Aired: October 9, 2010

Race, Slavery, and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the nation’s finest historians gathered on September 24th at Norfolk State University to discuss the role of race and slavery in the war that cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. With topics including the myth of black Confederates, the quest for black rights in the middle of the war, and the role of the Underground Railroad as a cause for the war, With Good Reason presents the highlights from the conference. Among the speakers will be James O. Horton; “The Unfinished Civil War”, David Blight; “John Washington; How, When, Where and Why Emancipation Happened”, and James McPherson; “Slavery, Freedom, and the Union Navy”.


Want to dig deeper? Explore Encyclopedia Virginia:

Slavery During the Civil War

Black Confederates

Free Blacks During the Civil War



3 Comments on “Race, Slavery, and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff”

  1. Philip Adderley

    Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort, Hampton Virginia, is African American’s and thus America’s Heritage of Slavery due to Frank Baker’s, Shepard Mallory’s, and James Townsend’s decision to runaway to their master’s enemy for sanctuary early in the civil war. Conveying to General Benjamin Butler that they were being used to build batteries, etc. in support of the ‘Confederacy’, Butler then confiscated them as “Contraband of War” which turn the Civil war between states for rights to a war for freedom via the thousands of Contraband’s who gave up everything for the quest for freedom and supported the Union Army as a labor work force for little or no pay, and later fought in the Union Army when no more white men were available to enlist in the Army to serve for preserving the Union. Their numbers ~600,000 supported the Union Army from contraband Camps throught out the south. Without the “contraband event” and their support of the Union Army, the Union would not have won.
    That makes Fort Monroe the only place in America which is significantly played a huge roll in freedom for all by the Union winning the Civil War.
    Thank you for letting me comment.

  2. Charlene Dinwiddie

    Having grown up white and female in California for the first ten years of my life, I moved to Virginia and became very familiar with the Civil War in 1960, just after the end of Massive Resistance, from an up close and personal perspective through my public and private education here. I have subsequently lived in all regions of the country, and was recently visiting the northwest where I’ve lived on and off for the last 40 years. While there, I was particularly distraught by a conversation with a friend who brought up this whole subject of ‘the real reason’ behind the Civil War, and referenced the states rights argument. She leans politically toward the libertarian perspective, and I didn’t have it in me at the time to engage in a correction of her facts, but I have sent the link for this airing of the event at Norfolk State with the suggestion that she may want to have a listen. The most disturbing thing for me about those who believe the ‘rewrites’ of history on this topic is that they’re absolutely sure they know the real truth, and I’m not just talking about young college kids but people who have kids in college! I am so grateful for this timely program, and continue to be baffled by intelligent, educated people who seem to fall for these bogus arguments.

    Thank you, Charlene Dinwiddie

  3. Glen Besa

    Thank you. What a great public service you have performed with this program. With the succession journals of the southern states in their own words professing slavery the root cause of the Civil War, now the revisionists have just two choices: either they were badly mistaken or they are racists if they persist in their belief. Thank you, I plan to make use of this information every time I hear someone argue that slavery was not the cause of the war.

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