As the 19th century was giving way to the 20th, there was increasing pressure to declare war against Spain. But the generation who had fought the “Civil War” (oxymoron?) was the most reticent to sign on.
“They know the havoc it wrought, and are not eager to repeat the experience. The thousands slain in battle, the tens of thousands afflicted with wounds which often resulted in death after days of agony … the anxious waiting for news … impressions so vivid that thirty-three years of peace have not sufficed to wear them away.” (McClure’s Magazine.)
History, like our parents, teaches us the lessons we seem most reluctant to learn. In her best selling “The Bully Pulpit“, Doris Kearns Goodwin chronicles the reports of the impending fight in Cuba, citing the hard scrabble reporting of corespondents who worked for McClure’s Magazine. Reporter George Waldron calculated the financial outlay of the Civil War “would have bought the freedom of every slave, and left enough to pay all the peace expenses of the Federal Government for half a century.” The question he left hanging: What will this war against Spain cost us? As it turned out, the Spanish-American war lasted all of four months. But as far as wars go, it was an anomaly.
The Civil War, on the other hand, was more in line with how such things usually go. Think of it – enough money to provide every man, woman and child in the nation with food a’plenty had the funds spent by our divided country been used not for war, but for sustenance.
Ponder our national priorities; count the cost of war; pray and work for peace.
A blessed Tuesday.