noun | rev·o·lu·tion | \ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən\
Simple Definition of revolution
: the usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one
: a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.
: the action of moving around something in a path that is similar to a circle
I was reminded of this conflict recently when I saw yet another article in the press whereby some group of so-called "social justice warriors" is clamoring for the removal of another monument commemorating the Confederacy. I also started watching Ken Burns' award winning mini-series The Civil War. (I too was surprised that I hadn't watched it before. It came out in 1990, I was still State-side at the time, in Nebraska. Not sure how I missed it back then. Anyhoo, I'm watching it now.)
Why do I call it The Second American Revolution? Well, we all know of the first one, the one most Americans refer to simply as The Revolution. That was a violent, and ultimately successful, attempt to end the rule of the British crown and establish a new nation with a new form of government.
South Carolina, triggered by the election of Abraham Lincoln in November of 1860, voted to secede from the Union in December of that year. Other states followed but open hostilities had yet to begin.
Then, on the 12th of April, 1861, Confederate batteries in Charleston, South Carolina, under the direction of P.G.T. Beauregard, opened fire on Fort Sumter. Thus propelling what had been a political squabble over States rights into revolution. The South's stated goal was to break free from the Federal government in Washington, DC and create a new government, form a new nation. That is, by definition, a revolution.
Some have called that time period The Civil War, The War of Northern Aggression, The War of Southern Independence, and of course the ever-popular War Between the States. I'm sure there are other names for the conflict. Being a Northerner I have always heretofore referred to that period from 1861 to 1865 as The Civil War, it's what we were taught in school. Most of those other names were and are used by Southerners. In reality, all of those names have a certain accuracy to them, no matter where you live in these here United States.
|Union soldiers before Marye's Heights, Second Fredericksburg. (Source)|
I know folks who are still passionate advocates of the Confederacy and believe that "the South shall rise again." Personally I think that tearing the Nation apart was a terrible idea back then and is an even worse idea in this day and age. In Europe that was called Balkanization, the process of "breaking up (a region or group) into smaller and often hostile units." (Source)
I understand the urge, I understand why the South wanted to get out from underneath what they saw as the oppressive hand of the Federal government. I also suspect that most of the common folk in the South didn't really give a damn about what the politicians and the wealthy were all upset about. Would a simple farmer in Alabama really give a rat's ass over whether or not slavery would be allowed in a new territory or not?
Well, he might if he was black.
As a child we were taught that The Civil War was fought to "free the slaves." Not in the beginning it wasn't, though that did become the cause célèbre in the latter part of the war. But only in the North. Most Southerners didn't own slaves. Most Northerners had no love for those of African descent but would hoot and holler for freedom for the slaves as long as they didn't move into their neighborhood.
Plus ça change...
Now I don't know how accurate the movie Gangs of New York is (well, it's Hollywood, not Princeton, you decide), but I recall the scene where the Irish are coming off the boat in New York Harbor and being talked into joining up to "fight for freedom." From what I gather, being Irish in the 1860s wasn't much better than being black. Yes, yes, I know, being a slave is far worse. But tell that to a factory worker in the North. A pittance for wages and long hours. (At least you couldn't be sold to another factory. I think.)
At any rate, the real point of today's post is that folks should leave those Confederate monuments alone. They commemorate the men who fought and died for their beliefs. Just as those in the North did. To the men who shouldered a rifled musket in the South the war was about being left alone. Georgia wasn't Michigan and still isn't. There are some things best left at the state and local level.
Don't sell short the men who fought and died for the South. They were, after all, Americans who were standing up for what they perceived as their rights and their freedom. We should honor them for that. At the very least.
Speaking of movies and the Irish. I recall a scene in the film Gods and Generals, the battle of Fredericksburg. A regiment made up of Irishmen wearing Union blue are advancing on Marye's Heights, facing them is an Irish unit in Confederate butternut and gray. Men from a foreign country, coming to this country to escape tyranny are killing each other. For two versions of freedom.
If you can watch this clip with a dry eye, I fear for your soul...
It truly was brother against brother.
Let's not do that again. Shall we?
Oh, and leave the war memorials alone. Let the honored dead rest in peace.
|Confederate dead on Marye's Heights. Second Fredericksburg. (Source)|
I'm not sure what's got me so riled up these days. I reckon I'll get down off my soapbox eventually. Be patient...