Our Civil War

This week is the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War.  Also known as:  The War Between the States; The War of Succession; War of Southern/Northern Agression; and The War for Southern Independence, among others things.   I prefer The War of Southern Rebellion or The Slave Society Rebellion Against the Union.  No matter how you spin it, and the spins are mighty, the cause of the war was slavery.

The South was a society built on slavery, and it could not coexist with the industrializing North.  The southerners rebelled to preserve their way of life, a plantation economy ruled by an elite of large slave owners, and a rabble of whites (antecedents of the storied “white trash“)  who at least weren’t black slaves.  After the war smashed the South, the former slaves enjoyed a brief period of freedom during Reconstruction, but the North made a deal that allowed it to reap the benefits of the South’s resources of agriculture and cheap labor, and left the African-Americans to fend for themselves in the neo-slavery of Jim Crow.  Slavery was done, and that was enough for most in the North.

Not everyone felt this way.  Thaddeus Stevens and his fellows understood that the South had rebelled, and left the Union.  He wanted the leaders of the Confederacy rounded up and shot, or at least imprisoned.  He wanted the plantations confiscated and parceled out to the former slaves, and used to compensate Union veterans.  He wanted the rebel states to be denied congressional representation until they could demonstrate that they deserved it yet again.  His view did not prevail, and the torrent of self-serving, sentimentalizing, dishonest, distorted and reactionary narratives began to pour forth from the North and South.  Today, the Confederate flag flies proudly in many locales – it’s just a cultural thing.  Yep, and I’m sure there are some old Germans who would like to display the swastika and SS skulls, just to preserve that culture…

You cannot understand American culture and politics today if you don’t contemplate the Civil War and its aftermath.

7 Responses to Our Civil War

  1. troutsky says:

    I’ve lived south of the Mason-Dixie a couple of different times and agree with something I just read (can’t remember where) about a toxic combination of pride and shame. Mix in that dark, mystical religiosity and attention to “appearances” and you have a twisted culture which should be fenced off from the rest of the world. Instead we elect their favorite sons to lead us and worship NASCAR and football.

    Then there is Texas…

    • Lichanos says:

      Yep, way too many southern presidents, but it’s inevitable, given the political results of the Civil War.

      Pride and shame… Interesting. I’d like to see a bit more of that shame, but maybe it’s the cause of much orneriness.

  2. Ducky's here says:

    It’s probably been going on for some time but the rebranding campaign to mark the war as a noble effort to preserve states rights seems to have stepped up lately.

    Despite the obvious evidence like South Carolina’s document of secession slavery has stricken from the conversation.

    They managed to maintain the utterly doomed plantation agriculture economy for quite a while longer with share cropping slave labor.

  3. Madi says:

    THE CAUSE OF THE CIVIL WAR WAS NOT SLAVERY. Heck, it was not even a civil war. And yes, the South could coexist with the North. They depended on eachother to thrive, but that was not recognized until after the split. The idea of slavery was not introduced into the war until the very end. Also, not every black in the South was a slave. There were over 200,000 free blacks in the south, and 10% of which owned slaves. The south was also built on cotton, not just slavery. And, when the war started free blacks and slaves chose to go fight. What they had in the south was family on the big plantations. In diaries of slaves it states they are pround to fight among thier masters. Also, blacks may have been free in the north but they were not accepted. Many blacks joined the Confederate army. For some of them it was just to fight and the CSA was the only nation who allowed blacks to fight with them. They stayed in camps together. Including blacks greatly increased the population of the Confederate army.
    The Confederate flag you probably see flown in the south is the battle flag, not the flag of the government. In no way was that flag ever flown above any CSA government building. Over the past 150 years, the battle flag’s meaning has been twisted so that people think it means racism, but it doesn’t. In no way is it like the Swastika or the Nazis ( which is a gentlemans’ club in Germany, if you must know that only had a very bad leader).
    You don’t fully ” contemplate the Civil War and its aftermaths” so i guess you are one of the millions in the country who thinks America is a Democracy and cannot fully ” understand American culture and politics today”

  4. Lichanos says:

    …or the Nazis ( which is a gentlemans’ club in Germany, if you must know that only had a very bad leader).

    Whoo! Real,or parody..?

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