Civil War

Land Ownership and the Foundations of Democracy, Part One (What Made This Particular Destiny So Manifest?)

So we have two issues in play as the Founders wrestle with outlining this new government – the connection between paying into the system and thus earning a voice in the running of that system, and the practical challenges of who exactly “consents” to that government on behalf of the whole. Little wonder our progenitors might try to reconcile them in concert – hopefully without overtly dialing back those fancy new ideals they’d been proclaiming to justify the entire project. 

They weren’t starting from scratch. There were some longstanding assumptions about land ownership – or the lack thereof – with which they could begin.

The American Civil War, Part One (1861-1865) - From "Have To" History

Three Big Things:

Civil War Flags1. The North had more of everything except capable military leadership. They also weren’t fighting to defend their home states, their farms or families, or their overly-romanticized “way of life.” Despite Lincoln’s best efforts, the North kept finding ways to lose for most of the first half of the war.

2. Both sides assumed the war would be brief and glorious. Except for a few experienced military men who remembered the Mexican-American War, troops on both sides went in “green” – inexperienced and ignorant of what they were getting into. Many were excited by the chance to fight. Once they’d “seen the elephant,” however, that enthusiasm was quickly tempered.

3. July 1863 was the turning point of the Civil War. From that month forward, the outcome was inevitable – the South was going to lose. The fact that they prolonged it as long as they did was either noble or especially tragic, given the extensive damage it was necessary to inflict before they surrendered.

What Caused the American Civil War? - From "Have To" History

Three Big Things:

Am I Not A Man...?1. Slavery. While not the only factor, it was by far the largest. Without it, there would have been no war. Seceding southern states issued their own “declarations” explaining the causes which impelled them to the separation. The issue? Slavery, threats to slavery, insufficient protection of slavery, criticisms of slavery. Oh, and slavery.

2. The Election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln’s victory signaled to the South that the system – democracy, compromise, voting – no longer worked. Their voice, it seemed, was no longer even a factor in how the nation was run. Lincoln's election was the final straw, since he was perceived as a threat to… what else? Slavery.

3. Overconfidence. Few on either side anticipated the possibility of an extended war, or the kinds of death and violence which were to come. Had those making decisions had any hint of what would unfold, one wonders if they’d have pursued other solutions a bit more vigorously.

The Civil War in I.T. (From "Well, OK Then...")

The time between Indian Removal in the 1830s and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 was a comparatively peaceful – almost prosperous – era for the Five Civilized Tribes (5CT). 

Then again, when you have a century of suck on either side of a generation, the bar for “Golden Age” status isn’t particularly high. 

Liar, Liar, Twitterpants on Fire (A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing, Part Three)

Confederate FlagAnd then the South began writing the history of the war and the events which led to it. The war they’d lost. The one fought over a variety of issues, but in which slavery and its continuation were central and essential as defined by the South in the very documents they issued to justify their cause. Only suddenly the war hadn’t been about slavery at all. In fact, the South was collectively rather wounded at the suggestion! Slavery?! You think – you think this was about SLAVERY?

Imagine what'd they'd have rewritten if they'd WON?

Secession & Superiority (A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing, Part One)

South Carolina was upset that the North allowed so much discussion of things which threatened their way of life and went against their beliefs. They listed as one of their central reasons for trying to break the country their collective outrage that other states weren’t doing enough to stifle debate.

Their little white feelings were hurt and their dominant role in the world inconvenienced. Poor things.

Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary, Part Two (Repost)

Historical documents of a personal nature can be difficult - especially for students - because tone is everything. Overlook a little flirting, or sarcasm, or other emoticon-deficient vibe, and you can misread a source completely. Mrs. Chesnut is kind enough to write on both levels simultaneously - the obvious, smiling appreciation for a friend’s long-awaited offspring, and - unless I’m projecting - a little wry commentary as well.

It might even be cruel.

Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary, Part One (Repost)

Mary Boykin Chesnut was a Southern lady in the purest tradition, well-educated and well-bred. Her husband was the son of a successful plantation owner and an upwardly mobile politico himself.

Women in such circumstances were expected to be well-educated, but not given much opportunity to use their fancy brains. In retrospect, it might have been kinder to either keep them as ignorant as possible or let them do stuff - but such were the mores of the day. So she read, she observed, and she wrote. Lots.