Dear Surak readers, I have returned. I have accumulated a lot to share with you. Let me start with one of our activities today, on the way home.
The 13 original states are full of history. Virginia is especially full of military history, on top of everything else. Our drive up old route 1 today took us past the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the National Museum of the Army. With limited time, I chose Pamplin Historical Park: The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier.
This museum, as the name implies, does not focus on the causes, the campaigns, or the social changes involved in the war. It focuses mostly on the experiences of the common soldier, whether Union or Confederate. You can browse among musical instruments and card games to pass the time. You can also browse among surgical implements and artificial limbs. Some lucky soldiers had the good fortune to be sedated by opium during their operations.
Near the beginning of the exhibit was a remarkable color infographic published on a full newspaper page in 1861. It displayed the results of the complex 1860 presidential election, in which there were not two, not three, but four viable presidential candidates.
Abraham Lincoln got an outright majority of electoral votes, as well as a plurality of popular votes. But although he was the favorite candidate of more voters than any other candidate, he was also the least favorite candidate of more voters than any other candidate. It is arguable that the other three candidates split the anti-Lincoln vote.
One of my research interests is in voting methods for multi-candidate elections. The 1860 presidential election has long been a classic case study in what-if. Suppose different rules had been used to tally voter preferences. Might the result have been different?
There are some scenarios under which northern Democrat Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois could have won the election, including under a voting scheme I favor. If he had been elected, would South Carolina have fired on Fort Sumter? Would the South have seceded? Even if there had been secession, would there necessarily have been war?
To be clear, I am 100% opposed to slavery for anyone. That does not imply that I look back happily on the hundreds of thousands killed, or even reject the prospect of an independent South, that might have reduced the modern imperial overreach of Washington, DC.
Here is a photograph of some old veterans from both sides meeting long after the war’s conclusion. (That glare in the middle was my smartphone.)
Seeing what is happening in today’s society, I feel reasonably confident that these two sets of former opponents would realize that they have far more in common with each other than with their descendants. They, and the veterans of the world wars and more recent conflicts, might well regret the blood they shed for more recent ungrateful, decadent generations. We are not fit to shine their shoes.
Upon my return, I found a delivery of “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military” by Matthew Lohmeier, a lieutenant-colonel in the US Space Force who was relieved of his command for writing this book. (Isn’t it interesting that the highest quality people usually top out at Lt. Col.?)
We have a lot of catching up to do in the coming week!