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BackStory: Civil War 250th — Why They Fought

One hundred and fifty years ago this April, the Union went to war with the Confederacy. Ever since, Americans have been debating the causes of that war. Most historians today agree that it was fundamentally about slavery. And so what are we to make of the fact that most Southerners didn’t own any slaves, and most Northerners were not abolitionists?

In this hour of BackStory, historian-hosts Brian Balogh, Peter Onuf, and Ed Ayers turn the question of the Civil War’s causes on its side, asking instead why Northerners and Southerners took up arms to fight one another. What causes, in other words, were they willing to die for? By focusing on the lived experience of ordinary Americans, the episode will explore such questions as: Were families on the homefront united in their commitment to war, or were there differences of opinion? Who didn’t want to fight? What did slavery mean to white people on both sides, and what role did enslaved and free African-Americans play in the liberation of slaves? How much did Americans’ reasons for fighting change between 1861 and 1864? And finally – how have intervening wars altered the ways we interpret the motivations of Civil War soldiers?

WAMU 88.5

Readers' Review: "The Good Lord Bird" By James McBride

For our next Readers' Review: National Book Award winner "The Good Lord Bird" by James McBride. The 2013 novel follows an enslaved boy who gets caught up in John Brown's abolitionist mission...and must disguise himself as a girl to survive.

WAMU 88.5

Busboys And Poets In Anacostia: Development Or Gentrification?

Local restaurant chain Busboys and Poets will soon open in Anacostia, which suffers from a dearth of dining and shopping options-- but some within the community are decrying the opening as gentrification.

WAMU 88.5

A Primary Challenge For A Top Arlington County Democrat

Could bipartisanship be the ouster of Arlington County's board chair?

NPR

In Omaha, A Library With No Books Brings Technology To All

The privately funded, $7 million Do Space provides free access to computers, high-end software, 3-D printers, and laser cutters. It's a learning and play space, as well as an office for entrepreneurs.

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