The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thoughts On The Civil War

Forget, for the moment, that the term "civil war" is an oxymoron and let's think about the war itself.

I came across an op-ed piece in the Washington Post a few days ago that triggered some pondering. I have pondered the Civil War many times over the years... as I am sure many others have. My perspective is influenced, I think, by having lived in both the North and the South.

That bi-polar experience has taught me that many of the differences the war was fought over weren't all that real. Oh sure, the northern states had all outlawed slavery but that was not the sole issue upon which the war was fought. I have come to believe the war was really fought over the concept of a unified nation; slavery was just something to use as a recruitment tool, you might say; a cause to fight for.

When my family moved to Florida, I thought the issue that triggered the war was slavery. That was what I had been taught. But seeing the virulent racism around me in Florida changed me. The de jure segregation I saw reminded me that there was de facto segregation in my home state. The only real difference was that, in the southern states, it was written down. In the northern states, it was just assumed.

The nation, as a whole, embraced slavery at its beginnings. Slavery was legal in most of the newly formed states. Let me quote from Wikipedia:

"During and after the American Revolutionary War, between 1777 and 1804, anti-slavery laws or constitutions were passed in every state north of the Ohio River and the Mason-Dixon Line. By 1810, 75 percent of all African Americans in the North were free. By 1840, virtually all African Americans in the North were free." (emphasis mine)

Much of the impetus behind anti-slavery laws was economic-driven. That is, as the northern states turned away from an agrarian culture, the need to employ slaves waned. The southern states retained an agrarian culture and, therefore, thought they needed slavery to prosper.

I have come to believe that our Civil War was really fought over the concept of union as a nation; a concept that said the states were merely a part of a nation, not nations in and of themselves. In the early years of the country, people tended to think of themselves in terms of the state they lived in (and, most likely, born in); they were Kentuckians, Tennesseans, Ohioans, New Yorkers, and so on. As the northern states evolved into less agrarian cultures and more urban, they began to see themselves as more enlightened, more advanced. They began to look down on those who had stayed agrarian. This doesn't breed amity but does breed enmity.

I think civil war was inevitable as a part of our evolution.  Not because of the rightness of the anti-slavery movement but because we had regions that were diverse and because of our self-images as members, citizens, of sovereign states. We needed to resolve that issue and war was bound to be the method, as it so often is.

No comments: