The 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln and the end of hostilities in the American Civil War, has seen a new focus on the continuing – if marginalised – controversy over what they both represent. Was the Civil War a heroic intervention to end oppression and slavery, or the first modern US war of imperialism masquerading as ethics? Was Lincoln a hero, an emancipator, or a racist hypocrite? Did he save the union? or force it upon a people who had chose secession?
We can’t can’t claim to have any final answers, but the debate itself – and even more so the fact of its almost total suppression in the mainstream – is important for what it can tell us about our own present day and the formulation of memes, myths and received truths. The rawness and brutality of what was done to the South in the name…
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