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Kelsey Griffin, "The Memory of the Civil War is Hard to Shake," April 29, 2012


Kelsey Griffin, "The Memory of the Civil War is Hard to Shake," April 29, 2012


I was born in West, Texas, a small town west of Waco. I grew up in Lorena, Texas, but have also lived in Massachusetts, Illinois and North Carolina. After graduating from New Bern High, I moved to Raleigh to attend North Carolina State University. I received a BA in History in 2010 and am currently pursuing a MA in History, also at NCSU. I am getting married this summer to my high-school sweetheart.


Kelsey Griffin




Raleigh, North Carolina


Although I have lived in the South most of my life, I did not realize that there were any current debates over what caused the Civil War. What I have come to learn is that there are misinterpretations about the Civil War era that still exist today. The suggestion that slavery was not the central cause of the Civil War is unfounded. Slavery was quite evidently on the minds of people in the 1850s and 1860s, and Southern slave owners were very concerned with the election of Lincoln and the Republican Party's stance on slavery and the use of the territories. What is also misunderstood about the Civil War era, however, is the extent to which the North participated in making slavery a booming industry before the Civil War. The economic ties between the North and the South largely depended upon the institution of slavery, with slaves themselves being traded or sold further South, agricultural products produced by slaves being sold to the North, and finished industrial products from North being sold back to the South. The economic system between the North and South worked to entrench slavery deeper in the South.

Today, however, these facts about the Civil War era, at times, go unnoticed by Southerners still holding onto a "lost-cause" mentality. Northerners are equally guilty of forgetting uncomfortable facts about Northern responsibility for the institution of slavery and racism before, during and after the war. The memory of the Civil War is hard to shake--which ever memory it might be. This is unfortunate because it affects how the Civil War era is taught in schools, how battles are reenacted (or made up) in different Southern counties, how discussions about current North-South relations are held, and how many other forums for discourse are conducted. There is much to learn about the Civil War era, but there is still a need for eager students of the topic to approach it with a clear mind.


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Kelsey Griffin, Kelsey Griffin, "The Memory of the Civil War is Hard to Shake," April 29, 2012, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 17, 2024,