July 04, 2013

An extra special Fourth of July this year

150 years ago today, "The Father of the Waters once again flowed unvexed to the sea."

If you're a Civil War buff, you know the quote, the author, and its significance. If not, go use teh Google.

Unfortunately, Vicksburg and the eventual end of the Civil War weren't followed with an adequate Reconstruction, namely due to the worst president in American history. Yes, fellow libs, Shrub is bad, and in my bottom five, but Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan, bookending the Civil War, are the bottom two.

Whether Lincoln in Reconstruction would have remained as "rosewater" as Spielberg tried to paint him in his movie is open to debate. About anything he did, though, would have been far better than the obstinate inaction of a racist alcoholic who believed (like Bush) that he had been divinely chosen for his position.

Certainly, when the Klan arose in early 1866, Lincoln would not have remained idle, and would have had federal troops act. And, in light of something like that, might have been less rosewater than Spielberg presents.

And, that's why April 14, 1865, far, far more than Nov. 22, 1963, is arguably the most tragic day in American history. We arguably had a decent chance to actually reconstruct the country. Lincoln would have held the worst of Radical Republicanism at bay, but with him rather than Andy Johnson in charge, the worst never would have arisen. And, contra Spielberg, Lincoln would have been tougher. He would have accepted that, per the Constitution, the Republicans had a right to refuse to seat Democratic Congressmen and Senators until they met certain preconditions.

Vicksburg was arguably more important than Gettysburg in several ways, too.

First, it was a total victory.

Second, it boosted Grant's reputation to a new level, setting him on what would soon be an inevitable military trajectory, then political one.

Third, it was the first hint at a more total war that the North would wage, a message that should and could have been, in a veiled way, carried over into Reconstruction.

As an example of the intransigence that the North faced, post-Reconstruction, and that ties directly to this history? Vickburg refused to officially celebrate the Fourth of July again until 1945.

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