150 Years Ago Today

It has been 150 years since our nation was in the war in which more Americans were lost than in any other.  The reason for this was we had Americans fighting on both sides of the conflict.  Our Civil War was bloody, deadly, and its ramifications still effect us to this day.

150 years ago General Sterling Price of the Confederate States Army decided to retreat from Missouri all together rather than engage the Union forces.  He decided they would fight another day.  And fight they did in the years to come.  Price came out about even on the number of battles he won and lost.  But what is interesting is many of his wins came later rather than earlier in the war, as the fortunes of the Confederate forces continued to wane.  Price also never surrendered.  When the Confederates did, he led his Army into Mexico, hoping to join their army.  When the Mexicans refused, he tried to start a community in Vera Cruz.  It too failed and he ended up moving back to Missouri where he died in poor health and impoverished.

Price had been a hero in the US military during the Mexican American War.  He had also opposed secession initially.  It was only after the Union seized the federal armory that he threw in his lot with the confederates.

Perhaps more than in anytime in my lifetime, we live in divided times.  You can tell this by the tea party versus the occupy movement.  You can tell this by the way the country tends to vote (red states versus blue states).  You can even see divides in the church.  I am not suggesting that we are preparing for another Civil War but I think we can learn greatly from an earlier era when our nation was divided.

What if a man like Sterling Price had used his skill and knowledge to help overcome the divide that existed?  What if he had accepted, along with the majority of Americans by then, that slavery was not moral and shouldn’t be supported?  What if he had been defiant, rather than in defeat, in supporting that we are all created equal?  If he had, his life would have taken a far different course and he might have led many with him.

It is true that Jesus said that he came to bring not peace but a sword.  His word divides people.  But I don’t think this message should never be confused with those who would advocate division based on inequity and inequality.  Jesus warned us standing up for what is right would draw opponents.  But Jesus stood for justice and grace.  We always need to be careful in listening to voices of discontent what the source of that discontent is.  Is the discontent based on our selfishness or our generosity?

I plan to continue in the next four and a half years to look back and see what was happening 150 years ago.  Hopefully we can continue to learn from those who went before us.

Until next time,

Tom

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