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When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession [Hardcover]

Charles Adams
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 29 1999
Bold and thought provoking.

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Product Description

From Booklist

In case anyone doubted Garry Wills' argument in A Necessary Evil that the peculiar myths and distortions surrounding the nature, formation, and meaning of the U.S. regularly stir movements committed to myth rather than reality, Adams, a historian of taxation, delivers a polemic that proves it. The Civil War, Adams argues, was not about slavery or the Union; it was about tariffs! The Southern states had a right to secede. Slavery would have ended at some point, but Lincoln did not particularly threaten it. It was, Adams maintains, the "dueling tariffs" of the Union and the Confederacy that caused the war. Within his states' rights argument, Adams maintains secession's legality should have been determined by the courts, and slaveholders should have been compensated for the property they lost through emancipation. Adams relies heavily on the European press; he asserts, but does not prove, that U.S. abolitionists were a fanatical lunatic fringe. The author clearly anticipates controversy; it should not be long in coming. Mary Carroll

Review

A very readable and insightful book. (Marshall DeRosa, Florida Atlantic University)

This is the best written, most accurate account of the causes and meaning of the American Civil War. . . . A fantastic book! (John V. Denson, Auburn University)

Highly original. . . . Mr. Adams' work, as well as contributing to the subject, makes a lovely example of the way history should be written. (Clyde N. Wilson, University of South Carolina)

The Civil War violently destroyed the decentralized federal system of the Founders and opened a way for the vast centralized empire of today. To legitimate this revolutionary change, Americans have taught that secession was unconstitutional; that the South seceded to protect slavery; and that the North invaded to emancipate slaves. Charles Adams, a northern historian, argues persuasively that these propositions are false. Adams claims that the war was about what most wars are fought over: control of territory, resources, and revenue. To many this book will be disturbing; to others it will be a breath of fresh air. The first step in healing the fractural historical memory imposed on all Americans by the Civil War is to face the hard truths that Adams brings into focus. Having read this book, I can no longer, with ease, recite the 'Gettysburg Address' or sing the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic.' (Donald Livingston, Emory University)

Adams is the world's leading scholar on the history of taxation. When in the Course of Human Events is a must read for history teachers and history buffs searching for honesty. (Charlotte Observer)

This is one of the most important books ever published on American history. (Forum News Magazine)

This is a well-rounded historical presentation of the events surrounding the Civil War. Whatever you have to do, but do read this book! Winner of the Reformed Library's 2000 Paradigm Award. (Reformed Library)

Delightful and insightful book. The author has provided a well-documented exposure of the real reasons for an unnecessary war. It is a pleasure to read. (The Rebel Rouser)

Provocative, well-argued revisionist history. (The New American)

But if we were to recommend one work—based on originality, brevity, depth, and sheer rhetorical power—it would be Charles Adams' time bomb of a book, When in the Course of Human Events. (Worldnetdaily)

Charles Adams manifests in this excellent book a rare talent—he asks intelligent historical questions. (The Mises Review)

There cannot be any better treatment of the causes of the war and the motivations for the Northern invasion than this book. Using primary documents from both foreign and domestic observers, Adams makes a powerful and convincing case. Certainly, anyone interested in truth will gain a great education from reading When in the Course of Human Events. (Madison Enterprise-Recorder)

When in the Course of Human Events offers a sustained challenge to much of the conventional wisdom about the conflict. Particularly valuable is Adams' critique of Lincoln. (The Washington Times)

For those wanting additional information on the subject I recommend the following books: "When in the Course of Human Events, the Politically Correct Guide to American History." (David Allen Tuscaloosa News)

A great read is "When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession" by Charles Adams. This is recent scholarship on an old and painful subject. It dispels many myths which I swallowed "whole cloth" in my school days, and which are deeply embedded in current "facts" about the causes, conduct and outcome of the war. (Al Coombe Southern Aviator)

An insightful indictment of our political, military and religious Institutions. (Dunn County News)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag June 18 2004
Format:Hardcover
I wholeheartedly believe that the confederacy did not secede over slavery, that the north did not invade over slavery, that there is a constitutional right to secession, and that slavery was declining very quickly.
That being said, Mr. Adams' polemical work is not completely convincing.
The first problem is that while he footnotes much of what he says, there are some fairly controversial assertions that he does not. Another problem is that he hardly tackles the very explicit statements from Davis, Stephens, The Declaration of causes of secession for Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.
The blatant statements of the reason for secession being slavery contained therein can be explained as political propaganda, much like the Bush adminstration's reasons for invading Iraq. Adams hints at this fact but does not pursue it.
A huge problem, one that made me almost want to give the book 1 star, was his blatantly deceptive selective quoting.
On pg. 95, Adams quotes an 1861 editorial in the New Orleans Daily Crescent as saying:
" They know that it is their import trade that draws from the people's pockets sixty or seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interests.... These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the Union. They are enraged at the prospect of being despoiled of the rich feast upon which they have so long fed and fattened, and which they were just getting ready to enjoy with still greater gout and gusto. They are as mad as hornets because the prize slips them just as they are ready to grasp it."
Problem is, the part in between "interests" and "These are" is critical, and runs contrary to Adams' thesis.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction March 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a history book for functional illiterates. Funny how there is nothing about tariffs in the Crittenden Compromise, the last ditch effort to keep the country from dividing. What a shock. Why not? Because secession wasn't about tariffs. Southern Senators could have rejected the Morrill Tariff in 1861, but they didn't. Why not? They had already walked out. Why did they walk out? Because a "black" Republican had been elected President of the United States.
Again, the Morrill tariff passed three months AFTER seven states had already left. They could have blocked it, but they left. The tariff of 1857, the existing tariff at the time, had bipartisan support. The delegation from South Carolina voted for it. It was the lowest tariff in two decades.
If you think don't think the root cause of secession was slavery and slavery extension, I implore you to go to your library and look through some old southern newspapers of the era -- like the Charleston Mercury. Or maybe just take Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephen's word for it:
"The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relation to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists among us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. THIS WAS THE IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE LATE RUPTURE AND PRESENT REVOLUTION." - Alexander Stephens, March 1861.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book gives good coverage of the travesties to the original Constitution. The book pragmatically exposes the North's fascist bent, from the radical left wing socialistic policies of taxation without representation, to the establishment of a nationalist military-industrial complex. The book does little to discuss northern slaveowners (like Ulysses Grant), the New York Race Riot where dozens of blacks were brutally murdered, the rampant racism of the North, the creation of an income tax, the creation of central banking through the use of abolitionists, etc. I am glad my ancestors were on the right side, and am grateful that they killed off dozens of thugs and vandals to defend their homes, families, and constitution. It was not just their right, it was their duty. If you are from the South and are puzzled about the disparity between what is taught in government schools and your family history, journals and diaries, this book will set your mind at ease. If your family was with the 80% of southerners who did not keep slaves, rest assured that they probably fought for the very noble purpose that is defined in this book. This book lets the reader understand, in general, about the festering and rotting of socialism upon a nation and more importantly, about the character and willingness it takes to stand up to it. It helps the sons and daughters of the South to understand the sacrifice, whether in victory or defeat, that is necessary to let an oppressor know that there will be hell to pay for such economic oppression. The author makes an excellent point where he shows the british tax on tea perversely dwarfed by the Morrill Tarrif. How about the subsidization of railroads via government handouts off of the backs of southerners? Read more ›
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1.0 out of 5 stars For those of you who insist on Adams Thesis July 18 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I think a quote from Alexander Stephens' infamous cornerstone address will clear up any concerns about the reasons for secession.
"The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Reconstruction Still Needed
I agree 100% with Mr. Adams on one point: the Civil War was not fought over slavery. But then we part ways, because while the war was not, techncially, fought over slavery, it was... Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by B. C. Hackman
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the Record Straight
Anyone interested in the American Civil War simply MUST read this book! It debunks a lot of the myths that are propagated on the subject.
Published on July 4 2004 by "bamatommy"
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended.
Most Americans (and some book reviewers) are victims of the myth that the Civil War was fought over slavery. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2003 by Michael Scalise
1.0 out of 5 stars disgusting
This book makes me sad it really does. When i think that most of the people who wrote this book are backwoods southern republicans it really makes me wonder if i am in the right... Read more
Published on May 24 2003 by Ryan McKanna
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener
I am a retired military oficer that is a student of history out of professional necessity. Subsequently I have read and studied a great many books and sources on the Civil... Read more
Published on March 3 2003 by Paul Nagy, LtCol, USMC (retired)
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enlightening.
I used this book for a term paper in a US history class in a midwestern university, even though the class was embodied with
new politically correct teachings, Adams... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Winners write the history.
In grade school, I learned that Henry Ford invented the automobile. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. That the United States was a democracy. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2002 by r_rider
1.0 out of 5 stars completely worthless work by a historical hack
First, Adams is apparently a lawyer who is recognized as an expert in tax history, at least that is what the publisher claimes. Read more
Published on Dec 10 2002 by R. Price
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your politically correct version of what caused the war
Mr. Adams presents a view of the War Between the States that you will not hear in our politically correct schools, or discussed in our politically correct mass media, so, for that... Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2002 by Gregory A. Hanson
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