Posted by | December 29, 2010 12:47 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The Civil War is the defining moment in American history.  As such, it gets more attention than any other event in our first two centuries.  That attention is only going to increase with the 150th anniversary of the war’s beginning, coming in 2011.  Part of this will take the form of those arguing that the war was about state’s rights and not slavery.  Squarestate accurately discusses the harm of this myth:

Just as our personal mistakes should not be forgotten, lest we repeat them, letting the fact main fact of the Civil War be forgotten puts us in a terrible moral position. It is the shame of most nations that they allowed slavery in the first place. It is the particular shame of this nation that it took a war which killed 2% of its population to end that institution. Without that context first and foremost in all our thoughts about the Civil War we lose the lesson of that shame.

With an African-American president, we have taken an important step in turning aside the legacy of slavery.  But with federalism advocates enjoying an upsurge, we must also remember that states’ rights has historically been used as a defense for the indefensible.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.