Over one-hundred and fifty years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished involuntary slavery and servitude in America; slavery is still a very sensitive subject, especially for “African” Americans. Much of this apprehension has its origins in an historical view that Africans and their descendants are somehow less civilized, less intelligent or preposterously less “evolved” from assumed animal ancestors than their white counterparts. Yet, instead of looks of derision or treatment as second class citizens, all Americans owe the men and women who were enslaved in America and their descendants a debt of gratitude equal to the gratitude bestowed upon patriots who fought to secede from England in America’s war for independence.
Unfortunately, too many people today do not understand the actual historical causes of the war that set brother against brother and State against State. It is unfortunate, because that war encompasses many fundamental causes of current American problems and without understanding its true cause we will be unable to repair what went wrong or prevent it from happening in the future.
The case against secession was best made before 1861 by James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln, the 15th and 16th Presidents of the United States. Buchanan made his case during his December 3, 1860 State of the Union address and Lincoln made his case during his March 4, 1861 first inaugural address. Unfortunately for their cases against secession, their speeches were filled with a smorgasbord of logical fallacies and unsupported political rhetoric.
Their speeches also showcase how politicians mislead the public, wittingly or unwittingly, into policies that are destructive to the entire nation. The war that transpired as a result of the general acceptance of their rhetoric was completely unnecessary and avoidable. Its prevention required a President willing to act within constitutional bounds and only resort to war for a just cause and then only as the very last resort to restore justice under God’s Law.
Roughly 150 years later, the war fought on American soil by Americans against Americans, which, including civilian deaths, cost over 700,000 American lives is still a very sensitive subject.
Much changed in American society as a result of the war. America went from being a nation of individual States with a limited government to an amalgamation of States with a near absolute government; from a diverse nation with a variety of local laws to a homogeneous nation with uniform local laws dictated by a central government. From a government that regulated commerce to protect the weak against the strong to one that interferes with commerce to protect the strong against the weak. From a nation that tempered the excesses of big business to protect citizens to one that promotes the excesses of big business that exploit citizens. From a nation that listened to the voices of all constituencies to one that rides roughshod over constituencies based on the unrestrained will of the majority. These changes are made somewhat palatable if Americans believe the war was fought for a good cause and so school children are still taught the war was fought to end American slavery.