I was watching the movie Gettysburg, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Killer Angels. It focuses on both the Union and Confederate Armies. Like in the novel, the Union thinks the war is all about slavery, and the Confederacy says it’s about State’s Rights.
So which is it?
In a key scene in the film, Longstreet says that England will never be allied with the Confederacy so long as they still have slaves. He then says they should have set the slaves free before seceding from the Union.
Today, 150 years after the start of the Civil War, we become so lost in the details. Many school teachers want to ignore the fact that President Buchanan told the Southern states that they could not break from the Union. Perhaps that is why he is all but forgotten by history.
After Fort Sumter was attacked, and the war was officially begun, believe it or not, many Northerners only thought about preserving the Union. Some thought about Slavery, but it was not until after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that many viewed it as a cause.
If the South had freed the slaves, or slavery had never been an issue, I have no doubt in my mind that there would still have been a war. There was too much resentment on both sides. But slavery was still there, so in the minds of too many people, they want to think it was the sole reason for the war.