Essay Contest 2012 Honorable Mention, Senior Entry

Bria Schimsa, 12th Grade

Teacher: Mrs. Nancy Thater
School: Pacific High School, Pacific, MO

Preserving 150 Years of History: 1861-1862, The War Commences

America in the early 1860’s portrayed a time filled with violence between countrymen and rifts in national standards. Southern states preferred the notion of states’ rights over federal rights, slavery, and largely agriculture-based economies, while the North wanted a strong national government, the abolishment of slavery, and growth of industries. These differences built tension between the states until Abraham Lincoln was elected president- then the cannons burst. South Carolina illegally seceded from the states in December of 1860, followed by six other states, thus beginning the American Civil War.

The war signaled huge losses for both the Northern and Southern states. From the start of the war at Fort Sumter to its end at Appomattox, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. Many towns, families, and spirits were broken, but America was made whole once again. The series of battles fought during this time helped conquer sectional antagonism and abolish slavery, both big events in American history. The land that these issues were hammered out on is forever stained with the blood of these soldiers, but most people would never know by the way they look now. Historical preservation societies work hard to keep these areas alive and well taken care of, but that may not be enough. In the years since the war, portions of some battlefields have been lost to development and damage; what will happen when there are no more of these historical sites left?

Left unprotected, the historical significance of these sites will fall into ruins as well as the locations themselves. Some of the most important history lessons are learned by experiencing the lessons firsthand by visiting the battlefields. We cannot go forward as a country without first knowing our past, so why forget it? As we reach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, take a moment to remember the battles and what they stand for. Go out and help with their preservation to remember and honor what we have lost as a nation, and what we have gained through the war’s outcome.

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