In this article, I felt that the big, central idea was that history is can be interpreted in different ways. Right at the start of Von Drehle’s article, he claims that the civil war is typically interpreted as starting with the bombing of Fort Sumter, but it really could interrupted as starting as early as the first constitutional convention. I’ve also heard that it really started in Kansas. The North and the South had been so different for so long-economically, politically, socially and culturally-it should have been more easily predictable that the country was headed towards civil war. There is sort of
similarity between how the differences between Native Americans and Americans lead to conflict, just as the differences between the North and South did. I think the reason conflict with Natives was more spontaneous and prolonged was because the differences between the two parties were so much larger.
This article also deals with the mythologization of history, which has a lot to do with how the Civil War is remembered, and how its causes are remembered. The mythology of the confederacy began with “self-justifying memoirs” to obscure what might have happened-this is where the definition of history comes in. If all we had to look back on the Civil War with were these self-promoting accounts from Confederates, then our interpretation of history might actually accept that slavery was not a cause of the Civil War. The reason Northemers or Southerners might view the war differently is because they chose to only look at only one side of the historical point-of- view.
Another connection I saw was one between the causes of the American Revolution and the Civil War. Both were sparked by expansion. In the lead up to American Revolution, colonists wanted to expand physically, but also politically. It came time for the decision break away from England when the colonists realized they could not grow due to the Proclamation Line of 1763, and they could not govern themselves-among other issues. This is similar to the Civil War in that the South decided to break away after growing uneasiness after slavery was being prevented from spreading to new territories like California. With Kansas, one can see exactly how the South reacted when it came time for slavery to expand; it tried to expand with conflict.
I think it’s interesting that Lincoln was so unpopular when he was President. I hadn’t heard so much about his contemporary unpopularity until only recently. And once again, if history was only interpreted through the eyes of the South, Lincoln might not be so well received today. The whole “Lost Cause” point of view I was also mostly unaware of until recently. The so-called “Southern” interpretation of the war is the “Lost Cause,” and the “Lost Cause” was created mostly by Southerners with, once again, their self- justifying memoirs which didn’t have an audience in the North. I had also never thought of Gone with the Wind as “Lost Cause” culture until this class and article.