Tuesday, April 9, 2024

5 Myths About the American Civil War People Need to Stop Believing Are True  Story by Todd Neikirk 

5 Myths About the American Civil War People Need to Stop Believing Are True ©Photo Credit: Thure de Thulstrup / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Among the most discussed subjects in US history, the American Civil War remains in the public consciousness over 160 years after it broke out. While much of the discourse surrounding the conflict is grounded in fact, there are certain elements that've been embellished over time. Below are five misconceptions that need to be clarified.

In the years following the American Civil War, significant effort was made to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as a heroic figure of moral virtue. This narrative included assertions that he opposed slavery and didn't personally own slaves.

The historical evidence contradicts this portrayal. In 1857, Lee's wife inherited 189 enslaved people upon the death of her father, George Washington Parke Curtis, according to his will. The document stipulated the slaves be freed five years after Curtis' death. Records indicate Lee sold several of the individuals to settle debts and took legal action to prevent the emancipation of others.

Lee may have been described as paternalistic toward his slaves, but this doesn't alter the fundamental reality of his ownership of them. Civil War historian Eric Foner elaborates on this in an article published in The New York Times, saying, "He was not a pro-slavery ideologue. But I think equally important is that, unlike some White Southerners, he never spoke out against slavery.


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