Ask a Northerner what caused the Civil War and he'll say slavery, while Southerners are likely to say states’ rights, or economic differences. That self-justifying shorthand is reflected in what's taught in schools, too. But with the election of Barack Obama, historians say new ground has been broken in the discussion, the Washington Post reports. “We can be more honest. We can stop giving one-word answers,” says a scholar.
Obama’s election has rekindled a national discussion of race, historians note. “The stereotypes about the war are not accurate,” says an expert. “It’s time” for honesty from both North and South. “The North did not go to war to bring slavery to an end. And without slavery there would have been no Confederacy.”