"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Private Soldier Monument, Antietam. The inscription reads: "Not for themselves, but for their country."
Sept. 17 marks the 140th anniversary of the single bloodiest day of battle in American history. On that day in 1862, near Sharpsburg Md., Robert E. Lee attempted to invade the North with a 50,000-man Confederate army that was intercepted at Antietam Creek by 70,000 Union troops under George McClellan. Lee would retreat after having lost 25 percent of his forces, including 2,700 dead and 10,000 wounded or missing. The Union prevailed, but at a cost of 12,000 casualties, including 2,108 dead.
In the Civil War, 618,000 soldiers died--2 percent of the American population, comparable to 5 million perishing today, writes Craig Lambert in a Harvard Magazine article, "Rifles and Typhus: The Deadliest War." All other American wars combined, through the Korean War, claimed fewer lives than the Civil War alone. In World War II, 30 out of every 10,000 men in uniform perished. Civil War combat was six times as deadly, killing 182 per 10,000. Based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6 percent in the North and an extraordinary 18 percent in the South. Of 180,000 African Americans who served in the Union army, 20 percent did not survive.
And so to reparations: Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, in a two-part series on the issue (see Part I here), makes a compelling argument:
At its core, the reparations movement is racist; it treats all blacks as victims and all whites as villains. But all whites are not villains. From the day Africans arrived in America, there were whites who pleaded their cause and fought for their rights. Many paid dearly for their commitment to black freedom. Elijah Lovejoy, the fiery abolitionist editor, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob. William Lloyd Garrison, founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, was jailed. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was beaten so severely it took him three years to recover.
Americans -- white Americans -- ultimately paid a horrific price to end slavery. The Civil War killed more than 600,000 men -- the death tolls of World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined. The Union Army suffered staggering losses: 360,000 dead, 275,000 wounded. The social and economic impacts were catastrophic; the scars of the war lingered for decades. If slavery's awful debt has never been repaid, neither has the debt for freedom. It should be as plain to us as it was to Abraham Lincoln that the two debts cancel each other out.
"Fondly do we hope," he said at his second inauguration, "fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said: 'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"
We are one people -- descendant of slave, slaveowner, and liberator alike. We can accomplish nothing by confronting each other with demands for payment. Slavery was hideous. So was the war to end it. Can we not leave it at that, and strive instead to treat each other, as Lincoln urged, with malice toward none, with charity for all?