Sunday, November 27, 2011

Required Reading: "Restoration of the Union"

The Fredericksburg Free Lance Star has a must read op-ed by Gary W. Gallagher, the John L. Nau III professor of history at the University of Virginia, entitled "Restoration of the Union."
As we enter the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the importance of the Union Cause within a mid-19th-century context has disappeared almost completely from popular understanding of the conflict. The most highly charged political word of the mid-19th-century era, "Union" literally has no meaning apart from labor-related issues for most Americans.

Yet a failure to grasp the centrality of the concept "Union" to the wartime generation prevents informed answers to crucial questions: Why did loyal citizens fight so hard and long? What did they hope to achieve through all their sacrifice and effort?
Much of our society's current (mis)understanding of the American Civil War is the result of too much focus on the South's war aims and point of view. Not enough time and attention is devoted to understanding the reasons why Unionists fought to preserve the United States against its domestic enemies.

Read "Restoration of the Union" at Fredericksburg's Free Lance Star's website, Fredericksburg.com.

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