May 30, 2015 (Saturday)
On this date I bid you, dear readers, a very fond farewell. For the past (nearly) five years, I have sat myself down each day, researching and composing, detailing in writing whichever given day of the Civil War, 150 years prior. It has been a hell of a ride and, though trying, difficult and, if I’m being honest, at times incredibly weird, I do not regret a day of it.
I started this project in August of 2010. Then, having an interest in the Civil War, I had convinced myself of a few common and understandable misconceptions. First, I believed that the war was not really about slavery. I believed that there could have been multitudes of black Confederates. I thought Lincoln a tyrant, and his Emancipation Proclamation meaningless. I held that while some slaves were treated poorly, that many more were not in such bad conditions as our history books tell us. I believed, in short, that the South was right.
I was so very wrong.
It did not take long for me to change my thoughts on all of these matters. Even before the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter, after reading the declarations of secession, which state slavery as the main and ultimate cause of the Southern rebellion, I had begun to reconsider my position. And since that time, my opinions have evolved with the study of such primary sources.
Across these nearly five years, I’ve been accused of ‘Yankee sympathies’ by a small minority of readers still clinging to the idea that the South should have won. I quickly began to understand just how preposterous my ideas been when I was among their number. It is not unlike rooting for a football team to win a Super Bowl that they had lost 150 years ago. It’s absurd, pointless, and a disgrace to the memory of those who fought – whichever side they had taken.
What is neither absurd nor pointless is the study of the Civil War. To all, from the Southern diehards to the Yankees in Massachusetts, I urge you to study history by first breaking the chains that bind you to your heritage. History should not be concerned whatsoever with our sentiments, our likes and dislikes. It does not care who our favorite general is or to which regiment our great-great grandfather belonged. And while you can certainly honor your ancestors and your country and states with all your heart, I have found that history is best studied with your head.
Be willing to let go of your prejudices and your notions as to what you believed happened (or should have happened). Shy away from so-called scholars whose ax to grind is writ large even on the back cover of their vanity press paperback. Seek instead timely primary sources as much as possible, and learn from historians who do likewise. We owe this to ourselves and our collective heritage.
These past five years have been wonderfully difficult. Much has happened in my own life across that span. While getting engaged and married were the obvious, there was much other change as well. We moved into Seattle proper. I took up the hobby of film photography. We traveled across the country a few times. I’ve made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and still work at the same place as I did when I started (I’m a screen printer).
I’ve been asked what I planned to do after this project is complete. In all honesty, I say ‘nothing’. I’ve worked about two hours each day on this blog, and I think I’ll simply enjoy the summer. For those interested, I publish a blog for my film photography as well as one for my J.R.R. Tolkien studies. I’ve done both for the past couple of years, and with the closing of this work, I don’t plan to really expand either, and will probably take a break from both. Free time it is, then!
And so, dear ones, it’s my pleasure to thank you for following this project, and to effectively muster you out. May you make as good of citizens as you made readers. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve, etc. Still, give yourselves three cheers and a tiger!
Hugs & Kisses,