Steppingstones To The Civil WarISBN: 978-1-4343-5393-1
Steppingstones to the Civil War: Slavery Integral to Each invites readers to revisit American history in order to understand how slavery's cancer, infecting America's body politic from the beginning, spread to the point of eruption into the war nearly severing the Union. 375 pages.
Slavery and the Civil War--what is the connection, and does it matter? From the view point of this book, the connection is absolute and it matters greatly. Steppingstones to the Civil War invites readers to revisit American history, especially those believing that the devastation costing 600,000 lives (think on that figure) and shaking to the foundations the American experiment was at root about states' rights, economy and Northern imperialism and only incidentally about slavery. As the chapters on John Calhoun, Alexander Stephens, Jefferson Davis and the Commissioners from the first seven seceding states (marshalling their strongest arguments to convince other slaveholding states to join the Confederacy) attest, Southern politicians, before the war broke out, proudly and defiantly agreed that the bone of contention, the states' right, the institution worth fighting over even if it meant the dissolution of the Union, was slavery and the racial and economic order it established and perpetuated.
As soon as the fighting was over, however, in order to salvage Southern honor and effect reconciliation between once-warring whites, a different story was constructed: the cause though lost was in fact noble since primarily about independence, states' rights, and justifiable protection of hearth and home against invasion. This denial of slavery's centrality not only distorts history but, for those whose ancestors were so long abused, literally adds insult to injury. If there is ever to be genuine healing between the races in this country, it will begin with facing and accepting painful truth, which alone can set us free.
The cancer infecting the vitals of America, compromised into its very founding in order that there could be an America, despite inspiring efforts of a brave minority over many decades was virulent enough to resist every effort to eradicate it short of the radical surgery of civil war. The tragic story can yet set us free, if with courage we face the truth of it.