National Review: No, We’re Not More Divided Than We Were During the Civil War

This is a strange position.

Obviously, Americans in 2021 are bitterly divided over far more things than the Union and the Confederacy was in 1861. There is far less common ground than there was then.

National Review:

“I have been an admirer of the Claremont Institute. The California-based think tank, founded in 1979, has in prior years done impressive work in recovering the legacy of the American founding, exploring the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln, and dissecting the modern rise of theories about government that are fundamentally at odds with Founding principles. Conservatism owes a great debt of gratitude, in particular, to Harry Jaffa, the late Lincoln scholar and political theorist institutionally affiliated with the Claremont Institute (which was founded by some of his students).

In the early years of the modern conservative movement, Jaffa persuaded many important figures, including William F. Buckley Jr. himself, that the legacy of Lincoln was one worth claiming for the Right — at a time when this was very much in dispute. As Jaffa student and Claremont Institute fellow Glenn Ellmers puts it in his new book on Jaffa, The Soul of Politics: Harry V. Jaffa and the Fight for America, “in part through his friendship with (and constant badgering of) William F. Buckley, Jaffa was largely responsible for pulling the modern conservative movement toward a more authentically American and pro-Lincoln stance, away from the nostalgia for European throne-and-altar traditionalism or (worse) the slaveholding South.”

In a recent interview in The Atlantic, however, Ryan Williams, the Claremont Institute’s current president, gave me slight pause. Conversing with Atlantic staff writer Emma Green, Williams stated that he believed America was in a “real regime crisis right now.” He said he was concerned about the possibility of a second civil war. “The Civil War was terrible,” Williams said. “It should be the thing we try to avoid almost at all costs.” And yet, in his view, in some respects we are even worse off now than we were then …”

Both sides in that conflict agreed that slavery was the “incident” or “occasion” of the war. It was the issue which broke the Union and triggered secession.

Both sides in that conflict also agreed that the deeper constitutional issue of whether a state could voluntarily and unilaterally leave the Union was paramount. This reflects a constitutional debate which had gone on for decades over whether America was created by the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution and whether the Union was perpetual and eternal or something that had been created by Congress or the states. Americans had also always argued about slavery.

When the Southern states seceded from the Union and created the Confederacy, they changed almost nothing. The Confederate Constitution was a near copy of the U.S. Constitution. The first Confederate national flag was a near copy of the American flag. The Confederates revered the American Founding and celebrated the same holidays and honored the same heroes. The Confederates themselves didn’t believe anything new. The Confederacy was a continuation of the antebellum South.

The argument between the Union and Confederacy was a narrow argument within American identity which was based on regional cultural differences that had always existed over republicanism. Slavery was the flashpoint. Evangelical Christianity fueled both sides in that war. It was a war between Anglo-Americans. When the War Between the States ended and those two issues were settled, reunion was made possible because the two sides still shared almost everything else in common.

Contrast the divide over slavery and secession with the divide that exists today. Americans no longer share any of the four major pillars of American identity that were shared by the Union and Confederacy: race, religion, culture and ideology. Unlike the Union and Confederacy, the two sides in this conflict largely do not share a common history or ancestry. They do not share common heroes or common holidays. Both sides in the War Between the States celebrated and claimed July the 4th which is now controversial. To the extent Americans do share a common history, academics have convinced them that this is a terrible thing. It is horrible, for example, to have been born White which makes you a moral monster. This is an ideological view that now divides people who are brothers and sisters.

I included that photo of Lincoln in the header because the progressive side would also topple his statue like Confederate statues. I believe Lincoln monuments have already been removed in some places. The divide that exists today between progressives and conservatives and urban America and rural America is rooted in modernism. This rift has been opening up since the 1920s. In retrospect, we can look back at Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt (1922) as the opening shot and Prohibition as the first battle in the culture war. It was something new at the time to heap scorn and ridicule on small town Middle America.

Progressives have long had a modernist sensibility that drives them to demonize, repudiate and destroy the past. They are novelty seekers. For a long time, these people had a live and let live left-libertarian bohemian ethos, but now they have taken a decisive authoritarian turn. Social justice requires the eradication of everything about the past. Conservatives must be dealt with and told what to do. Rational debate is pointless. They already have all the answers. Flexing raw power is the answer. They don’t believe in free speech, civil liberties or self government anymore. We can see the fruits of this mentality in internet censorship, the weaponization of the “intelligence community,” purging the military of “extremists,” the vaccine mandates and the latest development which is treating parents who are opposed to CRT in public schools like “domestic terrorists.” Progressives no longer acknowledge that the other side has any rights worthy of their respect. They are more than willing to break the law to get their way.

The “arc of history” that progressives so often talk about only bends from the 1920s to the 2020s because that is when modernism arrived in the United States and captured the imagination of the rising liberal elite. Before the 1920s, there was broad agreement about national identity and morality. Even if there were regional variations, there was still a lot of cultural cohesion. From that point on, American elites began dismantling the pillars of American national identity. They loosened the boundaries and never looked back. They have taken stability and solidarity for granted. They have cultivated “diversity.” As a result of traveling down this road, we have ended up in this place where one side of the partisan divide no longer recognizes that the other side has any constitutional rights and is oblivious to where this is likely to go.

Returning to the War Between the States, the thing that made secession inevitable was the belief among Southerners that the federal government under the control of a sectional party would not respect their rights. The John Brown raid on Harper’s Ferry was the turning point. If America was to blow up in a similar way today (remember secession is not even required to bring on a civil conflict), it would be far harder to stitch Humpty Dumpty back together again due to its lack of homogeneity.

Maybe we are so divided though today that it doesn’t even have to end that way? The bitterest partisans agree that their visions are irreconcilable. They agree that they fear and hate each other. Neither side wants a violent conflict. Would they even fight to save this Union?

Note: The dissolution of the Union would allow the Eastern states and the West Coast to create their anti-White communist utopia. We are standing in the way of progress. It was a mistake to save the Union. We’ve always been a thorn in your side. You are better off without us.

About Hunter Wallace 12366 Articles
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  1. Without the Civil War advances in labor saving machinery would have made slavery unprofitable and obsolete. The big question, of course, is where all those unemployed Negroes would have gone to. Could most of them have been sent back to Africa? Would specific tracts of land, like reservations, have been set up for them to populate and live on? Could anything be worse than what we have now?

    • The Real LIncoln according to history and not global usurer bankster propaganda

      Many in Dixie revile Lincoln and have no understanding of what he was truly trying to achieve due to propaganda by the money power and those bent on global totalitarian “dominionist” usury communist dictatorial monarchy, which aid and support of in waging war against the several sovereign Republic’s of Dixie and Yankeedom is treason under both the CSA’s and USA’s constitutions.

      The ‘Great Emancipator’ and the Issue of Race :: Abraham Lincoln’s Program of Black Resettlement:: Lincoln speech on foreign usury banking below:

      “Many Americans think of Abraham Lincoln, above all, as the president who freed the slaves. Immortalized as the “Great Emancipator,” he is widely regarded as a champion of black freedom who supported social equality of the races, and who fought the American Civil War (1861-1865) to free the slaves.

      While it is true that Lincoln regarded slavery as an evil and harmful institution, it is also true, as this paper will show, that he shared the conviction of most Americans of his time, and of many prominent statesmen before and after him, that blacks could not be assimilated into white society. He rejected the notion of social equality of the races, and held to the view that blacks should be resettled abroad. As President, he supported projects to remove blacks from the United States.” ~

      “Abraham Lincoln and the other Henry Clay Whigs were determined to rescue American financial, industrial, and political independence. From late 1839 through the presidential election of 1840, Lincoln led the Illinois Whig campaign by focusing his party’s program around the restoration of the Bank of the United States.

      Lincoln knew that national survival depended on their political success. This is the conclusion of his Dec. 26, 1839 speech on banking:

      “[A debate opponent] confidently predicts, that every State in the Union will vote for Mr. Van Buren at the next Presidential election. Address that argument to cowards and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will effect nothing. It may be true; if it must, let it. Many free countries have lost their liberty; and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her. I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, belching forth the lava of political corruption, in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave no green spot or living thing, while on its bosom are riding like demons on the waves of Hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare resist its destroying course, with the hopelessness of their effort; and knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.
      “The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, before High heaven, and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty and my love. And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly adopt the oath I take. Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But, if after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country’s freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we never faltered in defending.” ~

        • “We do not need to look far for the solutions to our problems, on how to go about affecting changes that will be for the good of the Folk, for the Ancient Runes contain these solutions. Rune of the Folkland – the enclosure, the tribal boundaries, the idea of the right to a piece of land to work, for one’s tribe and family, not for some money-grabbing ‘lord’ where the land-worker is a ‘tenant’, owning nothing but working hard to live and giving most to another who sits back and takes from this hard work. (*) This rune represents the Mystical Link between the Blood and the Soil which we have to regain – our link with Nature and the Earth. This is the Gift of Ing. This rune can bond a people together, like-minded attracted to like-minded. It works through the Blood and through the Soil (Earth).” ~Wulfinga

          (*) ‘You will own nothing – and you WILL be happy!’ – Klaus Schwab.

        • Why “LOL”? If we all agree that everything we are taught is filtered by the jews why not Lincoln also? Search “President Lincoln greenbacks” and see how it was possible that he was assassinated just like the European banking Cabal tried to do with Andrew Jackson. The Control of Money is the the greatest power that can be attained in the world. Your devotion to the Old South – while admirable – ignores much of what was wrong with it.

          • John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln because he wanted black citizenship and voting rights in Louisiana. Booth was in the crowd when he gave that speech. It is why he decided to kill Lincoln. As for returning blacks to Africa or sending them to the Caribbean, the ones that Lincoln sent there as a token gesture were brought back. It was never anything more than a gambit to pacify fears in the border states that he intended to abolish slavery and unleash a horde of free blacks on the North which is exactly what happened. I’m just laughing at the shit these people believe and convince themselves of which has no basis in reality.

  2. “Could most of them have been sent back to Africa? ”

    England did it.
    Instead of spendng a mountain of gold killing each other, 1861-1864, they could have built a massive cargo fleet.
    They were brought over, they can be sent back.

    • Most emancipated Negroes, along with their influential white liberal friends from Boston, Buffalo and Philadelphia, would have raised such a commotion about African repatriation that it never would have happened anyway. And all of you hayseeds know that’s true.

      • Although most Whites at the time favored freeing black slaves most of those Whites didn’t want to be integrated with them. Who knows? It’s a moot point anyway.

    • @arrian,

      According to Virginia born Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, Lincoln was correct in his stated policy of repatriation of Africans back to the ‘dark continent. Taylor contrasted Lincoln’s position with that with Jefferson Davis’ whose plan was to simply christianize the negros in fire and brimstone Protestantism.

  3. “they changed almost nothing”

    The problem with “democracy” is this notion that politics is all about “ideas” and not about power. When the Southern states seceded they changed the control of the military forces in the territory they held. Why? Because “The Union” had the sort of people who were sponsoring John Brown at the pinnacle of their social structure. Secession was a rash move born of overconfidence but it was a reaction to the very obvious danger that the psychotic revolutionaries (unfortunately, similar in many ways to those who established the Republic to being with) presented to the Southern people. The South’s move was motivated by deeply conservative principles of self-preservation. Politically speaking, self-preservation is the most conservative value, unfortunately, Jewish controlled rags regard preservation of Jewish power as the most important “conservative” value. The rest of us, we deserve to die. That is their “conservative value.” There is no such thing as a unified, coherent Republican Party, as “bannedhipster” rightly points out, that truly represents the whites of the South while being “the Party of Lincoln.”

    Lincoln’s war won the sympathy of all the radicals, the kind of people like Marx. There is nothing for conservatives in this. These are the people who want to use state power to destroy Christian civilization and “white supremacy” – that is to say, normal civilized existence for the common people.+

  4. >the progressive side would also topple his statue like Confederate statues

    Yeah but such racial vandalism/erasure has little to with politics other than perhaps the equivalent of low hanging white fruit is gotten rid of first — Harvard did not remove the portraits of white doctors (from a lecture hall as I recall) because of their politics — the portraits were removed because they were white men.

    • That statue headlining this article? It’s blasphemous. N-words were taught to REVERE Lincoln.
      Much like the early Christians were encouraged to proclaim NERO, divine.

      And what did their refusal do? Mass Crucifixions, Human Lamps, slavery (if any were lucky)….

      Both of these are IDOLATRY of a mere MAN.

      And what do the freed N-word slaves do, today? DESTROY RACE, CULTURE, CITIES, EDUCATION, FISCAL SYSTEMS…..

      While the Christians? THEY built EUROPE, gave the world the University, art, literature, music, architecture, godly science, hygiene, medicine, etc.



      “All the modern heresies, Jacobinism, Americanism, Marxism, millennialism, and negro worship are Christian heresies, and liberalism is the synthesis of all the anti-Christian heresies. In the United States the synthesis of all those heresies has reached its most advanced stage. What was tolerated 20 years ago can no longer be tolerated today, because the liberal express train to hell can never stop or turn back.” – the late, great CAMBRIA

  5. “When the Southern states seceded from the Union and created the Confederacy, they changed almost nothing. The Confederate Constitution was a near copy of the U.S. Constitution.”

    Complete with a Jewish Treasury Secretary. What was it the Rothschild’s clan didn’t like? Not enough Jewish ownership of property?

    • “Complete with a Jewish Treasury Secretary”. Whose monuments, along with those of the Jew sugar-plantation owner in Louisiana – Levy as I recall – remain untouched by BLM and Antifa. Interesting how that works.

    • @KT-88,

      Yep. Judah P. Benjamin was literally the second in command of the Confederacy behind Jeff Davis. Old habits are hard to break for the Anglo aristocratic class to this very day.

  6. The truth is the America was a better place when segregation was on the books. You can’t force different races to live in harmony because the cultures are different. Desegregation caused more problems, not less.

  7. HW: “Both sides in that conflict agreed that slavery was the “incident” or “occasion” of the war. It was the issue which broke the Union and triggered secession.”

    Yes, albeit in an indirect way. Why was this so? The American debate about the ‘peculiar institution’ was already hot by 1820 – the date of the Missouri Compromise. Various things were done by the congress to appease both the abolitionists who wanted it abolished altogether; and the “fire-eaters” who wanted to see the practice expanded all the way to the Pacific Ocean. How is it that a far more violent country (Brazil) was able to resolve its own issue with slavery just over 20 years after the end of the civil war (1888) with very little violence?

    Who funded Dred Scott to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, whose decision overturned the Missouri compromise and ultimately closed the door to any further compromise – setting the stage for a war whose dead were almost entirely whites who didn’t even own any slaves?? Most historians on the subject seem to ignore the famous question: Cui bono?

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