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After studying the Civil War in depth, I was shocked to learn that this terrible conflict was, according to him, brought about by Northern religious fanatics.
He does a disservice to history by such distortions. Mr. Goldfield has cherry-picked facts and spun them into a myth while ignoring certain salient facts known to any literate American.
There was indeed a religious component
The Great Awakening did indeed add fuel to the anti-slavery movement, but in what way is this a bad thing? Beside which, the tension between slave and free statehood dominated American politics for decades without any added influence from religious revivalism.
Slavery was, in fact, evil and cruel. His comment that emancipated blacks in the South fared worse than those previously enslaved is something only a paternalistic white Southerner would dare suggest.
It also glosses over the fact that white Southerners, not Northern emancipators, were the cause of such suffering. The Klan, lynching, poll taxes, and the general oppression of Southern blacks were created by choice by the white power structure.
If Frederick Douglass called the Emancipation Proclamation a "fraud," as Goldfield alleges, he meant that the continuing brutality suffered by blacks from whites in the South demanded further redress. Douglass was an ardent supporter of Lincoln and a respected friend.
In conclusion, it was the South that chose to secede from the Union. Even then, Lincoln extended the olive branch, hinting that the South could retain its "peculiar institution"
The response was Fort Sumter, where the South fired first. The rest is history.
Daniel A. Brown