Volume One |
1861: The Cause
"No day ever dawns for the slave," a free black man once wrote. "It is all night.
All night, forever." The episode opens with an indictment of slavery and dramatically
evokes the background of the war. Here is the Cotton Kingdom of the South, the passion
for states' rights and the fierce determination to preserve the Union. We meet the
abolitionist Frederick Douglass, South Carolina's unyielding John C. Calhoun and
Abraham Lincoln, whose election in 1860 drove six Southern states to secede. The
nation witnesses the inauguration of two rival presidents in 1861; the opening guns
at Fort Sumter; the Union debacle at Bull Run. The commanders and ordinary soldiers
march on stage - along with the diarist who will put it in perspective. It is Mary
Boykin Chesnut, of Charleston, who writes, "We are divorced now, North from South,
because we hated each other so."