Online Work

Online Etymology Dictionary
The Sciolist
Slavery in the North
Civil War Writing

Civil War Causes

It's often said that the American Civil War was entirely and only about slavery. Is there another view?

Yankee Canards
Was the ante-bellum South a primitive, backwards, illiterate, violent culture?

Numbers and significance of the Southern mulatto population

Northern Racism
De Tocqueville observed that "race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known"

Slavery as History
How can you make an honest inquiry into American slavery without understanding the mindset of slave-owners? How can you do that without being yourself a racist?

Rebel View
Early 19th century American politics and political culture as it was seen by many Southerners

Abraham Lincoln was perhaps the greatest writer in American political history. Writers are great, in part, because of their ability to disguise what they really intend.

Lincoln and Race
"You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races."

Thaddeus Stevens
The life and times of Pennsylvania's fiery anti-Southern Congressman

Sidelights on Christiana
The Christiana Riot of 1851 is sometimes described at the first skirmish of the Civil War

1860 Election
Even if all the Democrats had united behind one candidate, the Northern regional ticket would have won

The wire-pulling over the Morrill tariff bill in 1860 showed the party of the abolitionists cynically using a legitimate government mechanism to gain power in a presidential election.

Legal Issues
Secession was legal under the Constitution, based on its ratification by the states in 1787 and 1788

Cornerstone Speech
Alexander Stephens "Cornerstone Speech" in context.

Upper South
"States rights" is dismissed as a red herring argument, yet the Upper South states seem to have left the Union for this reason.

What Cost Union?
Lincoln saved the union, but at a terrible cost to America's democracy and culture of freedom.


Up from History
The evolving historical view of the American Civil War.

Soldiers and War
Responding to the slander against Southern military effort.

Why the South Lost
Was Northern victory inevitable?

War Effort
The South put forth a tremendous effort for independence.

The Southern Press
Journalism and Southern civil liberties.

An examination of the myth of massive Southern desertion.

A Closer Look
Desertion by the numbers; case studies North and South.

Ella Lonn
The original study of desertion in the Civil War.

Southern conscription was the first attempt to create a modern military system.

Draft of 1862
An overlooked draft in the North that was underway almost simultaneously with the first rebel conscription.

Albert B. Moore
An important source for the "South against the South" thesis.

The Lincoln Administration's crackdown on Maryland.

Occupied Maryland
A sampling of federal documents dealing with martial law in Maryland.

Maryland Peace Party
A pamphlet from the anti-government forces in Maryland.

Habeas Corpus
The suspension of Habeas Corpus in the North by the Lincoln administration during the war.

A Northern newspaper editor fights the administration after it closes down his press in response to anti-government articles.

"Keystone Confederates"
Some Pennsylvanians fought for the South during the Civil War.


Southern Populists
"You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system which beggars you both."

Coatesville Lynching
Zach Walker was burned alive by a white mob in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

York Riots
A little-known but violent 1960s race riot in York, Pennsylvania.

New South
Slavery, racism, and segregation were national experiences.

New Lost Cause
A native-born Southern white woman worked with native-born Southerners, black and white, with a shared sense of decency, to accomplishing the work of desegregation in Mississippi.

Flag dispute
From 1879 to 1956, the Georgia state flag was essentially the "Stars and Bars." If you were going to link any state flag with slavery, that would be the one.

Jonathan Kozol
"So two-tenths of 1 percent marks the difference between legally enforced apartheid in the South 50 years ago, and socially and economically enforced apartheid in New York today"


sources consulted


I am sure I read in a good source that no Southern newspaper was suspended by the Confederate government during the war. But I can't remember where, so I don't say so on the Web site. I, too, find myself wondering at that, and it's probably because I have that inherent, illogical Northern liberal tendency to instinctively disbelieve a nation governed by slaveowners could behave virtuously about civil liberties.

But I can find no instances of suspensions. Military authorities in Virginia only threatened to shut down the "Richmond Whig." They never did so. The cantankerous Unionist editor of the "Knoxville Whig" was run out of Tennessee, but that was done by state authorities. The Unionist "Raleigh Standard" lost its state printing contract, but that was a time-honored patronage custom on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Even the mobs seem to have left the newspapers unmolested. The only press-related lynching I'm aware of was of a St. Louis distributor caught in Arkansas selling Horace Greely's newspaper.

President Davis must have been sorely tempted to do what was done by Lincoln. He got hammered from both sides. William W. Holden's "Raleigh Standard" worked tirelessly through the war (except for a brief spell when Holden himself suspended it) to whip up political discontent and submissionist sentiment in North Carolina. On the other side the fire-eating "Richmond Examiner" and Robert B. Rhett's "Charleston Mercury" ceaselessly execrated the CSA leadership as "pimps and parasites" (the radicals were furious that their revolution had been stolen from them at its birth by more moderate men).

The Southern newspapers faced other hardships, of course, and the whole culture of newspapering down there was different to begin with. Number comparisons are probably not worth much because, by one estimate, of the 800 newspapers published in the South when the war began, half or more had gone out of business by early 1862, starved for ink, paper, and cash. There is a famous (in journalism history, anyhow) instance of a Vicksburg newspaper that was printing its single-sheet editions on unused wallpaper at the time the city fell to Grant. Surviving numbers of it are worth thousands of dollars, by the way, if you should ever happen across one.

I suppose it can be argued that the Southern editors realized they had an economic interest in the success of the bid for independence. It can hardly be said that they were cowed into supporting the war or the government, given the highly visible example of Holden and others. It seems the editors really did tend to rally to the cause.

George Rable, in The Confederate Nation, wrote: "Although hardly exempt from provincialism and selfishness, the Southern press generally sustained the president and worked to build a national consciousness." [He cites J. Cutler Andrews' "The South Reports the Civil War"]. He quotes a Georgia editor who wrote, "The man who weakens his [Davis's] influence with the people strikes at the cause in which we are engaged and is a deadly enemy of every man in the Confederacy." On controversial questions, like conscription, editors often criticized the proposals, railed at them, even, but dropped their objections once the policy was in place, because then, as one Arkansas editor maintained, it was "unpatriotic to offer any captious opposition to its immediate execution."

2002Douglas Harper "When misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood." -Lionel Trilling