The Unfortunate Truth About The Civil War

13 days ago
Since VH-1 discontinued their 'I Love the ...' series before they got around to the 1860s, a lot of us are walking around with Civil War misinformation firmly wired ...

English subtitle

- Hey, I'm Zora Bikangaga
and as a former middle
school history teacher,
I still take special
pleasure in clearing up widely-believed
historical misconceptions,
like how Napoleon wasn't
really that short...
Or how Vikings didn't
actually have horns on
their helmets...
And how George Washington was
so obssesed with ice cream
that bought like, this
300-piece serving set
solely dedicated to it.
And ya wonder why your
teeth were so bad, Georgie?
Ya wonder?
Okay that's just a fun fact.
And much like 18th century ice cream,
history can be much more
palatable when doused with
slave-harvested peaches
and cream, am I right,
Thomas Jefferson?
And the recent debate over
confederate statues and
monuments has certainly
revealed a great deal of
misconceptions about the Civil War itself.
So in order to even have
an informed debate about
the present, let's clear up a few
misconceptions about the past...
The most common misconception about the
Civil War is what caused it.
It wasn't just about
state's rights or simply
the practice of slavery.
It was particularly caused
by the spread of slavery
into the new territories.
So in 1803 Napoleon was like, "Oh (bleep),
"I need more money for this
war I'm gonna declare on
"Europe," and sold this
huge swath of land to
America known as the Louisiana Purchase.
Thomas Jefferson, who was
president at the time was
like, "Dude, we just got
this land for like less
"than three cents an acre
and literally doubled
"our size overnight.
"Now let's go explore this
(bleep) so we can create more
"some more states and displace
all these Native Americans."
"#Manifest Destiny."
And that's exactly what they did.
However, this created a
dilemma, were these new
states going to be slave
states or free states?
Southern slave owners
were like, "(bleep) yeah!
"More plantations!
and abolitionists were like,
"Uhh can we not though?"
And then Congress was like, "Okay,
"let's make a Missouri Compromise.
"No slavery North of the
36 and a half parallel,"
which quelled the
problem for a few decades
until slave owners were
like, "But can we though?"
and John Brown was like, "(bleep) no,
"Bleeding Kansas, bitches!"
and then a bunch of people
died and then in 1857 the
Supreme Court decided that this
black dude named Dred Scott
could be a slave in any state because
technically black people
weren't real citizens nor
protected by the Constitution,
which was pretty (bleep)ed up...
And all of this created an
impossible situation that
a scrappy young candidate
named Abraham Lincoln
brilliantly articulated...
"A house divided against
itself cannot stand.
"I believe this government cannot endure,
"permanently half-slave and half-free...
"it will become all one
thing or all the other."
And then boom, the lanky
Illinois boy gets elected
President in 1860, and
even though he thought
slavery was morally wrong,
Lincoln stated in his
first inaugural address
that he had no intention
on abolishing slavery where it was already
practiced, but southern
slave owners were still
like, "Yeah but he
won't let us practice it
wherever we want, secession!"
And that is how the Civil War started.
So now that we fully understand
how it started and cause,
let's dispel another
myth which has to do with
Confederate soldiers.
Confederate soldiers
definitely fought for slavery.
However, many of them were
poor white men who didn't
even own slaves.
Nevertheless, having
slaves was an obvious sign
of southern prosperity and
something to which poor
whites aspired.
Also, keeping slavery
maintained a social order
in which they were not at the bottom.
The mere idea being equal
to blacks and having to
compete with them for jobs
was a strong incentive for
white southerners to fight,
and Confederate generals
certainly exploited that.
And speaking of Confederate generals,
let us also dispel
another myth, and this is
one of the biggest ones of all,
and that is the legacy
of General Robert E. Lee,
who historians have
painted as noble Virginian
who opposed slavery yet
fought valiantly for the
just cause of state's rights,
which is simply inaccurate.
Yes, he was a highly
competent war general who
was well-respected by his men.
But he also owned a ton of slaves,
and the reason why he's been depicted as
anti-slavery is mainly
because of a misquoted
letter he wrote.
Yes, he did say that slavery was
"A moral and political evil,"
but he also went on to say,
"Blacks are immeasurably
better off here than in
"Africa, morally,
socially, and physically.
"The painful discipline
they are undergoing is
"necessary for their
nstruction as a race..."
Yeah, real better off, dude.
I totally wish my Ugandan
ancestors were enslaved
here in America instead
of chillin' by one of the
most beautiful lakes in
the world eating delicious
fruits and vegetables, #blessed.
But Robert E. Lee's twisted logic
justified his own cruel
treatment of his slaves.
Another fun fact, General Lee's
father-in-law was George
Washington's adopted
grandson, George Washington Parke Custis.
When Custis died, Lee
inherited all his slaves,
who claimed that Custis
agreed to free them upon
his death, however, Lee refused.
When a few of the slaves
tried to escape and were
captured, Lee had them
savagely whipped, and
then just to make an example of them,
poured brine on their wounds.
Okay, but George Washington
and Thomas Jefferson also
had slaves and did (bleep)ed up things
and we still honor them
with statues, right?
Here's the difference,
Confederate icons like
Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson,
and Jefferson Davis chose
region over country
and went to war against
the United States, an act
that resulted in the deaths of
over 620,000 Americans.
The loss of life on both
sides was tragic, but
make no mistake, the Confederacy committed
treason, and you don't
build statues and name
highways after traitors.
You put that (bleep) in a
museum and you tell the truth,
Indeed, history is written
by the victors, well,
not exactly.
This last misconception has to do with a
propaganda campaign that occurred after
the Civil War that helped
justify Jim Crow laws
that disenfranchised
freed blacks in the South,
a myth that became popular
throughout America during
the 20th century and still
creeps up in textbooks every
now and then.
This myth is known as The
Cult of The Lost Cause.
Gone With the Wind.
Disney's Song of the South.
Those weird Dixie Crystal sugar packets.
All of these perpetuate an
overly nostalgic view of
the Antebellum Era
without acknowledging the
injustices which propped up
that leisurely lifestyle.
It also supported the
institution of racial
segregation that was
pervasive not only in the
South, but everywhere in
America for the next 88 years.
And believe it or not, a huge proponent of
the Lost Cause Myth was
a northern-born history
professor at Columbia University named
William Archibald Dunning, whadya know,
a gadddamn Yankee!
Known as the Dunning School,
this professor influenced
a whole generation of
historians who viewed the Civil War as a
War of Northern Aggression,
saw freed blacks as unfit to
vote and integrate into white society,
and portrayed the
Confederacy as martyrs for
the cause of state's rights.
As racial violence intensified during the
late 1800's and early 20th
century with the rise of
the Klu Klux Klan, so
did the construction of
confederate statues and
monuments led by Lost Causers.
Even the Confederate battle flag reemerged
after World War Two as a
symbol used by southern
Dixiecrats who opposed
the emerging Civil Rights
Movement and desegregation.
And it took until 2015 and
a national tragedy for the
South Carolina tate
Capitol to finally take
down the rebel flag, good job guys!
And even though the Lost
Cause Myth has been slowly
weeded out of the
historical narrative over
the past 30 years, one can
still see its remnants in
obtusely-written textbooks
and naive millennials who
for some reason are still having
plantation-themed weddings.
Like why!?
Look, I get it.
It's southern heritage.
So if you really want to
keep Confederate statues
and monuments in public
then let's be fair,
we should also include other
traitors like Benedict Arnold,
Julius Rosenberg, and Peter Pettigrew,
Boom, got him!