I had been so earnest this year about commemorating anniversaries on this blog and then I slipped in not even mentioning the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's start. Shame on me.
A century and a half ago the states of our nation were going through quite a crucible. The seven core states of the Confederacy were, of course, out of the Union already. But in the aftermath of Sumter the remaining states had to cast their lot with one side or the other. So if we were reading the news on April 17, 1861 the news would have been of fiery debates in the border states, and of enthusiastic crowds in the north sending off regiments of infantry to answer President Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers.
On both sides the men who rose in legislative sessions to argue for one side or the other were certainly motivated by partisan instincts, but partisanship fueled by a profound love of country and a conviction in what the country's founding and identity meant. Even though for some that identity was marred by slavery.