Is America about to face its second civil war? The Portland antifa ally suspected of shooting a Trump supporter said a civil war was “right around the corner.” Former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta war-gamed the 2020 election and suggested that Joe Biden may cry foul if he loses, starting off a chain reaction resulting in secession and a civil war. Far-left groups recently came together to prepare for a civil war.
While many fear a civil war may be in America’s near future, in some senses, the civil war may have already begun. When South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861 and officially kicked off the Civil War, Americans had already been fighting one another for years. The decade of the 1850s has a great deal to teach modern Americans about how a civil war happens.
The Civil War wasn’t as clear cut as we think
In the September 2020 edition of The Atlantic, anti-racism author Ibram X. Kendi compared Donald Trump’s presidency to the 1850s, the decade leading up to the Civil War. He suggested that Trump has proved that America is still racist and that he has inspired a backlash of mass protests, “an anti-racist revolution.”
Kendi rightly noted that in the 1850s, “a critical mass of Americans rejected the South’s claim that enslavement was good and came to recognize the peculiar institution as altogether bad.” However, he wrongly suggested that this awakening to the evil of slavery was the cause of the Civil War and the ultimate abolition of slavery.
In fact, abolitionists were the minority in the North and Abraham Lincoln won on a platform of restraining the spread of slavery, not abolishing it. Lincoln wanted to return to the conditions of the Founders’ grand bargain on slavery — allowing it, but with limits — while the South pushed to expand it, steamrolling the limits the Founders put on the institution.
The South arguably brought the war on itself by partisan overreach, and the Left is arguably doing the same thing in modern America.