Culture

The Corner

1861 and All That

President Trump provided the impetus for an unusual Q&A. A few weeks ago, he made remarks about the Civil War, saying, “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

He further said, “I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’”

Some time ago, when I was in college, I had a course called “The Ordeal of the Union.” It was taught by a distinguished historian of the U.S., and in particular of the American South: J. Mills Thornton III. I have never forgotten many of the things he said. Whole years of my life have gone by about which I remember nothing — thank heaven — but I still remember Professor Thornton’s statements in that course.

And he is my guest on this latest Q&A. We talk about the Civil War: Why did it come? Could it have been prevented? We talk about slavery: Could it have been ended without a war? We talk about Manifest Destiny, and how it was slowed and stopped by the slavery question. We talk about related issues as well.

So, I feel as though I’ve just had a refresher course. And it was as good as the first time around, if not better. Sign up yourself.

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