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New Texas Textbooks to Deny Slavery’s Central Role in US Civil War

© AP Photo / Eric GayA man holds a Texas flag.
A man holds a Texas flag. - Sputnik International
Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall that deny slavery’s role as the main cause of the Civil War and fail to mention the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws altogether.

The book teaches that the Civil War was caused by "sectionalism, states' rights and slavery," the Washington Post reported. The causes were written in that order to assign slavery a secondary role in causing the conflict, according to Texas board of education members who spoke to the newspaper.

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In 2010, members of the state board of education revised social studies standards to make up for what they said was a liberal bias.

Slavery was a "side issue to the Civil War," Pat Hardy, a Republican board member, said in 2010. "There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states' rights."

Students in Texas public schools are required to read Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inauguration speech, which does not mention slavery. But they are not required to read a speech by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, who said slavery was “the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution."

Such policies drew criticism from, among others, Rod Paige, a Republican education secretary under President George W. Bush.

"I'm of the view that the history of slavery and civil rights are dominant elements of our history and have shaped who we are today," Paige told the board at the time, according to the Texas Tribune. "We may not like our history, but it's history."

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According to James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, there is a consensus among scholars that slavery had a primary role in driving the Civil War.

"The War happened only because of the determination of the leadership of eleven states to defend the right of their residents to own other human beings," Grossman wrote in an e-mail to the Post. "The Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery."

For years, whites in the South have romanticized the Civil War, according to Dan Quinn, of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning advocacy organization that has been critical of the state's academic standards in social studies.

"A lot of white southerners have grown up believing that the Confederacy’s struggle was somehow a noble cause rather than a war in the defense of a horrific institution that enslaved millions of human beings," he told the Post. 

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