He noted that one of the remarkable things about America is the reconciliation that took place after the Civil War.
“Nations that experience civil wars do not raise statues to losers, and not only have we tolerated the presence of the vanquished among us, but we have adopted some of them, like Jackson and Lee, as national heroes,” did he declare. . “What we are seeing now in our country is a disentangling of that national identity from the elements that were built on the legacy of Confederation, and it is a painful process.”
He said that traditionally many Americans have had a very personal relationship with the Civil War.
“If you listen intently to the conversations about the Civil War and the people struggling to reconcile the South’s quest to maintain slavery, the default refuge is the staff,” he said. “People are starting to talk about a relative, a great-grandfather from the Shenandoah Valley. And they point out that he didn’t own any slaves, but fought for the South, so obviously the war wasn’t about slavery.
Hennessy noted that he had no problem admiring the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought for the South, as he does for those who fought for the Union, and understanding why the two have did what they did.
“The only thing to celebrate about the Civil War is the fact that the nation survived intact; that 4 million were freed by war – the bloodiest emancipation in the history of the world – and that millions more would be born free who were not. And it’s a good thing.