Monday, March 26, 2012

Shameful Roots?

Historians write that the American Civil War was fought over states’ rights, not slavery.  But, if owning slaves was the defining state right, is this position accurate, or simply an attempt to disguise a shameful root.

Similarly, was Mexico’s prohibition of slavery a precipitating factor in the Texicans’ rebellion.  It is true that most of the major players, including Austin, Houston, Travis, Bowie, and many others, were raised in southern states and taught to advocate slavery.

Conversely, it was well known that Austin was personally opposed to the institution of slavery, even though he was responsible for disguising it as indentured servitude so it could be practiced in Coahuila-Tejas.  Equally puzzling were the facts that Bowie and his family made a living working and trading slaves, but Jim Bowie himself abandoned both when he moved from Louisiana.

Most published historians who specialize in the Texas Revolution do little more than mention slavery as an issue.  That Texas joined the Confederacy is ample evidence that its citizens favored slavery.  Would the prestige of Texas’ founding fathers be diminished if it were widely acknowledged that they fought to own slaves?  Has such knowledge effected how we feel about Washington and Jefferson?

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