The Civil Crime 1861-65

EDITORIAL, 11 Apr 2011

#159 | Johan Galtung, 11 Apr 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service

US Highway 15 passes the major sites of the War Between the States as the Confederacy called it; to the Union, it was the War of the Rebellion. The 11 seceding states were rebels against law and order; federal troops were deployed in Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the first to secede from the Union in December 1860.  This looked like an occupation, and on 12 Apr 1861, 150 years ago, the first shot in anger, was fired against the fort.  The war was on.

And that beautiful highway winds its way from near Appomattox in southern Virginia where Robert E. Lee in impeccable Confederate gray capitulated to sloppy-dressed Ulysses S. Grant in Union blue on 9 Apr 1865.  The war was over.  Was it?  From Appomattox: “A new and greater America emerged”.  Reunited, in its imperial pursuits.

US 15 passes close to Richmond, a capital of the Confederacy where president Jefferson Davis resided; passes Charlottesville, the beautiful town of Thomas Jefferson fame where he begat progeny by his slave Sally and produced rhetoric about all men being born equal; passes Manassas and the first big battle, Bull’s Run, on July 21 (there was a Second Manassas on August 1862); US 15 passes Maryland, enters Pennsylvania and cuts through Robert E. Lee’s Stalingrad, far into Union territory, far north of the Mason Dixon line: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, June-July 1863.  43,000 killed.

And the Union president, Abraham Lincoln–a staunch opponent, as young congressman, of the mendacious and rapacious US attack on Mexico in 1846-48 (with Lee and Grant as young officers) to steal 53 percent of its territory–gave his beautiful address about democracy of, by, and for the people.  Today it is of with monetized elections; but power is executed by and for super-rich and -powerful elites.  As Warren Buffet said recently: “There is a class war in the USA, by the rich people against the poor, and we are winning”.

US 15 passes, at a distance, Washington DC where Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theatre five days after the victory, 14 April, by John W. Booth, a confederacy sympathizer who sensed that “nigger citizenship was around the corner”.  Lincoln died the next day.

And so did 620,000 combatants, mostly young Christian Anglos, close to the USA losses in all other wars combined.  Of all human tribes the Anglos are among the most belligerent, killing all over after some training in Ireland and other places (read Beowulf).  Split them in two, let them fight each other, what do you expect?

1, 6 million Union and 1 million Confederate troops killed each other in 2,400 named battles.  Population-wise the North out-numbered the South 22 million to 9; a modern against a traditional society high on military skills and virtues.  Lee’s problem would be to find a field where the two cavalries could confront each other for victory; Union general William Tecumseh Sherman’s was “how do they feed their horses?”, torching the countryside to Savannah Georgia.  His was the first total, modern, Clausewitzian war; that one concluded, his task was massive killing of Indians.

War is a crime, civil war is a civil crime; a massive crime.

What was this civil war about?  The right to secede versus the duty to stay; confederation vs. federation.  Over whose USA, who came first, gentry from Devonshire to Virginia or clergy from East Anglia to Massachusetts?-the Virginians, 1607 vs. 1620.  Over who did the independence-constitution ground work?-the Virginians.  Over class: Who were more patrician/less plebeian?-the Virginians.

And, over 4 million of the population, slaves; in the South.

But this was the War of Rebellion, not of Slavery; Lincoln’s goal was to unify the country, with or without slavery (he pledged in 1860 not to interfere with slavery).  But the war went badly for the Union.  The 1 January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation hit Southern agriculture and added troops to the North.  Politics.

And the result was a century of massive terror.  The South, deeply humiliated by defeat, of course took it out on the Blacks with lynchings and Ku Klux Klan, prejudice and discrimination unlimited. Jim Crow.  There were wonderful exceptions, like the Quakers of Guilford County, NC, among others, operating at great risks the Underground Railway–smuggling escaped-freed slaves to the North; also following US 15, north of Gettysburg, along the majestic Susquehanna River over momentous hills to decent Canada.

“Causes of war” is an academic pursuit for the PhD hungry; “causes of peace” is the serious challenge.  How could this crime against humanity have been avoided, what would conflict solution, even peace, have looked like?  A Secession for Abolition image:

Identity is a human need is a human right: The 11 states found identity in the Confederacy; let them have it.

Cut from the same cloth Union and Confederacy could then cooperate for mutual and equal benefit, building peace.

Freedom is a human need is a human right: Slavery is totally unacceptable.  Had the North been serious about slavery, scores of years of atrocities after 1863-65 would not have passed without intervention till the Supreme Court ordered desegregation, and Rosa Parks, ML King Jr., Freedom Riders, lunch counter sit-downs changed social reality. The North could have done all of this 100, 1000 times over, long before, from a slavery that started in 1620.

150 years after that capitulation to irrationality the USA is now in for four years of reenactments of stupidity, mobilizing armies of professional and amateur historians for factual accuracy when the real problem is counterfactual history.  What could have been done? What can we learn!  Less reenactment, more reflection.


Mainly Blacks.  Rented out as labor from privatized prisons on the stock exchange, deploring lower crime rates, bribing judges for longer sentences.  Jim Crow II, South and North.  USA, wake up, before the republic becomes a victim of its own absurdity.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Apr 2011.

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3 Responses to “The Civil Crime 1861-65”

  1. I talk about the process whereby we could see a New US Fuhrer based on the aspiration of General Edwin A Walker to fill that role in 1961. Walker leveraged/sponsored the writings and thinking of the John Birch Society. This society shifted focus from anti-communism to ‘real money” and “ending the federal reserve.” The perceptions and delusions of John Birch are as dangerous, to freedom and life, today as they were in the past.

  2. I agree with this opinion.!