Your View: Coverage focused too much on slavery during the Civil War


To the editor:

It is indeed a fascinating political phenomenon to observe a southern community like Alexandria mark the 150th anniversary of secession and the outbreak of the Civil War. It is surely a grand testament to the vitality of our American democracy that such legacies can be freely and openly commemorated by the losing side, as noted in the Times May 26 article (Remembering those on the losing side of history).

Still, I find it unsettling when coverage such as yours largely is dominated by the slavery topic. Of course, slavery was a lightning rod political issue of the day in that spring of 1861. But the 1860 census found that merely 4.8 percent of Southerners, and only 1.4 percent of Americans nationwide, were slave owners. So, much more was afoot as tensions mounted between the agricultural South and the rapidly industrializing North. The broader disputes were about state (and local) authority versus the federal governments scope of power and the constitutionality of state secession.

It would be refreshing and far more enlightening to see news coverage of the Civil Wars roots that probes beyond the well-known, yet limited role that slavery played.