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Core Documents Collection: Causes of the Civil War

November 6, 2019

by Sarah Morgan Smith

Teaching American History’s latest Core Documents Collection, Causes of the Civil War explains the political, constitutional, moral, social, and economic causes of the Civil War. As the nation expanded, it had to face the question of whether new states and thus political power and ultimately the Union would be slave or free. Compromise, in 1820 and again in 1850, was the first resort, but the nation could not evade the moral question forever. Was slavery right or wrong, just or unjust? Politically, that question expressed itself in the different opinions Americans held of the Declaration of Independence and its assertion of human equality. Was the Declaration a mere political expression of the colonists’ desire to control their own affairs, or did it express a moral truth which was the necessary foundation of self-government and which could not be denied without ultimately destroying self-government? The documents in this volume trace the struggle over this question.

This 26-document volume, which also includes eight images, helps to illuminate not only the history of the United States during the Civil War era, but also something about the fundamental American proposition that all men are created equal, and our national progress towards realizing said proposition.

The volume is available for free as a PDF or Apple eBook, for $.99 for the Kindle, and for $12.99 through Amazon.

In keeping with our tradition of interviewing each volume’s editor, we have included Dr. Jason Steven’s thoughts on his work on this volume, and his insights about where to start and how to include these important documents in a history, government, or civics course.
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