Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011



If you’re wondering why the cover of this week’s TIME MAGAZINE has ABE LINCOLN on it, it’s because today (April 12, 2011) marks 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. At four in the morning, all those years ago, the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina and our nation’s most deadliest war began. It’s also our nation’s most confusing conflict. Debate still rages about its causes and results.

WAIT! Before you all LOG OUT of blogger.com, let me reassure you: We will not be discussing SLAVERY. Instead, we'll talk about the issue that never gets enough attention: STATES RIGHTS.

Let's start at the beginning. If you look at important dates in US History, you'll notice a gaping hole between July 4, 1776 (The signing of the Declaration of Independence) and April 30, 1789 (Washington inaugurated as First US President). What happened in those forgotten fourteen years? Well, first off, it took us about five years to finally kick the British out. The Battle of Yorktown saw the last redcoats leave. Later, in 1781, George Washington shocked all of European royalty when he announced he was retiring from the colonial military and government. Everyone thought FOR SURE he was gonna be the start of new American monarchy. (Guess he wasn't a liar after all!)

Instead, American power was entrusted to the words of the ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. This document, written the day after the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE spelled out how the new nation was to be governed after the war. Not only did it not involve a King, but it also called for no taxes, no courts, no police...pretty much no government at all. For the next ten years, US states acted independently of each other. Each state had its own governing body. Maryland had an assembly, Virginia had a commonwealth. Each state had its own foreign policy. New York sent envoys to Paris and London while Georgia eyed annexing Florida from Spain. However, this 'loose organization' came to an end in 1789, when the CONSTITUTION was ratified and George Washington was lured out of retirement to become the first president.

But the ideals Articles of Confederation never disappeared. As always, a solid portion of Americans hated a large, bossy federal government. Over the years, a group took its name from this original document in hopes of returning a league of states. The CONFEDERACY reminded all Americans that Article One of the Articles clearly states that: "each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence" from the Federal Government. Conventions across the South were held to un-ratify the US Constitution. After decades of debate, a group in South Carolina decided words had failed and hurled the nation into internal conflict. The rest of the world watched in sheer horror as the largest army on the planet (533,000 men) unleashed an abhorrent amount of death and destruction never the likes of which had never been seen before.

Today is a good day to ask the question: What if Lincoln had allowed the South to secede? Sure, the current Union would be modified, but...for the most part...life still would have gone along just fine with a couple less stars on the flag. Maybe, just maybe, life would have been better. Take for example Czechoslovakia. After being liberated from the Soviets, the Slovaks wanted to be liberated from the Czechs. President Vaclav Havel (a favorite of the DUNER-BLOG) agreed to honor the results of a nation-wide vote. Turns out both countries have done great since the split, with standards of living rising on both sides of the peaceful border. How do we handle secession? Americans had to kill 620,000 of our own people...and we still can't figure out why!

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