America: ‘Died Of A Theory’?

I’m a History Geek.  Among the History topics that Geek me out most is The Civil War — you know, that ‘thing’ we fought for ‘States Rights’ according to Revisionist (Southern) History but really fought cos SLAVERY.

Ken Burns’ ‘Civil War’ series is Nirvana.  The first time I heard David McCoullough’s exquisite baritone caressing the letter home by Union soldier Sullivan Ballou the day before he died at the first Battle of Bull Run, I wept openly.  Mr Ballou was an ordinary man from New England — well educated lawyer and politician with a bright future.  His eloquence in the face of his own Mortality is… it’s enough to make you weep.

Here’s the text and a clip…

July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more …

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt …

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me — perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness …

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights … always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again …


Anyway — One of the Interview subjects whose views on the subject forms a kind of ‘backbone’ for the whole series is Shelby Foote.  Mr Foote references in one of the episodes an explanation by a Civil War contemporary of ‘what  happened’ to America — what caused this ‘disagreement’ that resulted in a split between nationalist factions?  I can’t recall the name of the person Mr Foote referenced (and I ain’t digging for it right this second…) but the way this person put it was perfect; he said that America — as a country in pursuit of an ideal instead of a bloodline — had ‘…Died of a theory.’

‘Died of a theory’.  Is that not us in an actual ‘nutshell’?

Great concept, America — self-government seems to work for the most part.  Too bad about the morons and dunderheads who can’t handle self-government cos they’re too GREEDY & CORRUPT & STUPID.

When the freedom to choose what we say, how we vote, how we govern ourselves gets undermined — by people who hate it — it’s incumbent on US to step up and Do The Right Thing.  To preserve what people all around the world have seen as a literal Beacon of Hope.

This Is Not A Drill, America.

Don’t wait for the shit to get deeper.  After this, it’s ‘Man The Lifeboats!’

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