ECW Continues to Emerge

Weave in, My Hardy Life

by Walt Whitman

 Weave in, weave in, my hardy life,

Weave yet a soldier strong and full for great campaigns to come,

Weave in red blood, weave sinews in like ropes, the senses, sight weave in,

Weave lasting sure, weave day and night the weft, the warp,

incessant weave, tire not,

(We know not what the use O life, nor know the aim, the end, nor

really aught we know,

But know the work, the need goes on and shall go on, the death-

envelop’d march of peace as

well as war goes on,)

For great campaigns of peace the same the wiry threads to weave,

We know not why or what, yet weave, forever weave.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

As the sesquicentennial for the American Civil War draws to a close, Emerging Civil War the blog must ask itself a serious question: what now? How should we go about making the most pivotal event in American history as involving as it has been during its 150th anniversary?

Afghanistan War Amputee

Afghanistan War Amputee

Civil War Amputee

Civil War Amputee

The people who write and publish here have been mulling this over a lot lately, including myself. Just because I spend a significant part of my day, every day, in the 1860s does not mean that everyone else in the world does as well. . . except . . . they (we) really do, without even realizing it.

 

Atlanta After a hurricane

Atlanta After a hurricane

Atlanta After Sherman

Atlanta After Sherman

The things over which the War was fought remain the primary issues in today’s headlines. America is still trying to find that ever-changing sweet spot of balance among the branches of government. America debates states’ rights all the time, whether it is health care, disaster relief, or Common Core education. America still does not know how to react to her recurrent waves of immigrants. And no–America had never truly come to grips with slavery and civil rights. Not a day goes by that we do not ask ourselves the same questions asked in the middle of the nineteenth century.

New York Draft Riots

New York Draft Riots

Police in Ferguson

Police in Ferguson

When I read the Whitman poem above, I just shook my head. If ever there was a poet for the ages, and for America, it has to be Whitman. America’s service members pass each other, one group marching toward the possibility of yet another war in a far-off place, the other group straggling back home, hurt and scared and unsure of just what sort of future is to be theirs as they return from war.

(We know not what the use O life, nor know the aim, the end, nor

really aught we know,

?But know the work, the need goes on and shall go on, the death-

envelop’d march of peace as?

well as war goes on,)

Will the Civil War become irrelevant in the spring of 2015? Not if ECW can help it!

About Meg Groeling

CW Historian
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4 Responses to ECW Continues to Emerge

  1. David Corbett says:

    Interesting post however the popularity of religion in Whitman’s time defies his question.

  2. eshonk says:

    No, the War for Southern Independence will never be irrelevant to our collective American History. We are still struggling to understand the founding principle of “consent of the governed,” and how that principle could have been denied to Southerners, who chose to exercise said principle via seceding from the malfunctioning Union, in 1860-61. We are still trying to understand how deep the issue of racism permeated the North, following the end of the war, and how thousands of freedmen and women returned to their former homes in the South, when their attempts to establish a life for themselves in the North, was repulsed on so many levels. We are still suffering from the muddled attempts, on the part of Northerners, to write the history of the war and its causes, based on pro-Union viewpoints, thus failing to account for the pro-Confederate stance re: the war. Until we are capable of accepting the fact that millions of Americans believed that the country, established by their Revolutionary ancestors, was no longer functioning as envisioned by that generation, and that they had the God-given right to change their government, we will never understand the founding of the Confederate States of America, by Americans. We must accept the fact that the War for Southern Independence was just that…a war to gain independence, and not a “civil war,” since the war involved two countries, and was not simply a war between two factions fighting over the same government. We must also understand that Southerners had no plan to destroy the United States’ government, but wanted to re-establish a limited constitutional government, that they believed was the vision of the Founding Fathers. A difference in the interpretation of the federal Constitution, between Northerners and Southerners, was the real cause for all the divisive issues between the North and the South i.e. protective tariffs, internal improvements in the Northwest Territory, a national banking system, and of course slavery, to name a few. With the failure to reach a compromise on all of these issues, polarization became the reality, and no one saw any way to correct the situation…as one country. Thus, Southerners chose to exercise their God-given right to self-determination, and seceded from the Union. What else could they have done, in light of the fact that even the requisites of the federal Constitution were not adhered to by all the Northern States? And continuing to use the issue of slavery as the one and only cause for the war, is not going to make it any easier to understand why Southerners were willing to die for their independence, rather than continue to subjugate themselves to a government that no longer represented the needs of all the citizens of that government. A good place to start the discussion re: the war’s role in contemporary America, would be to ask ourselves how we lost our original “union by choice,” and now live within a “union by force.” What happened to the “Great Experiment” in self-government?

  3. Meg Thompson says:

    Did I forget to mention different points of view?

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