Considering how many of the soldiers pictured in those photographs died in horror, mud, and fire while much, much too young I'm going to refrain from saying exactly what I really think.
The participants in New York City's draft riot would beg to differ.
If one is really interested in those subjects, one should spend five minutes on Google looking up information about those topics.
So here's the thing, Justinian. Liza is right. Serving in the Civil War was a perverse privilege, but it was a privilege. It was a mark of citizenship. That's why white Northerners balked at allowing African-American men to serve: it meant that black men were citizens. And that's why black men tried desperately to join the military
Craichead, there are a couple things wrong with that. First and most importantly it ignores the context of this thread. One can be factually correct and still be rude, inappropriate
When I first saw this, I assumed it was from some rich old family, but Jason and Brandon Liljenquist were teenagers or young adults while collecting these, it looks like.
When I was in high school in the 80's, our U.S. history book had a section that basically said the Civil War was caused by the North passing laws so the South couldn't sell their cotton directly to England.
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.
But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution.
I try to imagine fighting within my own country, my state, my county, my town, against people that I possibly know and may be related to.
And, surprisingly, Black Confederates in the Civil War.
White guilt is generally characterized as a liberal phenomenon. The idea is that liberals seek to exonerate themselves from past racism rather than simply meet their obligations to their fellow citizens. To the extent that the former is an accurate description of someone's motives, the criticism is warranted. But the attempt to minimize the suffering caused by slavery and segregation, to recast the Lost Cause as one motivated by "honor" and self-determination rather than racial supremacy and the preservation of chattel slavery, arises out of the same contemptible emotional impulse. The Lost Causer insisting that the Confederacy was not built on racism because of the presence of black soldiers isn't any less mired in guilt than the liberal quietly mouthing the names of their black friends as they count them on their fingertips. In both cases, the individual trying to free themselves from history ends up drowning in a bottomless pit of self-pity and self-deception that, over time, can only ferment into rage over inability to find an absolution that will be forever beyond their reach.
As a family, we would like to dedicate this photographic memorial, "The Last Full Measure," to George Weeks, Union soldier and drummer boy of the 8th Maine Infantry; and to all U.S. servicemen and women throughout time, each of whom has taken us one step closer to that distant, elusive horizon. -Collection donor, Brandon Liljenquist
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