• Weird History

How The Civil War Is Taught In Different States

List RulesVote up the Civil War lessons you remember from school.

The causes, course, and effects of the American Civil War are major historical topics taught in history classes across the United States. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a conflict stoked, in part, by regional loyalties is taught differently across the nation: every state retains control over the content and the scope of what is taught. This has resulted in different learning experiences and historical exposure between, and even within individual states. 

In the years leading up to the South’s secession from the Union, sectionalism was fracturing the nation. Citizens were often more loyal to their region versus the nation as a whole. The North and the South were taking very different paths and looking through conflicting economic, political, and social lenses - most predominately the preservation of slavery.  Over a century later, Americans are still discussing and discovering regional discrepancies involved in their Civil War instruction and learning. 

Vote up the varying recollections of the Civil War from students who have been taught in different US states over the years based on which ones you remember from your own experience.

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  • Birthplace of General Lee, location of numerous historic battlefields, and the site of the Confederacy’s capital – Virginia’s role and involvement in the Civil War was paramount. Students in the Old Dominion state remember a focus on their state’s role in the war, principally General Lee, and an emphasis on slavery as the leading cause. 

    From Redditor u/HiBrucke6:

    I live in an area of Virginia near a few Civil War battlefields. My son and grandkids went to schools named after Confederate heroes. I thought that their classes were heavily centered around Virginia's role in the war.

    From Redditor u/Sir_Cuddlesworth:

    I grew up in Richmond Virginia, literally the capital of the Confederacy, and every history teacher I've ever had said that the main cause was slavery and that states rights were secondary.

    From Redditor u/Nowayjoesaycanyousee:

    Grew up 30 min away from Charlottesville, graduated [high school] in the late '90s. Never heard it called War of Northern Aggression. I recall knowing it was about slaves and states’ rights to govern themselves and large plantation owners (i.e. corporations) rallied to fight back.

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  • From Redditor u/synkronized:

    From [Minnesota] - my schools taught the North got rocked pretty hard early on. Since Virginia’s West Point mostly went to the South along with its best military officers.

    The North won in large part due to the major logistical advantage of being industrialized and having a much larger population with the influx of immigrants to draw on.

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  • Photo: Paul Philippoteaux / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    From Redditor u/Stumpy3196:

    The South rebelled over slavery and was beat back. The death toll is brought up a lot.

    From a Redditor:

    ...also taught that it was pretty much inevitable despite so many attempts to compromise. Then you take a field trip to Gettysburg and call it a day.

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  • Photo: Harper's Weekly / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    From Redditor u/dal33t:

    After decades of the slavery controversy heating up in the early to mid 19th century, the slave-owning South finally snapped when Abe Lincoln, an abolitionist, was elected president. They unilaterally and illegally seceded, bombed a federal fort, and started the war.

    After initially suffering some defeats at the hands of the South, and having to fend off foreign intervention from the likes of the Brits, we [United States] [beat them] at Gettysburg, blockaded them at sea, burned down Georgia, and won the war. Abe Lincoln was assassinated in Ford's Theater, and his successor botched Reconstruction. The unresolved issues of the Civil War would linger on, through Jim Crow, the Civil Rights struggle, and even today.

    Also, New York City nearly burned itself down over the issue of the draft.

    From a more analytical standpoint, the war showed the world the value of railroads in warfare, and the first battle between metal-hulled warships.

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