Richard Bogartz: Conjecture: The U. S. Civil War Never Ended
Because I frequently, semi-humorously, assert that Spanish-speaking invaders coming across southwestern U. S. borders are merely a continuation of the war between England and Spain — the Spanish finally beginning to gain the upper hand — there will be those who doubt my seriousness in asserting that the Civil War never ended. After all, didn’t we all learn about the end in high school, that bastion of truth. I hope that a look at the facts will demonstrate otherwise.
First, note the contradictions on the termination date. Some say it ended on April 9, 1965 with the battle of Appomattox Courthouse. Others say the last battle of the American Civil War was the Battle of Palmito Ranch in Texas on May 12 and 13. Still others state that the last significant Confederate active force to surrender was the Confederate allied Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie and his Indian soldiers on June 23, and that the last Confederate surrender occurred on Nov. 6, 1865, or that President Andrew Johnson declared the end of the war on Aug. 20, 1866. Surely if the war had ended there would be clarity as to when. One must conclude there was no end.
The war is still being fought, admittedly with a hiatus in large military battles. What additional evidence is there?
Recall some Civil War causes: the one-crop cotton economy and the continuing economic suppression (enslavement, then) of imported and locally grown dark-complected people; the claims by the enslavers for states rights over federal rights; and the Northern abolition movement. Now fast-forward about 90 years to 1948, around 65 years ago.
The States’ Rights Democratic Party, the Dixiecrats, put forward their political platform: “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.”
Which states voted for the Dixiecrat candidate, J. Strom Thurmond? Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. Do these names sound familiar?
Is there any doubt that the most recent blow struck in the ongoing Civil War was the delay and the stinginess in providing federal relief funds for the areas of the Northeast (the Abolitionist homeland) devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
The war still goes on; only the labels have changed. It is still about economics and the desire to keep people of color exploitable. Is there any doubt that the denial of reproductive choice, which primarily affects the poor, is about restocking an underclass population?
The impulse to secede is still with us. In November Ron Paul, shortly after President Obama was reelected, rabble-roused that “Secession is a deeply American principle. This country was born through secession. Some felt it was treasonous to secede from England, but those ‘traitors’ became our country’s greatest patriots. … There is nothing treasonous or unpatriotic about wanting a federal government that is more responsive to the people it represents.”
Petitions for secession began to flow, with a petition in Texas getting more than 125,000 signatures. States’ rights is still with us as is the concern for complexions. And what is the argument that we hear from assault gun advocates as to why they need these weapons? It is so they can repel a federal government (Union?) takeover of their lives. I imagine them mentally mumbling about Ruby Ridge, Waco and Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing, perhaps taking heart from the revolution in Syria.
Yes, of course they are the puppets of the gun manufacturers and their employees, the NRA leadership. Of course they do not grasp their own victimization. But that is always the way with the foot soldiers.
Richard S. Bogartz is a pyschology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.