The Red vs The Blue
By Jack Kinsella
One hundred and fifty years ago, the United States was nearly torn asunder by civil war over two issues; states’ rights and the question of slavery.
Slavery was primarily geographic; the industrial North had long since abolished it but to the massive plantations of agricultural South, it was an economic necessity.
History and modern sensibilities demand that the emphasis be placed on the issue of slavery because of its incredible inhumanity. It renders the Union in a heroic light and feeds on the story of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave.
By emphasizing the slavery aspect, we both recognize and rehabilitate one of the most evil chapters in our history. It is only natural, but one of the unintended consequences is that we missed the lesson history was trying to teach us.
And as the old philosopher said, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”
Slavery was the main issue as far as the North was concerned. But from the perspective of the majority of the rebels of the Old South, it was a peripheral issue. They didn’t secede from the Union just so they could keep slaves.
They grew up with the institution, and were almost universally white racist supremacists, but very few of the Confederate soldiers who died on the battlefields of the Civil War owned slaves or ever expected to.
Less than five percent of the six million Southerners were slave holders and three quarters of all slaves were held by seven percent of all slaveholders.
Most Confederate rebels didn’t shed their blood for the principle that men could continue to own other men. Ironically, they fought and died for the principle of freedom as they saw it.
The Union was fighting to free the slaves. The non-slaveholding Confederacy was fighting to be free of what they saw as Northern tyranny.
Understand that I am not presenting an apologetic for slavery or defending the Confederacy. Look past the historical passion of the slavery issue for just a moment and look instead at the raw politics.
After the War of 1812, a wave of American nationalism resulted in a program of rapid economic modernization including protective trade tariffs, internal improvements at federal expense and a national banking system.
The tax structure heavily favored the industrial north where the majority of the iron, coal and water power was located. The agricultural south saw it as an unlawful redistribution of wealth. In 1828 South Carolina declared the federal tariff null and void.
Congress re-imposed it in 1832 and South Carolina’s legislature nullified it again.
President Andrew Jackson called it an act of treason and took steps to enlarge the federal troop presence and strengthen existing military installations within the state.
By the 1850’s Southern slaveholders and non-slaveholders alike felt increasingly encircled psychologically and politically in the national political arena because of the rise of ‘free soilism’ and abolitionism in the Northern states.
Ultimately, slavery became the central focus because it was so polarizing, but what brought the nation to the brink of dissolution was the rapid extension of mass democracy in the North.
Many Southern states held constitutional conventions in 1851 to consider the questions of nullification and secession. With the exception of South Carolina, whose convention election did not even offer the option of “no secession” but rather “no secession without the collaboration of other states,” the Southern conventions were dominated by Unionists who voted down articles of secession.
An abundance of new parties emerged 1854-56, including the Republicans, People’s party men, Anti-Nebraskans, Fusionists, Know-Nothings, Know-Somethings (anti-slavery nativists), Maine Lawites, Temperance men, Rum Democrats, Silver Gray Whigs, Hindus, Hard Shell Democrats, Soft Shells, Half Shells and Adopted Citizens.
By 1858, they were mostly gone, and politics divided four ways. Republicans controlled most Northern states with a strong Democratic minority. The Democrats were split North and South and fielded two tickets in 1860. Southern non-Democrats tried different coalitions; most supported the Constitutional Union party in 1860.
Here is the summarized situation as it existed in 1860 as the nation teetered on the brink of civil war.
The Republicans controlled the North. The Democrats controlled the South. The federal government was in Republican hands and was pushing an agenda for expanding federal power that the Democrats in the South saw as an unconstitutional intrusion on the rights of individual states as guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment.
Reverse the political parties, replace ‘slavery’ with ‘racism’ and the issues and the arguments haven’t changed much. Instead of the Blue vs. the Gray, it’s the Blue vs. the Red.
And instead of 1856, it’s 2010.
I Googled the words, Second American Civil War and got 9,420,000 ‘hits’. But that is something of a ‘false’ return, since it returned every document in Google’s database that contained those four words anywhere in the document.
I refined the search by enclosing it in quotation marks, which narrowed the search only to documents that contained all four search terms in that specific order, “Second American Civil War.”
Instead of getting returns on every document referencing the American Civil War, I only got hits on documents discussing a second American civil war. And there were still 103,000 ‘hits’ but all of them were discussing the probability of a future conflict.
Why is that important? While I tend to agree more with Mark Twain’s assessment that ‘history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes’ in principle, in this particular instance, we failed to learn the lesson from history and we do seem doomed to repeat it.
I read a column this morning by Peggy Noonan, the WSJ’s most respected political columnist, in which she resurrected part of a New Year’s Day column she’d written in 1994.
“At home certain trends—crime, cultural tension, some cultural Balkanization—will, we fear, continue; some will worsen. In my darker moments I have a bad hunch. The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the strangeness and anomie of our popular culture, the increase in walled communities…the rising radicalism of the politically correct…the increased demand of all levels of government for the money of the people, the spotty success with which we are communicating to the young America’s reason for being and founding beliefs, the growth of cities where English is becoming the second language…these things may well come together at some point in our lifetimes and produce something painful indeed. I can imagine, for instance, in the year 2020 or so, a movement in some states to break away from the union. Which would bring about, of course, a drama of Lincolnian darkness…You will know that things have reached a bad pass when Newsweek and Time, if they still exist 15 years from now, do cover stories on a surprising, and disturbing trend: aging baby boomers leaving America, taking what savings they have to live the rest of their lives in places like Africa and Ireland.”
I thought of this again the other day when Drudge headlined increasing lines in London for Americans trading in their passports over tax issues, and the sale of Newsweek for $1.”
Secular futurist Gerald Celente’s quarterly “MegaTrends” newsletter is forecasting a “Second American Revolution” by 2012. His forecast could be headlined; Breaking News from 1854:
“By 2012, less ideologically driven parties appealing to a wider base than anti-tax and anti-big government partisans will form.”
Both history and secular futurism portend dark days ahead for America. Which comports exactly with the scenario outlined by Bible prophecy during the last days.
It is hard to find a bright spot among the clouds, but it is there nonetheless. What we are witnessing, from our perspective, is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. But from the perspective of the Bible, it is the fulfillment of a Promise.
For the Church it is further confirmation that God is not dead, but is instead intimately and personally involved in the affairs of men, according to His purpose and in keeping with His promise.
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you Comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)
The promise of the Comforter is therefore time-sensitive. Jesus said the Comforter would abide with me and dwelleth with and in believers “forever” and He promised He would never leave me Comfortless, or without that indwelling Presence, without coming for me, first.
The Apostle Paul describes His coming for me this way:
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)
As we witness the dissolution of our society and face the uncertainty of our economic and political future, it helps to see it for what it is – the vindication of our faith and the soon-culmination of the Blessed Hope.
“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:18)
It only looks scary until you remember how the story ends.
Note: Originally Published in August 2010. However, fast forward to today in 2020 with the topics of riots, looting, racism, and the police I thought it was a timely article for today when I came across it.