support of the Wilmot Proviso- but only once did he mention his belief that slavery was morally repugnant (Foner 4).” The Wilmot Proviso bill is well-known as one of the big steps that led to the Civil War, yet its focus on prohibiting slavery in the new territories had little to do with the moral problems with slavery. Arthur M. Schlesinger succeeds in powerfully refuting the position held by James G. Randall in the article, Morality, War and Slavery. Mr. Randall believed that the American Civil War was avoidable, caused by poor political leaders and a result of false propaganda that was evident at the time. Arthur Schlesinger discredits Randall’s view, and those of similar historians, on the basis that they do not provide support as to how the war could have been avoided. The strongest example of this is seen by the fact that Randall believed that slavery would have ended on its own and that abolitionists aggravated the system. To such an argument, Schlesinger

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