In The Last Day of Forever, Ethan is a slaveholder, albeit by proxy; his father was the actual owner. He inherited them at Morgan’s death and promptly freed them. His underlying and unacknowledged (at the time) motive was his dislike for the “peculiar institution,” but his excuse was to save Catahoula Plantation through the coming war.
In An Eternity of Four Years, he began the war owning another slave he won in a duel, Blue, and he promptly freed him as well. But he discovered he could not distance himself from the institution of slavery with the simple stroke of a pen. He was sucked into the war on the side of the South (it was that or hang), but Blue stayed with Ethan for reasons of his own, remaining a constant reminder of the institution throughout the war.
While Ethan began the war somewhat reluctantly, he did believe he was defending hearth and home from the Yankee “host” about to invade his country and state. This was a common view of many southern soldiers, most of whom were not even slave owners. As the war dragged on, it became obvious to Ethan the war was about far more than defending his home, and he was on the wrong side of history. But the oath he took and “honor” compelled him to fight on even though his heart was not in it.
What was the war all about? If you answer the North fought to free the slaves, you would be only partially right. If you answer the South fought to keep the institution of slavery, you would be only partially right.
Initially, the North fought to save the Union, and though Lincoln wanted to free the slaves, he knew northerners would abandon the cause if he made the war about slavery. And they did once he announced his Emancipation Proclamation. Many northerners refused to join the fight after that.
The war was really about money. Isn’t it always? For the South to leave the Union, it would mean a terrific loss of tax revenues for the United States. For the South, the slaves represented a huge financial investment. It was their belief that only the black man was capable of laboring under the hot conditions found in the South. Remove that source of labor, and the southern economy would collapse.
But sooner or later, slavery had to end, or the Constitution of the United States and everything standing behind it was a farce. Someone once said of slavery, the South had a tiger by the tail; it could neither hold on forever nor let it go, lest the tiger consume it. The Civil War forced that issue, and the tiger is still feasting on the South.
Now, some 150 years after the war, we are embarking on the rewriting of history, using the excuse of political correctness as our guiding light. That, my friends, is a very slippery slope. Already, we have seen calls to ban all merchandise depicting the Confederate battle flag (AKA the Southern Cross, not the Stars and Bars), while at the same time, Nazi symbol merchandise is still available and happily sold by some of those hypocrites banning the Confederate flag merchandise. There have been calls to cease distribution of movies like Gone With The Wind—archive it forever, take down statues of Confederate officers and politicians, rename streets named for Confederates, and even rename military posts. As if these actions will change anything! They will not. The divisiveness will only get worse. Will we see book burnings next? A crystal night where southern businesses will be trashed? Anyone whose ancestors were slave owners will face persecution?
We are NOT a racist country, but we are rapidly becoming one. I was born and raised in the South, and I am here to tell you, in my lifetime, I have seen the racial attitudes of southerners dramatically change for the better. But in the last six or seven years, all that progress has been reversed. Ironically, it is being driven by those who claim, falsely, they are not racists.
God help us!
Where does it end? Short answer: It does not. The New American Taliban, focused on symbols rather than substance, will not stop until everything they view as offensive is destroyed—exactly like what we see the Taliban and Isis doing in the Middle East today—no difference!
I leave you with these comments by General U.S. Grant from his memoirs of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Consider that they were spoken by the victor after four years of a brutal war.
“I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”
America’s slide down this slippery slope will not end well, and what is at the bottom is a monster none of us want to even think about.
Wake up, America!