[lit-ideas] clashes of civilizations-Civil War

Hi, to all!
 
This week, one of our Civil War re-enactors who does programs for us  stopped 
by my office. I asked him to tell me (in 30 words or less) what, in his  
study and in the discussions of the Civil War Roundtable (meets in the Kansas  
City area monthly) were the top reasons for the Civil War--and to rank  them.
 
He said there, were, actually three/four, that the issue of States Rights  
was held higher than that of the issue of Slavery--but that, in itself, was  
tangled up with the issues of Immigration and Religion.
 
That was something that intrigued me--and, sure enough, as I have been  
looking at that issue, I'm finding all sorts of information to verify it.
 
Basically--the thinking on this issue is that, in particular, the 20 years  
or so before the Civil War were ones in the North of high immigration of  
Germans, in particular.  They were, basically, fleeing very much a life of  
servitude, where they felt that they had barely escaped a life so  similar to 
that of 
slavery that there was a great dislike for it  (he  said--most of this is 
being just touched on in what I'm now reading--stuff like  the Encyclopedia of 
the Civil War Society...)
 
and, those in the South were the 'old' Americans--even though most of them  
did not own slaves, they liked their agrarian lifestyle--liked their sense of  
history and the sense that they had control over their little domain(s).   
They did not like change and they did not like the fact that not only were 
there  
these new immigrants coming into THEIR country--but they were of a strange  
religion--most were Lutherans and that, also, was very different and not  liked.
 
I'm not finding too much, so far, to go very deep in that--but there are  
huge numbers of German-American immigrants who joined the Union Army--and even  
though there was still immigration occurring during the war, it would only take 
 a few months of being here before the males who had arrived from Germany 
felt  that it was not just a way to give back to this country, but they were 
very 
 happy to fight against slavery.
 
He tied all of that up to show how it had such an impact on why and how the  
Southern states felt that they could secede from the Union--and how the issue 
of  slavery was one which they felt that they had the right to decide on their 
 own--they didn't want these new people who (they felt) were influencing 
those in  the North, changing a perfectly good lifestyle, losing their sense of 
culture  and history to be who was telling them what to do.   
 
Thus, we had somewhat of what we do now--change.  Immigrants taking  over and 
changing the viewpoints, the way(s) of life--and the reaction to that 
 
I'd not really looked, ever, at the issue of immigration/who was coming at  
the time both in the years leading up to the Civil War and then during it.
 
It's a bit late to be sharing in this thread, but I thought it might be  
interesting to others and had not seen it discussed in the previous set of 
posts  
on the topic.
 
He also stated that if you don't see/understand some of those pieces, you  
won't understand a lot of what is happening even today...and so that is  
something I'm trying to see, too.
 
Best,
Marlena in Missouri

Other related posts: