Nearly half of Americans think North shares responsibility for Civil War

April 10, 2015, 7:06 PM GMT+0

Nearly half of Americans think the North shared some responsibility for starting the Civil War, while over a quarter think another civil war is likely in the next 150 years

150 years ago the Civil War was drawing to its end. On April 9th, 1865 General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House, marking the end of the Southern dream of secession and setting in motion the federal takeover of southern states. By April 15th, 1865, President Lincoln would be dead, having been shot by a disaffected actor and southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. 150 years on the Civil War is a distant memory, but the country has continued to clash over the same issues that animated the two sides 150 years ago.

YouGov's latest research shows that, when asked about the causes of the Civil War, many Americans think that the South isn't entirely to blame for causing the war. 37% say that the South is more responsible for starting it, the same percentage who say that both North and South are equally responsible for the beginning of the war. Only 10% think that the North was more responsible for the war. Looking at which issue was the primary driving force behind the war, slavery (41%) beats out states' rights (33%) as the main issue. Class conflict, referring to the theory that the civil war was at its heart a clash between Northern capitalism and the plantation elite of the South, was only chosen by 5% of Americans.

Americans tend to think that the secessionists who supported the Confederacy during the Civil War were not traitors. 48% say that supporting the Confederacy did not constitute treason, while 18% believe that it did. Democrats (30%) are much more likely than Republicans (7%) to believe that supporting the Confederacy was treason. Regionally, people in the South (56%) are the most likely to say that supporters of the Confederacy were not traitors.

Overall most Americans don't think that there will be a second American Civil War, at least in the next 150 years. 53% of the public says that another war is unlikely, though 29% of Americans say that another civil war is likely. Republicans (38%) are much more likely than Democrats (23%) to think that another civil war is likely.

People in the West (32%) are the most likely to think that another Civil War is likely.

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.

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