The Beaufort Arts Council's recent production of Thornton Wilder's classic play, "Our Town," contains dialogue that helps answer the ongoing issue of whether slavery was the sole cause of America's Civil War.
In recent years, columns and letters in the newspaper have parroted the fiction that slavery was the only cause of our great national tragedy.
Close to the opening lines of the third act, the stage manager, who serves as the play's moderator, affirms the following: "Over there are some Civil War veterans. Iron flags on their graves ... New Hampshire boys ... had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they'd never seen more than 50 miles of it themselves. All they knew was the name, friends: the United States of America ... and they went and died about it."
To rob these men of the honor of having fought and died for the Union, and likewise the Confederate soldiers who fought and died to defend their new independence, is wrong. Wilder's few somber lines will not dissuade those who seek to change history for their own self-enoblement and the need to appear virtuous and politically correct. Most Americans will understand that more than 625,000 Americans, from both North and South, did not die over the single issue of slavery.
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Wilder is one of America's finest novelists and playwrights and celebrated for his knowledge of the history and character of the American people. He well understood that the causes of the Civil War, throughout our nation, were varied.
Hilton Head Island