GDG- NPs & Slavery

Jack Lawrence jlawrence at
Tue Jan 3 09:50:25 CST 2012

I think that you ar saying that the root cause of the war was not slavery?

Lincoln had said he would not extend slavery into the territories. that 
caused seccession.



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Ryan" <pennmardel at>
To: "GDG" <gettysburg at>
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 9:42 AM
Subject: Re: GDG- NPs & Slavery

> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Pete,
> I agree that the CW timeline at the VC is an excellent idea, since it 
> places
> the Battle of Gettysburg in perspective.  However, the argument here seems
> to be a necessity to inform visitors about the slavery issue related to 
> the
> CW -- as if slavery was the central focus of the war.
> The reason the war was fought was not over slavery, but over secession.
> Lincoln's first inaugural address made this abundantly clear.  While the
> Southern states seceded over the slavery issue, the North went to war to
> preserve the Union -- and for no other reason.
> Even when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in January 1863, the
> purpose was to make slavery a war-related issue not a moral or political
> one.
> In a nutshell, the heavy focus of the introductory film at the Gettysburg 
> VC
> tends IMO to distort these important facts, and to emphasize slavery 
> beyond
> its true significance regarding the war itself.  While slavery was the key
> factor for secession, it played virtually no role in the decision of the
> North to invade the South in retaliation for firing on Fort Sumter.
> Therefore, the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg and the campaign
> should be placed in the context of preserving the Union, since it had no
> direct bearing on the slavery issue whatsoever.
> Tom Ryan
> --------------------
> One of my initial impressions of the new VC the first time I was there 
> (back
> when the museum was free) was that I LOVED the approach of walking through
> the entire timeline of the war - they didn't just include Gettysburg.  My
> thoughts then (and now) echo yours - Gettysburg will probably be the first
> (if not only) exposure that many people get to the Civil War, and people
> travel from all over the country - from all over the world, in fact - to
> visit.  The inclusion of more information will not only lead to better
> contextual understanding in the grand scheme of where the war fits in US
> history, but also where Gettysburg fits in Civil War history (i.e. it was
> not the ONLY battle).
> Someone visiting from Tennessee might learn of Chattanooga, Franklin, or
> Nashville and go see the battles that happened closer to home.  A family
> from Mississippi might decide to check out Vicksburg as a day trip. 
> Someone
> from Kansas may leave with an appreciation for the events of "Bleeding
> Kansas."  Heck, even British visitors may acquire some understanding of 
> how
> their country's dependence on cotton factored into the events leading up 
> to
> the Gettysburg campaign.
> We all know that the more personal a connection you can make to something,
> the more it will stick.  The more information included at the most-visited
> battlefield park in the country, the more chance that new interests will
> form, and that new historians will be born.
> - Pete
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