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The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue [Paperback]

Lawrence Raymond Tenzer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Scholars Pub House (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0962834807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0962834806
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,902,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In our American history, the story of the mulatto begins in the early 1600s, shortly after the first Negroes were brought to the colonies. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars White Slavery and the American Civil War 3 Nov 2003
Format:Paperback
I can't praise Tenzer's book enough! It is politically incorrect to point out the reality of white slavery, but it existed!
Tenzer shows that the white Southern slaves produced by a combination of racial mixture and the maternal descent rule were viewed as white people by Northerners, who had good reason to fear that any white person ("mixed" or "pure") could be kidnapped by slave catchers and sold into slavery in the South.
Tenzer also destroys the argument of those neo-Confederates who contend that the Southern states(called The Slave Power in the North) were merely resisting the tyranny of a federal government.
The Slave Power effectively controlled Congress and the presidency for most of the antebellum period. The "3/5 Rule" gave congressmen from the slave states the right to represent slaves (people who obviously couldn't vote), thereby giving them far more power than they would have received if they had been limited to representing free persons.
Free states exercised "states' rights" by passing personal iberty laws to nullify the effects of the federal Fugitive Slave Law. This law gave the accused slave no rights to bring witnesses, have a jury, or any other forms of due process. The judge was authorized by the law to receive a larger fee if he ruled against the slave than if he ruled in his favor. Tenzer also shows that, when you consider the low wages of the average Southern white male, coupled with sharp rises in slave prices, slave catching was a tempting business. The slave catcher would earn more with one kidnapping expedition than he could earn by a year or two of hard labor.
Many American historians ask why Northern whites would fight a civil war to free "blacks" they didn't consider equal. The obvious answer is that they saw slavery as a threat to whites.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This cause makes emotional sense 8 Jun 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Slavery was a curse on our nation from its founding and Jefferson had to strike paragraphs decrying it from the Declaration of Independence or lose the support of southern states. It remained a hot political debate throughout the country's early history but regardless of the strong feelings it evoked, no one was yet prepared to go to war over it.
Tenzer's book helped me understand on an emotional level what would make a northern farmer or tradesman pick up arms and go to fight his countryman in this terrible war. What made a difference was the threat he felt slavery posed to himself, his way of life and to his children and grandchildren. Even now we hear of atrocities in far away places and send money or write our leaders but rarely get personally involved. Tenzer's thesis is that many historical events coincided in the middle 1800s to convince northerners that their own rights and freedoms were or would be threatened by legal slavery and its expansion. He has the historical documentation to show that the eroding line between slave and free was much on the mind of the average person and contributed to the country's willingness to take up arms over an issue that had so far only risen to the level of a disagreement.
While I would like to think that the north was full of abolitionists so disgusted by slavery that they were willing to risk their lives to end it, Tenzer's book suggests that most were only willing to get involved when the threat began more personal. This is sadly consistent with human behavior and struck me as one of the best explanations for why the war happened when it did and received the support it did in the north.
Another part of the book that was fascinating to consider was the discussion of miscegenation and the historical situation of mixed-race people. Too often the subject of propaganda and stereotype, Tenzer shows how statistics on mixed-race people were manipulated to create notions of sickliness and inferiority which still plague that group today. I was stunned to see how much of what was passed off as "science" then (a very self-serving science for a small group of elites) is still largely accepted as fact today.
"The Forgotten Cause" is an important addition to every Civil War buff's reading list. It should stimulate lots of thought including some worrisome questions about why this "cause" has been forgotten in our politically correct times.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American History, as taught, has ignored this thesis. 8 Feb 1998
By joeaaii@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Strong evidence, painstaking research that may explain why 'the war to free the slaves' did not provide any civil rights for the freed slaves until a second 'war' a century later. The thesis that capital owns labor is still alive and this book provides evidence of intentions to make slaves of all workers (poor, black or otherwise). Much of this mindset has not changed today only the catch phrases and nuances have changed.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's Talk About Race 14 May 2009
By J. Stupp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For the reviewer who gave the book one star: how are you defining race? How are you defining "segregation?" To say that blacks received harsher treatment in the South since the Civil War has some history behind it, but that ignores the treatment of blacks in inner cities (urban segregation) of the North. In short, when you generalize about race, you miss the point that race is and always has been a complex, shifting negotiation of power, privilege, and exclusion that affects people no matter where they live. As for the civil war, the presence of nearly-white "fancy girls" helped drive the abolitionist movement forward--especially in the "mock" slave auctions performed by Henry Ward Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe's brother) in his famous Plymouth Church. Many abolitionists were prejudicial about skin tone and held tight to a European beauty aesthetic.

In short, when Northern whites pictured "one of their own" in bondage, the institution of slavery became all the more hideous. For more on this melodramatic "substitution" of victimhood, see Saidiya Hartman's _Scenes of Subjection_. It was a process similar to, and I can't believe I'm referencing this movie (or this actor), Matthew McConaughey's closing statement at the end of _A Time to Kill_, in which he asked the white jury members to picture that the little black girl attacked by those white men had, in fact, been white. Empathy is a powerful thing, and most powerful when we can imagine ourselves in the position of another.

Please don't listen to negative reviews of this book based on ahistorical and misinformed thoughts on "race." When we look at race only in terms of skin color we miss out on the history of a term that has structured American political, economic, and social life throughout history. This book answers the call for more complicated narratives about history. History, indeed, is always written by someone with an agenda, and the only way to get close to some sort of accuracy is by inviting various, sometimes conflicting approaches to what is never an easy subject.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars White Slaves and the Civil War 23 July 1998
By A.D. Powell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't praise Tenzer's book enough! It is politically incorrect to point out the reality of white slavery, but it existed!

Tenzer shows that the white Southern slaves produced by a combination of racial mixture and the maternal descent rule were viewed as white people by Northerners, who had good reason to fear that any white person ("mixed" or "pure") could be kidnapped by slave catchers and sold into slavery in the South.

Tenzer also destroys the argument of those neo-Confederates who contend that the Southern states (called The Slave Power in the North) were merely resisting the tyranny of a federal government. The Slave Power effectively controlled Congress and the Presidency for most of the antebellum period. The "3/5 Rule" gave congressmen from the slave states the right to represent slaves (people who obviously couldn't vote), thereby giving them far more power than they would have received if they had been limited to representing free persons.

Free states exercised "states' rights" by passing personal liberty laws to nullify the effects of the federal Fugitive Slave Law. This law gave the accused slave no rights to bring witnesses, have a jury, or any other forms of due process. The judge was authorized by the law to receive a larger fee if he ruled against the slave than if he ruled in his favor. Tenzer also shows that, when you consider the low wages of the average Southern white male, coupled with sharp rises in slave prices, slave catching was a tempting business. The slave catcher would earn more with one kidnapping expedition than he could earn by a year or two of hard labor.

Many liberals historians ask why Northern whites would fight a civil war to free "blacks" they didn't consider equal. The obvious answer is that they saw slavery as a threat to whites. There was not only the issue of the white slaves, but the constant denigration of a free society by the! intellectual defenders of slavery. Slavery apologists constantly stated that their slaves were better off than free white laborers in the North. More than that, the pro-slavery intellectuals defended slavery as a good in and of itself, regardless of "race" or "color." Tenzer shows that Republican party political literature of the antebellum period took the threat of white enslavement seriously.

One final praise. Tenzer defines his terms well. He reminds us that "The Slave Power" or "the South" represented the planter elite and not Southern people in general. Also, "Negro blood" by itself did not confine anyone to slavery. If the maternal descent line was from a white female or had been broken by manumission, the descendants were free. Southern White persons could legally have more Negro ancestry than some unfortunate slaves.
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think 18 Feb 2014
By J. Vanore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This well-researched book caused me to re-think the Civil War classes I took in under-grad school, where information like this was never presented. To quote the author (yes, I can), "To think that a young Caucasian man would leave his farm in New England to help free Negro slaves in southern United States is laughable."

So yes, there was another, far more compelling reason for thousands of those boys to fight and die. It is a reason that the reader will find plausible, and by no means 'politically correct,' but then again, Dr. Tenzer strives for correctness, not political correctness.
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