“Once let the Black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States.”

               Frederick Douglass

Blacks after the Civil War would be shamefully denied equal rights for a century.  However, that sad fact does not detract in the slightest from the heroism of black troops fighting to preserve a nation that had given them little reason to love it.  The great lesson of the Civil War is that we are all Americans, all part of this experiment in self-government, and it is a lesson to be remembered on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

12 Responses to Glory

  1. Nate Wildermuth says:

    It is a very noble thing to risk your life for a great cause.

    Yet among all the means of fighting for justice, MLK demonstrated the redeemed form, living the call that John Paul II made in his encyclical Centesimus Annus: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence”.

    Many abolitionists believed in Christian non-violence (or ‘non-resistance’ as it was known then), including William Llyod Garrison. His is a fascinating and contradictory story, and reminds me somewhat of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Garrison abandoned his pacifist views at the onset of the Civil War Nate, and whole-heartedly supported the Union war effort.

  3. JB says:

    Blacks have fought in every war this country has ever been involved in going back to the Revolutionary War, but none was more poignant than the civil war which their very freedom from slavery was at stake. In his second inaugural address Lincoln suggested that the war may be a divine punishment for the national sin of slavery;

    “He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

    How ironic that there is still economic and moral slavery being imposed on them by a President who claims to be one of their own. This slavery has two forms; economic slavery via the “community organizing” through groups like ACORN to implement Cloward/Piven Strategy inspired by Saul Alinsky, designed to foster dependence on government welfare with the intent to bankrupt the system and impose socialism; moral slavery through his unbridled support of Planned Parenthood which targets minority communities.

    Both of these are using “his own people” towards his political ends, so the ends justify the means. In that regard he makes Machiavelli look like a monk.

  4. Nate Wildermuth says:

    From what I know, Garrison upheld his commitment to ‘non-restance’ even while supporting the war. His speech on John Brown is interesting:

    “A word upon the subject of Peace. I am a non-resistant—a believer in the inviolability of human life, under all circumstances; I, therefore, in the name of God, disarm John Brown, and every slave at the South. But I do not stop there; if I did, I should be a monster. I also disarm, in the name of God, every slaveholder and tyrant in the world. (Loud applause.) For wherever that principle is adopted, all fetters must instantly melt, and there can be no oppressed, and no oppressor, in the nature of things. How many agree with me in regard to the doctrine of the inviolability of human life? How many non-resistants are there here to-night? (A single voice—”I.”) There is one! (Laughter.) Well, then, you who are otherwise are not the men to point the finger at John Brown, and cry “traitor”—judging you by your own standard. (Applause.) Nevertheless, I am a non-resistant, and I not only desire, but have labored unremittingly to effect the peaceful abolition of slavery, by an appeal to the reason and conscience of the slaveholder; yet, as a peace man—an “ultra” peace man—I am prepared to say, “Success to every slave insurrection at the South, and in every slave country.” (Enthusiastic applause.) And I do not see how I compromise or stain my peace profession in making that declaration. Whenever there is a contest between the oppressed and the oppressor,—the weapons being equal between the parties, —God knows that my heart must be with the oppressed, and always against the oppressor. Therefore, whenever commenced, I cannot but wish success to all slave insurrections. (Loud applause.) I thank God when men who believe in the right and duty of wielding carnal weapons are so far advanced that they will take those weapons out of the scale of despotism, and throw them into the scale of freedom. It is an indication of progress, and a positive moral growth; it is one way to get up to the sublime platform of non-resistance; and it is God’s method of dealing retribution upon the head of the tyrant. Rather than see men wearing their chains in a cowardly and servile spirit, I would, as an advocate of peace, much rather see them breaking the head of the tyrant with their chains. Give me, as a non-resistant, Bunker Hill, and Lexington, and Concord, rather than the cowardice and servility of a Southern slave plantation.”


  5. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “The Civil War forced Garrison to choose between his pacifist beliefs and emancipation. Placing freedom for the slave foremost, he supported Abraham Lincoln faithfully and in 1863 welcomed the Emancipation Proclamation as the fulfillment of all his hopes.”

  6. Donna V. says:

    The sheep are at the mercy of the wolves if they don’t have sheepdogs guarding them. Occasionally, a sheepdog turns out to be a wolf in disguise. That doesn’t negate the need for sheepdogs.

    One of my favorite movies of all times is “Glory.” I own it; tonight would be a good time to view it again.

  7. Tom says:

    The death of constitutional government: the federal government by force of arms imposing its policy will on reluctant states. The only reason it is not condemned as it should be is that the policy in question was a good one: abolition. The means to acheive it were horrible and permanently changed our nation from one of limited federal power to nearly limitless federal power.

    That being said, Glory is a fine movie and the story of blacks in the War of Southern Independence has not been yet fully told.

  8. Donald R. McClarey says:

    The Union was worth a war to preserve Tom, and I can think of at least two Presidents from the South, Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor, who would agree with me.

  9. Tom says:

    I find the notion of a war to compel the states and their citizens to remain in a “union” by conquest contrary to very notion of freedom, self-determination, and subsidiarity.

    Nevertheless, I recognize that there are at least some viable constitutional arguments for military conquest to keep people in a union they do want to be in (though I find them inadequate). But Lincoln’s attempt to alter the war into a crusade against slavery was another matter entirely, there being not one shred of arguable constitutional authority to support it, anymore than the federal government could invade Virginia today to force her to abolish the use of or trade in tobacco; or, to put a case dearer to the hearts of Catholics, invade Massachussets to compel that state to abolish abortion.

  10. Donald R. McClarey says:

    The Constitution was not a mere Confederation Tom. It created a new nation. A majority of the people of that nation wanted to preserve it rather than to see it rent asunder.

    Lincoln of course had the power as a war measure to emancipate slaves in territory in rebellion. The Thirteenth Amendment made the abolition of slavery part of the Constitution, and ratified Lincoln’s action.

    The ironic thing, one of many actually, about the Civil War, was that slavery would have endured in the South for years to come, but for the secession stampede after the 1860 election. By attempting to dissolve the Union to preserve slavery, the Confederacy wrote out the death warrant for the peculiar institution.

  11. Nate Wildermuth says:

    Donald, I think history has misread Garrison. His beliefs were more complex than a simple pacifist-warrior dichotomy.

  12. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Nate, you don’t get to support the bloodiest war in our nation’s history and still get to call yourself a pacifist. I would note however that Garrison did support the right of some of his sons to avoid service, because they did not wish to fight with “carnal weapons” as Garrison phrased it.

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