I was discouraged to see a Twitter skirmish today between two bright conservative minds that proved how historically ignorant we Americans remain. It started with a proud statement by David Burge that was true enough, in general.
But when questioned about the unfortunate simplicity of the remark, he revealed that his only knowledge of the war was the grade school mythology he received, like the rest of us, about the conflict being only about slavery.
This is unfortunate because Burge should know better. He’s entitled to be happy about the North’s victory and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox 150 years ago. He’s welcome to glorify his grandfathers for their sacrifices in the war. Like him, I have a great-great grandfather who fought 4 campaigns and another great-great uncle who died on the battlefield fighting the South. I honor them, too. I get my looks from the grandfather, and I don’t hold it against him too much. But by implying that the conflict was so simple that any non-slaveholding imbecile would see it as a no-brainer professes a profound ignorance about the shape of our nation and why we are currently in a Constitutional crisis.
It was never that simple, and an ideological battle still rages about whether Lincoln did irreparable harm to the Constitution when he rejected the right of the South to secede from the Union. I didn’t think so at one time, but I’m now one of those people who believe that Lincoln’s war was an atrocity. Not only did it merely hasten the inevitable end of slavery, but the cause of the conflict itself had very little to do with slavery and everything to do with the illegal annihilation of the State’s Rights enshrined in the founding of our country, and in its founding documents.
Though it’s too big a topic to cover here, I would encourage every self-described conservative to read H.W. Crocker’s book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War, or the excellent review of it in the American Spectator from 2009, quoted below:
The majority of Americans, if asked, would say that the war was principally about the national stain of slavery, that secession was illegal, that the South provoked the war, that the Union was worth preserving at the cost of 650,000 dead, that it was the only solution to the problem of slavery, and that Lincoln was our greatest president. Well, Harry Crocker doesn’t think any of these things are true, and in this enjoyable and provoking book he tells his readers why.
This Politico article excerpted here at Breitbart, is less sympathetic, and perhaps more clueless, but is effective in describing the phenomenon of the enduring North-South conflict in America.