The Case for Reparations Summary. It begins with the story of Clyde Ross, an African-American man from Mississippi who moves to the Chicago area in 1947, during the Great Migration.

The Case for Reparations Summary

Forget the politicians: What did ordinary soldiers of the North and South have to say about why they took up arms against their neighbors? Acclaimed Civil War historian James McPherson, in his 1997 book For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, consulted a sizable quantity of primary sources, including soldiers’ diaries and their letters to loved ones, to try to determine how the ordinary soldier on each side thought of the war.


In two-thirds of his sources—the same proportion among Northern and Southern fighting men—soldiers said it was due to patriotism. Northern soldiers, by and large, said they were fighting to preserve what their ancestors had bequeathed to them: the Union. Southern soldiers also referred to their ancestors, but they typically argued that the real legacy of the Founding Fathers was not so much the Union as the principle of self-government. Very often we see Southern soldiers comparing the South’s struggle against the U.S. government to the colonies’ struggle against Britain. Both, in their view, were wars of secession fought in order to preserve self-government.

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