Reparations

There were some respondents to the Loewen article saying it might have been better if the Federal government had just outright purchased the slaves. Some even said the owners should have been paid reparations.

Some answered these posts with incredulity: How can anyone even think of such a thing?

Actually, there were other nations who ended slavery by doing just that. It was one way of doing it without going to war. Lincoln opted out of that option – primarily because the states had already seceded before he took office – and the war was the only option apparent to him. Although a smarter person might have thought of something better, but… Well, let’s just not go there, huh?

Many people expressed outrage that the government hadn’t just outlawed slavery without offering any reparations. That same concept could be used in the government today of going completely green and outlawing all carbon-emission vehicles. Almost all vehicles on the road today would suddenly become illegal. When you bought the car (in good faith) it was entirely legal. Now, you have to cough up $35,000 for an electric auto, even if you had purchased your new Prius only a month before. This law harms you… should you apply for some sort of reparations? Should the government alleviate your hardships due to their errant capriciousness? Why? Just because they bailed out the fat cats on Wall Street, why should they do the same for you? Or for the Southern slave owners who did nothing illegal – immoral, hell yes! – illegal?, no.

In retrospect, it would have been far cheaper to simply buy the slaves’ freedom.

Hindsight, always 20/20.

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Some Ironies

There are a few facts that seem rather humorous in retrospect.

At the outset of the Civil War, General Lee owned no slaves. The ones he had received through his marriage had been freed long ago. On the other hand, General Grant did own slaves. He freed them during the war.

It was illegal in the South to teach a slave to read. Most people paid no attention to this as most considered the slaves incapable of such a talent. Thomas Jackson (General “Stonewall” Jackson, taught his slaves to read and built them a church and school for their own use. It was illegal, but he did it anyway. He must have seemed very progressive as many Americans (North and South) thought blacks had no soul, just like the Native Americans.

We have come quite a way since then.

Imagine where we’ll be in another hundred and fifty years.

Another thing I always thought was strange is the amount of support U. S. Grant got from Southern leaders when he ran for the Presidency. One of the main thorns in his side during the war had been Col. John S. Mosby yet Mosby was a very vocal supporter for Grant’s run at the Presidency. So much so that there were several attempts on his life in Warrenton, VA, where he lived after the war.

The National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, is the final resting place for many of the greats in American history. It had been the residence of Robert E. Lee before the war. It was captured early on in the conflict and became the headquarters of the Union Army in Virginia.

Lee never regained ownership of Arlington house and its grounds. Although after many years of petitioning, the Lee family did get some compensation for the Union spoils but it was long after the owner had died.

Another irony is that many of the shippers who brought the slaves to America were from New England States like Massachusetts and Connecticut. Less than a century later, it was primarily their descendants who were the most outspoken abolitionists.

Weird, huh?

Slavery

Yes, you could say the war was about slavery.

You could say a nuclear reactor is a water heater and be correct as well. But we both know it is a little more than that.

Well, so was the war.

The centerpiece of it is slavery, whether a later insertion or an original intent one cannot deny that it was a major factor in bringing the war on.

There are a lot of good books out there on the subject but I will mention a few items. Slavery seems to have been around as long as there have been people. Some societies have taken slaves through winning a war. Others depended on merchants in that trade.

Some societies allowed the slaves to marry and have children. And in many of them, the children were not slaves. Similar to illegal immigrants coming to America and having children here. The children are citizens.

Referring back to the Loewen article’s respondents:

A few people said that slavery was immoral. I think that’s true. Some said it was illegal and one even called it treasonous. Both statements are dead wrong even if exuberantly stated. It was legally correct and nothing even approaching treason. (And, no, Lincoln did not punish the South for this bit of “treason”.)

Slavery is, was and always has been a blight on human societies. In America it was made even more reprehensible in that the slavery was restricted (in the most part) to a single race. This created a problem whereby free blacks were often captured and sold back into slavery as “escaped slaves”. Since they were black, it seemed a logical conclusion.

But there were blacks who owned slaves. Indians owned slaves. It was not a thing to be embraced by the white man alone.

Even nations in the past like Rome did not limit slavery to a single race or tribe of people. Only in America was that done.

I guess America has always earned its reputation for being “innovative”.

the Cure for an Ailing Republic

First off, let’s remove the bindings and bandages that are holding this disease-torn body together, and return it to a republic. First you need to know what a republic is. A republic originally meant a government of a union of politically sovereign states.

I repeat: a union of politically sovereign states.

That was the earlier situation of this country. Lincoln ended it by invading a foreign sovereign nation and then conquering the North as well.

The definition of republic today is quite different than it once was and I think the definition has changed to reflect how the country changed. And I can easily see the definition of freedom changed to reflect our current subservience.

The ‘republic’an party (like the democrats) do not particularly want a return to republicanism. Our first Republican President (Lincoln) did not want a Republic. When he claimed “the Union must be preserved” he meant the Federal Government. If he had meant a republic, the states would have been allowed to leave. “Sovereign States” would have had sovereign rights. Lincoln denied this in spite of what the Constitution said.

The government Lincoln created was like a friendship where you cannot leave, or an employment you cannot quit… in order words: SLAVERY (what he was “supposedly” fighting against – ain’t that a laugh?!) Jefferson’s visionary nightmare of a despotic central government has come to pass.

And it just keeps going further and further from true.

Another Look Back

Here we are, ten years past the tragedy that was visited on us on 9/11/2001.

It was a far different 2001 than that visualized by Stanley Kubrick in his famous film”2001: a Space Odyssey” but far more realistic.

I keep waiting for the “healing” to begin, to put us beyond that which we are being constantly reminded of, constantly commemorating. I would like to move through an early September without the constant reminders of horrors all to human to ever possibly forget.

So, in our effort to bring some meaning to the senselessness of the thousands that died that day we have taken a war to the Middle East and killed so many thousands more to repay someone who we have finally wreaked our vengeance on…

Does the story have any sort of a happy ending? And should it?

Or are we supposed to carry the pain with us always and ensure that others come to know the depths of our suffering by doing unto them?

Seeing how we have been so readily able to move beyond the tribulations of a nation torn apart by the “Civil War” – (NOT!) – I fully expect this commemoration to carry forward for another century, at least, while we still tear the scabs open and reawaken the wounds. And as the blood flows freely again, we can somehow feel some solace for our loss.

So many of the Civil War commemoration protesters today cat-call the Rebel-biased lamenters with that famous phrase: “You lost. Get over it!”

As humans, we do not seem to be able to “get over” such large scale tragedies.

So, while others lament at the foolish sentiment wasted by the Rebel-lovers during the current Civil War Sesquicentennial, let us all take a moment to remember the cause of our righteous indignation against an innocent people half a world away.

Have a thoughtful 9/11.

Doomed to Repeat

(me waxing philosophic for a moment… don’t worry, it will pass)

Those who do not know and understand history are doomed to repeat it. This is an old adage that has been bandied around quite a bit.

But what if that “history” has gotten muddied, clouded, misrepresented, or flat-out shredded? By the very nature of things, we are now doomed to repeat…

This is one important thing about the study of history. Sure, it is great to become impassioned by something that happened in the past, some injustice done that we are at too far a remove to correct or erase.

But we can study the parts of the past, understand what brought it to pass, and how we can prevent it occurring again. We have to be able to understand and notice the warning signs that may spring up before us.

I have heard people complain that history is a course that should not even be taught. And while I might agree that the way it is taught needs some adjustment, we have to continue the study.

Glorification of past actions, the building of heroes and mythologies are a part of a nation’s conscience, but we cannot allow that to replace history. Myths are great for children too young to grasp the more complicated issues, but the deeper issues have to be made clear.

Memorizing dates, places, battles, and the names of treaties pretty much summed up the history I got in High School but it could not squelch my interest in the subject. Unfortunately, the public school system’s disservice to the subject makes most people hate history altogether.

So, it is up to us to keep the study alive. Be impassioned about the subject, but have your facts straight. We don’t want to repeat anything so dire.

We don’t want a future generation to ponder:
If we could only remember…
Maybe we’ll remember next time…
unless someone, again, hijacks the truth.

Opinions

Though most people voiced their own opinions about the conflict, there were quite a few who produced opinions of others – either experts or contemporaries – as a form of evidence to back up their side.

Most people derive their personal opinions from the opinions of others or derive them entirely on their own from known data. Unfortunately, whether from an expert, an historical figure or some concoction of their own, they are all still just opinions.

Opinions, no matter what their provenance, “prove” nothing other than it is something someone believed. Unfortunately, the only thing it proves is that there were differing points of view on the subject… as there still are.

Several commenters made big issue of Jefferson Davis changing his opinion on what the cause of the war was. So what? So have a lot of other people. Opinions come and go whether yours, mine or someone else’s.

Let’s try and stick to the facts. Interpretations of facts can go far afield as well. But not as far afield as other speculation.

If we don’t try and reign in some portions of the discourse, we’ll be ranging all over kingdom come looking for answers.