Join the journey into one of the most captivating and seminal events in all of American history. We Are All Americans is the story of how the United States was transformed during the Civil War through the words of the three most central figures of the time – Jefferson Davis, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The story is communicated by three, contemporary reporters who describe the events as they unfold, in time linear fashion.
The world was watching what would happen to the American experiment in democracy. When the minority – represented by the 9 million southerners (3.5 million of whom were slaves) – left the union to form its own government, the sustainability of “majority rule” was thrown into question.
In 1860, there were only two other democratic countries – Switzerland and New Zealand. The three accounted for less than 3% of the world’s population. The rulers and the ruled of the world were watching to see if the people could in fact govern themselves.
Carl von Clausewitz wrote: “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.” The American Civil War was the manifestation of the political struggle between the Union without slavery or slavery without the Union.
Policy and politics were transformed on both sides of the Potomac. Southern states formed a new government that granted most power to the states. This model, however, gave Jefferson Davis little authority to fight the war, leaving him and the central government no choice but to, ironically, enact laws that defied states’ rights and individual liberties.
In Washington DC, the Republicans had complete authority to rule. Lincoln assembled and supplied a vast army and navy essentially overnight, wired the countryside with telegraph, and built the transcontinental railroad while fighting a war that cost $1 million per day. He also maintained a balanced budget thanks to a progressive income tax, immigration, the introduction of “greenbacks” and a rapidly growing economy.
In 1860, the U.S. military was little more than local militia, a few sailing ships and archaic weaponry. The war’s first fight at Bull Run was a lunchtime spectacle for the Washington elite – until Union soldiers nearly ran over them in retreat. After four years of the most horrific and deadly fighting the world had known, its military emerged as the world’s most powerful, its weaponry the most advanced and lethal, and its navy the ruler of the seas.
We Are All Americans is the story of how the United States was transformed through the words of the three most central figures of the time – Jefferson Davis, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The story is communicated and colored by three, contemporary reporters who describe the events as they unfold, in time linear fashion.
The United States in 1865 was a dramatically different country from the one that went to the polls in 1860. Experience this transformation through We Are All Americans.