Friday, April 9, 2010

End Of Civil War

Well folks, today marks the 145th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. On this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee signed surrender papers to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House. One week later, President Lincoln was shot.

The Republican Party, once the proud party of Lincoln, today basically a Southern regional political party, might want to take note of these facts as they gather in New Orleans for the Southern Leadership Conference. This history remains relevant today, perhaps more so than ever.

Michael Tomasky takes note of this historic milestone and draws some comparisons to our modern political climate:
I don't want to be hyperbolic and say we're in another civil war. But by the same token I don't want to diminish what's happening in this country. As I've noted, it was the concept of nullification that started the process that led to the civil war. You have some people today talking about nullification of health care. They probably have no idea the fire they're playing with, and if they knew they wouldn't care. If it can help make Democrats lose elections, it's fair game.

Last December Mr. Beale and I took in the Lincoln And New York exhibit at the New York Historical Society. I admit my knowledge of the Civil War is spotty; I grew up in California so the focus of high school history class was on the Gold Rush, westward expansion, the Mexican-American War. Stuff that happened in our backyard, so to speak. I went to elementary school in New Jersey, where we focused primarily on the Revolutionary War in school -- again, stuff that happened nearby. So I found this exhibit especially interesting and educational.

More than anything I was struck by comparisons to our modern era. Lincoln didn't enjoy much support in New York prior to the Civil War; in particular the monied (i.e. “corporate”) interests objected to his policies toward the South, because that is where their markets were. They were looking out purely for their own economic self-interest, just like today. Meanwhile, we had the news media fanning the sectarian flames, also just like today. Something to consider.

It ended with Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Some interesting facts about that which I did not know:

Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, April 14, and in the midst of Passover. He died the next day, which had been scheduled as a national day of prayer marking the end of the Civil War. These circumstances contributed to the transfiguration of his death into an act of Providence.

Wow. Imagine if they had the internet back then. There would be all sorts of wild conspiracy theories about the Anti-Christ and whatnot.

Amazing how little has changed in 145 years.

Something to consider, folks.