A book by William W. Freehling< read all 1 reviews
Freehling concentrates much of his effort on the social history of the south and shows how the United States was fractured not just north and south, but within the south as well. The social and political divisions between the upper and lower south and then further divisions within these sections are well detailed and illuminating. Freehling does a good job on the political front as well, but is stronger on the social aspects.
Several things are clear after reading Freehling and other pre-Civil War accounts of US politics and society. First, slavery was the root cause of the Civil War. I'm amazed historians continue to cling to the supposed notion that southerners were fighting over states rights. States rights was the political ideology that cloaked their tenacious fight to save slavery. And while there is no doubt they were states rightists, there was no issues that they were truly willing to go to war for (including tariffs where the political rhetoric gets pretty hot.)
Secondly, Southern society was frighteningly dysfunctional. Even had there been no civil war Southern society would have eventually withered away - but exactly how and to what consequence is unclear. It's unlikely such a schizophrenic society could last in perpetuity without imploding - slowly but surely.
Fascinating reading. Educational. But you'll have to slog through some pretty tepid prose and stick with it.
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