Living Appropriately: Musings From a History Teacher in Colombia

The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite Civil War novels, The Killer Angels, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.  We are approaching the point in our World History class (after first semester final exams next week) where we would normally be covering the U.S. Civil War.  However, as most of these students will be taking a separate class on American History next year, we will only be glancing over the Civil War, which is unfortunate from my own selfish perspective as it’s by far one of my favorite historical topics. But I’m planning on having the students analyze a few primary sources in addition to the following quote, which I think comes from a fascinating perspective:

(Fremantle at Gettysburg, meditating on the morning of the second day of battle; I should state for the sake of clarity that Arthur Fremantle was a Colonel in the British Army who was officially “observing” the Civil War as a passive witness, but who traveled and sympathized with the South, as you can see here):

“The great experiment. In democracy. The equality of rabble. In not much more than a generation they have come back to class. As the French have done. What a tragic thing, that Revolution. Bloody George was a bloody fool. But no matter. The experiment doesn’t work. Give them fifty years, and all that equality rot is gone. Here they have the same love of the land and of tradition, of the right form, of breeding, in their horses, their women. Of course slavery is a bit embarrassing, but that, of course, will go. But the point is that they do it exactly as we do in Europe. And the North does not. That’s what the war is really about. The North has those huge bloody cities and a thousand religions, and the only aristocracy is the aristocracy of wealth. The Northerner doesn’t give a damn for tradition, or breeding, or the Old Country. He hates the Old Country. Odd. You very rarely hear a Southerner refer to “the Old Country.” In that painted way a German does. Or an Italian. Well, of course, the South is the old country. They haven’t left Europe. They’ve merely transplanted it. And that’s what the war is about.”

Battle of Gettysburg: July 1-3, 1863

Battle of Gettysburg: July 1-3, 1863

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Andrew Leniton