It’s not revisionism

TZ writes: The two myths I detest most by revisionist historians are 1. Our founding fathers were all deists or unitarians, and 2. The “civil war” (or whatever you want to call it) wasn’t about slavery.

I agree with TZ on the deist thing, which is obviously not true given even a small amount of research. But is it reasonable to suggest that the Union would have permitted states to leave peacefully if the Southern states had wished to secede over tariffs, or anything else? I think the notion is absurd.

Slavery was why the Southern states wished to secede. The war was fought, however, over whether states had the right to secede or not. In other words, whether national sovereignty lay with the states or with the Federal government. War is usually about power, not the justifications given.

Does anyone seriously suggest that the North would have invaded the South had the Southern states chosen to keep slaves and stay within the Union? It had not done so for 87 years, after all. Is the war in Chechnya fought over slavery? Was the Eritrean war fought over slavery? Despite the omnipresence of slavery throughout history, there has not been a single war fought over it anywhere in the world that I recall, but many, many wars fought by people who wish to secede and a government that does not wish to permit them to do so.

TZ’s position, however mainstream, appears almost bizarre when seen from the perspective of military history. The Civil War was by no means unique.