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Web Letter

While I agree with some of what Norman Ravitch says in his letter, I have to take exception to a couple of remarks.

First: "...no other nation has decimated its own people to this degree." This is simply not true. Many other nations have decimated their own people to a much greater degree. Are Pol Pot (and the Khmer Rouge) and the Stalinist USSR that far in the past that they are forgotten? Yes, the American Civil War wrought a horrific death toll, but you cannot say that it is the worst in history.

Second: "Slavery was not as bad as slaughter and any steps to avoid the war would have been better than the war." Slavery was not as bad as a war? First, the Civil War was not about slavery, per se; second, I think that many people (especially those that were slaves) may have disagreed with this opinion statement.

Patrick Fielder

Lincoln, NE

Jan 22 2008 - 12:42pm

Web Letter

I am glad to see an historian who avoids glorifying the Civil War, a war so horrible that no other nation has decimated its own people to this degree. She avoids supporting not only the Southern version of events--The Noble Cause--but also the Northern version, a war to end slavery. Slavery was not as bad as slaughter and any steps to avoid the war would have been better than the war. For this reason Lincoln should not be regarded as a hero, but as a misguided if well meaning human being subject to failure and error.

In any case the end of slavery was more nominal than real for almost a century following the war. I challenge anyone to demonstrate that the end of slavery was worth the cost. Blacks still lived in plantation circumstances for many decades thereafter; in terms of their rise in the social order, many still live in conditions worse than on the plantation. There are many reasons for this, of course, but clearly the end of slavery was no solution.

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, , GA

Jan 13 2008 - 12:44pm

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