Author discusses sociological motivations for Civil War

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 10:14 p.m. CDT; updated 7:38 a.m. CDT, Thursday, March 14, 2013
James W. Loewen discusses his book, "Lies My Teacher Told Me," at a lecture Wednesday in the Conservation Auditorium at MU.

COLUMBIA — James Loewen says the South didn’t secede before the Civil War for the reasons you think it did.

“South Carolina was diametrically, 180 degrees opposed to states' rights, and yet that’s what most teachers say caused the Civil War,” he said.

"That's B.S. history," he said. "The B.S. stands for 'bad sociology.'"

Loewen said that in 1890, the white neo-Confederate South won the Civil War by successfully changing the narrative about the war away from slavery toward states' rights.

That history, specifically what was written about the Civil War from 1890 to 1940, is "The Most Important Era of U.S. History That You Never Heard Of," which was the title of Wednesday night's discussion at MU's Conservation Auditorium.

Loewen is a sociologist and author, whose books focus on how history is taught, race relations in the past and how people manipulate history for their political gain. He earned his doctorate degree from Harvard University for his research on Chinese workers in Mississippi.

On Wednesday, Loewen also spoke about "sundown towns," which are suburbs and cities across the country that intentionally became all white, either through public pressure on blacks or outright domestic terrorism. These types of towns existed across the country, and at one point, 70 percent of towns in Missouri could have been classified this way, he said.

Lastly, Loewen called for audience members to contact him through his website and suggest towns they suspected were or had been sundown towns. The lecture was followed by a brief question and answer session from the audience and a book signing.

Loewen will also be leading a workshop on the topic of sundown towns at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union North.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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