History is filled with stories of both great victories and damning defeats. The story of the American Civil War has all those components. The story of why, where and how is fascinating and is worthy of investigation. The central question today of the reason for the civil war was never a question at the time. It was clear to all why and who started the war. The many compromises made to keep the Union together are documented in national documents. As such, the pre-war the question was, could this Nation survive half free and half slave.
The Negro question, the question of slavery, the issue of the right of the States with the “peculiar ” institution to continue to perpetuate an unethical institution was the base of all decisions. The essential flashpoint was the question of slavery in Kansas. Many citizens of the Northern states saw the admission of a slave State as unethical and worthy of dying to prevent. To that effect, many took up Arms.
The story of how the Civil war played out is filled with many twists and turns and is a reminder of the depth of sacrifice made for the advancement of the idea of freedom and equality.
Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. Mcpherson, is a must-read for all Americans. The great divide then as it is today, is the color line. The joy of emancipation is spoiled by the fact that too many today hold the same view of people of color as was the state of affairs in the 1800’s. If more Americans knew our history, we would be both prouder and more depressed by where we are today. Knowledge is power and those who ignore history will repeat it.