23 April 2012

On the Civil War as we Begin

Disclaimer: I just created a new category for this post entitled, "Stuff I don't Usually Write."
Today I read a story about a very creative slave who escaped the south by shipping himself in a box (with air holes) to the abolitionist society in Philadelphia. Isn't that a terrific story? I would love to have met that man. My kids agree.

We also looked at a piece of cotton from a plantation in Mississippi thanks to my friend, Andrea, who just randomly gave it to me a week ago thinking I might like to have it since I homeschool. We read about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin and how this great invention increased the tensions between the north and south. Lukas copied a quote that I love so much that it's going to spend some time on our bulletin board.

"Never do a wrong thing to make a friend of keep one."

Do you know who said such a thing? Lukas was surprised, and it inspired a nice conversation between us about how things aren't always as they seem, and people aren't always the way society makes you think they are. I intend to surprise my kids a few more times as we study this great war between the states. 

Have you figured it out yet? Robert E. Lee. You know, the guy that no one is supposed to like because he fought for the south? As I said to my kids today, the Civil War wasn't as cut and dry, or maybe I should say, black and white, as our history books like us to believe it was. We'll never know how much painstaking thought and prayer went into Lee's decision to fight for the south, but, if you choose to read about him, you will find that he was a many faceted man, and you may even come to like him. I  kind of do.

I love that my children get to learn truth in my house. I love that they get to hear all of the sides of the story so that they can decide for themselves what they believe. The Civil War wasn't just about slavery. It was so much more, and I often wonder who really won. Enslaved men were freed. They definitely won, and we are all better for it. Because of that I can't say that the Civil War wasn't worth some losses, but the losses which we are still battling against in this country because of the Civil War are many, and I think it is safe to say that the majority of Americans have no idea. 

Once a state loses its right to govern itself in any small way, the federal government slowly takes over. All of the states of this great country lost in the Civil War. We lost men. We lost dignity. We lost power. We lost freedom, and those who gained freedom for the first time would never be as free as the free people were before the war. 

Abolition. States rights. Cotton. All major players in the Civil War. I'm so grateful that all men are free in this country, but I can't look back at what we lost as a country, as individual states, and not realize that no one won that war. If only there had been a more civil way to reach the end result of abolishing slavery. 

Civil War.

The greatest oxymoron ever to crush our country.

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