CIVIL WAR CAN BE A LESSON ON SEEING BOTH SIDES OF AN ISSUE
Posted By : manager
Posted : March 1, 2022
By: Reed Lannom
When surveys today reveal that 50 percent or more of “college-educated” Americans don’t have a basic understanding of America’s greatest tragedy, the Civil War; don’t know who Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong were; who believe George W. Bush killed more people than Joseph Stalin – this reveals an absence of knowledge ominous for America’s future. Americans’ lack of historical knowledge forces them to fall back on what they perceive their ideological proclivities would support (e.g., left vs. right; Democrat vs. Republican). But this futile reliance on ideological orthodoxy in interpreting historical events is devoid of critical thinking. It is akin to applying the Rorschach test of subjectively interpreting inkblots rather than objectively judging facts.
History is a nuanced article of faith, based on facts that sometimes blow up stereotypical conventional thoughts. Therefore, it should not be based on a simplistic narrative created through rigid, doctrinaire ideology, limiting discerning, impartial critical thinking.
In 1866 General William T. Sherman wrote to Supreme Commander General Ulysses S. Grant, saying, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children.” Later, Sherman announced that U.S. Indian policy under President Grant was that “all the Indians will have to be killed or maintained as a species of paupers” and that it was to be a policy that entailed a “racial cleansing of the land.” Sherman, in an 1890 letter to the New York Times commenting on the conclusion of the Plains Indian Wars, expressed his deep regret that, were it not for “civilian interference,” his army would have “gotten rid of them all” – killing every last Indian in the U.S.
And Abraham Lincoln cannot be given a pass. He authorized the 1862 Pacific Railway Act instigating a systematic program of either forced relocation or extermination of the Plains Indians, precipitating the Plains Indian Wars. In addition, President Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief oversaw his Union commanders committing numerous atrocities during the Civil War, including the Dakota War of 1862, Battle of Whitestone Hill of 1863, Bear River Massacre of 1863, Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, and the Navajo Long Walk of 1864 — which murdered thousands of unarmed Sioux, Sho-shone, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Navajo men, women, and children.
The notion that President Lincoln, Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Custer’s Union Army in conquering the South were motivated by a belief that all men are created equal, is belied by the fact that just three months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, these very same Union commanders redoubled their onslaught of ethnic genocide against the Plains Indians. But we’re to believe they cared about the enslaved people! If the North’s motive in the Civil War was a noble, compassionate crusade to end slavery in the South, what happened to the humanity of the U.S. government in such a short period?
The “free-soil” movement and the North’s moniker “free states” had nothing to do with racial magnanimity and equality. Northern leaders sought a mercantile oligopoly over the Western territories (to facilitate free land for whites and protect free labor of whites in the West, to the exclusion of both slavery and black freedmen). Northern Exclusion Ordinances refused black freedmen residency, citizenship, voting rights, and employment –- Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, California, Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico were unwilling to take a single additional person of color. Lincoln’s Homestead Act of 1862 forbade any black freedmen’s participation (until the 14th Amendment in 1868). The New England maritime industry was the primary facilitator of the North American slave trade during the entire history of slavery (the South’s naval industry was nonexistent). Northern banks, insurance companies, manufacturers, textile mills, brokerage houses, transatlantic shipping companies – financed, supported and indemnified slavery in the South until the Civil War.
Politically correct historians perpetuate the simplistic narrative that the Civil War was fought for moral reasons (i.e., ending slavery and white supremacy). The North was the champion of that morality and sound; At the same time, the South was a champion of immorality and evil – is historically wrong and feeding into that myth avoids the entire nation’s deep connections (North and South) to the crime of slavery. What it does is by treating the Confederates exclusively as Nazis – it exonerates the North of its crucial complicity in slavery up until the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said at the 1865 Hampton Roads Peace Conference: “The people of the North were as responsible for slavery as the people of the South.”