I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”
The expression of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section of the country, nor to a division of the people. They came from individual citizens of all nationalities; from all denominations—the Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from the various societies of the land—scientific, educational, religious or otherwise. Politics did not enter into the matter at all.
I am not egotist enough to suppose all this significance should be given because I was the object of it. But the war between the States was a very bloody and a very costly war. One side or the other had to yield principles they deemed dearer than life before it could be brought to an end. I commanded the whole of the mighty host engaged on the victorious side. I was, no matter whether deservedly so or not, a representative of that side of the controversy. It is a significant and gratifying fact that Confederates should have joined heartily in this spontaneous move. I hope the good feeling inaugurated may continue to the end.
Ulysses S. Grant, ending of his Personal Memoirs
I have long held that the great lesson of the Civil War is that we are all Americans: North and South, white and black. That some Leftist ideologues seem now, as part of their ceaseless use of identity politics to divide us, determined to argue the contrary is to be deplored. Dale Price on his Facebook page has a brilliant post on the reconciliation that ocurred after the bloodiest war in our history, that could so easily have been a prelude to endless civil wars:
My friend Joe Long tells the story of his great-great grandfather, William Berrien Long, the sole survivor of five sons of William Long, who himself had fought in our War of Independence.
Yes, they fought for the Confederacy. Yes, the Union was in the right.
But every last man on each side was an *American.* And here’s the amazing thing: virtually every Southerner–every American–who bore arms for the Confederacy reconciled himself to the verdict of the battlefield and became an American again. Some faster than others, but in the end even Jefferson Davis told his fellow Southerners to be productive and loyal Americans.
Yes, the reconciliation after the War was the equivalent to a great white group hug which excluded the freedmen and women, and to a lesser extent Southern Unionists. The unfinished revolution on behalf of former slaves was abandoned and the people of color were left in the hands of ex-Confederates. Who, in turn, began to spin a “Lost Cause” narrative which was a bad blend of fact, fancy and sometimes even fabrication.
However, the fate of freedmen and women is the much more the fault of the Union, which lost interest in the matter when Grant left office and would not remember its duties and responsibilities until the Cold War.
But. While it may have been a “white thing,” the reconciliation between Unionists and Confederates was real, enduring and *essential.* America escaped the fates of Europe and Latin America, where defeat bred resentment which led to subjugation which bred more resentment which led to repression which bred even more resentment….
If you want the dream world of Mr. Idiot, Ph.D., take a look at Harry Turtledove’s short story, “Must and Shall.” Set in 1942, it features a garrison-state America which imposed a Carthaginian peace on the South in 1865. Freedmen were given the vote…and the franchise was stripped away from anyone who had taken up arms against the United States, as well as their descendants. The Federal Bureau of Suppression works frantically to keep the lid on the South whilst the Nazis ship in weapons to white Southerners via U-Boats…
Go here to read the rest. Lincoln in his immortal Second Inaugural set us on the path of peace and reconciliation: