Slavery, Capitalism, and Politics in the Antebellum Republic/An Old Creed for the New South: Pro-Slavery Ideology and Historiography, 1865-1918

Article excerpt

Slavery, Capitalism, and Politics in the Antebellum Republic John Ashworth. New York: Cambridge, 2008.

An Old Creed for the New South: Pro-Slavery Ideology and Historiography, 1865-1918 John David Smith. Carbondale: Southern University Illinois Press, 2008.

Historical critics fill their interpretations of the past with their own biases and prejudices. Sometimes these biases are well founded, sometimes they are fanciful fabrications. Often they shape and control succeeding interpretations for following scholars too long. That means "schools" of misguided readings of the past must be "corrected," and these new theories and interpretations in their turn brought up to date. Prof. Ashworth wants to set straight three misconstrued notions of the Civil War, which he calls "the largest, most dramatic event in the history of the United States": (1) that the War was "an irrepressible conflict," (2) that there were "intractable issues at the heart of the conflict but found them the competition of economic interests rather than the class of moral values," (3) that Southerners actually believed that slaves actually enjoyed their servitude and would maintain it if given the chance for its alteration. …