Finding a voice after the insurrection—so many write about our national interests so much better than I could and yet I have not read what has been on my mind. And I am still angry. It is more than dismaying that this self-proclaimed hero of the republic has broken the 210 year old tradition of peaceful transition, that he has lied so often and so outrageously and that he is also the first president since 1869 to refuse to attend the inauguration of the person he lost to.
For awhile now, I have been wondering what the political rhetoric was like in the years leading up the the Civil War. What were people, north and south, talking about? What was the tone of discourse? When did violence enter the minds and hearts of Americans? How did the argument of slavery and states rights—the causes of the War that I remember from high school history class—erupt into violence? I did not understand those causes fully until recently—more the shame on me. A more succinct cause would have been the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states and Lincoln’s platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories. Added to that was the inept leadership of James Buchanan, customarily consider the worst president, in the years leading up to the Civil War. (Buchanan might be moving up a notch or two.)