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America’s Third Civil War: Kava-Noes versus Kava-Yeses

America's Third Civil War: The Battle Is Engaged (Photo by Getty)

America has had three civil wars. The first one is over, the second one is still being fought, the third one is accelerating. What should be done?

America’s First Civil War: The American Revolution

The American Revolution was not simply American colonials versus the British military. There were plenty of Loyalists here. John Adams famously divided the American population into thirds including the “Go away and leave me alone” group. More likely the majority just wanted to be left alone on their farm and were only dragged into the conflict because of neighbors or occupying armies. Nonetheless, it was a war which split families and communities.

The resolution was comparatively simple. The losing side tended to leave. In New York, where I live, the upstate Loyalists tended to migrate further upstate until they were in Canada. In Westchester where I live in New York, Loyalist lands were confiscated, most conspicuously those of Philipsburg Manor along the Hudson. Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, marked the departure of British troops and Loyalists from New York City. That departure was celebrated annually in the city especially by the Irish immigrants in the 19th century who loved saying goodbye to the British. The holiday ceased to be celebrated in World War I when the British became our allies. Recently the Lower Manhattan Historical Association (LMHA, I am on the Board), revived the celebration and successfully petitioned the New York City Council to rename a street by Bowling Green as “Evacuation Plaza.”

I am not as familiar with what happen to Loyalists in the South. There do not seem to be many statues by subsequent generations of Southerners honoring these fighting ancestors.

Given the popularity of princesses Diana, Kate, and Meghan, I think it is safe to say that the war with England-Great Britain-the United Kingdom has ended peacefully with no lingering hard feelings.

America’s Second Civil War: The War of Northern Aggression

The situation is not so pacific with America’s second civil war. That war continues to this very day. The violence is almost negligible but not non-existent. The bloodiest of all American wars has been redefined. A generation after the cessation of battleground confrontations, the war became the Lost Cause. In that guise it has developed an identity of its own as alternate facts can become gospel over time. The cause was aided by the release of America’s greatest movie based on percentage of the population reached and inflation-adjusted revenues. Gone with the Wind created the definitive image of America’s second civil war for generations to come just as The Ten Commandments did for the Exodus. While Charlton Heston portrayed a real figure in history and Clark Gable did not, Rhett Butler has become as real as Ben Hur.

There is no end in sight for ending America’s second civil war. The time has come to accept the truth expressed by Abraham Lincoln prior to the outbreak of violence: a house divided cannot stand.  The Sesquicentennial has come and gone and still the hostility lingers. The resolution to this enduring division cannot replicate the resolution to the first civil war: the losing side cannot sail off into the sunset separate from the lands of the winning side.

However, there is another way to separate the two comparatively geographically distinct political entities – CONFEDEXIT. The time has come to call an end to the experiment of uniting 13 colonies into one country. The time has come to recognize that except for rare moments like the American Revolution and the Second World War, the Union and the Confederacy have not been united. Despite the Exodus, Israel eventually divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The time has come for the United States of America to follow that example and that of Czechoslovakia, Pakistan, the USSR, and Yugoslavia and divide into its constituent parts.

I proposed that We the People declare July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence to be the target date for CONFEDEXIT.  Let that day mark the official end to the American experiment and the formal recognition that we are a house divided and cannot stand.

The starting point for the Confederacy should be the Republican congressional districts in the original states of the Confederacy excluding any based on Cuban-American citizens. These districts form the natural basis for reviving the Confederacy. We must recognize that there were pockets of Federalists in the South in the second civil war. There were people who made the reverse decision Robert E. Lee made and who were loyal to the United States. In Virginia, they even broke away to form a new state. Starting with the Republican congressional districts within the Confederacy enables Unionist American citizens in the South outside those districts to remain part of the United States once the Confederate districts separate from it.

The Confederacy has the advantage of starting off with an already written constitution. Slavery has not been abolished. Women and 18 year-olds cannot vote. There is no income tax. There is no two-term limit on the president. Confederates now will have the opportunity to add the amendments they want and delete or revise the amendments they do not want. They should be able to hit the ground running with a fully-functional government by July 4, 2026.

The negotiations will not be easy. There is a lot to discuss. But despite all the obstacles, it should be possible for a clean break. The Union is just as willing to say good riddance to the southerners as the South is to Rise Again. And with a president who mocks and demeans Southerners as less worthy than northern elitists, the incentive to separate should be even stronger. With the world’s greatest negotiator at the helm, I am confident that CONFEDEXIT is doable by July 4, 2026, and the end of the second civil war finally will be at hand.

America’s Third Civil War: Kava-Noes versus Kava-Yeses

The third civil is different from the previous two.

It may be said to have begun in the 1960s. At that time, baby boomer males could be drafted into a war they did not want to fight and baby boomer females could have babies they did not want to have.

It may be said to have begun on August 17, 1992, when Pat Buchanan delivered his “Culture War” speech to the Republican National Convention.

It may be said to have begun in 2008 with Sarah Palin’s rally cry “to take back the country.”

Regardless of the preliminaries, history may well record that with the contentious and close vote on October 6, 2018, of 50-48 between Kava-Yeses and Kava-Noes the battle was fully engaged. There is no turning back now. When Charles Blow writes an op-ed in the New York Times that “Liberals, This Is War,” he fails to recognize that for conservatives it has been war for decades and appointing a fifth Republican legislator to the Supreme Court is a long overdue victory.

As with America’s first civil war, America’s third civil war will be intensely divisive at the local level. People who have known each other for years as best friends for life suddenly will morph into combatants. The family Thanksgiving meal will become a battleground. While it will be illegal for Kava-Noes and Kava-Yeses to marry, there is always the possibility that some of the guests will be from opposite sides of the divide. Any social engagement will run the risk of degenerating into a brawl. Hosts and hostesses will be obligated to do due diligence to ensure a peaceful event. College admission officers will need to scrutinize applicants carefully to maintain the purity of the campus. God forbid people from different sides should be assigned as roommates!  In short, people will constantly have to be on guard to make sure they know when it is safe to speak.

CONFEDEXIT will help end the third civil war but it is no solution. The proponents of the Kava-Noes and Kava-Yeses exist in every electoral district. A mass exodus as with the Loyalists in the first civil war is not possible. A geographic split within the United States is not possible even after CONFEDEXIT removes many Confederate Kava-Noes from the United States. In short there is no solution. Over time, people will vote with their feet to move to an area where they feel safe. That relocation will take time. In the meantime, the situation will remain tense everywhere.

Fortunately we have a president who feasts on divisiveness. There will be no “come let us reason together” in this administration. Far from it. Instead he will stoke the flames of hatred and rejoice in the dividing of America. Never have We the People had a president who is so antagonistic to the very idea of We the People. Never have We the People had a president who is so willing, eager, and ready to campaign on behalf of hatred. Never have We the People had a president who is so antagonistic to the very goal of e pluribus unum, a motto that has been abandoned by both national political parties and mocked by our president. But there should not be any surprise that our president promotes the division of the country. What else would you expect from Putin’s poodle?

5 Ways NYS Can Promote Its American Revolution Stories

New York has a great story to tell about its role in the American Revolution. In fact it has many great stories to tell, and many people are telling and struggling to tell those stories.

Given the plethora of sites in the state relating to the American Revolution and to the significance of the events which transpired here, one would think that the State basks in the greatness of being the home to so much that was so critical to the founding of our country. Think again. Continue reading “5 Ways NYS Can Promote Its American Revolution Stories”

The Half Moon and The Hermione: A Tale of Two Ships

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So it goes for two ships and their diametrically contradictory paths through history.

The Half Moon is a full scale replica of the original Dutch ship of exploration sailed by Henry Hudson for the Dutch East India Company in 1609. The original Half Moon was the first European ship to document entry into what we now call the Delaware Bay and River, and to explore the Hudson River to its navigable limits.

The HermioneThe Hermione is a full scale replica of the French ship that brought LaFayette to America in 1780 and which joined Admiral de Grasse’s fleet for the Battle off the Capes on the lower Chesapeake and the siege at Yorktown. The ship then sailed to Philadelphia in 1781 where the Continental Congress visited and paid tribute to it. Continue reading “The Half Moon and The Hermione: A Tale of Two Ships”

Cultural Heritage Fail: The American Revolution in NYS

New York was an object of great importance during the American Revolution. At the kick off of the Path through History project in August 2012, plenary speaker Ken Jackson, Columbia University, criticized New York for its inadequate efforts to tell its story compared to what Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are doing. He welcomed the opportunity that New York finally was going to get it right.

By coincidence, at the New York History community roundtable convened by Assemblyman Englebright several weeks ago in connection with his proposed New York History Commission, he began with a similar plea for New York to tell its story as well as those same states Jackson had mentioned 20 months earlier. He was particularly incensed over the new TV show Turn about America’s first spy ring set in the very community he represents. Continue reading “Cultural Heritage Fail: The American Revolution in NYS”

New York History And The American Revolution

In the first continental war, the French and Indian War, America fought with the British and against the French. That war was then followed by two others where “We the People” were not good, proud, loyal subjects of British king. We even allied with France against England. Imagine that!

The initial focus was on New York City. At that time, it was limited to southern Manhattan There the statue of King George would be toppled following a reading of the new Declaration of Independence in one of the iconic moments of the war. The remains of the statue would be smelted into bullets to be used against the King’s troops. Later, the sudden appearance of the British armada was a true “shock and awe” experience for the city. The Revolution was nearly nipped in the bud as a providential fog enabled Washington to cross the East River on August 29, 1776. Continue reading “New York History And The American Revolution”

New York History and the Birth of the Nation

Scholars divide time into periods in an effort to make history comprehensible, but when to draw the diving line can be problematical and historians often disagree where one period ends and another begins.

For the birth of the nation, I am using the end of the colonial period, roughly from the French and Indian War to the end of the War of 1812. The colonial era for me was the time of the settlement of the 13 colonies which would become the United States. That process began in Jamestown and ended approximately 130 years later in Georgia. Up until then individual colonies, notably New York, Massachusetts / New England, and Virginia, dominate the curriculum, scholarship, and tourism, with only passing references to the Quakers in Pennsylvania and the Dutch in New York. Continue reading “New York History and the Birth of the Nation”

The Mixed Multitudes of the Mohawk Valley

Peacefully sharing a space-time continuum does not come easily to our species. The challenge of doing so was played out in colonial New Amsterdam/New York in the 17th and 18th centuries especially from Albany and Schenectady westward throughout the Mohawk Valley.

There, and north to the Champlain Valley and Canada, multiple peoples who had not yet become two-dimensional cliches struggled to dominate, share, and survive in what became increasingly contentious terrain. Battles were fought, settlements were burned, and captives were taken, again and again.

By the 19th century, much of that world had vanished save for the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. By the 20th century, that world existed in state historic sites, historical societies and local museums, Hollywood, and at times in the state’s social studies curriculum. Continue reading “The Mixed Multitudes of the Mohawk Valley”

Saratoga History and Tourism: Opportunities for New York

Once upon a time many years ago, there was no tourism in America. And then there was. And the place where tourism began was here in New York State especially along the Hudson Valley.

The tourist explosion combined the artistic explosion generated by people like Irving, Cooper, and Cole along with technological developments like the steamship all New York State developments…and peace with England helped too!

Saratoga helped create this tourist boom. Continue reading “Saratoga History and Tourism: Opportunities for New York”

The American Revolution: Perpetual Rebirth

I would like to address some questions raised about my critique of the American Revolution Reborn conference.

I’d like to begin with Tara Lyons, of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. I have two conference handouts from her entitled “Museum Introduction for Refugee Students.” Under the objectives for the program is listed: Explain how this museum might help them learn about their new home.  She then turns to the task of how to achieve this objective:

Continue reading “The American Revolution: Perpetual Rebirth”

Scholars in the Public Mind: American Revolution Reborn

Thanks are due to Mike Zuckerman for his response to my series on the American Revolution Reborn conference which he organized. I appreciate his having read an unsolicited essay from a stranger whom he just met, for our extended email exchange, and for his contributing a post to New York History on this topic.

If I may, I would like to respond to his comments by separating them into two types: those that addressed the conference itself and those that refer to the more general question of America’s identity. Continue reading “Scholars in the Public Mind: American Revolution Reborn”