Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted in civil war on April 12, 1861, one and a half centuries ago today, when Confederate artillery opened fire on the Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back.
Understanding Americans and America can be difficult. Ask someone who has been naturalized. In my life, I have observed three seminal watersheds in our history (not first hand, mind you), profound and absolute in their change on our political and social destiny. The first would be our Revolution, the second the War Between the States, and last the Second World War.
The attack on the Federal battery at Fort Sumter formalized what was already in motion; that of a people divided on the nature of slavery, economic self determination, and the rights of those to dissolve a political relationship per our Declaration of Independence. I hope that some will give consideration to what our forebears fought, bled, and died for, never understanding the full impact of their conviction and sacrifice.
In a few hours we mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of a terrible war begun with the bombardment of an island battery. Though no lives were lost during this opening engagement, it would end four years later with a Citizenry liberated and an overdue 14th Amendment to our Constitution, the eventual evils of Reconstruction resulting from the assassination of thoughtful leader, and the rise of a powerful party in the South that would embody the preservation of segregation and manipulation of race politics for more than a century.