There Were Only Free Men and Slaves

In the middle of a crazy war where everyone has an opinion about its validity, I found some insight from the words of Michael Shaara in his book, The Killer Angels, about the battle at Gettysburg. Chamberlain’s thoughts according to Shaara (p. 27):

This was the first place on earth where the man mattered more than the state. True freedom had begun here and it would spread eventually over all the earth. But it had begun here. The fact of slavery upon this incredibly beautiful new clean earth was appalling, but more even than that was the horror of old Europe, the curse of nobility, which the South was transplanting to new soil. They were forming a new aristocracy, a new breed of glittering men, and Chamberlain had come to crush it. But he was fighting for the dignity of man and in that way he was fighting for himself. If men were equal in America, all these former Poles and English and Czechs and blacks, then they were equal everywhere, and there was really no such thing as foreigner; there were only free men and slaves. And so it was not even patriotism but a new faith. The Frenchman may fight for France, but the American fights for mankind, for freedom; for the people, not the land.

In an era when people forget that freedom started in America, it’s important to remember the blood spilled for us. That courageous blood was spilled not just for a free America, but for a “new faith” that spread throughout the world.

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