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Monday, October 1, 2012

Last modified: Monday, October 1, 2012

History journal examines recent scholarship on causes of Civil War

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Oct. 1, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Historians may agree that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War, but that doesn't mean the debate has ended over why the war was fought. So writes Michael E. Woods in the latest issue of the Journal of American History.

The quarterly journal is published by the Organization of American Historians, based at Indiana University Bloomington.

Woods, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, analyzes the extensive literature on causes of the war that has been published since 2000 in his article "What 21st-Century Historians Have Said About the Causes of Disunion." He analyzes three trends: The extension of scholarship to include international and colonial-era causes; attention to Northern sectionalism and Southern nationalism; and increased awareness of the role of class and class conflict.

As America observes the sesquicentennial of the war, Woods writes that "recent students of Civil War causation have not merely plowed familiar furrows. They have broken fresh ground, challenged long-standing assumptions and provided new perspectives on old debates."

In other articles in the September 2012 issue:

In the Journal of American History Podcast for September 2012, Ed Linenthal, editor of the journal and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of History at IU Bloomington, speaks with Pehl about his article "'Apostles of Fascism,' 'Communist Clergy' and the UAW: Political Ideology and Working-Class Religion in Detroit, 1919-1945."

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