August 7, 2020

150 Years Ago, Today…

By Chaplain Mike

Today is the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of what is considered the official beginning of the American Civil War—the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, SC (April 12-13, 1861).

Ft. Sumter was one of five Union forts that remained in the newly formed Confederacy. In the months preceding the battle, U.S. Army forces held the fort but found themselves increasingly under seige, short of men, food, supplies, and weapons. This was the first crisis faced by President Abraham Lincoln, who had just taken office in March, shortly after seven states, led by South Carolina, had declared secession and formed the Confederate States of America. Lincoln notified South Carolina’s governor Pickens that he would be resupplying the fort. In response, the Confederate government ordered that the U.S. army forces evacuate Ft. Sumter at once.

At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, Confederate forces under the command of Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard began bombarding the fort with artillery fire. Within thirty-four hours, the army forces, significantly outmatched, agreed to evacuate. Not a single person was killed in the battle (though one perished because of an accident). Yet this “bloodless” battle inaugurated our nation’s bloodiest conflict.

The American Civil War.

The "Anaconda Plan" to blockade the South

In response to the battle, Lincoln called each state loyal to the Union to raise a volunteer army to oppose the secessionists and recover government property. Four more states then seceded. Several northern governors had been quietly getting their state militias ready for action, and on the day after the surrender of Ft. Sumter, they began to move. Lincoln soon announced a Union blockade of all southern ports, which proved to be a major factor in the Union’s ultimate victory.

By the time the great conflict was over and the Confederacy had surrendered, the Union had suffered 630,000 casualties, 360,000 of whom were killed in action or by disease. The Confederacy suffered 340,000 casualties, with over 250,000 killed in action or who died from disease. Two percent of the entire population of the United States died in the Civil War.

In an overview to Ken Burns’ great documentary on the conflict, we read this summary:

The Civil War has been given many names: the War Between the States, the War Against Northern Aggression, the Second American Revolution, the Lost Cause, the War of the Rebellion, the Brothers’ War, the Late Unpleasantness. Walt Whitman called it the War of Attempted Secession. Confederate General Joseph Johnston called it the War Against the States. By whatever name, it was unquestionably the most important event in the life of the nation. It saw the end of slavery and the downfall of a southern planter aristocracy. It was the watershed of a new political and economic order, and the beginning of big industry, big business, big government. It was the first modern war and, for Americans, the costliest, yielding the most American fatalities and the greatest domestic suffering, spiritually and physically. It was the most horrible, necessary, intimate, acrimonious, mean-spirited, and heroic conflict the nation has ever known.

Whether we understand it or not, the Civil War has shaped each and every one of us who is an American. I am still learning to appreciate this as I grow older and reflect upon my own sheltered life. I am particularly moved when I consider the state of racial relationships in our country. Though measurable progress has been made, we have far to go.

As a privileged white man in America, I take so much for granted and far too often ignore the ongoing plight of those whose lives have continued to be difficult and discouraging since our greatest national conflict. And yet the circumstances have been all around me, crying out, every day of my life. My youth was salted with television news accounts of the Civil Rights movement, my heart stirred by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream. Members of my family were part of the “white flight” from Chicago’s city neighborhoods to the suburbs, as the descendants of slaves whose families had traveled north in the Great Migrations moved in.

I now live in the city where Bobby Kennedy calmed the crowds after Dr. King’s assassination, a city that ironically once housed the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, whose mission was to stir up racial hatred and violence. I visit her neighborhoods in my work; neighborhoods that remain largely segregated by race and class. I still wince when I have to speak of “the black church” after attending a service in the city for one of my patients of African-American heritage. Why not simply “the church”?

Returning to my small town residence south of the city, I drive past homes where Confederate flags still fly, where people of color remain few and far between, and where prejudice still speaks, albeit in quieter tones. Even in recent years,  a few schools in our region have been penalized for overt demonstrations of racism at sporting events. You won’t find African-Americans in the local congregation where I worship, I’m ashamed to say. For the most part, black is black and white is white, and we maintain our distance.

Biblically, tolerance of this state of affairs is unacceptable. My fellow Christ-followers and I have been redeemed from the slavery of sin by a Savior in whom “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:27), “a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col 3:11) Yet our world is still divided by color, race, ethnicity, class distinctions, and in some ways, it seems as polarized by rhetoric as it ever has been (though our words may be more carefully chosen). And frankly, where I live, I don’t see much difference in the church that claims to follow a Savior who loves the world. The “Christian Activity Centers” in the communities around me cater almost exclusively to middle class suburban white families. We can still point out the “black” churches and the “white” churches easily. We have to look hard and long to spot cooperation or participation with one another in the Body of Christ and the Missio Dei.

The aftermath of the Civil War is still with us.

Writing in The Opinionator, a New York Times blog, Edward Bell says,

We cannot come to terms with the Civil War because it presents us with an unacceptable kind of self-knowledge. We think, as Americans, that we possess a heroic past, and we like to think of our history as one of progress and the spread of freedom, even transcendence. But the Civil War tells us that we possess a tragic history instead, over which we must continually paste a mask of hope.

Now, you might regard the Civil War as the birth hour of modern liberty and equality. In this view, a quarter of Southern white men of military age, and one in 50 of all Americans, were killed for justice. The war redeemed a barbaric society in which the whole nation tolerated slavery into the salvation of widening rights and freedoms.

Except, of course, that it did not: the stream of blood that started at Fort Sumter passed through Jim Crow and into the civil rights era, right down to the present. Southern whites, having gone down in the fight, turned their recollections into rage and resentment at being displaced — fuel for politicians ever since.

Likewise, for blacks emancipation was not a jubilee, but rather the beginning of a long season of bitter disappointment. Black national memory in some ways is still commensurate with despair. Redemption turns out to be a false idol.

Speaking about the commemoration of the Battle of Ft. Sumter, Bell goes on to say, “They are sad, these memories and this knowledge, and Americans don’t wish to occupy a landscape of sorrow. Many people stick to the military story of the Civil War, especially in the South. But not all is playtime in the commemorations here. During the pre-dawn hour of the re-enactment’s first shots, the Charleston Symphony, sitting under the oaks near the site of one of the gun batteries, is to perform sorrowful songs in a concert called ‘When Jesus Wept.’ “

He is still weeping.


  1. “The 20-year-olds who fired the first shots here at Charleston were less circumspect: they would have seen themselves as warriors on behalf of whiteness; their ministers and politicians told them as much.”

    This is a perfect example of the lack of understanding to the complexity of the conflict that the author of the blog probably thinks he is trying to fix. While there were certainly some, perhaps many, who saw the conflict in racial tones, (I’m aware of the evidence that supports that) the vast majority viewed the conflict as one where they were protecting their homes. The problem with this whole issue is that your average American has a fourth grade understanding of this conflict and the issues involved.

    • Austin, one sentence in a brief editorial does not betray ignorance of the complexity of the conflict, merely an emphasis on the one point the writer is trying to make. It is perfectly legitimate to focus on the racial aspect as one important component of the Civil War and to follow that train of thought. That’s where I see some of the reality on the ground and on the streets today, and that’s why I quoted this particular editorial. It does not mean I think that this particular issue defines the entire conflict.

  2. Exactly, Austin. As with many things, the Civil War was not all black and white (pun intended).

  3. I was at the Battery in Charleston this morning. It was a picture of how the war is viewed here. On the end of the Battery where my family was standing (purely by chance), parents hushed their children and a deep quiet prevailed. The silent watchfulness was so complete that the somber music from the bandstand some 300 yards away could be heard over the washing of the waves against the sea wall. As the light beaming from Fort Sumter split twain, there was no gasp of delight or hiss of aggression. However, further up the Battery where a friend’s family stood purely by chance (towards the lights of the cameras) people brought champaign and toasted the moment. There were many more people who felt the deep sense of sadness of what began 150 years ago – a grimness that is part of our nation’s identity. Unfortunately, it is sad that the cameras will display the toast.

  4. The whole affair was a tragic, horrible, complex event. It doesn’t lend itself well to blog discussions. I don’t mind at all coming to terms with what was bad, broken and wrong about much of that time in the South, I just recoil at an oversimplification of the motives of the North and Northern soldiers as being justice, liberty, and equality.

    I can assure you that was not the case. It may have been a great side-effect but it was not Lincoln’s motives for invading the South.

    • Yes, well put Austin and I liked your first set of comments as well.

    • Once again, Austin, please be careful in your reading. The author says, “Now you might regard the Civil War as the birth hour of modern liberty and equality…” but that is not his view. I don’t think he is commenting on the motives of the North or northern forces here at all, but merely stating that, regardless of how we try to dress it up, the Civil War did not lead to freedom and equality for all.

      I also hope you noted that my present revulsion at the continuance of racial prejudice and division is the view of a northerner about conditions in the north, not the south. This was not a “southern” or Confederate problem—this is a human problem, one of many that the Civil War brought to light in unbearably tragic fashion.

      • after visiting several battlefield sites on our vacations, i was overwhelmed by the brutality of the warfare, the horrific casualty rates & the manner which they suffered…

        my great-great grandfather on my paternal side served (direct descendant). i believe my father had his discharge papers still in his possession before he died. i do not see any glory at all in its violence. i do not think the conflict all that noble although it can be argued it was necessary. it was terrible. a waste of young lives & the painful reminder that we are indeed a fallen humanity willing to sacrifice much for things of lesser value…

        whether or not there were godly men with sincere beliefs fighting on both sides of the conflict, the fact remains the scale of destruction cannot be justified with political posturing & saber-rattling bravado…

        at any point in the war one’s particular sympathies could be less than the those championed by North & South. could be i would have been fighting on either side had some terrible thing happened to me & my family regardless of the overarching reasons the politicians claimed.

        Lord have mercy… 🙁

      • Chaplain Mike,

        I agree and I wasn’t trying to take issue with you at all, but rather just to lay out some clear boundaries so that this thread doesn’t degenerate into Southern bashing. (I haven’t read ahead in the postings yet so I don’t know if that happened or not.)

        Thanks for even mentioning the conflict on the blog. It has gone almost unnoticed in many places.


  5. having traveled some of the Southern states one vacation, my family happened to stay at a quaint, quiet mountain summer camp with individual cabins to stay in overnite. a young family were the hosts & the young wife managing the main desk when we were getting ready to leave. upon my wife asking the easiest way to hook-up with a rural route going east/west, this young lady sweetly but seriously said, “I only know North & South sweetie, not east & west. You’all have to ask my husband…”

    maybe it was because we were from California driving a rental car with Maryland plates…

    driving thru the backroads of Virginia, North+South Carolina, Georgia & Tennessee, we were amazed at the friendliness of the people encountered & how polite they were. and we were also amused by the local sayings that simply added a Southern uniqueness to the whole experience…

    “Well butter my buns & call me a biscuit!”

    i was impressed with the changing topography & the weather. the pace simply slower & the culinary marvel known as barbecue only mentioned in reverent tones with head slightly bowed & eyes cast downward. each establishment has the grilling bragging rights of its local fan group. my boys simply thought they were in heaven since it was the main staple of the trip & never a disappointment. and the differences in style only to be appreciated, never to be competitive or expecting the one enjoying such a dish to name previous favorites…

    my favorite story of all takes place at The Lady and Sons Restaurant – Savannah, Georgia. now that was quite the eventful evening… 🙂

  6. David Cornwell says

    The root cause of the Civil War was slavery. The most important result of the war was the end of slavery. Slavery was evil. War is evil also, and is always a result of human failure at some level, usually many levels. Therefore it is complex. Even the “good war” was a result of human failure and was very complex as to causation. I’ve never understood cheering for a war, when we should be weeping.

    • Preach it, David.

    • David,

      Agreed all war is tragic. I wouldn’t go so far to say all war is evil. But I would take issue with your statement that the root cause of the war was slavery, but would rather assert that the root cause was a strong disagreement about the nature of a repulican form of government but that is a line of thought for a political science blog and not the Imonk.


      • Much of the disagreement about the nature of a republican form of government was rooted in slavery. Advocacy for “states rights” has deep historical roots in states demanding the preservation of slavery, the Jim Crow era, and segregation. I understand that there are genuine differences that people hold when it comes to the role of the federal government, but much of this difference fell conveniently along the slavery/no slavery divide.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Slavery was THE hot-button issue from the Declaration of Independence (which excised first-draft references to slavery to get the Southern colonies on-board) to the Civil War. Northern and Southern societies had drifted in such different directions (and the South had become totally dependent on slave-worked plantation economy) that they ended up speaking two different languages of mutual hostility.

          Plus, “a fish doesn’t know it’s wet”. If you grew up in the antebellum South, slavery was a fact of nature and Abolition(TM) meant those outsiders from the North trying to destroy your society and natural way of life. Just as the North’s industrial economy exploited its workers and immigrants in its industrial machine, to the point that their “free workers” were free in name only (the Marxist term “wage slaves”). Nobody sees their own blind spots; that’s why they’re called blind spots.

          • Marxism is BS, and so is that term. They were free, period. If they had better options, they would have exercised them.

          • No HUG, I see the blind spots. I am no defender of the North and I recognize that mistreatment of blacks and immigrants was systemic and widespread. That’s still different from what was going on in the South. Just because one system is bad doesn’t mean another can’t still be worse. Being exploited, abused, and discriminated against are all horrible and inexcusable…but being owned by another human being, and considered by law to be less than human? That’s an entirely different category.

      • If you read the constitution of the Confederate States of America, it copies the constitution of the United States of America in most part, only putting in clauses that insist on the right of slavery and place in its constitution, that the institution of slavery could never be abolished and allowing the states to regulate trade between themselves and foreign nations a bit more. There’s some bits for impeachment and a line-item veto also, but it mostly boils down to state taxes/tariffs and slaves.

        I suppose you could argue, given their constitution that the war was fought over interstate trade. But that’d be a hard line to support. People forget just how popular the institution of slavery was, both in the South and certain parts of the North (those that depended on cheap cotton to make textiles, for example). New York City had riots when they tried to draft people into the Army of New York. Kansas bled over the issue of slavery. The only right the states were afraid they were going to lose was the right of their citizens to own slaves. They figured the proliferation of free states to the point that they outnumbered slave states by a great majority would spell the end of slavery.

  7. This is a good article about the Civil War in the Washington Post.

    I studied history and have read a lot on the Civil War. It amazes me as to how we are still fighting the Civil War today in many ways. I live in the Washington, D.C. area and have ventured into Virginia and looked at Civil War battlefields. Antietam, Gettysburg, Manassas, Chancellorsville and the nearby manor where you can see where Stonewall Jackson’s arm is buried is all with 2 hours of where I live.

    I find myself increasingly troubled by Civil War re-enactments back here. I mean…they were were neat to go to in California. But when you see re-enactments done a few miles from where the first Battle of Bulls Run was fought it changes things considerably. Worse….is when you go into the areas outside of Rappahanock, and deeper into Virginia and see the Confederate flags, activity by the Daughters of the Confederacy, proudly displayed pictures of Stonewall Jackson or Robert E Lee. I went to a parade once in Frederickburg and the Daughters of the Confedereracy was handing out all this free Confederate State of America material. What the hell…I thought? For me as a Northerner that would be as bad as Muslims celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center.

    But I think we’re still fighting the Civil War, and that racism and segregation I think is its legacy. However segregation is not limited to the south. Milwaukee was an incrediblly segregated city. Blacks mainly lived in the inner city, minorities lived in the the southern part of the city. While whites lived in West Allis, Germantown, New Berlin, Waukesha, etc..

    And one of the things that bothered me as a fundegelical was seeing how segregated the evangelical church is and remains….

    • BTW..Antietam is in Maryland not in Virginia, and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. You all know that =)

    • Eagle,

      The average southern Joe was fighting to protect what they thought was an invasion into their state, state rights being stronger than what they had today.

      It was a tragic war, the South had the better generals in the beginning, the north had vast amounts of resources industry and immigrants. I do say I am fascinated by it, having spent much time reading on the subject. If you get a chance read Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (about the battle of Gettysburgh- historical fiction).

      Both sides believed in their cause – a trajedy begun way before April 12, 1861.

      • Radagast, you might enjoy this.

        James McPherson is the Civil War historian to read. I’ve read Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and had my Dad read it before I took him to Gettysburg. I find the entire story to be moving but was struck by the historical irony of Joshua Chamberlin of the 20th Maine.

        He and his troops hold the line and prevent the Army of Northern Virginia from breaking the lines at Devils Den. After such horriffic fighting, to include bayonet usage he and his soldiers are placed in the center of the battlefield on July 3, 1863 for what was to be a time of rest. Instead it turned out to the very point where Gen Picket was to have concluded his charge.

        I read a lot of history!!!! Quick plug for 2 books any historian might enjoy though they are not related to the Civil War. First one is called “We Were Soldier’s Once And Young” by Lt Gen Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway; and “Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden. Okay and with that I’ll stick to the topic.

        • Standing on the “hill” Chamberlain defended – I thought it was the rocky slope facing Devil’s Den – instead it turns out to be this slight upgrage along the side… cannot understand how he held that postion like he did (I was there with a group of eighth and eleventh graders last year) and how they never got around to flank him. yes, it was ironic he was the center of attentioon again so soon – but then he did miss Antietam… but again made up for it in … I believe Fredricksburg….

          Yeah, history is my hobby too (along with all the theologies – catholicism, calvinism, eastern orthodoxy etc).

          Just read on a book on the Mexican War (no one really remembers that one…)

          I was a Lee/Longstreet fan even though technically I’m a yankee….

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I’ve walked the 20th Maine’s positions on Little Round Top. The Confederates “never got around to flank him” because their line was stretched pretty thin at the time, too.

            I’ve also walked the jump-off point for Pickett’s Charge and the Federal positions on Cemetery Ridge, in a summer as hot as the actual day of the charge. On Cemetery Ridge, I was telling someone with me about the 25th North Carolina, who ended up at the high-water mark with only two men left — one still holding the regimental colors and the other one swinging his empty rifle as a club to guard the color-bearer. Just as I finished the narrative, we came upon the marker where the 25th NC ended its charge. There were a couple NC state flags pushed into the ground by the marker; the accompanying note said they’d been left by a NC National Guard unit.

    • I would proudly display a quality print of both Stonewall Jackson or Mr. Lee if I could afford them. Both brave, honorable Christian men. Neither perfect, but both worthy of respect.

      • how would an African-American man or woman feel about them? can you understand how that might seem to be sentimental for the “good-ole days”?

        • +1

        • I would insist that when it comes to these two Gentelmen they should feel better about them than U.S. Grant or Abe Lincoln who were by their actions and words probably even more racist towards Africans in their day.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            White Supremacy was considered an unwritten law of nature (as fundamental as gravity) on both sides of Mason-Dixon. And continued that way (with Darwin quoted as a cosmic authority replacing the Bible) well into the 20th Century.

          • Sir, with all due respect, I advise you not to express those opinions in most parts of New York. (You might be able to get away with it in the Upper East Side, but they’re racist old money anyway.) I defy you to argue that freeing the slaves was a more racist act than keeping your fellow human beings as chattel, whose lives could be ended at a whim, from whom sexual freedoms could be taken without recourse (do you ever stop to wonder why so many African Americans are lighter in color than their ancestors in Africa?), who were not people, but simple property.

            If you claim it is Christian to equate a human being with a sack of grain, to decide that a family is not a family based solely on the color of their skin, then this is the sort of Christianity that justifies people like Christopher Hitchens.

            Yes, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded to promote slavery, to defend it against critics. And these men were confessing Christians. But if the founders were good Christians, I shudder to think what a bad Christian looks like to you.

      • Lee was a military genious, unmatch by the parade of failed leaders in the north. Ken Burns points this out very well.

        I think you make an important point about Christians caught on both sides of the conflict; Burns also makes this point at the beginning of his documentary. Slavery was evil, but there were differing opinions regarding how to end it – some militant, some more political, and Christians were caught on both sides. And, yes, some Christians errantly made peace with slavery. It’s sad, sad, sad.

        Perhaps a less militant effort would have not only ended slavery, avoided so many senseless deaths, but also prevented the rise of big government and big business which now holds us all in slavery. I’m afraid the emotions behind this ugly chapter in American history will prevent any lessons to be learned. Perhaps such lessons would have helped evangelicals from being sucked into militant elements of the cultural war.

        • Great point.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I’m afraid the emotions behind this ugly chapter in American history will prevent any lessons to be learned. Perhaps such lessons would have helped evangelicals from being sucked into militant elements of the cultural war.

          Years ago, the Culture War (specifically re Abortion) gave me the distinct vibe of an echo of history — like between Dred Scott/Roe-v-Wade/Fugitive Slave Act and Harper’s Ferry.

  8. There wasn’t a need for a WAR. Why did poor southerners in the foothills of Appalachia as well as else where have to die. They did not own slaves. Or in Georgia, when Sherman devastated the entire state. Most people did not own slaves. William Wilberforce was able to get slavery abolished in England in 1833 without a war. What was the point of killing so many people by invading their land. Here is the thing, either you are going to protect your family and land in defense of an army approaching or you are going to join that army and end up killing your friends and relatives.

    • cermak_rd says

      The Quakers, Moravians, and abolitionists in general had been trying to use Wilberforce’s methods for decades. It wasn’t working and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1854 made everything worse by having a requirement that all men join posses even if they themselves opposed slavery.

      One reason it wasn’t working is that slavery had become profitable in the States in a way that it was not in England (though it was in its colonies–but colonies didn’t have much representation). With the invention of the cotton gin and the discovery that simply breeding slaves and selling them was profitable, there was no end in sight to the profitability of slave holding.

      If you think slavery would have ended in time even in the CSA, take a look at their founding documents some time.

      The problem was slavery caused all kinds of other violations of people’s rights. Mail and newspapers were censored in Mississippi. You could be fined for teaching your own slaves how to read and write. You could be impressed into a posse to search for someone’s escaped slave. Freed slaves frequently were subject to 4th amendment violations. In the end very few of the Bill of Rights were actually present for most people.

      And why was that? Because the one thing that everyone who owns slaves fears is a slave rebellion.

      But slavery was not all the fault of the South. It was equally the fault of the Northern states who opted to barter the toleration of it to protect their precious shipping.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Especially when the slave trade was run out of Boston, not Charleston, and a lot of aristocratic Boston families had made their fortune in the slave trade. And there was a lot of resentment in the South when the silver-spoon yuppie-puppies from Boston whose families had gotten rich trading in “black gold” looked down their nose (with all the Righteousness of a Boston upper-crust) at those slave-owning Southerners.

        “Mister Adams, a toast!
        Hail Boston —
        Hail Charles Town —
        Who Stinketh the Most?”
        1776: the Musical; tail end of Rutledge’s aria “Molasses to Rum to Slaves”

        • Here is the thing, either you are going to protect your family and land in defense of an army approaching or you are going to join that army and end up killing your friends and relatives.

          Slavery or Not

      • Many plantation owners became fearful of a slave rebellion of that the slaves would poison their food. These fears only intensified after Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And at least one criminal conspiracy — “Murrel’s Mystic Clan” — was based around posing as Abolitionists and triggering a violent slave rebellion so they could loot and pillage in its wake. All the way to New Orleans where getaway ships would be waiting at the quays. Don’t know if Murrel and his secret society/gang could have pulled it off, but the guy did not think small.

      • Or you could be jailed by Lincoln if you were a Copperhead and have your printing press shut down or have our other basic rights violated. Please dont’ get me started on Lincoln.

        • Dan Allison says

          Me either. The POW camps he was responsible for were some of history’s worst-ever “war crimes.”

          • cermak_rd says

            I have kin that died at Antietam. Don’t get me started on the state of POW camps in the North. They got that way after the Union soldiers discovered what the CSA was doing to the Union POWs.

          • To be fair, there were POW camps on both sides…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            But the North was The Good Guys(TM), so Everything They Did Was Good (TM). History is writen by the Winners.

            That’s an attitude that caused so much Southern resentment, before and after. Even now among re-enactors, Federals have this halo-polishing attitude that We Are The Good Guys (TM).

            Though a Northerner (California, actually) I learned a lot of Civil War history from a Southern POV. VERY different from the official version I remember from school.

        • I don’t really want to be engaged in a flame war, but I cannot stand by as the greatest American President our nation has ever had is openly judged unfairly. He was President during one the most tenuous times within American history; in order to ensure the continual existence of the United States and preserve the values of the US Constitution, which is ultimately about the preservation of the Union, he had to take whatever action necessary. Sure, nowadays we have Bush and Obama use similar arguments to indefinitely hold enemy combatants and wiretap us, but back in Lincoln’s day, these arguments and concerns were totally legitimate. Having Maryland Congressman vote to secede from the Union would put Washington D.C. and the preservation of the Union under dire harm, so Lincoln, rightfully so, did everything he could to prevent this from happening.

          As for the Union POW camps, yes, Camp Douglas was quite horrible in its treatment of Confederate prisoners. But I still think it pales in comparison to the horrible conditions at the Confederate POW Camp in Andersonville.

          • Haul,

            Lincoln was considered, even in his own day, by many Northerners as a despot, but even he was not as bad as the Radical Republicans who despised and hated the South and wanted to destroy it.

            Lincoln was in his own personal views very racist, admittedly no more so than most folks of his day, and he clearly stated he did not begin the war to end slavery.


            p.s. the POW camps in the South were horrible so were the North and unexcusably because the North had resources to do better by their prisoners, and it was Lincoln who suspended troop exchanges

        • Lincoln was terrible, it’s almost like he proceeded over the systemic enslavement of millions of labourers and their children.

      • “…slavery had become profitable in the States in a way that it was not in England” In other words, the huge flaw in the capitalist, free-market system. When making money trumps everything else, horrible things like slavery flourish. It’s something we Americans, particularly Christian Americans I think, do not want to consider.

    • cermak_rd says

      Sherman’s march through Georgia is interesting. It was either like the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and attempt to tend the war quicker, or it was more like the firebombing of Dresden–punishment for the perceived excesses of the loser. I’m not sure which it was.

      But I do remember President Carter informing a marching band, that while he appreciated their playing–the song “Marching Through Georgia” was perhaps not the most appropriate song with which to regale him.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Even today, singing “Marching Through Georgia” in Atlanta will get you beaten up. Funny about that, since the song was written to commemorate the destruction of that city.

  9. Clay Knick says

    I’ve been a student of the Civil War since childhood. Growing up in VA, with a grandmother who born and bred in SC and a Daughter of the Confederacy we had two choices: we could learn about the CW or we could learn about the CW. I was not a reluctant student and continue to avidly read about the CW. A few random thoughts.

    The CW has about a tragic quality, the narrative it weaves has about it all the ingredients of a tragedy. Perhaps it could be said of the CW that “one could not make this up.” So, so many stories that are utterly powerful.

    The CW was about….slavery. That issue was the unfinished business that the Founders left to the future. No slavery, no CW. (Before any Lost Cause advocates chime in, my mind is closed on this issue). Yes, I know some in the Union did not enlist and fight to end slavery. And yes, some in the Confederacy did not fight to maintain it, but were battling against Northern aggression. And there were some other matters, as well. But slavery was the ultimate cause of the CW.

    The characters of the CW were larger than life. Lincoln, Lee, Grant, Custer, & a host of lesser known folk. One reason we continue to talk about the CW is the people who were pulled into the conflict.

    The CW isn’t over. I don’t know if it ever will be. The debates about it will continue. And the issue of race will always be with us.

    • I never knew how passionate people could be about an event like the Civil War until I moved to Virginia. In California the Mexican-American War of 1848 doesn’t create as much passion. But here in VA…there are people who passionately hate the north and sympathize with the Confederacy. It’s frightening.

      I moved here a few years ago. I forget if it was the first or second church activity I went to…it was in Fairfax which is in northern Virginia as a DC suburb and very different. You need to think of Virginia as two different states. Northern Virginia, which is very liberal and a part of the sprawling metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and the rest of Virginia which is very conservative, etc.. But getting back to my story I was at a restaurant at a church luncheon or dinner. And one guy who I barely knew took out a $5.00 bill and showed me Lincoln’s face. And he said the following (to some effect…) “When you take out a five dollar bill make sure you always have Lincoln face down on the table becuase he’s scum….” I was shocked to realize that people still pasionately hated President Lincoln.

      • True, I remember in college how a fellow student was telling the class how back in his high school in South Carolina, the history teacher was absolutely insistent on calling the Civil War only as “the War of Northern Aggression.” Surprisingly enough, it seems to me that Southerners are more likely than anyone else at reopening old wounds and keeping alive the memory of the Civil War as something tragic, tragic though in that it destroyed the antebellum South and not much else. Not a wisp of slavery or a sense of guilt and need for repentance.

        • Our ability to teach our students the ugly parts of our history is shockingly bad in this country

      • You’re wrong about the Mexican-American War. Mexicans in California feel very passionately about it. Ask MEChA or La Raza.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The phrase “La Raza” does not mean “The People”. It means “The Race”. The Mexican Race.

          A lot of MECHA and other Raza Boys are just Mexican Supremacists. Who will play the race card to manipulate Anglo guilt for their own advantage in the zero-sum game of Power. (And the real lunatic fringe of Raza Boys wants to purge “Aztlan” of all post-Columbian Spanish influence as well as Anglo — Flowery Way, anyone?)

          My question to all these groups is “?Mexicano o Californio?” I’ve got no problem with Californios, Tejanos, or similar — they’re just another group of ethnics in the US. They’ve made the psychological break with the old country, like previous groups of ethnic immigrants. I do have a problem with Mexican Supremacists and their Reconquista.

    • From my moderate studies I have to wholeheartedly agree with you. The crux of the issue was the founding father’s installation into the psyche of young America that ALL men were created equal and their inablility as a body politic to flesh that out. They knew they couldn’t and accepted that as a compromise. They knew it would have to be dealt with later, thus the Civil War.

  10. as many generals have said, War is Hell!
    It exposes the worst of humanity. it causes more wounds than it ever heals.
    We all lost. Slavery had ended in other countries & places w/o war. Wars can’t be justified, too much death.
    The South still suffers guilt & shame.
    The North still suffers Pride & self-delusion.
    Blacks & Whites are doing there best to heal the wounds of slavery.
    Amazing that it was 150 years ago & we can still see the wounds.
    at least it was a war about slavery & not tea. 😉

    • War is indeed hell!!!

      It doesn’t matter if its a field in Gettysburg, Kandahar in Afghanistan, or Iwo Jima in the Pacific theater. War is a terrible atrocity of mankind. But sadly…as long as man exists so will war. I’ve been to a couple of military memorial services and it’s heart breaking. Whenever someone comes home maimed or killed, it’s someone’s son, daughter, husband, father, etc.. There are many soldiers who have difficulty with the effect of war. And yet I’m not a pacifist…we have a right to defend ourself. And yet there have been so many needless wars.
      And reagrdless of what you think about war you have to remember…it’s not the soldiers who are crafting the policy. It’s the politicians who are doing so. Our soldiers will need all the love, and support, ESPECIALLY after they come back. Because they will need help adjusting, relating to others, dealing with what they have endured. I have to confess there are times I cringe at the politicians and their actions…but regardless I will always respect and love the soldier.

      Last Memorial Day I went down to look at the Vietnam Wall…it was the night before the holiday. I stumbled across a taped note ot the wall where a brother apolgoized to his brother for not working things out with him before he died. In the note he talked about how he wanted him to know how much he loved him and how he wish he could have said that in person. I cried when I saw it.

      War is hell…and it should not be done flippantly or casually.

  11. and before all this horror finally started 150 years ago, all those Northern folk taking up arms against all them Southern folk were fighting for & on land brutally taken from the Native Americans here before the Civil War was even a political gleam in the Founding Father’s eyes…

    armed conflict was going on long before the most costly one being remembered 150 years ago. seems we as a nation, as well as a people, for all our talk of peace & freedom & bravery & heroism, seem to have a very narrow self-righteous view of how we earned such rights…

    as a Christian in the most prosperous country in all of history, we do have much to be thankful for. and for all those freedoms we do celebrate every 4th of July, you would think the Church here in America would be taking full advantage of them while living out the gospel in ways the rest of world would marvel at…

    we can be more sensitive to the plights of others when looking back in our recent past as a nation & see what opportunities the Church squandered by either turning a deaf ear to those lesser souls that suffered at the hands of aggressors of different stripes. and how do we from generation-to-generation actually bring God’s kingdom to those that have suffered injustice & hatred & indifference even if we were not the generation to do so???

  12. Dan Allison says

    Slavery was abolished in England without one shot being fired. This was a war that did not have to happen. All the hot air about the heroism and nobility of Lincoln, Grant, Lee, et. al. evaporates when one comprehends the butchery and brutality of not only the combat, but also the hellish conditions in the POW camps on both sides. As far as the present day, sure, racism in the south was evil — just as racism in Boston and Los Angeles are evil. But a lot of “civil rights veterans” have been coasting — and proclaiming to the rest of us their personal self-righteousness — for 50 years now, and I for one am profoundly weary of it all. Let’s put the past away and, with the grace of God and the humility of Christ, build for a better future.

    • Dan,

      Put the past away? Yeah, that ought to be easy, let’s just forget the 600,000 lives killed and hundreds of years of human enslavement. Ought to be no problem at all…

      Slavery is America’s original sin. It’s us acting like the arrogant Egyptians whom God so wrathfully and justly punished. It’s not going away, and merely putting it away isn’t going to solve anything.

      I hope you understand the gravity of America’s sin in this regard. Slavery was the most profitable asset to America in the 1861, it led to cotton being our largest export and lined the pockets of everyone from the Southern aristocrat, New England textile owner, and New York Wall St tycoon. You cannot end such a lucrative and integral part of the American economy through mere moral persuasion as William Wilberforce did. No, slavery in America is a completely different monster. A monster still haunts us to this day.

      • Dan Allison says

        Having been a history major and a high-school American history instructor, this is precisely the kind of overly-dramatic and hyperbolic rhetoric I’m talking about. I follow Jesus Christ and I am not haunted by any “monsters.” It’s dwelling on the past that doesn’t solve anything. Sure, let’s learn from it, but then, please, let’s move on. And everyone needs to stop pointing their fingers at OTHER PEOPLE and accusing us of not understanding the “gravity” of it all. That smacks me as really judgmental and self-righteous. I was born a stones’ throw from Stone Mountain, grew up in the decade when King and the Kennedys strode the earth, and studied American history under Steven Lawson, who has published scholarly books about the Civil War. If ANYONE is left who doesn’t grasp the “gravity” of slavery, it’s not for any lack of preachiness by the media (especially PBS) and the schools in this country. In fact it’s the one thing that seems to be ceaselessly shoved down everyone’s throat on a daily basis for half a century now.

        • “If ANYONE is left who doesn’t grasp the “gravity” of slavery, it’s not for any lack of preachiness by the media (especially PBS) and the schools in this country.”
          I can’t understand your anger about this. I want the schools (&PBS) to “stay preachy” on slavery, the costs of War, & the mistakes of this country. That is one of the greatest things history can teach us. I’ll take our errors & mistakes, & give up our empty boosterism & patriotism anyday.

          • Ah: self-loathing, the secular religion of the left. Why are you so eager to focus on our failures?

        • Hold on, you’re a history major AND a history teacher…and yet you say to dwell on the past doesn’t solve anything??? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t studying history all about “dwelling” on the past?

          I majored in history too, and from what I recall, it is very important to analyze and understand previous events, especially if those events are integral in defining the nation I live in. The Civil War is such an event, as in matter in fact, it is probably the most important event. Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Brown v BOE, Civil Rights Movement, MLK, Rodney King, LA Riots…so much of American history is tied up with what occurred 150 years ago. Many of the racial disparities and social problems we face today are in some way or another linked to the Civil War, to say that I am being “overly-dramatic” and using “hyperbolic rhetoric” just shows how you truly fail to understand the importance of history…so much for your history degree and tutelage under Steven Lawson.

          • Dan Allison says

            Big applause for those who are “right” and loudly proclaim it to the world. Your moral certitude frankly frightens me. What history shows is that one generation’s revolutionaries become the next generation’s tyrants.

          • Oh good grief Dan. Your sense of victimhood frankly frightens me. The idea that we shouldn’t talk about this because it’s in the past is absurd. Not only are our institutions and income distribution today a result of slavery, but the end of the Civil War did not bring about equality, and equality doesn’t exist now. These are not issues that remain purely in the past and they are issues that white Christians have ignored for far too long.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Big applause for those who are “right” and loudly proclaim it to the world. Your moral certitude frankly frightens me.

            Kyle’s Moms ALWAYS have Utter Moral Certitude. “Blame Canada, Blame Canada — Before anyone can think of blaming Us!”

            And Utter Righteousness plus Absolute Power is ALWAYS a destructive combination.

        • ” If ANYONE is left who doesn’t grasp the “gravity” of slavery, it’s not for any lack of preachiness by the media (especially PBS)”

          yeah, how dare they get all preachy about slavery…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Look Brendan, these days we have too many Kyle’s Moms getting Captain Planet-preachy all over the place. You get preached at from all directions on all subjects so often you tune it all out and just do what you were going to do anyway. Maybe a little lip service towards the Kyle’s Moms so you can pretend to be a Good Little Minion and get them off your ass.

    • cermak_rd says

      You know, the Southern states largely seceded because of who won a presidential election. Lincoln hadn’t been inaugurated yet when they seceded. He didn’t get around to issuing the Emancipation until 1863 and even then, only freed slaves held in the CSA, a symbolic act. He probably wouldn’t have touched slavery if not for the war. He wouldn’t have had the power to do so. He would likely have only refused to allow it to expand into new territories and even that he would have had to do with the help of the legislators.

  13. This is a sin, pride-soaked world we inhabit.

    War will always be with us. We ought work for peace, and justice, and freedom…knowing that we will have to fight now and then.

    Thanks be to God that one Day, He will put an end to it all, and start anew.

  14. A recent survey reported in Time magazine says two-thirds of white respondents in the 11 states that formed the Confederacy believe it was “states’ rights” that caused the Civil War, not slavery. What in God’s name are they teaching down there? Imagine if Germany did something like this regarding World War II, everyone would be up in arms!

    • Houl,

      Perhaps they are teaching history and not some liberal approved nancy-pants political correct pipe dream?

      • Really Austin, really? A liberal pipe dream? And what is real history according to you? Rah, rah, long live the South? It’d be useless arguing with you.

        • Dan Allison says

          So all the “good” people live in the north and all the “bad” people live in the south? How convenient.

          • Not about good or bad, but I think we must recognize the Civl War for what it was, a war mainly about slavery and how to end it. This doesn’t make the South bad and the North good, as both sides engaged in a heinous practice in order to be prosperous at the expense of an entire people. The fact is, slavery was the issue, and we are, as a nation, both North and South, Red and Blue, conservative and liberal, completely responsible for it. May God have mercy.

          • strawman.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            So all the “good” people live in the north and all the “bad” people live in the south? How convenient.

            That was the history I was taught in school, written by the Northern Winners. Wasn’t until I heard Civil War history from a Southern POV that I found out what the official version had carefully memholed.

            The North are The Good Guys (TM), and the South are Nazis (TM). Party Line.

            There’s an alternate-history SF novel (South won the Civil War sub-type) that’s one of my favorites. Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove. Premise is a group of South African neo-Nazis go back through time to supply the South with modern weaponry and aid. Then when the South wins, they try to force the Confederates to their agenda with disastrous results. (Especially when an uptime book on the Civil War gets leaked to the Confederates, putting the lie to a lot of the uptimers’ propaganda. The Southerners do NOT like to find out they’re being used.) The culture clash between the two is obvious from the start; as George Orwell put it in his essay on Kipling, “The 19th Century Imperialist mindset and the 20th Century Gangster mindset are two different things” and the novel brings that out. The Confederates are presented as basically decent people with a big blind spot about their Peculiar Institution.

        • One very popular theory is that it turned out best for the South to stay in the Union because in many ways the South saved the entire country from drifting towards theological liberalism and universalism. This is an academicly studied theory because if you look at the theolocial issues dividing the country during this time (other than slavery) they were profound.

          • HUG, “Guns of the South” was excellent. Too bad Turtledove dedicated himself to churning out books to put his kids through college… volume went way up, quality went way down.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Yeah. After wading through 600+ pages of WorldWar (alien invasion goes down in the middle of WW2) only to find it ended with “To Be Continued”, the only Turtledove books I read now are standalones. And even the later standalones (I’m talking you, In the Presence of Mine Enemies) show signs of padding.

      • if they’re teaching that as history, then they are teaching stupid history.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “Stupidity is like hydrogen. It’s the basic building block of the universe.”
          — either Frank Zappa or Harlan Ellison

      • Wow, wow, wow, wow. You are not painting a very pretty picture of Southern public education right now. Look, racists exist everywhere, and yes, often northerners will paint a strawman image of southerners as rasists while completely absolving themselves of all guilt. It’s true. But you’re not really doing much to combat their strawman here.

    • it’s a sleight of hand. “state’ rights” to own slaves.

      • Exactly! That’s what “states rights” means. People say that all the time today without realizing it.

    • David Cornwell says

      The states of the south made very clear, in the very beginning, that this was in fact over slavery. All one needs to do is read their statements of secession. Here is one example from Mississippi:

      “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.”

    • It’s pretty much what japan does for WWII. A lot of British are sanguine about the empire. Germans and WWII is really the outlier here, which is to their credit.

      • You’re right. It is almost surreal how much of that weight Germans feel, imagine fully understanding the gravity of your most ugly history and allowing it to affect actual policy.. And we get frustrated with the Germans for not being gung ho enough when it comes to supporting all of our military efforts.

        • So, the Germans do what you guys want, and the end result is multigenerational self-hatred, perpetual guilt, and national suicide by immigration. This is good?

          • If the alternative is 150 years later freaking out when another cOuntry becomes more religiously and ethincly diverse? Then yes, that would be good.

          • Yeah…I think Germany’s doing ok. And national suicide by immigration? Really? You do realize that’s kind of what it even means to be an American, right?

  15. David Cornwell says

    “The will of God prevails — In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this.” — Abraham Lincoln

    Whether you like Lincoln or not (which I do, by the way) this statement from a secular man carries with it some wisdom.

    • Here’s something better he said shortly before he passed away.

      “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

      Seriously, LIncoln has to be the best writer we had as President.

  16. Ben Carmack says

    I would add, Chaplain Mike, that an additional sin of the War Between the States that lingers in this country is our love of violence, particulary our belief that murderous violence can solve moral problems like slavery.

    The Ku Klux Klan began in the Reconstruction South. Had it not been for the War and the laying waste of the South under military occupation for 12 years following, the KKK would probably have never existed. Race hatred was made worse by the War, not improved.

    Why was it that other nations abolished slavery without a war, and we remain the only one that did? Of course good men know that moral evils cannot be solved by committing more moral evil. Our Lord told us as much. Obviously the War Between the States must have been over something else.

    The Confederacy seceded because they wanted to protect the economic interests of slaveholders, who held the Southern economy in their hands. Their motives were wrong, nay evil, but nonetheless their constitutional right to secede from the Union was solid and recognized.

    Sanctifying the war as a great crusade that ended slavery permits Americans to turn a blind eye to the real issues involved. It also permits us to do the same things about the wars the country is engaged in today: today the president suspends habeas corpus, jails people without trial, and invade other countries on false pretenses, and Americans (with Christians being big cheerleaders) make excuses for all of it using simplistic, jingoistic logic.

    Americans need to understand that the War Between the States was just that: another war. People died. A few got rich. Liberties were suppressed and squelched. Lies were told and believed. Nothing got better. The End. What a waste!

    • Actually, the rise of the KKK stems from the lack of Reconstruction efforts in the South after the Civil War, not because of it. Had the Federal Government fully followed through in ensuring full equality to Blacks in the South, such as getting rid of the KKK, ending poll taxes and literary tests in order to vote, stopped the unfair methods used in share cropping, and kept funding and supporting the Freedmen’s Bureau, just imagine how much better the South would have been!

      The reason why we have the Civil Rights Movement is to address the issues that weren’t fully dealt with during the Civil War and Reconstruction, that’s why some historians see the Civil Rights Movement really as just a continuation of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

      No one wants to champion the Civil War as the North being crusaders who sought to end slavery, such a view would be awfully simplistic and reductive, nevertheless, we cannot deny that its purpose was to ultimately end slavery. I think we have to take heed to Chaplain Mike’s words and realize how complex, messy, and unsavory the Civil War actually is, and honestly see it as a very tragic, yet extremely important part of American history that cannot be ignored, but instead must be deeply studied.

      Another war? Please, don’t label it so, that’s exactly the problem we have with so many people today in America. They simply dismiss most of the things they learn and fail to grasp their importance. You cannot understand America, the country, the government, the culture, the society, and the people, without understanding the Civil War. The way a person views the Civil War is indicative of how he or she sees the United States as a whole.

      • Ben Carmack says

        When you start talking politics, you have to deal with unsavory realities. The unsavory reality of the South after the War Between the States was that they really didn’t want racial equality (Northerners didn’t want it either). If they didn’t want it, what was the point of forcing it upon them?

        Actions have consequences. Today we bomb Muslim countries. In the future angry Muslims may rise up and kill Americans on our soil. Is it really because they “hate our freedoms” or could it be that our actions have consequences that we can’t forsee or don’t want to see? I know…we have good intentions…collateral damage…we don’t intend to target civilians…but the “collaterally damged” don’t see it that way. In politics perception is reality, whether you like it or not. Deal with it or don’t deal with it, your choice.

        Reconstruction was never going to work and it didn’t work. It only led to increased bitterness. The point was not to make it work but to humiliate the “losers” of the War.

        Governmental mandates don’t create better people. The Law does not make your righteous. I think this is obvious, in race relations and in other matters.

        • cermak_rd says

          “The unsavory reality of the South after the War Between the States was that they really didn’t want racial equality (Northerners didn’t want it either). If they didn’t want it, what was the point of forcing it upon them?”

          The point is that the 14th Amendment extended equal rights to all citizens. The requirements to extend equal legal rights and legal protections should be forced upon both the government and the citizenry. Otherwise, why have the amendment if it’s not going to be enforced.

          A profound problem was that the 14th amendment doesn’t seem to have been enforced anywhere until the 20th century.

        • Does “the South” = “white people in the South” in your estimation? Because I’m pretty sure black Southerners wanted freedom. Not to mention that your framing of the CW as “forcing” racial equality on “the South” is a strawman – no whites on any side of the conflict were interested in racial equality for black Americans. Black Americans. I repeat that so as to emphasize that what you’re talking about is keeping Americans enslaved so as not to hurt the delicate feelings of racial superiority or economic prospects of other Americans.

  17. I’m a good person from the north but I live in the south and love it. Am I bad now? Do I need to move? Ya know a friend of mine heard that most fatal accidents occur within three miles of your home so he moved 5 miles away. Seriously though, where is Rodney King when you need him most? “Can’t we all just get along?” The war actually is over. The north didn’t win. Some hopeful, meager semblance of righteousness won. Slavery, in the black/white American form, is gone. That is good. Our war is against principalities and powers in high places and it is current. It won’t end for some time.

  18. Much of the discussion here has been focused on our view of the Civil War and its consequences from the historical and national standpoints. What about a distinctively Christian perspective with regard to the ongoing problems of race and division in our churches?

    ChrisS encourages us to remember our war against “principalities and powers,” but doesn’t that war manifest itself in human situations and interactions? If loving God and our neighbor is the greatest commandment, wouldn’t Satan’s forces be mobilized first and foremost against this love, against actions and habits that promote reconciliation and just dealings for all, especially in the community of faith?

    What tragic blind spots and sinful perspectives do we continue to carry in the aftermath of the Civil War that still haunt and trouble us today?

    • Well, I guess we still see the effects of the Civil War in our churches to this very day. Like MLK once famously said, “most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Even though it’s been decades since the Civil Right Movement and much more since the Civil War, we still have deeply segregated Christian communities. Black people go to their church, and white people go to theirs. Sure there are some more “integrated” churches, but that is really not the case overall.

      This doesn’t just extend to Black and White churches either. Asians and Hispanics are just as divided and unwilling to intermingle. As much as we say that segregation is no longer accepted, people are more segregated now than they were during Jim Crow because of “white flight” and the great suburbanization of America. Although we may have elected a black president, very few of us interact with other races on a regular bases. In a few decades, a majority of Americans will be non-white, yet as the years pass by, there has been fewer interaction between the races in America. Meanwhile, all we do is go crazy about illegal immigration but fail to grasp the bigger problem within our racial relations.

      • cermak_rd says

        It’s an odd world you live in. I work as an engineer. I work with a great mix of people of many ethnicities. I go home to a Chicago suburb (old inner ring one) that is about 25% Latino, 10% African American, and has a growing Arab (both Muslim & Christian) population.

        The suburb I live in is right next door to another suburb, Cicero. Cicero is infamous for both political corruption and racism. They were the ones that drove MLK out when he came. My suburb, too, was once infamous for its racism. And yet, change happened. The racists moved out with the coming of the diversity and they were replaced by a more tolerant set of people.

    • Rich McNeeley says

      In the Southwest our divisions aren’t necessarily black and white, they are more likely hispanic and white. Current politics have had a polarizing effect on the church. Rarely do we see mixed congregations, they are more likely segregated into seperate groups.
      When I look at the life of Christ he reached out to everyone. We don’t comprehend how radical it was for Jesus to seek the help of a Samaritan woman. What is radical to us was normal for Jesus.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Here in the Southwest the dividing line has always been more about language (and the accompanying culture) than color.

        Out here, white guys like me are known as “Anglos” — English-speakers.

        “Hispanic”, “Chicano”, “Latino”, whatever, all mean Spanish-speakers.

        In a way, language and culture are a more natural dividing line than color and ethnicity.

    • Ben Carmack says

      It is natural for humans to want to be with humans who look like they do. It’s how we are; it’s not really all that commendable, but there it is.

      If you want more racial integration, it takes work and effort. You really have to focus on it and want it. Most people in the church have chosen to focus on other things instead. I don’t think it’s necessarily that we are all racists; just that we’ve decided to let this one slide, like many other things.

      Perhaps those who have decided to focus on other things have their reasons: they’ve observed the attempts at forced integration, seen how it really hasn’t worked, and have concluded that perhaps it just isn’t worth it. Racist? I wouldn’t say so. Unfortunate? Yeah, probably.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It is natural for humans to want to be with humans who look like they do.

        Like seeks like. Racism is just the dark side of that tendency.

    • Well, CM, if you live in eastern TN or western NC and you attend Union Baptist Church, chances are good that your church was founded on a split; too many members of the original church couldn’t agree on what outcome to pray for in the 1860’s. And unless the original issues were dealt with at some point, there could well be lingering bitterness. Hatred has a half-life, if it isn’t dealt with.

  19. human slavery, no matter what is the economic/political arrangement making it profitable is the most heinous of human abuses. and such abuses exist today in the sex trade & the obvious taking advantage of the poor & needy in sweat shops around the world. heck, the daily happenings of illegals in this country & their plight trying to cross the border a reminder of our insensitive approach to the imbalance between have & have nots…

    4 million slaves recorded in the 1860 census? those were the living remnants of a brutal trade that reduced the status of human beings to below that of farm animals???

    and all this while greedy individuals made a buck ,or many, off the evil business. yeah. genteel folk. and high class privileged folk. and all sorts of middle men & their ilk. all making a buck off the incredible sufferings of other human beings… 🙁

    what makes this all the more heinous is the fact that the human saga of those that had no rights are used as props for those that claim their own rights. let’s not take the blame, but pass it off to those either North or South that should have known better.

    out of sight, out of mind. let those lesser types deal with the ugly details of abuse & atrocities that any human being would find deplorable…

    isn’t that the way we have dealt with all the uglier aspects of American history? turn the proverbial blind eye or blame someone else for the problems+abuses???

    those of Southern heritage have much to take responsibility for. however, the Northern movers+shakers equally guilty of enjoying financial benefit from the evil slave trade. the problem is really American. not North. not South. it is the same terrible reduction of human sanctity to that of animal or property or simply of something non human that soothed the conscience of those that killed, raped, maimed & otherwise abused people created in the image of God…

    no one in clear conscience can excuse or minimize or reduce such atrocities to some other grand sounding political rhetoric. my God, what is this beast we have yet to eradicate here in America? and how do we go about addressing the result of such inhumane wrongs foisted upon people so many generations ago?

    i may be able to give some leeway for the grunt soldier facing the onslaught of opposing forces, but those sanctimonious politicians & high-brow types waxing glorious about their cause is so shallow when compared to the actual suffering of peoples that no white person would ever, ever consider proper & within the rights of others to promote against their own kin…

    • Joseph,

      Your invective prooves many peoples fears. I am not responsible for the past sins of previous generations. I feel no guilt about slavery because I never owned slaves. My ancestors were for the most part, with one exception, poor dirt farmers.

      I refuse to drawn into the guilt and race peddling that masquerades as today’s Civil Right’s Movt.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        MLK positioned the Civil Rights movement as a matter of Justice, i.e. It is Not Right for This to Happen. (With Malcolm X positioned as the “bad cop” to MLK’s “good cop”.)

        Today’s Civil Rights Movement has been contaminated by Power Struggle and the Zero-Sum Game, where one group can only benefit at another group’s expense. From “We Shall Overcome” to “They Owe Us!”

        And when you reduce ANYTHING to Power Struggle, there are only two end states possible: My boot stamping on your face, or your boot stamping on mine. And the only way to avoid the second is to make sure of the first.

        • The only thing that’s changed regarding the civil rights movement today is the willingness of the media and middle class white people to take it seriously. Have you ever read anything by MLKJ? Can you imagine how Fox News would react if someone drawing large crowds said those things today? The FBI would be on that like…oh wait, okay, maybe it’s kind of the same.

          I’ve found your islamophobia concerning in the past, and your comments on this thread make me uncomfortable as well. Why so much hostility toward the civil rights movement?

      • Poor whites in the south were often just as invested in white supremacy – if not more – because in the absence of class privileges, racial ones were all they had. The pitting of poor/working class whites against blacks in general by the white aristocracy/upper class has been one of the most effective methods of perpetuating racism and racial injustice in this country.

        It’s astonishing to me that so many feel that discussing our history honestly is asking white people to feel guilty about anything. Your guilt does me absolutely zero good as a black person. I don’t need or want it. What I am interested in is real action to address issues of racial inequity – which includes honest historical accounts that don’t whitewash the fact that the war happened because of slavery, regardless of whether all involved were fighting to maintain or end it or not.

  20. Ben Carmack says

    The best book I have read on the subject of race relations was Wendell Berry’s book “The Hidden Wound,” published in 1969. I think it is still in print, but I’m not positive on that.

    After the War ended, an unofficial form of servitude continued in the Southern states, which Berry describes (he grew up and still lives in Kentucky). Blacks, who once freed from slavery had no property and little to no money, would rent land from white owners, and often worked as hired hands for white landowners.

    They were considered “low class” and racial contempt persisted. It was believed that the black man was inherently inferior to the white.

    Even with all that, in the South blacks and whites were dependent upon each other and had to work together to survive. It was a twisted and dysfunctional relationship, but in many cases, it led to a kind of mutual respect between the races.

    Mechanization in agriculture forced many of the black laborers into the North, where jobs were often harder to find than advertised. Once in the cities, the new urban black underlcass could do little to help themselves, whereas in the South they had at least been provided with enough land to be able to care for themselves.

    Segregation of neighborhoods resulted. Racism existed in the North as well as the South, but the difference was that in the North blacks and whites could avoid each other; in the South, especially the rural South, they often had to work together.

    As a white man myself, I have had a few black friends and acquaintances over the years, but the divide seems very large still. There are aspects of black culture that I find hard to understand, and I’m sure the same is true for them with me and my kind. I don’t have any easy answers for how to bridge this divide.

    What I take from Berry’s musings is that fostering greater economic independence among people of all races would be a step in the right direction. When poor blacks in the South lost what degree of independence they had, they lost ground and had no choice but to become wards of the welfare state. Fostering economic independence is long, slow and hard work, requiring sacrifice, serious governmental commitment, and some restrictions on corporate power. Which means it’s politically impossible.

    The Church is making some inroads with the New Monasticism, where people are going back into the urban neighborhoods, starting community gardens, trying to reach out. I am attracted to this movement, but honestly, I don’t think it will gain much traction, given the attitudes that a lot of white suburban church folks still have. I’m sure they have their reasons and I don’t want to sound judgmental. It’s a question of priority, really.

  21. *Sigh*

    1) The Civil war was hell. It was brutal, ugly, and atrocities were committed by both sides. Nobody was a hero.

    2) The North was not fighting an ideological war in support of equality and freedom for slaves. They were fighting to preserve the union, and Lincoln had plenty of flaws. If they (collectively) had wanted to end slavery, they could have undertaken efforts to end it peacefully much earlier. It wasn’t a priority.


    3) The South WAS fighting to keep slavery. There is no way around this. At all. Were some individual, poor families fighting for self-protection alone? Sure, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the South was in fact, fighting for their right to keep slaves, and that their ceding from the union and arguing for “states rights” was about slavery.

    4) The North as a whole did want to end slavery. This may not have been the driving force of the war, but it was a genuine ideological and policy difference between the two sides. To pretend otherwise is just ridiculous.

    I am kind of horrified by our education system at this point, but I am more horrified that Christians feel the need to defend the Confederacy. There really is just no need for that. Bemoan the brutality of the war; I’ll agree with you. Say that many Southern families were caught up in a war they wanted nothing to do with, okay. Point out northern hypocracy, sure–there is plenty of that and it annoys even a northerner like me–but to actually defend the other side? That is too much.

    I’m over indivdual guilt at this point in my life. I think grace is better than shame and guilt, but corporate guilt? I think corporate guilt is something we have long forgotten as an American church, and it’s something we desperately need to get back.

  22. Dan Allison says

    Isn’t it great that you all are not filthy southern slave-owning racists! Applause to all! Brownie points to all!

    “Lord. thank you that we are not like those RACIST SOUTHERNERS!”

    What a pile of finger-pointing legalistic hokum!

    As for me, I’ll be looking for websites where I can actually read and learn something other than the same self-righteous twaddle that the PBS liberals have been shoving down my throat since the day I born. What have these people done since 1968 except tell the rest of us how incredibly right and superior they were forty years ago?

    Sorry, Chaplain Mike. I’ll have better things to do from now on.

    • Dan, please remember this is a discussion. I hope you don’t think our goal has been to shove anything down anyone’s throat. The disagreement in this discussion and some of the heated emotions confirm my suspicions: This remains a volatile subject 150 years later. In many, many ways we remain a nation divided. And the church may not be exhibiting the reconciling grace she should be in this context.

      Stick around, friend. We need your perspective.

      • I think those of us in the North tend to wonder what all the fuss is about, but you’re right, it’s still very much a volatile subject.

        Friends of mine are from a “mixed marriage”. That is, She’s from the North (New Jersey) and he’s from the South (Arkansas). The wife, Karen, once said, “All my life I had thought the Civil War was over until I married Jim and went to meet his family.”

    • cermak_rd says

      pardon me, but filthy southern slave-owning racists != Southerner. Crowds that spat on little girls trying to go to school != Southerner. Those were individual people, and yes those individuals were bad people and racists, maybe even filthy racists.

      But there were also southerners who fought for civil rights (or at least hoped for them) in the 1960s. Who didn’t own slaves in the pre-war period. Southerners who freed the slaves they did own.

      • The thing I find perhaps most distressing about this conversation is the tendency to talk about Southerners as though they are all white. A very significant portion of the South is black. Many black Southerners identify with Southern culture and identity. But the discussion of North vs. South totally erases black Southerners (and black Northerners, too). “southerners” != “white people in the south.”

  23. I’ve looked at times at conflicts around the world, in the Balkans for instance, and wondered what all the hubbub was about only to find out that the schism went back 150 to 200 years. It seemed odd that the passion and acrimony could sustain itself over such a period. It doesn’t seem an oddity anymore.

    • No doubt this continues to be a weak spot in American culture; on both sides of the divide.

    • cermak_rd says

      bah! Puny 150 years. Check out the dispute over Kosovo. That one started with the field of blackbirds battle back in 1389!!! And it is still commemorated by the Serbs even though it was the beginning of the end of their independence from the Ottomans, and empire that doesn’t even exist anymore.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And that Serbian revenge and resentment was what led them to state-sponsor pro-Serbian terrorist groups against all comers, including the non-Serb Austrians. Like in Sarajevo, August 1914.

  24. I’m a 34 year old mother of two living in Savannah Georgia. My father’s family is from Pennsylvannia, where I was born, and my mother’s family is from the south (Alabama), where I have lived all my life. I have kin on my father’s side who fought for the Union and on my mother’s side who fought for the CSA. When I was a teen I found a KKK robe in a trunk that belonged to….someone on my father’s side from up north. My grandmother was the daughter of a sharecropper in Cullman Alabama. She had no running water or toilets in the home she grew up in. My husband’s family is from Mississippi. We decided to name our son Gabriel Lee, Lee being my husband’s middle name. A few months later my MIL told me that Lee was a family name along with my husband’s twin’s name. ‘Shawn is a family name?’ No, she told me, his first name is really Robert we just call him Shawn. Robert. Lee. Family name. And we passed it on to the next generation without knowing it. Sigh. It’s all a complicated tangled web and I’m tired of refighting The War. I don’t know whether to be sanctimonious about my brave northern kin or ashamed that I’m a southern redneck with a kid named after Robert E. Lee. The fact is, I can’t run from either part of me. It’s my history, it’s who I am, and it’s where I come from. All I can do is live in Jesus’ grace right now. I can share nutrition and do cooking demo’s for single, mostly African American moms at the local Christian outreach NOT because I’m better than them but because I am them. The granddaughter of a sharecropper. A mother. A sister in Christ. Who just happens to have a little slice of knowledge that the Lord allowed me to get so that I could share with others. Help children grow strong and healthy. Help families come together. That’s what i offer TODAY. Does it make up for my family’s past? Probably not. But it’s a start.

    • cermak_rd says

      But you don’t have to make up for your family’s past. I would imagine most of us humans living on this planet have had kin that have done nasty, brutish things to other people. I would imagine, too, that most of us have kin that were brutalized by other nasty, brutish people.

      But we’re not defined by our family. We’re defined by our own actions.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      When I was a teen I found a KKK robe in a trunk that belonged to….someone on my father’s side from up north.

      “From up north”, that would have been the Second Klan, the largest, richest, best-funded, and most powerful of all of the KKK’s three incarnations. Founded by a secret-society fanboy in Stone Mountain in the wake of Birth of a Nation and with possible covert approval by President Woodrow Wilson (himself the most white-supremacist president since Andrew Johnson) and spread all over the country, North and South, all classes. Elaborate secret-society ceremonies, rituals, titles (all beginning with “K” or “KL”), and secret code of “Klonversation” spelled out in their book of ritual, “The Kloran.” Swept the country in the Roaring Twenties to the point where the Klan came within two days of taking over the entire “Klan State of Indiana” when the Grand Dragon/Governor Kandidate went down in a sex scandal two days before the shoo-in election.

      Actually did take over the town I live in. Anaheim, California — known as “Klanaheim, Kalifornia” in the Roaring Twenties. Entire city government was taken over — Mayor, City Council, entire Police and Fire Departments were Klan. Even had Klonversation recognition phrases — “KIGY”, “Klansmen, We Greet you” — on the city limit signs. Cross-burnings in what’s now La Palma Park. Took ten years for an anti-Klan resistance centered around the Knights of Columbus operating out of St Boniface to dislodge them.

      In the North, the Second Klan’s thrust was primarily anti-immigrant, anti-Jewish, and anti-Catholic. (Out where I was there were few black communities.) And some remnants still hang on — one contact I had in Michigan told me of run-ins he had with the local Klan remnants as recently as the Nineties.

      The Klan responsible for the cross-burnings, lynchings, and Birmingham bombings in the Fifties & Sixties was the Third Klan, independent Klaverns that coalesced out of the debris of the Second Klan, primarily composed of “white trash”. Violent and Dangerous enough, but in a disorganized Beavis-and-Butthead way.

      • Thank you for all that information. I thought you where pulling my leg at first when you talked about the Kloran 🙂 As I read what you wrote I remembered my dad giving me an explanation similar to what you’re saying. I just find it ironic that it came from my northern family.
        On a side note: I listened to The Band’s ‘The Night They Drove Ol Dixie Down’ about 4 times today and Lynyrd Skynyd’s ‘Put It In a Song’ twice. That made me feel a little better 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I thought you where pulling my leg at first when you talked about the Kloran …

          This is one of those “You think I could make up stuff like this?” moments.

          Like I said, the guy who founded the Second Klan was a drooling fanboy of Secret Society Rituals, Secret Decoder Rings and all. And some of the offshoots of the Second Klan (such as the Black Legion, their plausibly-deniable “enforcers” in the Great Lakes region — I forget which city) took the Klan dress code and Silly Secrets even further into pure Pulp Villainy. (As in black-and-red Klan robes topped with “pirate hats” — bicorns with skull-and-crossbones. There’s a reason why Thirties pulp villains and later comic-book supervillains and their minions started dressing in weird and silly costumes. Because groups like the KKK and Black Legion dressed that way for real.)

        • Indianapolis, Indiana was overrun with clan in the 1920’s.

          Ah the days of (very early) Lynyrd Skynyrd) – loved that album…not to mention the Band’s Last Waltz compilation – Alison – youre dating yourself…

  25. The War was much more complex than history books make it out to be: Grant was a Union general, but his family owned slaves. “Dixie” was written by a man from New York. Educating slaves was illegal in the South, but before the war Stonewall Jackson started a Sunday school for black people to do just that — teach them to read and write. There were Southern members of the Underground Railroad.

    The War also caused major scars between those who were supposedly on the same side. Most people don’t realize that there were actually TWO Souths: the flatland plantation South who owned slaves and gave us such crazy social rules as not wearing white shoes after Labor Day, and the mountain South which was divided literally house to house over secession. There weren’t any major battles fought in the mountains because the terrain wasn’t conducive to it; if you were to re-enact what happened in the Appalachians, you’d be labeled a terrorist. And it wasn’t a stranger from some far-off place who stole your livestock, shot down your family members, or tortured you for information about your menfolk — it was a neighbor, or even one of your own relatives. Someone you knew and had trusted for most of your life.

    The War and the Reconstruction period that followed are prime examples of what results when someone tries to legislate morality. When people feel that they are being forced to accept something, it just makes them dig their heels in harder. The scars of this period of history — the continued prejudice, racism, and bitterness — will not go away until people’s hearts are changed. That has to be an act of the Holy Spirit and the willing submission of God’s people, just like everything else that’s wrong in the Church today.

    • CJ

      Best comment so far, if I had seen it I would not have felt needed to post my last one.

    • “The War and the Reconstruction period that followed are prime examples of what results when someone tries to legislate morality.”

      After the 14th Amendment was passed, it wasn’t morality. It was the law. The law stated that all citizens are equal under the law. That really does mean that they get the right to vote, the right to live where they want, the right to attend the closest public school (I’m against busing as long as the neighborhoods weren’t created via de jure segregation), frequent businesses equally, etc.

      • “After the 14th Amendment was passed, it wasn’t morality. It was the law.”

        In other words, it was legislation, i.e. an attempt “to legislate morality.”

        • cermak_rd says

          No, not morality. They weren’t insisting that people treat others graciously or have them into their home for tea & tobacco. It was about equal rights under the LAW. That is not morality, not in the slightest. It is about how the individual relates to the government and vice versa.

          • Still not buying it: What is law other than legislation?

            It’s all well and good to try to separate the two, but the reality of it is that legislation will define how people should be treated, while morality will define how they are treated. And 150 years later, even here in the the west where the CW is little more than a history lesson, there are still significant differences in how people are treated based on race.

          • You’re not making sense. Unless you really are arguing that slavery SHOULD be legal today, because the government shouldn’t “legislate morality”? Please tell me that is not your argument?

          • cermak_rd: All laws are based on morality of some sort. The problem is that laws can only deal with external behavior and, as you yourself pointed out, it can affect that behavior only so much. Laws won’t mean much until people’s hearts are changed. That’s exactly why Jesus went after individual hearts, not society’s laws.

    • The language here that implies that “people” = white people is exactly why racial divisions continue to exist in the church today. What black Americans and Southerners might have wanted – freedom, speak less of the rights that other Americans had – don’t matter, only that white Americans were having “morality” “forced” on them. This is frightening.

  26. This is a fascinating subject. I’m amazed at the ammount of “enthusasitic” debate and dialoge it still generates today. Imagine how much more heated the dialogue would have been 150 years ago. It actually is a little encouraging to know that folks can still think critically.

    Several points-

    1. I’m constantly amazed and a little amuzed at Northerners living in a society that was in many many ways more segreted and racist than the South lecturing Southernerns on how to act. There is a sense of mutual dependance and shared past (although painful) that exist between Southern whites and blacks.

    2. If people can not read history objectively and realize that the plight of blacks was not the number one concern of the North and they can not see past the PBS version of Lincoln then they are being willingly ingornat.

    3. I think it was Booker T. Washington that said this “state ways can not be folk ways.” I know Mr. Washington is viliified by the modern civil rights leaders but there is a lot of truth in that statement. Blacks and whites in the South have made tremendous strides and it has not been because of stupid things like forced busing or sending the 101st Airborne into an American city. It has been because the hearts and minds of people have been changed by shared experiences.

    4. The church can be a healing force and it can soften men’s hearts. Stonewall Jackson, out of his own funds, provided for a Sunday School for black children. Now I know that won’t be good enough for those of you who condemn men living 150 years ago in a different time for not having your idea of equality, but it was something. As a baptist pastor I invited a black minister whose church was right down the road to preach at our revival. It was the first time a black minister had preached there in the churhces 160 year history. He later reciprocated the invite to his church. I also welcomed into the church a young unmarried lady with a bi-racial baby and was freindly to the baby’s father when he did attend. This was recieved well (other than one person) in a church that was all white and mostly over 60 years old. Now as an Anglican, I am part of a world wide communion that has more Africans than anything esle.

    5. What Northerners fail to see and what they failed to see 150 years ago is that there are people who do not take kindly to the boot of tyranny, who do not wish to be forced to do anything by a government that they felt was illegitimate in its reach.

    • And extending equal protection to its citizens is illegitimate? Seriously, that’s why the 101rst was sent into Little Rock. The city school system had a gradual integration plan. The 9 students were the first blacks to enter. It was the governor who deployed the Arkansas national guard to prevent them enrolling. That’s why the 101rst was called in because the state was using the Guard to defy a Supreme Court order.

      The Little Rock school system actually criticized the governor for his actions. They were OK with slow, gradual integration.

      • cermark_rd

        You obvioulsy have little understanding of how a federal republic is supposed to work, what the founders intentions were regarding the seperation of powers, and on the fact that the 14th Ammendment was passed under circumstances that were questionable at best

        Things are not cut and dry. It is possible for a person to say that forced segragation is wrong but that there are right ways and wrong ways to go about ending it, the same was true for slavery, the earliest abolition societies were not founded by unitarian yankees but by orthodox Christians in the South, sorry if that doesn’t fit the framework by which you have views history but it is fact

        • Some things are cut and dried. The governor of a state does not have the right to defy a judgment of the Supreme Court. The Supremes made their decisions based on the 14th Amendment. The Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic. Therefore, the governor had no right to call in the Guard. Ike tried to reason with him privately before deploying the 101rst too.

          As to their are right ways and wrong ways to go about ending it, isn’t that what the Little Rock School system was doing? They were starting a gradual integration plan. They did not want the Guard deployed.

          I’ll have to say I consider the 14th Amendment to be the crowning achievement of our Republic, and I don’t care how it came to pass.

          Do you want to live in a society where some men are not equal under the law? Where no woman is equal under the law? I sure as heck don’t.

          As to abolition societies, I am most familiar with the American Anti-Slavery Society. It seemed to have mainly Quakers and Moravians as members which is why I don’t tend to call out other Christians. There was at least 1 Episcopalian on the Executive Committee of it, the Rev. Peter Williams.

          I do know that there were Episcopalian theologians and even Bishops (e.g. Bowen) who supported slavery. The Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterians and Episcopalians were divided on the topic, predominantly along regional lines.

          • I believe the Baptists split because of slavery, the southern baptists supporting – or at least that is what I was told by by a non-southern baptist (that’s my out since I did not verify this statement).

          • I believe you’re right, Radagast. The Baptists split because of slavery into Southern Baptist and Northern Baptist Conventions, with the Northern Baptists now called American Baptist Convention (ABC).

            Notable southerners in both conventions include Jimmy Carter (SBC, until recently) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (ABC).

    • David Cornwell says

      I’m going to check out this question with the moderator of the church where I’m a member, who is African-American and see what his reaction might be:

      “5. What Northerners fail to see and what they failed to see 150 years ago is that there are people who do not take kindly to the boot of tyranny, who do not wish to be forced to do anything by a government that they felt was illegitimate in its reach.”

    • And when you spoke with that black pastor, did you tell him you thought that ending slavery was an overstep of the federal government?

    • Your comments have been great, Austin. It is unfortunately a terribly emotional issue still and is difficult to discuss rationally. Like you, I regret that even the very perspective one is allowed to have on the issue has become politicized and that often many don’t realize that the “correct” view is neither historically accurate nor fair in its moral judgements about the people of the day. Whatever side you were on then (or are now), the real tragedy is that America lost countless numbers of some of its finest citizens and many deeply devoted Christians.

      More to the point of the original post of CM, it’s true that there is a lot of segregation on Sunday morning (not just black/white but Hispanic, Asian, etc) , but I personally don’t see it as something being imposed on anyone—it reflects more the cultural (maybe language) preferences of the members or the makeup of the community where the church resides. I think that having unity between churches (whatever their racial or ethnic makeup), cooperation between them and a willingess perhaps to share some common experiences regularly is more important than trying to push for integration of every Sunday morning service. My wife was the pastor of an American Baptist church (the Northern branch of the formerly united Baptists!!) which was predominantly white and she tried to at least have some joint services with a Spanish-speaking Baptist congregation on special occasions. Mutual respect and the understanding that we’re all working for the same goal seems to me the most important thing and perhaps a more achievable first step. Incidentally, I’ve served as organist or pianist for all black churches, all white churches, predominantly black with some white, predominantly white with some black and 50/50 churches. All seem to have a unique character and I appreciate both those experiences and the churches where I had them.

  27. cermakr,

    i’m sorry you lack an understanding of how a repubican federal government is suppsosed to work and how the founders intended it to function, i’m also sad that you can’t see that things are not always cut and dry, it is possible to agree that forced segregation is wrong but so is forced integration and that just like that was a right way to go about the abolition of slavery there was a wrong way to do it as well

    the first abolition societies were not established by unitarians in the north but by orthodox Christians in the South

    p.s. the blog is acting up, this may be a double post

  28. Nothing like the Civil War/War Between the States to bring out the punditry. The issue for me is not the cause of the North or the cause of the South, but rather how did it advance the cause of Christ. And in that respect, I see little to admire. Or in its shameful legacy, and in both cases the church and individual Christians both have been complicit. For my time formerly spent as an “evangelical”, it meant churches full of conservative white folks. We spent a lot of time defining why we were different from others, ecclesiastically and socially. The messages non-believers hear over Christian radio continue to be brimming over with divisive hate. Martin Luther King Jr. observed in 1963 that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America, and little has changed since then. What happened 150 years ago were the sins of our fathers. I, like another confessing racist Phil Yancey, have enough to repent for today.

  29. David Cornwell says

    Last night at midnight I thought I was done with this subject, but…

    1. When I was in my first year in college (1955), a Kentucky, conservative, mostly Methodist liberal arts college (I was born in W. Va.) I was very surprised to find that it was segregated. This segregation applied to African-Americans, not blacks from the mission field, orientals, or Hispanics. To speak of this in class was frowned upon.

    2. I learned many years later that my great-great grandfather, Ralph Stewart, was wanted by the government for killing Indians during a peace treaty. He was about 17 at the time. He escaped to the mountains of what is now West Virginia, where he became the 2nd settler in the area. Later he was pardoned because of service in the Revolutionary War. Killing Indians was ok again? Oh– the reason he killed the Indians was personal– he had witnessed his parents being killed by Indians when he was younger by war party.

    3. About 10 years ago, at a family gathering, a close relative who now lives in North Carolina said the following: “Slaves should have been happy to be slaves. They had it so much better than when they lived in Africa.” I had a choice– either start a fight during a family gathering or walk out of the room. I chose walking out of the room.

    We are all bound up in the past. It has ropes around us that either get pulled tighter as we struggle or are loosened as we submit to God.

    The law is necessary. It points toward what is right. However the real change comes as we submit to the law of Christ. Remember what he said was fulfillment of all the Law. “Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37, 39, 40).”

    As followers of this Christ we need to pray daily the prayer he taught us: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” We serve a Higher Kingdom.

  30. cyborgninja says

    I’ll side-step the Civil War issue for a moment, and say that one should be careful patting one’s back in breaking down “segregated Sunday.” Churches can be welcoming, but when you’re one of the few in a church that looks like you, it’s still overwhelming.

    Sometimes I sit back at the church I attend and realize that I’m the only one darker than, say, a paper bag, or the only woman whose hair doesn’t flow down my shoulders, but curls up instead. And maybe it’s just the city I live in now, but I feel like She-Hulk. And in a way, it kind of stings.

    And I realize the reason for the oft-quoted segregated Sunday — people want to be with people who share a similar look and to an extent, culture. Don’t get me started on culture — being a cultural outlier makes me feel very, very “token” at my current church, as much as I love the preaching, the outreach and the worship. And even in small groups, I still end up being the token. At least, in a church deeper in the city, I won’t be targeted as the “exotic” special snowflake to talk to after service by some folks. God help us all.

  31. “Our republic is founded on the great truth that the Negro is not the equal of the white man.” Vice President of the Confederate States of America Alexander Stephens, 1861

    Without slavery, states rights would never have been an issue. And the idea of lauding slaveowners for resisting “the boot of tyranny” is too rich for words.

    • Jeff,

      Sloppy history. I can find horrible quotes by Abe Lincoln that make that one sound like a SS teacher. And BTW Mr. Stephens was against seccesion,and was actually chased out of my home town when he dared to speak against on the courthouse steps before the war.

      • Did Stephens say this or not? Have you read his “Cornerstone Speech” of March 1861?

  32. I am struck by the widespread desire to visit the sins of the fathers unto the 3rd and 4th generations. This seems to me to be so un-Christian. We should, of course, learn about the past, but not wallow in it or refer to it as a “monster” that lives on. Longstanding conflicts are never resolved by infinite rehashing of details from the past, but by looking forward and making the future better. Look at Germany and Poland, or Germany and France.

    • Well I THOUGHT the Civil War was in the past, but this thread has completely changed my mind.

      It has also pushed me even deeper into cynicism about the American church. I’ve seen a lot of horrible things from Christians in this country, but defending the Confederacy and bemoaning the “premature” abolition of slavery? I never would have even imagined I’d hear someone argue such a thing in 2011. And it’s not just one loan wolf, there have been quite a few here. It honestly makes me feel sick to my stomach.

      **Please note that I, like almost everyone on this thread, recognize the complexities and brutality of the Civil War, and do not consider it a good war. Nor do I consider the North a shining example of morality and equality. Enough with the straw men!**

      • As a person who has spent most of my life in the north I honestly believe that most of us above the Mason-Dixon line do not even think of the Civil War (except for those of us who have a thing for history ). But when my travels do put me down south then I do see that the war is still on the minds of many – and I am sensitive to it. I would have to say that for the common Joe in the south, they were not fighting for slavery but for the protection of their home state. The cause at a 10,000 foot view was wrong – but it did not make the people fighting the war – on either side, evil. Some of the southern generals were very admirable – especially Robert E. Lee, who was respected by both sides of the conflict. Of course I also thought Longstreet was ahead of his time – but he became a bit of a dirty word for the south after the war.

        Slavery was wrong – but at the same time the south was grappling with how they could remain profitable once all the free labor was gone, since the north had all the industry, and cheap immigration for that matter (all those irish and Germans). That did not justify owning slaves, but it did present a problem to the gentry, those aristocrats who were more fashioned after the English lifestyle than the puritanical universalists in New England or hordes of Catholic Irsh working class in Pittsburgh.

        • Oh and just for the record – New York City at one time thought about ceceding from the union along with the south at the begining of the conflict if you believe what was written in the Brooklyn Eagle at the time…

  33. I’m going to go way off the reservation here (far from the postings original intent) and this will be my last post for this entry. I could talk hours about the subject but Holy Week approaches and endless debate about the War of Northern Aggression doesn’t fit into my Lenten discipline anywhere:) It has been fun though even with those I’ve disagreed with.

    I think George C. Wallace, segregationist firebrand and admitted racist, can be beneficial here. Wallace in his later years apologized for his support of segration and all that part of his past. He would incidently go on (after his school house stand) to win many elections in Alabama where he activily courted the black vote. I think Mr. Wallace realized that for too long Southerners of all races had let themselves be divided and manipulated by outside forces that were more concerned with growing the power of the central government than they were with protecting anyones individual liberties.

    I read recently that the census numbers show that blacks who had left the South in the early 1900’s are now moving back to the South. I say a hearty welcome to our seperated Southern brothers and sisters. We have for too long been used by big-government leviathan interests. We have a shared and tragic past. Blacks and whites in the South are linked together in ways that other people in the rest of our nation are not and frankly can not imagine. We should and can work together for our mutual benefit.

    I know not everyone in the North is evil or a “big-government” person. I get that, but I am so tired of this Yankee Puritan “stick your nose” in everybody’s business attitude that has existed in so much of our nations history. I’m telling you from first hand experience- where things need improving in the South there has been much progress. I’m 33 years old and I have seen tremendous change in attitudes and acts just in my life.

  34. I’m very late to the party here, but I simply have a question, perhaps one CM can address at another time- how many people who read this blog are not white? I wonder just how segregated the discourse about Christianity is, not just the Church. We talk about the coming evangelical collapse, but from what I can see, that is purely a white phenomenon. The evangelical church is still strong in the African American community and growing in the Hispanic one. Perhaps in a generation, the head of the SBC will have a Spanish last name.