Friday, February 24, 2012

Preserving the Civil War

So, to continue here with the provocative questions posed by Ben Stein back in 2003 in the "American Spectator" regarding the Civil War. here's his second question:

"To slightly restate this [Question #1, previous blog] – assuming, as I do, that slavery was a moral evil of horrendous proportions – could it not have been allowed to wither away?

Slavery was horrific, but so are the deaths of 600,000 plus men and the maiming of millions. Does the ultimate responsibility lie with the abolitionists, the secessionists or with both? And how could any of them live with themselves ever after, when they saw the rivers, oceans of blood?"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did the Civil War have to be fought?

While revamping my site,, I came upon an article yesterday as I dug through a couple of my many Civil War file boxes. I really need to organize, condense and purge, but that’s hard to do. But this three-pager, “Preserving the Civil War” I plan to keep, and I want to share it here. It was written by Benjamin J. Stein back in October 2003 in “The American Spectator”.

First, Ben suggests the reader check out Bruce Catton’s works, read John Brown’s Body and the sad (his word) Lee’s Lieutenant (I’ve started reading it), and then he poses ten thought-provoking (my words) questions about the war, the political climate back then, that era. He doesn’t come up with any answers, and that’s OK with me. I’ve read enough CW books to have an idea about how to answer these questions, and I’m sure you have as well.

I think it’s a good intellectual exercise to consider them, these questions. So, for the next few Blogs I plan to feature the questions that Ben writes about. I’m starting here with, Da-da!, question one:

1. Did the Civil War have to be fought?

The Northern states lost about 400,000 men. Two hundred thousand Southerners died – roughly one in nine Southern white males died. Each was a tragedy for his family and friends, and all died in agony. Did this have to happen? Did this have to happen? Was there not some way it could have been avoided? Was there a way of buying up the slaves? After all, abhorrent as it sounds and is, they were considered property. Could they have been emancipated by money rather than blood? What could have been done had the powers that be on both sides known how many would die? By Antietam or Shiloh, surely Lincoln knew it was going to be long and bloody. So did Jefferson Davis. Couldn’t something have been worked out to end the killing?

I know, this question has been asked many times and in lots of ways. It could be part of a History mid-term. Don’t worry, the other nine go different directions.

Stay tuned….