The Confederacy, whether we like or not, is a part of history for us in the US. It’s a dark, but very valuable part that shouldn’t be swept away as we try to make sense of it even today. As a major antebellum history buff, I look at the Civil War era for its historical value in learning about what drives political machines to such destruction. It was about much more than slavery. It was about politics. It was about economics. It was about power and arrogance. But one would not know that with the revisionist history taught in the public education system.
On Amazon, there is a free download of the notes from the pseudo Constitutional Convention held just prior to the start of the secessions; at least there used to be a free copy on Amazon. I highly recommend reading it to get an understanding of the politics from that volatile period. My take away from it was that most of the representatives from the North were not interested in war or keeping the South in the Union if push came to shove. They wanted to compromise. But at the same time, they did not want the expansion of slavery, and their best offer was a rollback to the compromise of 1820 with an understanding that there would not be any southward national expansion.
As a parenthetical here, it’s hard to find a history book about the Mexican and American War that puts it plainly why the Mexican conquest was limited to everything north of the border. I dug the one I had out of a library white elephant sale (it’s amazing the treasures one can find at those); and it was a very old book that hadn’t been historically “sanitized”. I gave it to my daughter and haven’t seen it since. But, returning all of the southern conquest to Mexico was about slavery and nothing but.
Continuing on, in the notes from the convention, there are discussions about what the Confederacy would do if they were allowed to just walk away. Implications for Central and South America were discussed. There was some mention about slavery spreading all over the continent, and not limited to those of the African race. Many saw it as their duty to prevent that. And that is the main reason the Civil War happened, at least from my point of view.
Given everything I know about the how and why of the Civil War, I can’t say that I understand why the Confederate battle flag is still flying over SC state house. Maybe somebody can explain it to me, with civility because really, I went most of my life not knowing what the war was about until I looked into it. And I really wonder how much anyone alive today in the South knows about it, besides legend and the sanitized and revised version taught in schools.
I’d say it’s time to put the past where it belongs, turn the page and put the flag in a museum, not on a state house.
[Update 7/12/15] I added a link to the convention notes on Amazon.