The ongoing debate regarding the causes of the American Civil War recently surged again after former South Carolina Governor and 2020 democratic presidential candidate, Haley, made a statement recognizing slavery as the main cause of the war. His statement faces vehement backlash from many prominent figures.
In a recent political forum, Haley suggested that slavery, rather than other issues or tensions, is what led to the Civil War. His statement was immediately met with criticism and those responded were unified in their rebuttal. Politicians, historians, and social activists all asserted that Haley’s understanding of the Civil War was inaccurate and that the war was much more than a single cause.
Though Haley’s initial statement was flawed, he has since gone on to clarify it. He acknowledges that slavery was an essential factor no one can deny, and without it, the Civil War would not have occurred. He further argues that slavery was essentially the spark that ignited the fire of the Civil War due to the many issues and tensions that had been boiling for some time prior to the war.
Despite Haley’s efforts to amend his statement, many continue to criticize him, arguing his understanding of the causes of the Civil War further deepens the consequential divide between the ideals of southern states and northern states. It also goes to show that any true, comprehensive explanation of the caues of the civil war must take into account a variety of factors and contexts and understand the complicated implications of a war such as this.
Ultimately, this controversy serves as a reminder that we must be diligent in teaching the history of the American Civil War. Slavery can no longer be treated as a peripheral issue nor can it be downplayed or forgotten. Doing so further perpetuates a false and incomplete narrative. We must instead strive to present the full picture, bearing in mind the different perspectives and suited contexts that necessitated the Civil War.