To the editor:
As the Civil War drew to a close, radical Republicans such as Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens wanted to punish the secessionists. They wanted to utterly destroy the Southern aristocracy. They bitterly blamed Southern leadership for the horrible loss of life and treasure during five years of war and wanted to hunt down and hang or imprison Southern civilian and military leaders. They wanted to take statehood away from seceded states, to confiscate rebel property, and divide the great plantations into 40-acre tracts to be distributed among the former slaves.
Lincoln stood against them; he wanted union, to repair the bond between Americans. He did not live to see it, but Lincoln had his way. Rebel states were readmitted, and few of the Southern leaders were punished, no property was confiscated, the great estates were left intact. It has been generally thought during the past 147 years that this course of moderation was good, restoring the United States, while irrevocably establishing the principle of the Union.
But now some are again screaming “fire” in the crowded theater. Watching Missouri play Texas A&M on TV, I saw an A&M student who wore a sweatshirt that read “Texas A&M Secede.” Petitions in several Southern states, notably Missouri and Texas, demand secession. Some may even think they’re serious.
Those who wear emblems of rebellion certainly think they’re tough guys. But so are we who love the Union. Let them secede and we’ll conquer them again; only this, we’ll be time less tolerant of their treachery.