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What's old is new again: Fact-checking claims about the Civil War and slavery

By Jon Greenberg
Published on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 at 1:55 p.m.

Talk has turned back to the Civil War and slavery.

Historians study the past so they can understand it. But when pundits start talking history, you can bet that they are likely using the past to talk about the present. A new book by former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., features his conversations with average Americans about the country’s founding principles. DeMint now heads the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank and advocacy group.

Christian radio host Jerry Newcombe had DeMint on his show "Vocal Point" to talk about that book Falling in Love With America Again. DeMint defined conservatives as people who want to retain principles that have proven to move the country forward. The conversation turned to the Civil War and whether that showed that the nation’s founding guidelines didn’t always produce good results.

DeMint argued that the Civil War vindicated conservative principles. He first credited the Constitution for leading to the end of slavery, then he took a different tack.

"But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government," DeMint said. "It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong... So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves."

We fact-checked DeMint's claim and several others we've heard recently on the Civil War, slavery and Abraham Lincoln. Review our recent work using the links to the right of this story.

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