Kevin Price
Was the Civil War about government expansion?
By Kevin Price
September 24, 2010

I remember wondering, why was the United States was the only major country that required a civil war to end slavery? With only 25 percent of the white population owning slaves, and of them half only had five or fewer, and less than 1 percent having 50 slaves or more, why would all those people fight a battle over slavery? Was the Southern move towards succession moral and legal? These questions and more are addressed in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War by H.W. Crocker, III. I have now enjoyed a few in the Politically Incorrect series by Regenery. The series does not shy away from controversy as they tackle conventional wisdom on a plethora of issues, including the Vietnam War, the sixties, the Founding Fathers, the Great Depression, Western Civilization, the Constitution, Global Warming, Islam, and many other important subjects. The Guide to the Civil War is particularly vigorous in its defense of the South and persuasive in its attack on conventional wisdom when it comes to this terrible period in US History.

There are many things wrong with academics today, one of the biggest challenges in the classroom is the insistence that there was a consensus view of historic events. For example, we are largely led to believe that all the Founding Fathers were in agreement when it came to government (tell that to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson), that the Great Depression was caused by the lack of government intervention (when the reality was we saw a series of government actions in the 10 years before the economic crisis that made it ripe for such a disaster), and that only racists and rednecks disagree with the Civil War.

Ironically, when I was a student in elementary school, people like Robert E. Lee were treated with respect for their leadership, even if they stood on the "wrong side" of the war. Today, institutions that are named after the great general are being renamed as quickly as possible.

So, what can the reader learn about the Civil War from this compelling book?

  • If there had been no Civil War, the South would have abolished slavery peaceably. In fact, if the United States had taken a chapter from the British and paid slave owners sixty cents on the dollar for their release, the whole ugly institution would have ended in a shorter period of a time, at a significantly lower cost, and without the loss of 600,000 lives (the largest loss of any US war). Furthermore, we would have protected our Republican form of government and state rights.

  • Why leading Northern generals-like McClellan and Sherman-hated abolitionists. In fact, very few of those behind the war had any interest in racial equality. Most of those who fought the war wanted to end slavery because they were opposed to the cheap (or free) labor that would hurt lower income whites. So what would be done with all of these free blacks? Most Northern leaders wanted to send them to other countries, like Liberia, few had any interest in black equality.

  • Most people associate the expression "bombing people 'back to the Stone Age'" to the Vietman War. In reality, it got its start with the Federal siege of Vicksburg.

  • The Civil War had more to do with protective tariffs and other taxes that were deigned to make the Southern states disproportionately saddle the national financial burden. That is the compelling argument that the author makes.

I believe this is an important book and one I found easy to read and certainly appreciate. Since most Americans have been fed propaganda when it comes to the treatment of Civil War, it is time for us to open our minds a little and tackle Crocker's thoughtful, well researched, and even delightful book.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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