Sunday, February 10, 2013
the last book I ever read (Rise to Greatness by David Von Drehle, excerpt eighteen)
from Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year by David Von Drehle:
The twelve tumultuous months of 1862 were the hinge of American history, the decisive moment at which the unsustainable compromises of the founding generations were ripped up in favor of a blueprint for a much stronger nation. In the process, millions of lives were transformed: the lives of slaves who were to be greed, and of the slave owners who would be impoverished; the lives of the soldiers and their families who bore the suffering of the first all-out war of the Industrial Age; the lives of those who would profit from new inventions, longer railroads, and modern finance; the lives of student who would be educated in great public universities. The road taken in 1862 ultimately led to greater prosperity than anyone had ever imagined. For the first time—but certainly not the last—the United States flexed its muscle to turn back an existential threat. Despite the cataclysmic destruction caused by the Civil War, the reunited state, North and South, would be far richer in 1870 than in 1860. During the same period, the nation’s population would rise by more than 20 percent, and its gross domestic product would nearly double.