Civil War’s echoes still resound in U.S

Andrew Hunt Sat May 14 2011           Anniversaries mean a lot to…

Georgia (May 16, 2011)

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  • Andrew Hunt
  • Sat May 14 2011


The Civil War, an event that looms large in American history, is now celebrating its 150th anniversary. For the next several years, you can expect plenty of commemorations, re-enactments, books, documentaries, auctions of Civil War-themed collector’s items and new interpretations of a bloody conflict that, more than any other war in the nation’s history, has defined modern America.

The war’s sesquicentennial officially kicked off last month at Fort Sumter, in the harbour of Charleston, S.C. On April 12, re-enactors dressed in Confederate grey and Union blue met at the island fortress to mark the event that triggered the war, when Confederate batteries opened fire at 4:30 a.m. on weary Union soldiers who’d been occupying the half-constructed federal fortification for months. …

Over the course of the next four years, hundreds of thousands perished in this seething meat grinder of a war. The figure most often cited is 620,000, with some claims reaching as high as 700,000. Whatever numbers one chooses to accept, the figures exceed the combined death tolls from all other American wars from the Revolution to the Vietnam War.

But the war’s significance goes far beyond the devastation it wrought. Today, 150 years later, it’s still a source of fascination, not only in the United States, but elsewhere as well. …

It is hyperbole to insist the Civil War is still going on. Current divisions pale compared to those that drove ordinary Americans to take up arms against each other a century and a half ago.

Still, unresolved tensions persist. Mike Martinez, political science professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, aptly noted: “The difficulties with the American system are we’re not all one thing and we’re trying to balance two competing values – liberty versus equality – and they’re antithetical values. (Historian) Shelby Foote once said the genius of America is our ability to compromise, and the Civil War is the one time in history when that spirit of compromise broke down and two per cent of the population was killed as a result.” …


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit