So much has been written about how white southerners will approach the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War that it might be altogether too easy to forget that the conflict was a national event. After all, it takes two to tango, and it was the North’s Civil War, too. Recent newspaper reports informed us that my home state of New York simply wasn’t going to establish a sesquicentennial commission. To be sure, other states outside those who joined the Confederacy have formed commissions (such as Pennsylvania and Ohio), but the fact is that when we think of the sesquicentennial, most of us think first of the South and whether white southerners will find themselves able to bring themselves to wrestle with their region’s history.
That’s a mistake.