The founding fathers -- Hamilton,Madison,Jefferson, et al -- knew that the question of slavery must ultimately be resolved for the republic to endure.But they also knew they couldn't resolve the question of slavery without destroying the fledgling union they had sacrificed so much to create. At enormous cost to the nation -- black and white, slave and free -- they let it fester until the nation could no longer endure half-slave and half-free.
But the nation in 1860 was no nearer to a resolution of the question of slavery that both sides could accept within the framework of the union than it was in 1789.Thus those in the South determined to resolve the issue by withdrawing from the union. Those in the North maintained the union to be indissoluable.Only the force of arms could resolve the issue now.The North prevailed and the union was preserved.
Though I am a Southerner to my bone marrow, I believe that it is best that the North prevailed. But I cannot deny my heritage because in the past my ancestors were on the wrong side of history. Is an Englishman more or less of an Englishman because his ancestors fought for the king or for the Parliament in the English Civil War? Does he celebrate the deeds of his ancestors less because of the side they chose?
Our Civil War is the most dramatic and traumatic occurrence in our history. Its scale and impact outweigh even the Revolution. We cannot ignore our history. And if we cannot ignore it, neither can we view it from only one perspective. Let the Confederates, even the unreconstructed ones, celebrate this pivotal time and the part that their ancestors played then. History is not a morality play. It is far more dense, and difficult, and human. And more wondrous.