Every once in a while it’s useful to examine a claim made by someone who can’t decide whether she’s a historian.
Let’s examine this a little more closely, shall we?
Let’s first applaud the concession that the Confederacy was founded on the principle of slavery. This is not easy for some people to admit, but there it is … the Confederacy was founded on the principle of slavery. Send your protests to the author, not me.
Second, one might not want to confuse the Declaration of Independence (composed in 1776) with the Constitution of the United States (written in 1787, ratified in 1788). We also note that the man who composed those words in 1776, Thomas Jefferson, was a white southerner who owned slaves. If the author wishes to make the case that Jefferson and other white southerners who spoke of human equality while owning slaves were hypocrites, she is welcome to do so.
The author fails to understand that between 1789 (when the republic under the Constitution commenced operations) and 1861 white southerners dominated the politics of the United States. Why she doesn’t know this is difficult to explain. What we know is that once white southerners left the union in 1860-61, it took only five years to complete the destruction of slavery.
One of the odd things about Confederate apologists is that they forget that the white southerners who formed the Confederacy were once part of the United States, and that one cannot understand United States history between the Constitution and the Civil War without understanding the role played by white southerners in shaping that history. They helped create the very circumstances she deplores. Slavery remained a vital institution because white southerners sought to defend it within the union.
As for Duncan Kenner’s mission … it’s no secret. Historians have not concealed it. James McPherson, whose Battle Cry of Freedom (1988) remains the standard study of the conflict, discusses it (see pages 837-38). Clearly the author’s aware of it. But she errs in claiming that just because Jefferson Davis had an idea that the people of the Confederacy were willing to give up slavery. If she’s going to claim that, then Lincoln was ready to give up slavery from the moment he entered office.
We are unable to discern whether the author’s confusion and muddled rendering of history is due to ignorance, ineptitude, or simple lying. What we do know is that she is serious about what’s being taught in the schools, she has happened upon her mission in life. We expect her to spearhead a movement to reform how American history is taught in the schools … because, as we can see from her own comments, clearly there are students who have a severely flawed understanding of American history … including herself.
But then it’s heritage, not history, for some folks.