Monday, August 27, 2018

First Paragraph

There is a theory that the United States needed its great war of brothers to weld in a terrible fire what had been and what might be, that the end of one epoch and the birth of another could not be accomplished peacefully; that the irrepressible conflict was preordained. Across a tiny strip of land, not much more than 100 miles in length and 50 in breadth, the rise of the middle class and the modern industrial state was decided. The Industrial Revolution won. Yesterday gave way to Tomorrow. Feudal Europe transported to the New World bowed to modern America. And leading the great armies that decided the issue were two generals who almost too perfectly, almost too precisely, exemplified the meaning of the causes they served. Neither could more exactly represent the South and the North: Lee the Christian soldier, the knight-crusader of ancient lineage at the head of his legions, the image of noblesse oblige whose example reached downward to inspire the men who followed him because he was the representative of all that was best in their doomed society of polished old ways and understood relationships; Grant the great soldier of no roots whose weakness for liquor was known to the least of his followers, who had risen from nowhere, from failure and griminess and physical labor to do heroic and magical things and to hold out to those who followed him the hope that they too - farmers, laborers, craftsmen, new immigrants - could in America attain great heights, rise in the world, lead men, grow rich, grow famous, become President.

- From Lee and Grant: A Dual Biography by Gene Smith

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