"A century and a half after the civil war, many white Americans, especially in the South, seem to take the idea that slavery caused the war as a personal accusation. The point, however, is not to condemn individuals ..."
Sorry, Eric, you are writing for a British publication and maybe you are not here to see what is really going on in the U. S. these days. The point is exactly to condemn individuals who still want to lie away the abomination that the confederacy was, and in all too many cases, reserve for themselves the right to retain the hatred of others that made the toleration of slavery possible. Mr. Foner himself points out:
"The new nation's "cornerstone", declared Confederate Vice-President Alexander H Stephens, was the principle "that slavery, subordination to the superior race" was the "natural and moral condition" of black Americans."
And as long as a significant portion of the white people still living in this country continue to defend such views, the fight against their racism is and will be personal.