By Hampton Smith
In 1861, as President Lincoln known as for volunteers to shield the Union, Thomas Christie wrote to his father, voicing wants shared through many an enlistee: "I do are looking to 'see the world,' to get out of the slim circle within which i've got consistently lived, to 'make a guy of myself,' and to have it to assert in days to come back that I, too, had an element during this nice struggle."As it became out, Thomas had a good companion in his quest: his brother William. either signed on with the 1st Minnesota mild Artillery, operating as "cannoneers," chargeable for loading and aiming enormous weapons on the enemy. the 1st Minnesota observed motion in significant battles at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. however the adventurers additionally persevered the monotony of camp lifestyles, the starvation of terrible provide strains, and, in William's case, the demanding situations of enemy catch. The ups and downs, the doubts and thrills are mentioned from their differing views during this choice of letters to frightened mom and dad, a winsome sister, and a more youthful brother wanting to take part the struggle. Their brilliant epistles are more advantageous by way of the familial connection of brothers in hands who finally did see the world--and back domestic replaced.
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Extra info for Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie
16 A third explanation comes from Bernard Bailyn, who offers the disarmingly counterintuitive argument that the prescience of the founders was a function of their provincialism. Bailyn poses, more clearly than anyone else, the core question: How did this backwoods population of three to five million farmers, mechanics, and minor gentry, huddled on the distant edge of the British Empire, far removed from the epicenters of learning and culture in London and Paris, somehow produce thinkers and ideas that fundamentally transformed the landscape of modern politics?
The obsession with posterity’s judgment also explains why, in their old age, they often chose to retrospectively airbrush their youthful blunders out of the picture, as when Jefferson edited out his confident claim that the French Revolution would be a bloodless triumph. Especially toward the end, posing for posterity became an instinctive act, because posterity was the only afterlife of which most of them were certain. 15 An altogether different explanation for the distinctive character of the founders’ achievement comes from Gordon Wood, whose argument echoes the earliest observation by Washington that timing was crucial.
The former is a radical document that locates sovereignty in the individual and depicts government as an alien force, making rebellion against it a natural act. The latter is a conservative document that locates sovereignty in that collective called “the people,” makes government an essential protector of liberty rather than its enemy, and values social balance over personal liberation. It is extremely rare for the same political elite to straddle both occasions. Or, to put it differently, it is uncommon for the same men who make a revolution also to secure it.
Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie by Hampton Smith