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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


#civilwar #slavery

Lies My Teacher Told Me, 2nd Edition

James Loewen




"Why did the South secede?

If we did history by majority vote, state's rights would be the clear winner (60-70%). In the world of evidence, however, state's rights is the clear loser." - James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me, 2nd Edition (1995/2019)

This doesn't exactly relate to the book, but: we imagine slavers knew deep in their hearts slavery was wrong, but were willing to tolerate the injustice because...well, with slaves I can build a nicer house, I can be richer. Or in cases such as our poor Thomas Jefferson, slaves were bank property backing their debts.

But then the civil war asks people to die for slavery. A forced slaver would certainly refuse - tough luck for the banks. The others must be valuing their lives as no better than the economic gains of slave labor, and perhaps a good deal worse if they know deep down those gains are undeserved. I mean, people do commonly risk their lives for economic gains, at least in subtle ways. But war seems a different gamble -- it's not, "Give me a bit more profit, or give me death!" Just never really added up in my head.