The Truth About Fort Sumter and the American Civil War

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On this day 150 years ago, shots were fired on a small fort in Charleston, South Carolina. Fort Sumter has since been a well known historical monument, especially to Southerners whose relatives fought in the bloody war which matched North against South, brother against brother, cousin against cousin, neighbor against neighbor. The report on the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War by CBS this morning brought up some quite interesting talking points.

One of the main ideas mentioned in this video is the idea that slavery was the main cause of the Civil War. I, and 48% of people in a recent Pew Internet Research poll, beg to differ. The Civil War did not begin as an attempt by the North to free the poor, enslaved African-Americans in the South. It was instead a battle over the freedom of each state to make it’s own decisions within the federal government. This issue, referred to as States’ Rights, was a definite source of conflict and strong debate in the years leading up to the Civil War. While slavery was one of the issues that states wanted the right to choose their stance on, there were also other issues involved. Take a look at the results of the poll (below).

I was a bit surprised to see that 56% of people polled admitted that they knew that the Civil War was still relevant to American politics and political life. I would definitely agree with this statements, not because I had many relatives from both sides of my family who fought in the Civil War, but because civil rights and states’ rights are still hot topics in todays’ political arena. For the 44% who don’t agree, I have provided some videos below related to this topic.

Is it odd that Al Jazeera is reporting on  the Tea Party?

While you may agree or disagree with the Tea Party, States’ Rights or other issues mentioned, you would have to agree that topics of conflict during the Civil War are highly relevant today. They will also most likely be highly discussed in the upcoming presidential election.

I was also surprised that 36% of people polled believed it was appropriate to praise Confederate leaders. I find it strange that today’s citizens-liberal or conservative-believe they have a right to look down their noses at Confederate leaders, when even President Lincoln greatly acknowledged their leadership skills:

On April 18, five days after the fall of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln offered Lee the job of commanding the Union army. A Union general had told Lincoln, “Lee is so valuable; his life should be insured for five million dollars.” Lincoln’s offer was a great honor, but Lee turned it down. The day before, Virginia had voted to secede from the Union. With a heavy heart, Lee then left the U.S. Army and joined the Confederacy. Lee said: “If I owned four million slaves, I would cheerfully give them up to save the Union. But to lift my hand against Virginia is impossible.”

Lee was Lincoln’s first choice for General of the Union Army, and was greatly admired by those fighting on both sides of the army. Other Confederate leaders also gained great admiration during the Civil War for their abilities to stand strong against adversity and not compromise their values and ethics regardless of the situation. Whether or not you agree with their political position, you should be able to acknowledge that these men were strong leaders. There are a great number of people who have taken the time to understand the real causes and purposes of the Civil War and have chosen to honor it’s heritage from the Rebel flag to the white and black soldiers who fought for the North and the South.

I encourage you to check out the Fort Sumter Historical Site in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, and pause for a moment of silence to honor all of the 624,511 Americans- black and white – who lost their lives in the America Civil War.

And, as an extra tidbit of information, here are some other historical happenings on April 12th!

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Presidential Klout: Will social media give Obama the edge in 2012?

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“And they’re off!” President Obama launched his re-election campaign today, marking what is definitely going to be a wild ride for social media in the 2012 election campaign. Obama’s launch video gives the appearance of a  highly grassroots support group. in essence, he is using the people to reach out to the people. An interesting move on the part of Obama campaign managers. Obama seems determined to stay ahead of the other possible candidates in the social media arena. His campaign has already launched a Facebook application and asks if you are “in”. Obama also has an active Facebook page with 18,991,226 likes. His Twitter account has quite a following.

But, does this mean that social media is all about helping out Obama campaign? Not necessarily. It will be extremely important for the campaign managers of all candidates this election year to make sure they monitor social media as well as using it as a platform to distribute information. For instance, sites such as social mention can help them keep up with the sentiment about the campaign.

While simply having a social media presence gave Obama a bit of an edge in the 2008 campaign, the Obama social media campaign will prove much more of a challenge for the campaign managers. As seen from the social search above, not all of the comments about Mr. Obama are positive ones. Obama does have a good bit of influence in the social media arena (see Klout score below), but it will be very important that this influence be leveraged correctly. Otherwise, the magnitude of amplification for Obama’s Tweets and updates could cost him the public’s support.

We can’t help but wonder, though, how candidates from the GOP will be able to also leverage social media in their favor. Several Republican politicians who are being thrown into the pool of possible candidates are also gaining Klout.

On the Republican front, the issue with social media is very likely going to be the need for a unified front. Since President Obama is the incumbent, he is the most likely Democratic candidate. In the GOP, however, there hasn’t been a clearly identified front-runner yet and there may not be for a while. It will be interesting to see how this year will play out.  🙂

If you would like to read more about social media and the 2012 election, check out these stories:

2012 Will Be The First And Last Social Media Election

Social Media & the 2012 Election

Sarah Palin Leads Election 2012 GOP Field In Twitter & Facebook Followings

New Red Blue Covers Social Media in the 2012 Election Cycle   
 GOP Uses Social Media to Respond to Obama 2012 Campaign Launch