New View On An Old Problem

Posted By on July 24, 2011

I was raised in the 60’s and 70’s in what 150 years ago was called a border state. Through the years of my education I was taught that Slavery was the one and only cause of the Civil War. I learned of the moral imperative of the Underground Railroad, Abolitionists and the newly established Republican Party. There were the stories of the Lincoln-Stevens Debates, “a house divided against itself,” Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, the Emancipation Proclamation, “right makes might” and on and on and on. Over the years since I continued to be influenced by the moral correctness of the Union position, so much so that when I was transferred to the South my responses continued to maintain the “old” line. Transferring deeper into the South internally I chafed, cringed, and even mocked the intellectual inferiority of the “States rights” arguments.

As I began to delve deeper and deeper into the principles and concepts of the American Revolution and Constitution, and read more and more source documents my understanding persisted to be influenced by my early lessons, and even a few in subsequent years. With sarcasm and a joking frivolity I would refer to the Civil War in the manner of the Southern States, calling it “The War of Northern Aggression,” even “The Most Recent Unpleasantness.”

One of the things I had prided in, while conducting other historic research, was my ability to look at as many sides of a particular recorded even with an open mind. I would boast of not being afraid to read sources who opposed my particular position just to glean a grain of truth from them. Yet, when I came to the most traumatic event in American history, my mind was closed, biased, prejudiced, even incapable of perceiving a differing point of view than the one I held so tightly.

Then a few months ago cracks began to develop in my pet position regarding the Civil War and its causes leading up to it. I began reading documents which presented views exposing concepts and historic facts never I had never seen before. Research into Nullification brought to light evidence carefully neglected by Northern influenced historians. Through the cracks the light began to shine, revealing further cracks and bringing a new understanding.

The new understanding has begun to grow and mature, and now I’m reading other historic documents which are causing the cracks to widen and spread. Now I’m reminded of a concept born out when two people divorce. Through the experiences of my mother and father, and my ex-wife and myself I am well aware that in every civil dispute there are always at least three sides, if not seven. Let me see, there is his side, her side, his family’s side, her family’s side, his friends’ side, her friends’ side and finally the truth.  Each side contains some modicum of the truth, but all – save the last – are tainted by the passions, emotions and understandings of those who hold them. Similarly the positions held by the North and South, the truth lies somewhere in the middle hidden from view, unseen by the passions left behind by that unpleasant, horrible war.

Stayed tuned in the coming weeks and months as this new understanding takes shape and becomes more concrete in my understanding. We will investigate this together.

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