Civil War still fought in our minds

Published 9:58 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

By Peter Griffith

The American Civil War was a great and powerful drain on the life and times of those who lived within the United States.

The cost in lives, property and the economy can never be scored on enough. But what is being brought to light in many ways is the issue of slavery. While it is taught that slavery was the main issue of the war, this could not be further from the truth and those pushing that idea know it well.

It was an issue that was in the lead, and it was, in combination with other issues, a great cause. But to push the agenda as it being the only or main issue is a flat untruth and is not even worthy of discussion with those who premise that idea.

With that said, how is Southampton County going to handle this issue of the war with the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War coming? Learn your history and know what you are talking about.

The American Civil War and our celebration, or should I say the remembrance thereof, should be taken straight across the board with no one-sided agenda. Will this straight line be taken by our board here in Southampton County? I doubt it very much.

In fact, I believe it will slant very heavily toward the slavery issue. It is not a issue of black, or white, or red, or brown. It is an American issue and one that needs to be addressed with both sides in mind.

Yes, there are those who do nothing but preach on the Confederacy and how great it was. That also is wrong!

Knowing the politics and economics of the period, it was in reality a lost cause. Would we have still had slavery if the war did not happen? Probably yes is the answer due to economics, but it was a dying institution.

One has to look at history and how it happened to evaluate it and never repeat it again. No matter what anyone says, this war is still being fought in our minds and actions taken by the teachings in schools and government today.

I can only hope the board of supervisors has enough courage not to cow-tow to those who would like to make it a one-sided issue. But I do not hold any hope of that knowing those on the board and what they stand for.

PETER GRIFFITH is retired from the Virginia Beach Fire Department and lives in Southampton County. He is a historian with published articles on the American Civil War and can be reached at