As many of you know, upon the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, numerous citizens in the Southern States decided to commit treason in defense of slavery rather than abide by the democratic process. The citizens purported to have the Southern States secede – but large numbers of individuals in the Southern States (notably black people) were not consulted about whether those Southern states should remain part of the United States.
In any event, despite their boastful assertions about the relative martial prowess as between northerners and southerners, the Southern rebels were to learn that war wasn’t a game but is, rather, a contest of raw power, and they had less of it. Lincoln kept the country together, Sherman made the traitors howl, and Grant ground them down. Lots of Americans died in the process. But, in the end, Hamilton won.
On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.
Dressed in an immaculate uniform, Lee waited for Grant to arrive. Grant, whose headache had ended when he received Lee’s note, arrived at the courthouse in a mud-spattered uniform—a government-issue sack coat with trousers tucked into muddy boots, no sidearms, and with only his tarnished shoulder straps showing his rank.
Grant’s terms were generous. Lee’s men would not be prosecuted for treason. The southern soldiers kept their horses and the officers kept their sidearms.
I write harshly about the Southerners on this blog – to some degree because they were horribly wrong. But, a great deal of history features all nature of atrocity and, yet, I’m able to write about it without venom. What gets me going on this subject is the present day revisionism where apologists try to say that what the Southerners were doing wasn’t treason and/or that their actions were not about slavery. The latter is especially galling in light of the fact that the articles of secession written at the time were very explicit about slavery being the driving impulse. The U.S. still suffers from pathologies created by the South’s “peculiar institution.” And slapping a bandage over a festering wound is not going to do any long term good.
Today, people who love the U.S. and who recognize slavery as abominable — from both North and South — should be thankful that the North won and the South lost.