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Rewriting Southern History

December 5, 2011
Charles G. Mills, The Confederate Lawyer

Part I: The Causes of the War Between the States


Many members of the present generation of American professional historians are trying to rewrite Southern history in a way that discounts over a century of important scholarship and substitutes a simplistic view of the past.

In particular, they depict the conflict between North and South as one waged exclusively over slavery, and they portray Reconstruction as a noble struggle by New Englanders to protect the rights of black citizens from a racist white Southern majority.

And now… the rest of the story. …..


Part II: Reconstruction


Once it was clear that the South was losing the war, Lincoln began to formulate a policy of rebuilding the South on the basis of government by those white Southerners willing to accept the end of slavery and the illegality of secession. President Johnson attempted to implement this policy, although he refined it. Congress never allowed this policy, dissolved the governments Johnson and Lincoln had created, and instituted a new or “Radical” form of Reconstruction in 10 states.

For over a century, historians were in agreement that Radical Reconstruction was a corrupt and vindictive event. Although Reconstruction was placed in the hands of five Northern generals, it took a different form in each of the 10 states. Today’s historians want to simplify this complex period by depicting it entirely as a failed effort by Northern officers to protect the civil rights of blacks from wicked Southerners.

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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