Most Americans hold basic misconceptions about the Confederacy, the Civil War, and the actions of subsequent neo-Confederates. For example, two thirds of Americans--including most history teachers--think the Confederate States seceded for "states' rights." This error persists because most have never read the key documents about the Confederacy.
These documents have always been there. When South Carolina seceded, it published "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union." The document actually opposes states' rights. Its authors argue that Northern states were ignoring the rights of slave owners as identified by Congress and in the Constitution. Similarly, Mississippi's "Declaration of the Immediate Causes " says, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery--the greatest material interest of the world."
Later documents in this collection show how neo-Confederates obfuscated this truth, starting around 1890. The evidence also points to the centrality of race in neo-Confederate thought even today and to the continuing importance of neo-Confederate ideas in American political life. The 150th anniversary of secession and civil war provides a moment for all Americans to read these documents, properly set in context by award-winning sociologist and historian James W. Loewen and co-editor, Edward H. Sebesta, to put in perspective the mythology of the Old South.
"This is THE book we've all been needing out here! And what a great team to put it together."
--Monroe Gilmour, coordinator, Western North Carolina Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry
"This important and persuasive book explodes the myths surrounding slavery, secession, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader should be required reading for classroom teachers. It deals with crucial events in this nation's history--and it is as current as today's news.
--John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi and The Good Doctors: The Medical Committee for Human Rights and the Struggle for Social Justice in Health Care
"This is a fantastic collection of essential documents that I wish I'd had way back in my student days. It would have saved me many years of stumbling across them in piecemeal fashion. Their broad sweep gives the reader a good sense of the Confederacy's foundations and a firm notion of why many of the issues that brought it into being are still with us today"
--Harold D. Williams, author of A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom and Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War
"This collection of documents associated with the history and memory of the times and events that led to the creation of the Southern Confederacy is an impressive educational tool for understanding and appreciating the pivotal period of the Civil War. The valuable historical data contained in these pages, taken from the words of those who created and influenced the critical events of the time, provide a striking understanding of the development and complexity of the Confederate ideology before, during, and after the Civil War. This book also traces the evolving historical interpretation of that most critically important period of national history and its impact upon present-day perceptions of the Civil War era."
--James Oliver Horton, author of The Landmarks of African American History and co-editor of Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory