Wednesday, July 12, 2023

A Jeffersonian View of the Civil War - By Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD

 This article updates and expands one I wrote with this title for 22 years ago. It  is taken from a talk I gave on this subject at the 41st Annual Meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness ( in Tucson last week. This article has seven of the slides used in that talk.

The reigning narrative of the U.S. Civil War is that the Northern States had to fight a war against the slave-holding Southern States in order to end slavery in America. Is that true?

Slavery in the Western Hemisphere

Slavery existed in human societies for more than 3,000 years. In the 400-year period from 1500 to 1900, slave traders transported ten-to-twelve million Africans to countries in the Western Hemisphere, most to Brazil. They transported less than 500,000 Africans to the American Colonies and then States, less than 5% of all African slaves shipped to countries in the Western Hemisphere.

It was legal to own slaves in all 13 American Colonies, before and after Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Vermont partially banned slavery in 1777 and Pennsylvania in 1780. Ohio abolished slavery in 1802 and New Jersey in 1804. In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson called for criminalizing the international slave trade. New York abolished adult slavery in 1829, but their children were to remain indentured (work without a salary) for a specific number of years.

Two Things that Helped End Slavery Worldwide in the 19th Century.

Arthur Herman shows in How the Scots Invented the Modern World (2001) that people in Scotland developed the basic ideas and habits of mind which spawned the modern age. Such people as John Knox, David Hume, John Locke, Adam Smith, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, James Watt, and Dr. David Livingstone played key roles in it. Adam Smith became the prophet of modernity and free market capitalism with his The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776.

The Scottish physician Dr. David Livingstone, born in 1815, spent 28 years in Africa medically treating and educating Africans. He was the first person to use quinine for treating malaria in Africa and was the first European to explore the interior of Africa, finding it a world of lush vegetation inhabited by millions of human beings, not a barren savannah or desert as people had thought. Livingstone worked tirelessly to bring Africans freedom from slavery.

Returning home after his first 16 years living in Africa, Livingstone found himself world famous. He taught: “We must smile at the heap of nonsense which has been written about the Black intellect… I do not believe in any incapacity of the African in either mind or heart.”

Scotland had the highest literacy rate of any country. Adam Smith observed how the parish school system in Scotland taught, “almost the whole common people to read, and a very great proportion of them to write and account.” Voltaire said, “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in 1852, became the best-selling book of that century, after the Bible. It had a profound effect on white people’s attitudes toward African Americans and slavery. Meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln was to have said, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”

Peaceful Emancipation, 1813-1886

In the 19th century all the countries in the Western Hemisphere, except the United States, freed their    slaves peacefully. In the 18th century, in 1791, slaves in Haiti liberated themselves and mounted a successful 13-year insurrection against French colonial rule.

Britain freed the slaves throughout its empire, buying them from their owners and setting them free. Had the U.S. done this, the cost of buying and freeing all its African American slaves would have been less than what it cost to fight the Civil War.

States’ Asserting Their Right of Secession (and Nullification), 1787-1863

In adopting the Constitution of 1787, several states passed legislation stipulating their sovereign right to secede, if necessary. In 1798 Thomas Jefferson and James Madison promoted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions supporting a states’ right of secession. Lincoln, when a Congressperson, said:

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and most sacred right.”

From 1803 to 1845, the New England states threatened to secede from the Union five times, objecting first to Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase; then to the Embargo Act; then to admitting slave-holding Louisiana into the Union; objecting to the War of 1812 against Britain; and to the admission of Texas into the Union. They faced no threats when they threatened to secede for each of these reasons.

Lincoln invited the Union-disposed northwestern counties of Virginia to secede from the state and become the new “State of West Virginia” and made it part of the Union.

South Carolina took a different approach. When the federal government tripled the sales tax on imports, known as the “Tariff of Abomination,” South Carolina refused to comply and nullified it.


Nullification is the action of a state abrogating a federal law based on state sovereignty.

Thomas Jefferson introduced this concept, writing:

“Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force… Nullification is the rightful remedy.”

Tom Woods spells it out in his book Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Centurypublished in 2010. (He identifies the three Constitutional clauses most often exploited to justify expansion of federal government power: the general welfare clause, the commerce clause, and the “necessary and proper” clause.)

Southern Secession—1st Wave

With Lincoln elected President but not yet inaugurated, seven states seceded from the Union: first South Carolina, then Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. The people in these states considered him unsuitable for holding that office.

Lincoln and Clay

Entering politics in 1832, Abraham Lincoln announced:

“I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance.  I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal improvement system, and a high protective  tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles.”

Lincoln was a disciple of Henry Clay, from Kentucky, who promoted Alexander Hamilton’s “American System.” This included high import tariffs, freeing the U.S. from dependence on imports; a national bank to regulate the country’s banking system and ensure a consistent supply of credit; and federally financed internal improvements, especially for canals and railroads.

Lincoln admired Henry Clay and described him as “My beau ideal of a statesman.”

Jefferson and Hamilton

Thomas DiLorenzo, in Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution—and What It Means for Americans Today (2008), writes:

“Jeffersonian federalism is the true history of America. The union was created by voluntary compact of the states, and peaceful secession was considered an essential part of any genuinely federal compact… Either the people are sovereign over their government or they are not. If not, they are mere serfs, serving at the pleasure of their tax-collecting lords.”

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was the godfather of centralized government and interventionist economic policies. He despised the Jeffersonian principal of limited government and sought to establish political support for the pursuit of “national greatness” and “imperial glory.” He argued that the U.S. should have a permanent president charged with appointing governors along with veto power over all state legislation.

The Morrill Tariff of 1861

Justin Morrill, a Congressman from Vermont, followed the nullified Tariff of Abominations with a new one that President Buchanan signed into law two days before Lincoln’s inauguration. Throughout his political career Lincoln had made it perfectly clear that he, like Hamilton and Clay before him, favored, not just tariffsfederal taxes charged on products imported into the country--but protective tariffshigh taxes imposed on imports to protect similar domestic products from external competition.

The Charleston Mercury wrote: “The real causes of dissatisfaction in the South with the North are in the unjust taxation and expenditure of the taxes by the Government of the United States.”

Charles Dickens wrote: “The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States.”

And Karl Marx, as only he could, put it this way: “The war between the North and South is a tariff war. The war is, further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for power.”

US Tariff Rates

In the days before there was a sales tax on domestically produced goods, property taxes, and an income tax, import tariffs were the principal source of income for funding the federal government. Tariffs collected on goods coming through southern ports covered 90% of the federal budget.

Like with the earlier Tariff of Abomination, the Morrill tariff once again tripled the import tariff rate from 15% to 47%, which the South again viewed as intolerable.

Fort Sumter: Start of War

In his first Inaugural Address, Lincoln stated:

“The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts [tariffs]; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.”

Apparently, Lincoln thought Southern secession would be acceptable so long as the Union could continue collecting its protectionist tariffs on imports collected mainly in southern ports harbors, especially at this one, in Charleston’s Harbor.

After South Carolina succeeded, Federal forces stayed in the Fort. The Confederates started shelling it, and the ladies of Charleston came to watch. Three days later, when the fort was running low on food, its commander surrendered. There had been no casualties, but Lincoln nevertheless had maneuvered the South into firing the first shot, and the War Between the States began.

The First 13th Amendment

Civil War court historians don’t write about this first 13th Amendment!

Lincoln instructed New York senator William Seward to push through Congress a 13th Constitutional Amendment named after Congressman Thomas Corwin of Ohio that would prohibit the federal government from ever interfering with Southern Slavery.

It read:

“No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the   power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service [slavery] by the laws of said State.”

And the fugitive slave law would remain, so northern states receiving escaped slaves must continue to return them to their owners in the South.

In his first inaugural address regarding this amendment, Lincoln said: “I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”

Armed with this amendment, Lincoln and his fellow Republicans were willing to permanently enshrine slavery in the U.S. Constitution in order to keep the Southern States paying those tariffs.

The Amendment passed easily in both the House and Senate, meeting the required 2/3 majorities. And five states, Kentucky, Ohio, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Illinois had ratified the amendment before the war rendered it mute.

Dates of Southern Secession—2nd Wave

When the war started after the Confederates shelled Fort Sumter, Lincoln, without consulting Congress, called up 75,000 troops. Four more states then quickly succeeded and joined the Confederacy: Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Kentucky and Missouri wanted to secede but stayed under Union control.

The Real Lincoln

In 1861 no American politician—including President Lincoln—said that the federal G was launching a war against the South to end slavery.

Tom DiLorenzo writes, in his book The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (2002):

“The Declaration of Independence was the cornerstone of the states’ rights doctrine embraced by the Southern secessionists of 1861 and was seen as the most important defense against the tyranny of centralized governmental power.”

A key Jeffersonian dictum, he notes, is:

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed and that whenever a    government becomes destructive of the rights of life, liberty and property, citizens have a right to secede from that government and form a new one.”

This was the basis for America’s two wars of secession in 1776 and 1861.

Union vs. Confederate States

The Confederate Constitution was much like the Union one, with these differences:

The Confederate President could serve only one, six-year term.
It outlawed protectionist tariffs and permitted nullification and secession.
It outlawed government subsidies for “internal improvements,” except for dredging harbors.
Congressional appropriations required approval by a two-thirds majority vote.
It lacked plans for a central bank, especially not one under the control of politicians.
Prohibited the importation of slaves, and each state could unilaterally free its slaves when it so chose.
Non-slave states could join the Confederacy.

The Confederacy was an agrarian-based economy that produced five million bales of cotton a year for export to Europe and for sale to U.S. manufacturing firms, located mainly in the North. In 1860 the South produced 80 percent of the world’s cotton. Its two largest cities in 1860 were New Orleans, soon captured, and Charleston, soon blockaded. The Confederate currency emphasized the importance of its overseas cotton trade by showing four ships on its dollar bill exporting its cotton to Europe. The South was known as the “Cotton Garden of the World.”

As the war dragged on, the Confederate currency became worthless. Now, however, a well-preserved Confederate dollar bill goes for $100 on eBay.

Resources of the Opposing Forces

The 22 Union states in 1861 had a population of 22 million: the 11 Confederate states, 5.4 million   Whites and 3.7 million Black slaves, with 130,000 free Black people. In addition to its much smaller population, the greatest disparities, all strongly favoring the Union, were in manufactured goods, iron production, merchant ships, miles of railroad tracks, and banking capital.

Eastern Theater of War

Sixty thousand troops fought the first and only major battle in 1861, at a small stream named Bull Run near the town of Manassas in northern Virginia, close to the Union capital. The Union named it the First Battle of Bull Run, and the Confederates, the First Battle of Manassas since they fought a second battle there in 1862. (The Confederates won both.)

Both sides then engaged in a major buildup of troops and supplies. A year later, the Union had 192,000 troops in the Eastern theater under General George McClellan, and the Confederates, 73,900 troops under Robert E. Lee.

Rather than march directly south to take Richmond, the Confederate capital, McClelland ferried his troops and supplies down the Potomac River to Virginia just outside Richmond. General Lee had Stonewall Jackson bring his troops down from the Shenandoah Valley to assist him in the defense of Richmond.

Robert E. Lee proved his mettle defending Richmond in the 7 Days Battles between June 25 to   July 1, 1862. These 8 Battles in Seven Days resulted in McClellan withdrawing all his troops, ordnance, and supplies and sailing back to Washington.


Flushed with success, Lee moved his troops for the first time into a Union State, Maryland. He first won a siege of nearby Harpers Ferry, capturing 12,400 Federal soldiers there. Next was the Battle of South Mountain on September 14 and then the Battle of Antietam on Sept 17.

Antietam turned out to be the bloodiest single day of the Civil War. The Confederates had 13,724 casualties–comprising killed, wounded, and missing or captured–34% of its 40,000 soldiers who fought in this battle. The Union had 12,400 casualties, 17% of its 75,000 soldiers who fought there.

Lee held close to the same ground at the end of the day as he did at the beginning of the battle.

The Emancipation Proclamation

With General Robert E. Lee consistently winning battles for the Confederacy, European leaders were becoming increasingly convinced that the 13 Confederate States were going to win their War for Independence, especially if one or more European powers recognized them as a new country and provided aid like France did for the 13 American Colonies when they seceded from Britain.

With slavery ending everywhere Lincoln wrote an Emancipation Proclamation for America. But, as advised, he waited until the Union finally won a victory before releasing it!

The Battle of Antietam was tactically a draw, but when Lee moved his troops back across the Potomac River to Virginia after the battle, the Northern press began calling it a strategic victory for the Union.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a smart, deceptive move. It made Britain, especially having freed its slaves, shy away from recognizing a country, like the Confederacy, having slaves. With this Proclamation, Lincoln took credit for freeing America’s slaves. But, in fact, the Proclamation did not free a single slave: It did not apply to border states loyal to the Union—Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland. Slave owners in those states who professed loyalty to the Union could keep their slaves.

It also didn’t apply to portions of Confederate States that Union troops held, in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

A leading Civil War historian, Bruce Catton, puts it this way:

“The Proclamation was almost absurd. It proclaimed  freedom for all slaves in precisely    those areas where the United States could not make its authority effective and allowed        slavery to continue in slave states which remained under Federal control.”

The British Punch on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

This famous cartoon in the British Punch shows Lincoln playing his black ace of spades—the last card he held in his struggle with the Confederate States of America.

This poem reads, in part:

Here I lead the Black                       From the slaves of Southern Rebels

If I win the South must pay for it                Thus I strike the chain

Pay in Fire and Gore                        But the slaves of loyal owners

If I lose, I’m ne’er a dollar                       Still shall slaves remain.

Worse off than before

Lincoln actually called the Emancipation Proclamation his “last card.”

Course of the War

The Civil War lasted 4 years. There were 69 battles, each involving more than 20,000 combatants; 95 engagements; 81 actions; and various skirmishes and sieges. Instead of calling this a “Civil War” a better, more accurate name for it would be, “The War for Southern Independence.” The Confederate States simply wanted to secede and go their own way, leaving the Union states and their capital alone.

There were twelve major battles in the Civil War. The two most important ones were at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (July 1-3, 1863) and Vicksburg, Mississippi (surrendered on July 4, 1863, following a short siege,).

The Union strategy for the war was to institute a naval blockade of all the Southern ports, put military pressure on Richmond and the rest of Virginia and Tennessee, and take full control of the Mississippi River, dividing the Confederacy in two. The Confederate strategy was simply to press forward along the line dividing the northern and southern states and invade the Union states of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the largest and bloodiest one ever fought in North America, by 85,000 Union troops against 65,000 Confederates. There were 50,000 casualties, affecting one-third of the 150,000 combatants. On the third day of the battle, Pickett’s Charge on the center of the Union line failed, where the Confederates lost close to half their men in it. Lee stopped the fighting, pulled back and left Gettysburg unpursued, and took his remaining troops back to Virginia.

Grant’s Historic Vicksburg Campaign

The town of Vicksburg is situated on a 200-foot bluff above the Mississippi River. Lincoln appreciated its significance, saying, “Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” The way Grant captured Vicksburg with its 30,000 troops was brilliant.

Working closely with the Navy, Grant had a fleet under Admiral Porter come down the Mississippi, running the gauntlet of guns firing from the Vicksburg bluff and landing miles downstream to ferry Grant’s waiting army across the river to its east side.

Given the topography of the Mississippi river there and its surrounding environs, the only way Vicksburg could be captured would be to approach it from the East. With Grant’s 40,000 troops now on the East side of the river, cut off from his base of supply and living off the land, he first captured Jackson, Mississippi’s capital and then conducted a siege of Vicksburg, obtaining its surrender on July 4, 1883. Lincoln declared, “The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.”

After Vicksburg, Lincoln, with Congressional approval, made Grant a 3-star Lieutenant General, the first one since George Washington, with command of all the Union troops, East, and West. Then, after a stunning victory at Chattanooga, he moved his headquarters to Virginia. Then, following a protracted, multi-month siege of Richmond and Petersburg, the war ended when Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox.

Grant: the Greatest General of the Civil War

Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses S. Grant were the two greatest generals of the Civil War. General Grant comes out on top. This “simple, honest, and unpretending man,” as General Sherman described him, was the first general in American history to then attain the rank of a 4-star Full General.

Mark Twain persuaded Grant, near the end of his life, to write his memoirs and have Twain’s firm publish them, which Grant did, despite his becoming afflicted with fatal throat cancer. Grant’s lucid, compelling, candid, and brutally honest The Complete Personal Memoirs  of Ulysses S. Grant (1885-6) occupies a special place in American letters as the greatest American autobiography.

I recommend two recent biographies of Ulysses S. Grant. One is U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, by Joan Waugh, a Professor of History at UCLA, published in 2009 by the University of North Carolina Press.

American Ulysses

The other one is American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant. by Ronald C. White, published in 2016. General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus declares this biography:

“Certain to be recognized as the classic work on Grant. American Ulysses is a     monumental examination of one of the most compelling figures in American history.”

Ronald White places two quotes about Grant at the beginning of the book. The first one is by Frederick Douglass, author of what people agree is the best book on the Kennedy assassination, JFK and the Unspeakable. It is especially touching:

“In him the negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior.”

And this one by Theodore Roosevelt:

“Mightiest among the mighty dead loom the three great figures of Washington, Lincoln, and Grant.”

President Grant

After the war, Grant served two terms as 18th President of the United States (1869-1877) and then went on an uninterrupted two-and-a-half-year world tour with his wife, Julia, to worldwide acclaim.

Grant was not as bad a President as historians make him out to be. He held office during Reconstruction, sought freedom and justice for Black Americans, and worked to crush the Ku Klux Klan. Frederick Douglass called him “the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.”

He issued 91 Presidential Vetoes, more than all previous Presidents combined, and the House and Senate were only able to overrule four of them.

Ulysses Grant was the first President to serve two full terms in office, following Andrew Jackson, who served two terms in 1829-1837, 11 presidents later. And after Grant, the next ten Presidents served no more than one term each, until Woodrow Wilson, with his two terms, 1913-1921.

Most importantly, in his second term Grant restored the gold standard, creating U.S. prosperity for the next half-century.

Grant and his Family

Ulysses S. Grant came from Ohio. Only 5 feet 1-inch tall when he went to West Point, he was widely recognized right away to be an expert horseman. He grew to be 5 feet 8 inches tall, considerably shorter than his favorite bay horse “Cincinnati,” and 8 inches shorter than 6 feet 4-inch President Lincoln.

Grant met his future wife, Julia Boggs Dent, from St. Louis, through her brother Fred, Grant’s roommate at West Point. She was a skilled pianist and an expert equestrian. They had four children. Julia was very devoted to Grant, as he was to her. She would accompany him on his campaigns, staying with him at his headquarters whenever possible. Bruce Catton writes, “The fact is that they shared one of the great romantic beautiful loves of all American history.”

Grant’s Tomb

Joan Waugh writes about Grant’s Tomb in the last chapter of her book on Grant. It is in Morningside Park, 270 feet above the Hudson River, at Riverside Drive and West 122nd Street in Manhattan.

This privately funded mausoleum opened to the public on April 27, 1897, on the 75th anniversary of Grant’s birthday. For a time, it was New York’s most visited monument, more popular than the Statue of Liberty.

Groucho Marx liked to ask contestants on his quiz show, “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” Most contestants would get it wrong. Grant and Julia are entombed side-by-side together above ground in sarcophagi. No one is buried there.

Unfortunately, Morningside Park has become, like places in other cities around the country, a dangerous, crime-ridden neighborhood, what the New York Times has called a “graffiti-scarred hangout for drug dealers and muggers.”

Military Bases in the U.S. Today

A 158 years after the Civil War ended, there are now some 318 military bases in the United States, at least one in every state, with forty-one in California, thirty in Virginia, and twenty-one in Florida.

The U.S. military has grown since its triumph in the Civil War, followed by the Spanish-American war in 1898 with its acquisition of the Philippines being the springboard for American exceptionalism, imperialism, and empire.

U.S. Military Bases Abroad

The U.S. maintains some eight-hundred military bases in eighty countries around the world. And with Finland recently joining NATO the U.S. has offered to build additional bases there.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., after announcing that he is running for President in the 2024 elections, says that when elected he will close all those 800 U.S. military bases in other countries and bring the U.S. troops stationed in them home.

The United States has the highest military spending of any country, 12.2 times more than Russia, and more than the next fourteen countries combined.

U.S. Government Revenue and Expenditures

In fiscal year 2022 alone the U.S, Government had a deficit of 1.37 Tillion dollars in one year.. National defense expenditure (including VA affairs) was 765 Billion. For FY 2024 defense expenditures will exceed one trillion dollars. Interest payments on the Federal debt was $480 Billion in 2022, when interest rates were low. This cost will rise in the coming years.

With the Federal debt rising at an increasing amount along with interest payments on the debt, made with printed currency not backed by anything, the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises tells us what will happen:

“There is no means of avoiding the collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”

Cycles and Turnings

William Strauss and Neil Howe show in The Fourth Turning (1997) that history unfolds in cycles, each cycle lasting the length of a long human life. Each Cycle is composed of four Turnings: a High, an Awakening, an Unraveling, and a Crisis–like in nature, with its four “seasons” Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.” Each human cycle has four “seasons,” called Turnings. There have been four Cycles, each with their four “Turnings” in American history:

The Crises in first three 4th Turnings in American history each resulted in a major war: The American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. The U.S. has not yet begun directly fighting in a major war in this Millennial Cycle’s current 4th Turning.

Strauss and Howe say that this current Fourth Turning might either “end in apocalypse—or glory.” They write:

“The nation could be ruined, its democracy destroyed, and millions of people scattered or killed. Or America could enter a new golden age, triumphantly applying shared values to improve the human condition. The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming crisis, all they suggest is the timing.”

Before this Millennial Cycle’s 4th Fourth Turning is over, the risk that the U.S. could become involved in a nuclear war is real.

The American Century

The idea of the “American Century,” with America dominating international relations and the global economy began, according to historian David Traxel, in 1898 with America’s war against Spain in Cuba and the Philippines, which with the acquisition of the Philippines turned the U.S. into a world power.

Others say that American hegemony began in 1918 at the end of World War I; or especially in 1945 at the end of World War II.

But with the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine not turning out well, and the Great Recession of 2008 heralding the onset of this Millennial Cycle’s Crisis Fourth

Turning, with more trouble to come, it would appear that the “American Century’ is essentially over.

Jacob Hornberger, Founder and President of The Future of Freedom Foundation, in his January 31, 2023 article, “Why Not Defund the Military,” writes:

“The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state was the worst mistake our nation has ever made. Not only is it a major factor in the out-of-control federal spending, debt and monetary debauchery that is threatening our nation with bankruptcy, it also is now threatening our nation with life-destroying nuclear war. We need to repeal and dismantle our national security establishment and restore a [Jeffersonian] limited-government republic with a small military force. We need to do it now. Our liberty, peace, prosperity, harmony and even our survival depends on it.”

Our country’s decades-long journey embracing military imperialism must stop. Instead, we   must once again become the exemplar of Jeffersonian peace, freedom, and democracy that       once inspired the world.

Concluding thoughts

A war was not necessary to end slavery in the United States.

People in the southern states would have ended slavery peacefully in the 19th century, without war, as happened in every other country in the Western Hemisphere.

Southern secession would have been a good thing.

The North’s drive for empire and global dominion may not have occurred if another large country like the Confederate States of America with its free markets had come to occupy a substantial part of the North American continent along with the United States and Canada.

Ulysses S. Grant was the premiere general in the Civil War.

We need another general of Grant’s caliber now to steer our country away from a 4th Turning nuclear war.

Our country needs to dismantle its national security establishment.

And restore a Jeffersonian limited-government republic with a small military force but armed with a state-of-the-art nuclear deterrent.


The Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Website ( will be posting the complete video of this talk with its fifty-two slides in the Videos section of site. (The last slide shows my southern family’s connection with the Confederacy.)

My 2001 article “A Jeffersonian View of the Civil War” is accessible here.

In the attached “Recommended Reading” list for this article, the books I recommend in this updated article on the 158-year-old Civil War were all published in the last 25 years, except for these two classics: Grant’s 1885-6 Personal Memoirs and Bruce Catton’s 1960, 1969 Grant Moves South, 1861-1863, Part 1and Grant Takes Command, 1863-1865, Part 2.

Recommended Reading

Adams, Charles. 2000. When In The Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield.

Bennett, Lerone Jr. 2000. Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co.

Brager, Bruce. 2020. How Ulysses S. Grant Won the Civil War. Mechanicsburg, PA. Stackpole Books.

Catton, Bruce. 1960, 1969. Grant Moves South, 1861-1863, Part 1; Grant Takes Command, 1863-1865, Part 2Boston: Little Brown and Company.

Dwyer, John J. 2005. The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War. Benton, TX: Bluebonnet, Press.

Davis, William C. 2014. Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—The War They Fought, The Peace They Forged. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, A Member of the Perseus Books Group.

DiLorenzo, Thomas J. 2002. The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda and An Unnecessary War. Roseville, Calif.: Prima Publishing Company, Random House.

——– 2006. Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe. New York: Crown Publishing Group, A Division of Random House, Inc.

——– 2008. Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution—and What It Means for Americans Today. New York: Crown Publishing Group, A Division of Random House, Inc.

——– 2020. The Problem with Lincoln. Washington DC: Regnery History, Salem Media Group.

Gordon, David, ed. 1998. Secession, State & Liberty. Chapter 7, “Yankee Confederates: New England Secession Movements Prior to the War Between the States,” by Thomas DiLorenzo. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Grant, Ulysses Simpson. [1885-6] 1995. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.

Griffin, David Ray, 2018. The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic?Atlanta. Clarity Press, Inc.

Herman, Arthur, 2001. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything n It. NY: Three Rivers Press.

Miller, Donald W. Jr., 2014. “World War Redux: The Fourth Turning Fourth Time Around.”  Also accessible online by googling the title.

Scaturro, Frank J. 1998. President Grant Reconsidered. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Scruggs, Leonard M. 2011. The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths. Asheville, NC: University Media, Inc.

Strauss, William and Howe, Neil. 1997. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. NY: Broadway Books.

Thorton, Mark and Ekelund, Robert B. Jr. 2004. Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of The Civil War. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc.

Waugh, Joan. 2009. U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Wright, Ronald C. 2016. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant. NY: Random House.

Woods, Thomas E. Jr. 2010. Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in The 21st Century. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing Inc.