“The only thing we learn from history, is that we learn nothing from history.”
– Friedrich Hegel
As a northerner, I was always lead to believe that the civil war was dominantly over the issue of slavery. It was not until my recent ventures to the South where I made several close friends that I discovered there’s more to the story.
They see it as a states rights versus the control of a powerful federal government. It was not until several years after the war began, when the North was starting to lose public support, that Lincoln really pushed the issue of slavery by signing the Emancipation Proclamation to reignite their support for the war.
Even to this day, many people in the South despise President Lincoln on the claim that he had no right to force the states to change the policies they were admitted under.
If the South had won, the United States could have been divided into two countries, one supporting large government, and the other being governed mostly by small state based governments. Slavery would have soon gone away on its own, like it did in most of the world, as machines quickly replaced human labor.
The treatment of the slaves can be compared to the “disposable” sweatshop laborers in the North, whose employers had nothing invested in their wellbeing, whereas slave owners had a large investment into the health of their slaves.
Another possibility, the United States could have then been reunited as 50 mostly independent states, each experimenting in a friendly competition to see who could offer the best place to live, work, own a business, or invent means to improve one’s daily life. Instead of having 1 massive federal government, 1 healthcare plan, 1 retirement plan, 1 education system, etc…(unless you’re in the ruling elite class, of course).
There is still much debate over wether the states had the right to secede from the United States or not. If they did then it would only follow that President Lincoln was wrong in challenging them, and causing the battle between brothers where both sides prayed to the same God asking for victory for their just cause. Although seemingly for good, President Lincoln’s actions greatly stretched the amount of Federal Power, which has helped create the situation we face today of a tyrannical government.
If people had not used such aggressive tactics to express their opposition, an entire war could have been avoided. Don’t get me wrong, Lincoln was a great and inspiring president. The question that remains however, is could the problems we now face today have been avoided or solved if the states had been allowed to govern themselves peacefully?
And even more daunting, now under similar circumstances with the Federal Government using extremely aggressive tactics, are we on the verge of a second senseless civil war?
“Study the past. What is past is prologue.”
– Archive statues in Washington D.C.