John Chuckman


Response to a comment about the American Civil War:


Thanks for that.

The cause of the war pretty much jumps out at you if read enough good material.

It is of course nice for a government to have loftier motives handy to use as propaganda. And entire studies have been done on what really was a revolution, far more of a revolution than the first one.

Also, the North felt under considerable pressure from parts Europe, especially Britain which bought Southern cotton for its textiles. Having such a motive to display was helpful in the battle of ideas.

During the horrors of Vietnam, politicians in America actually spoke about democracy versus communism, just an absurdity since South Vietnam was governed by dictators.

Studies suggest American slavery, left intact, would have lasted a fairly long time, but it would have died on its own as it became uneconomic, as from the competition of new machines.

It was, of course, a terrible institution, but America has never really honestly dealt with its ugly history. It keeps hiding from it actually. That’s why there are no grand and moving monuments. And no form of reparations were ever given to help millions of very poor people.

Jefferson has a big glorious monument, and the fact is Jefferson never held down a job. He lived off the avails of more than two hundred slaves. He died a bankrupt, owing friends money he borrowed. He had a great taste for luxury items, from shiny new carriages to silver buckles for his shoes and, yes, ice cream in 18th century rural Virginia.

And it is not as though everyone in the world thought slavery was normal. Many thoughtful people spoke against it.

The redoubtable Dr Samuel Johnson in Britain wrote of America’s founders as “drivers of negroes speaking of liberty.”

Johnson especially took aim at Jefferson, and the famous quote, “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels” was said to have been aimed with him in mind.


Readers may enjoy this on Jefferson:


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