Kilroy Was Here
December 23, 2003
The Civil War was Bad
To be contrarian, I'll argue that the Civil War was bad.
1) It is likely that taking a longer term, less aggressive stance toward slavery would have eventually stamped it out (see Canadian independence, British slavery, etc.).
2) The cost in men and material of the Civil War were the most horrific of any of our wars.
3) The Civil War solidified in the minds of many Southerners the righteousness of their unethical ideas. Which led to the Jim Crow south of 1880s through 1960s. Proof? See the current number of statues and memorials of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis in the South compared to the number of statues and memorials to Abraham Lincoln.
A more long term, less aggressive approach towards slavery might have made the South more amenable towards Civil Rights and Federal rule.
4) Many that fought on the side of the North in the Civil War came to disbelieve in the absoluteness of the abolitionist cause. (Much as we might come to regret our own absolutist stance on Iraq and the Middle East.) See "The Metaphysical Club" esp. the chapters on Oliver Wendell Holmes.
5) If we just had allowed the South to go and become their own country, the US might have been better off. Currently, our most benighted areas (in terms of infant mortality, illiteracy, poverty, etc.) tend towards the South. Furthermore, the extremism of our own federal government (in the sense that they are unwilling to compromise) tends to originate with our Southern politicians.
In other words, we should have let the Confederacy go.
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