We all have biases and blind spots. Historians and professors alike. You've already seen my penchant for pirates and dinosaurs in previous lectures, but here is another glaring one:
The American Civil War
The characters seem larger than life, the battles epic, the struggles grandiose and almost Shakespearean. I seem almost to glorify the entire event as some 19th-century Greek tragedy. Does it have the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster: political intrigue? Check. Action and adventure? Check. A Robust cast of Characters? Check. Sex, drugs, and violence? Check. You can almost imagine the movie poster right now, glorifying how high the stakes are: the fate of the free world hangs in the balance.
War as a notion should never be lauded. But as you have most likely gathered, the truth is muddier and murkier than a film. The American Civil War is just that: a war. Gallons upon gallons of blood were spilled all over our terrain, vultures picked the bones of our fellow citizens, and mothers and wives mourned the senseless deaths of their sons and husbands. As the dust settled, over half a million Americans were dead.
Yet I can't seem to help myself regardless. Being so far removed from the bloodshed and its ramifications, I can't help but feel we do a disservice to the past when we run events through a disenfranchised antiseptic scope. In a scene from the 1935 classic horror film Bride of Frankenstein, the character Dr. Pretorius toasts Dr. Frankenstein, "To a new world of gods and monsters!"
And that is what the Civil War is to me. Gods and monsters.
2:59 The Caning of Charles Sumner
11:09 Slavery and the Civil War
16:28 The American Civil War
Caning of Charles Sumner
American Civil War
American Civil War Explained
Civil War, 1861-1865
Causes of the war
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