Mike Kueber's Blog

April 17, 2011

African-Americans and the Civil War

In a previous blog, I mentioned a recent survey that found white Americans thought the principal cause of the Civil War was slavery whereas black Americans believed the principal cause was states’ rights.   The survey surprised me, and I was surprised again yesterday when an article in USA Today reported that African-Americans aren’t very interested in celebrating the Civil War.   

I wonder why African-Americans don’t celebrate the Civil War.  Perhaps it could it be that most of the fighting was done by white Americans.  Perhaps it could be that the Union states were so complicit in the institution of slavery that their eventual “seeing the light” was too late to deserve any credit.

From a different perspective, I wonder why non-Southerners don’t celebrate the courage and honor of all of the Union soldiers.  The NY Times recently had an article about the thousands of Union volunteers who, shortly after the firing on Ft. Sumter, clamored to get in on the action.  Although the South won a lot of battles, obviously the Union won its share, too.  Why don’t Americans feel like celebrating those victories?

I’m the wrong guy to ask because I have an emotional attachment to the South.  Although I grew up in the north (North Dakota) and feel that the antebellum South had few redeeming virtues, I believe in States’ Rights and invariably root for the underdog.  If Utah had insisted on leaving the Union because of its belief in polygamy, I would have said, “See ya.”  If California wants to go because it believes in legalized marijuanca, I would say, “Have a good life.”