This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War

This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War

This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War

This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War

Synopsis

A detailed description of the military and political aspects of the war.

Excerpt

The senator was tall and handsome, with wavy hair to frame a proud ravaged face, and if hearty feeding had given him the beginning of a notable paunch he was erect enough to carry it well. He had the easy grace of a practiced orator -- his speeches, according to spiteful enemies, were carefully rehearsed night after night before a mirror in his chambers, while an awed colored boy stood by with a lighted candle -- and there was a great humorless arrogance about him, for he had never been blessed with a moment of self-doubt. He liked to say that he was in morals, not in politics. From this the logical deduction was that people who opposed him, numerous though they undoubtedly were, must be willfully wrong.

Such a deduction Senator Charles Sumner was quite capable of drawing for himself. He would draw it today in the Senate chamber. In his speech, he had told a friend, he would "pronounce the most thorough philippic ever uttered in a legislative chamber."

It was an ominous promise. The date was May 19, 1856, and although there was still a little time left it was running out fast, and angry words might make it run faster. Yet angry words were about the only kind anyone cared to use these days. Men seemed tired of the reasoning process. Instead of trying to convert one's opponents it was simpler just to denounce them, no matter what unmeasured denunciation might lead to.

The point at issue was, at bottom, simple enough: how to legislate so that Kansas might someday become a state. But Kansas was a symbol rather than a territory. Men saw what they feared and hated, concentrated on its wide empty plains, and as they stared they were losing the ability to see virtue in compromise and conciliation. The man on . . .

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