A couple of weeks ago James W. Loewen, the writer of books such as Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America, published an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that it was slavery, not states rights, that caused the Civil War. The article also compared low-income supporters of Bush tax cuts to poor southerners who backed slavery.
Apparently the op-ed is being read by millions of people around the world. (To be honest, we missed it here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Or perhaps we did look at it and realized that the argument was so basic that it was not worth writing about). Now Loewen has written a piece for History News Network reflecting on what it was like to have so many readers. Here is a taste:
By Monday, the piece had received more than half a million hits, more than any other Post story. During the next week, almost four thousand other sites, from Forbes to The Times of India, linked to it or discussed it. Still other sites simply reprinted the article, which now appears at, for example, the Black Pride Network and the South Carolina Agricultural Trade News.
The reaction continues. It has remained the most viewed article at the Post for two more weeks, now with more than 1,500,000 hits. Economist Thomas DiLorenzo published Another Court Historian’s False Tariff History at the rightwing LewRockwell website, attacking me. I continue to get emails, now more than 750, including more than 200 from viewpoints that could be characterized as neo-Confederate.
The thesis of my article was that the key reason that Confederate states gave as they left the union was slavery. Rather than seceding for states’ rights—the reason that most people supply today — Southern states castigated Northern states for trying to exercise their states’ rights, whenever those attempts threatened slavery. The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader, recently published by the University Press of Mississippi, contains the most complete collection of secession documents in print. Those documents declare slavery as the South’s key interest, along with concern about the election of Abraham Lincoln. In turn, Lincoln’s victory disturbed Southern leaders solely because of his anti-slavery position.
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