U.S. Civil War began 150 years ago today; still goes on in some ways.

April 12, 1861 marks the beginning of the American Civil War. This is the day that the rogue South Carolina government pushed federal forces out of Fort Sumter, South Carolina. This action produced the bloodiest war in American history, where almost 600,000 [about 800,000] people lost their lives. [Better recent statistics suggest 800,000.]

The war lasted almost four years. Rather than give up, the South plodded on–even after Gettysburg. It took General Grant and General Sherman to finally subdue the South, and in some respects, a segment of the South never really surrendered. This is where the famous saying, “The North won the War, but the South won the Peace”, came from. I don’t know who it’s attributed to, but if you go a Bing search (or Google), you might find something out.

The South finally surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, and several days later, a Southern sympathizer from Maryland (which did not leave the Union) assassinated President Lincoln.

The North, overwhelmingly represented by the Republicans of those days (irony, isn’t it?) sought to reconstruct the South. This meant trying to put the roads, bridges, and railroads back together; but also to assure that black people were respected in their civil rights. Actual civil rights equality didn’t really happen, to an arguable extent, until about 1970. Some people argue, not even yet.

An aside for this post, though.

The period of Reconstruction only lasted 12 years (1865 to 1877). What happened was that, in 1876, there was a closely fought election, where the Democrat received the majority of the popular vote, but the Republican almost had the Electoral College. The hang up was that the Republican had won in certain southern states, that were now disputing whether the Republican really won. Shades of 2000.

(Click to enlarge. H/T to the 270 to win site.)

Because the Electoral College couldn’t get the votes lined up for the Republican, Rutherford B. Hayes, Congress set up a commission to determine the winner. The result is something known at the Compromise of 1877. The Compromise gave the White House to Rutherford B. Hayes. What the other side (the South) got was an end to Reconstruction. The end to Reconstruction basically meant that the South could just go back to doing what it damn well pleased, except formally secede from the Union. It was like the whole Civil War was a waste.

This is why I say, half-jokingly, that Ulysses Grant didn’t bring enough hanging rope to Appomattox. Had the North made more of point that it won the Civil War, I don’t think there would have been the next century of backsliding about the results of the Civil War. Americans tend to fight these wars to no effective result. Yes, there is all the mayhem and destruction of war; but then, we allow the losers to try and crawl back and engage in their spite and historical revisionism. For another post, too.

[More later.]

You may have seen this elsewhere, but I think it’s informative. If you look at the presidential election of 1900, the results were like this: the North voted one way, the South the other.

This election was won by William McKinley of Ohio.

Now, take a look at at the controversial election of 2000. Remember, the Republicans are usually associated with “red” in modern presidential elections, so the colors have flipped:

One hundred years later, the voting patterns are consistent. The candidate favored by the North is NOT the candidate favored by the South.

In some elections along the way, in fact, the South kisses both parties off, and goes its own way, more or less. Like 1968:

This was the election where Alabama governor George Wallace ran and came up with a few states, the last third-party candidate to do it.

It’s an old saw that when President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 civil rights act, he said something to someone about “having lost the South for a generation”. The 1964 act really was the culmination of the changes that the U.S. civil war was supposed to bring about in 1865. The people had to wait 100 years for something that was supposed to have already been.

When you consider the regions that are the most against the federal government, all the while taking a net benefit from federal spending as if it were reparations to them, it’s the South. Now, I know there are a lot of good people in the South, and I have read V.O. Key’s Southern Politics in State and Nation, which I think very few people around today have. So I know that “the South” is very much a diverse place with a lot of traditions and viewpoints.

But at heart, the region seems to hum to that sort of contempt-inducing, morally bankrupt and hypocritical, Wallace campaign-supporting-core-state tune. Alabama, Mississippi, etc. The ones who take the federal money year in and year out, and yet b*tch about federal spending and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. Places where the people don’t seem to realize that the world changes, and the nation changes.


2 thoughts on “U.S. Civil War began 150 years ago today; still goes on in some ways.

  1. Why yes, attacking your opponent when they’re down and forcing harsh terms on them sure would have been a great course of action following the Civil War.

    It definitely worked well with the Central Powers during the Treaty of Versailles.

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