The Impact of Song on the Civil War

Published May 4, 2001. Reissued June 18, 2006.

On a historical level, the Civil War represents a temporary change in the American political system. On December 20, 1860, the state of South Carolina began a chain reaction of secession that exploded into the Civil War, dividing the United States for the next four years. This great altercation in American history has its roots in the Westward expansion during the nineteenth century and the debate over slavery.

Since each side had distinctly unique sets of values, long steeped in their respective heritages, each blamed the other. The North believed that the South’s secession was illegal and slavery immoral; while, the South believed the North was a tyrant, limiting states’ sovereignty. These sectional perspectives are commonly expressed themes in the music that grew out of the Civil War era.