For #ThursdayDoors (Norm Frampton’s foray into doors around the world) I’m taking y’all to Fort Sumter which sits on a manmade island guarding Charleston South Carolina and which is where the American Civil War, or as the Southerners call it, the War of Northern Aggression, began. Oddly, the Southerners were the first aggressors, not the Northerners, but we were guests and so held our tongues when the subject of those vile Yankees came up.
Charleston, a town on the south eastern coast of the United States, was founded in 1670 and until 1861 had been a major center of trade, including the selling of human beings. Although the surrounding rice plantations couldn’t survive without slave labor, in the town itself skilled slaves were often given the opportunity to buy their freedom and even own slaves themselves. So Charlestonians considered themselves quite genteel and fiercely resented Northerner implications that they were doing anything at all immoral.
After the state of South Carolina seceded from the union, they immediately demanded that the soldiers at Fort Sumter surrender to the newly formed Confederate army. The soldiers responded by flying a US flag so huge the fine citizens of Charleston could see it from their waterfront.
When the Confederates learned that a ship was on its way to supply Fort Sumter, they bombarded the island from two peninsulas on either side (the harbor is shaped like a fishbowl) until nothing remained but rubble.
Remarkably only two Union soldiers died and their deaths were the result of poor artillery training (they blew themselves up).
When I looked across the bay at Charleston I couldn’t help imagining how the union troops must have felt. There they were, completely surrounded by fellow Americans who’d turned against them and wanted them dead or at least gone. They probably felt the way minorities feel in America today.
"All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers" François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon
This Thanksgiving I’m grateful to call so many hardworking and decent people of all races, sexual orientations, and religions my friends. It’s horrifying to realize that so many of my fellow Americans don’t feel the same way.