Monday, June 30, 2014

Problems with James Loewen's Confederate Reader

Another New England author attempts to prove it was good versus evil

       I recently ordered a book online not having a clue what the book was about. I have only read ninety pages, but the author lets you know what he is attempting in the introduction. The Civil War was about slavery and  slavery only. The "most holy north" invaded the "evil" south because everyone in the south are racists, etc. I quickly searched the back cover to find out what I could about the author. James W. Loewen is a retired professor from the University of Vermont. How could I have ever imagined he was another of those New England elitists. 

       Loewen does more to prove the south correct than he actually intends to. He tells us that the south seceded because the north was not obeying the constitution. According to him, the northern states had a moral right to not obey the fugitive slave law. Although, slavery was legal at the time (don't take what I'm saying as I support slavery, just bear with me), and the fugitive slave law was indeed law, Mr. Loewen insists the north was correct in disobeying the law. When the south seceded because of breach of contract (the northern states not obeying the laws of the constitution) according to Mr. Loewen, the south was wrong. Now you'd have to be a Yankee to think that way in the first place. Any good lawyer will tell you that if one party breaks a contract, the contract is worthless. 

       I then decided to learn what I could about Mr. Loewen's history classes, but wait, I was in for another surprise. Loewen was not a history professor (imagine that if you will). He was a professor of sociology. Now everything he writes begins to reveal itself. Mr. Loewen has attempted to write about a subject he is 150 years removed from, by making the same mistake as many other modern day historians. He is attempting to look at that time period through today's eyes. He has forgotten that to study a time period, one must place himself in that time period and view it through the eyes of those who lived at the time. 

       Was America the only part of the world to own slaves in 1860? Let's take a look. Various parts of Africa owned slaves up until 1900. Ethiopia had over 8 million people in slavery in 1930. China didn't outlaw slavery until 1910. Others include Korea, Thailand, Burma, and Japan. Saudi Arabia had over 300,000 slaves in 1960, that is correct, 1960. Where were all these New England elitists while all that was going on? That's a good question. 

       Could it be that there was no money to be made or power to be gained from freeing the Saudi slaves? As John C. Calhoun stated in a speech in Mr. Loewen's book, the New England states want the slaves freed, given the right to vote, to swing power into New England's favor because of course the freed slaves will vote for the people that gave them their freedom. New England had been losing power in this country ever since we began to expand. During the Mexican War, it was the New England states that threatened to secede because more territory meant less power for their section. 

       Mr. Loewen even attempts to persuade us that General Robert E. Lee was a racist. I agree with  Mr. Loewen on this point one hundred percent. As a matter of fact, 99.9% of all people during that time period were racists. All you have to do is listen to Abraham Lincoln's speeches to see what a racist he was, but Mr. Loewen chooses to ignore these. I'm not a racist, but I do have some serious questions I'd like answered. During the 1860's, Americans thought they were better than Africans, Irish, Polish, Germans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Italians. The Irish were looked down upon as the scum of the earth in 1860 (my red hair gives me away here). Yet, today, it is perfectly fine to insult any of these except those of African descent. Why? The answer lies in John Calhoun's speech. The politicians are still counting on all those votes from those of African descent to remain in power. 

       Mr. Loewen believes he has solved the argument of what the war was over, yet he refuses to believe that northern greed had anything to do with it. That would mean that his part of the nation could be just as guilty as the south. Nor does he mention the ships owned by the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago that made millions of dollars bringing African slaves to America to sell to the southern states. Do yourself a favor and skip this book. By using various documents of his choosing and ignoring others, he attempts to sell you on the fact that the war was about slavery and slavery only. Maybe he should just stick to sociology and leave the history to historians. 


  1. still no comment by Mr. Loewen???? Why not????

  2. Wow, 100% agree with you. Wish more people were saying this. Love your blog.

    1. Thank you so much, your comment is so encouraging to me.