Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Donald Trump thinks he could have done a deal to prevent the Civil War

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I think Donald Trump has an arguable point when he said had Jackson been a generation younger perhaps he'd have found a way of avoiding the Civil War, which caused 700,000 deaths. Here, on the BBC site, three historians take issue with him. How academics hate the President.

One of them, Jim Grossman, says:
He starts from the wrong premise - the premise that the Civil War should somehow have been avoided, and that someone more skilled on the White House could have avoided it. If one sees the Civil War as a war of liberation, which is what it was, then it shouldn't have been avoided. Had you compromised out the differences between the government and the confederacy, or between anti-slavery forces and southern slaveholders, the victims would have been the enslaved people of the south.
Historians usually say the war was fought on the issue of preserving the Union, not abolishing slavery, but as Paul Gottfried said in The Managerial President
All the major conflicts into which our leaders thrust us from the Civil War on, with the possible exception of Vietnam, are seen as morally desirable actions. … The U.S. is a land of morally driven, energetic presidents who have made us into the envy and dread of the world.
Now, I hope, they make exceptions for Iraq and Afghanistan.

For such historians Lincoln is their great hero.  This is the thinking that led to George W. Bush’s presidency. It led even to President Trump's popularity rising among opinion formers after he bombed Syria and killed several innocent children, to punish the Syrian army for killing a number of innocent children.

As I said in this blog in February:

The worst president was Lincoln. If you doubt that, try this mental exercise.
Suppose Scotland voted to leave the UK and Theresa May waged a war for four years to keep them in, in which hundreds of thousands died, before she subjugated the Scots. 
Wouldn't you think her a cruel warmonger? But mutatis mutandis that is what Lincoln did. Yet even Pope Francis, who like all popes hates war, recently sang his praises.


1 comment:

  1. You folks just haven't taken in to account the milieu of 19th century america and in what regard the Union was held by it's citizens. I don't think you fully understand the cultural racism that was part and parcel of the country at that time (and for long after).

    Lincoln wrote many times pre civil war of his belief that slavery was immoral. He was a long time Whig and anti slavery but not an abolitionist. He also said the federal govt had no legal right to interfere with the states and territories. Lincoln looked for ways to eliminate slavery with gradual emancipation. Take a look at what he tried to do with Delaware.

    For Lincoln and the vast majority of Northerners the Union was supreme. The emancipation proclamation was primarily a war measure. The change to emancipation was sudden and organic. Look at Lincoln's earlier responses to Butler, Hunter and Fremonts orders for emancipation in 1861.

    I enjoy historical discussions but have nothing but contempt for arm chair generals. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. I laugh at Euro's who think the civil war was a waste. The same euro's who relied on the US for their existence in WW1, WW2 and post WW2 europe.

    Also, like it or not, agree or not. The USA had to pay that price in blood for it's slavery. God's will be done. And, the simplest soldier in the south and their greatest Lee agreed to abide by the outcome.

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