I’ve previously blogged about the dangers of romanticizing the United States Civil War. Sinclair Lewis’s voice in It Can’t Happen Here, Doremus Jessup, in Chapter 13 considers the dangers posed by people who believe they have The Solution and questions the value his 1930s contemporaries place on the Civil War:
Slavery had been a cancer, and in that day was known no remedy save bloody cutting. There had been no X-rays of wisdom and tolerance. Yet to sentimentalize this cutting, to justify and rejoice in it, was an altogether evil thing, a national superstition that was later to lead to other Unavoidable Wars–wars to free Cubans, to free Filipinos who didn’t want our brand of freedom, to End All Wars.
Let us, thought Doremus, not throb again to the bugles of the Civil War, nor find diverting the gallantry of Sherman’s dashing Yankee boys in burning the houses of lone women, nor particularly admire the calmness of General Lee as he watched thousands writhe in the mud.