[Ansteorra] How the Civil War Applies to Us (LONG)

Martha Elliff polera001 at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 29 13:09:13 PST 2008

I’ll start out by saying that I am a firm believer in treating everyone equally regardless of where they had the fortune, or misfortune, of being born. <G> Please try to remember that as you read on.  
Yes, the Civil War does have a lesson to be learned and applied to those of us within the SCA.  You just have to read all the way down to the bottom to find it.  You didn’t think it was going to be easy, did you? ;)
There were a number of fundamental differences in the Northern and Southern cultures that did not include slavery.  These differences were a result of who colonized those areas, the type of businesses that resulted in those societies, and how much outside contact they had.  The Southern society was slower paced and agrarian focused.  This societal norm resulted in the famous Southern Hospitality.  How often have you seen pineapples used for decoration?  They are the symbols used for, and the legacy of, Southern Hospitality.  Your family’s untarnished name was your primary concern.  Your honor and integrity were your lifeblood.  Those are two very different things.  Manners were taught in more than a passing fashion.  They were drilled into you from infancy.  Those manners governed everything you did.  How you walked.  How you ate.  How you talked right down to which name you gave first when you introduced two people to each other.  These rules were adhered to very strictly among the old moneyed families and they felt it was their duty to help those less fortunate.  The Northern states were more business oriented and faster paced.  The lines have been blurred some by technology but as a general rule, those from northern states still tend to talk faster and more bluntly.  The Civil War was the result of the clash between these two very separate societies.
How do I know the parts of history that aren’t widely taught in public schools?  My great grandmother’s roots were deep in Alabama and the four inch thick etiquette book I balanced on _my_ head as a child had been handed down for generations.  I am sad that there are not more people of my age group with those experiences.  A good deal was gained in that war but oh so much was also lost.  There are few vestiges of the Southern cultural interaction remaining.  Do I think that we shouldn’t progress?  Are you kidding?  If we hadn’t, I wouldn’t be about to get my Master’s.  I wouldn’t be able to be a businesswoman, a fighter, an equestrian, a metal and wood worker, a dancer, and an artist. <G> By the same token, I think that learning the basics of needlework at your mother’s knee is priceless because if you can’t learn a little patience there, you never will ;)  
I promised I’d tell you how the Civil War related to us.  I’ll admit that what I’ve written seems very tangential to our purpose in the SCA.  Note the difference between what I have told you and the things that you have often heard.  The winner writes history and it’s going to be a little biased regardless of all efforts made to be impartial.  When we look back at the research of the medieval times, we need to remember that the winners of each struggle wrote the descriptions of the losers and that there is precious little about them that we can accept as absolute and unchallengeable fact.
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