Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why so bloody? A lesson for today.

Terry's post about President's Day, including some of the less known facts about President Lincoln and the Civil War, has given me a chance to present something about why our nation's Civil War was so bloody, while other nations did not participate in the carnage--most notably Great Britain under the leadership of great men like Wilberforce.

Specifically, let's take a look at a bit from the biography of Robert E. Lee, specifically the circumstances around the inheritance of the Lee-Custis estate (now Arlington National Cemetery), and a less known fact about Lee; while there is evidence he knew slavery was wicked, and while his father-in-law provided for the liberation of his slaves, Lee ended up treating them cruelly in an effort to pay off his father-in-law's debts.

And so we have one big reason why the institution could thrive among even those (Washington, Jefferson, Lee, Lincoln's in-laws) who abhorred it; they were collateral for the debts of the owners. And so, bound by chains of debt and pretended honor, they plunged into an abyss of war.

Thankfully, we're not on the brink of civil war (I hope), but in an age when chains of debt are strangling our economy and transforming our politics, I think it is a lesson we'd do well to heed. It is not for no reason that the Bible says that the borrower is servant (Latin "servus," meaning "slave") to the lender.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

That is a superb point.

pentamom said...

That is fascinating. Thanks for posting it!

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

I had no idea that debt was the reason that men who we would think would abhor slavery engaged in it nonetheless. Now I can see why such a bloody resolution was necessary to free my ancestors. I figured it was financial, which I why I wrote the dreaded post which drew so much heat. You'd think I wasn't Black to read the responses.

I think as Blacks we have just been conditioned to hold Lincoln up as a saint who could do no wrong. I appreciate what he did, but I was just surprised to learn how much I HADN'T been taught in government school.

Anyway, thanks for this little tidbit of information. Clears things up a bit.

Bike Bubba said...

Not "the" reason, but certainly "a" reason. You are 100% correct that we don't teach this part of history very well. (to blacks, whites, whoever)

I am toying with putting a post together called "lack History Month" about how certain things just don't make the classes, and it's not for no reason.