War, civil and otherwise.

Author:Wilson, Robert
Position:EDITOR'S NOTE - Editorial

WE LIKE TO THINK of our country as ever reinventing itself, plunging without fear into the future, a still-young nation unburdened by the past. Not that a rich history necessarily stultifies, as the people of Egypt have amply demonstrated. And you don't have to be as gloomy as F. Scott Fitzgerald, with his "boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly," to recognize the pull the past has on the American imagination. However misused the Founding Fathers are by a crackpot Supreme Court justice, or representatives who read only the uplifting bits of the Constitution in the well of the House, or those history-challenged contemporary Tea Partiers, nobody could seriously argue that our inexhaustible interest in Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and their fellow fathers is misplaced. Against that steady beat of attention to our revolutionary beginnings come the occasional paroxysms of Civil War fervor. These usually arrive on anniversaries of the war, such as the 150th on which we are now embarked. If I could I would solve, once and for all, the riddle of the Civil War's enduring power: Is it because it was fought on our own soil? Is it because it righted the great wrong committed by the Founders? Or is it simply because a wound so terrible takes many generations to heal? But that's for wiser heads.

I won't promise a fervor-free zone in these pages for the next four years, but I'm happy to report that our first 150th anniversary offerings, in this issue...

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