Apparently, when you spend copious amounts of time lingering by the fire, you are biting coal. So I guess I would say that has been my primary activity of late. I've also spent a lot of time reflecting on the Civil War. It's not an past time I'd recommend, since it has led in my case to headache upon headache, general confusion, and a loss for words. It is rare for me to struggle to form a definite opinion; however, this particular historical dilemma has me completely flummoxed. Here are a few of my unresolved problems: 1. Slavery. It seems to me that the typical Conservative response is that legislation on "domestic institutions" belongs to the State and not Federal legislature. But isn't that unacceptable? Maybe you could allow States to determine the punishment for trafficking in human beings; but surely it is morally defunct to leave the determination of absolute moral standards up to the whims of a legislative body. Moral apathy is not healthy. Nor is it healthy to let people assume that it is up to them to decide good and evil. 2. Secession. Lincoln says that he does not dispute "the right of revolution" but claims a long train of abuses is needed for a right of revolution to exist. Of course he would insist the South had nothing to complain of; it must have looked much more threatening from their point of view down there. This situation becomes unbearably confusing since of course you cannot get a consensus on who is getting oppressed and if they are being oppressed. Lincoln's two more interesting point was that the Union existed prior to the States and that a State has no right to withdraw without asking the permission of the Federal Government and the rest of the States. This does make sense when you consider that secession affects every State in the Union. Seen from the South's point of view, however, this excludes any possibility of escape...of course the North would never let them get away. There is also the inconvenient fact that the debt on the Louisiana Purchase was still being paid off. Quite a few of those Southern States were taking off to become their own country while allowing the Federal Government to continue paying for their land. This seems (to me at least) to be a case of inexcusable fiscal irresponsibility. 3. Geographical Faction. After assessing the situation through the Lincoln Douglas debates, all I could see was George Washington with his head buried in his hands. His farewell address was one long admonition against factions forming on a geographical basis, and then it went and happened anyway. I seem to remember Jefferson delivering a morose line about the "current generation" throwing away with careless ease all that their fathers fought and died to earn. And in the end, the feeling I most often carry away from studying the situation is intense frustration. They could have worked out their differences without the histrionics, hysteria, and ultimate bloodshed. After reading some of those ridiculous speeches (the Cornerstone Speech comes to mind) all I could say was "Oh, come ON!"
From Catherine_Creagan - 24.12.08