The American Civil War didn’t end in 1865. It simply revised its methods. It’s an interesting fact that whatever is center stage in US politics devolves back to this one very basic Civil War dichotomy.
The Civil War had many different original sources. Slavery vs abolition was one of the catalysts, but it also reflected the very different economics and mindsets of the two sides. The war came and went, but never left American politics.
Mark Twain, in his Life on the Mississippi, mentions that in the South, every conversation in his day turned to the war. In the North, it was just an occasional topic. Not much has changed. The Civil War restructured America in to a more or less permanent adversarial perspective.
The Civil War was America’s worst war. 3% of the entire population were casualties, dead or wounded. Today, that’d be 9 million people. Roughly 10% of the population served during the war or 30 million today.
Talking about monuments to human suffering – After it ended, Robert E Lee was asked by a woman what to tell her sons about the war. His reply was succinct: “Tell your sons to abandon their antagonisms! Teach them to become Americans!”
It was good advice, and like most good advice, it was ignored. Just about all of America’s internal disruptions and dysfunctions ever since could have been avoided if that advice had been followed. Continue reading