Bill Freehling-Did Lincoln’s Late Mistakes Make Civil War Unavoidable?

Here’s Professor William Freehling giving a nice lecture on the mistakes Abraham Lincoln made during the secession crisis leading up to the confederacy starting the war by firing on Fort Sumter and then the Upper South states deciding protection of slavery meant they had to enter the war on the side of the slaveholding states. The second half of the video is the same presentation, including Q&A, but without sound for some reason.



  1. Channeling George Pickett, I always thought the seceshes had something to do with it. 😉

    He has a point from a strategic thinking perspective. But I don’t know; I think Lincoln’s two predecessors made secession (upon the election of anyone other than a Democrat) and war unavoidable.

    1. I’m not a big fan of “unavoidable,” or “inevitable” for that matter.

  2. Robert P. Dean · · Reply

    The answer of the question at 40:22 is interesting, To paraphrase, refrain from passing moral judgment on these people and try to understand the choices confronting them.
    And with President Lincoln one of the choices confronted finding out whether people thought the United States was worth fighting for. Maybe it wasn’t worth fighting for, and “let the erring sisters go in peace” might be what the people had wanted. He needed Representative actions. Did people want to resist secession, or not resist?

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