It seems that Paul LePage, Maine's governor (who dreams of being Donald Trump when he grows up), is claiming that 7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy. This is just about the stupidest assertion possible. According to a response article in the Bangor Daily News, about 73,000 Mainers fought for the Union, so now I am wondering if the guv is confused about (1) the difference between Union and Confederacy and (2) where the comma goes in a big number. I mean, come on: as the Bangor Daily News article avers, during the Civil War, no one was more staunchly Unionist than Maine. And while about 30 Mainers are on record as fighting for the Confederacy, most of them were college students, so it's not clear if they were even from the state.
I am so tired of "I want it to be true; therefore, it is true" politics. And in this case, I'm also appalled that our governor is impugning the history of his own state. The vast majority of Mainers were not treasonous. Those who fought did so because they wanted to preserve the nation, not break it apart.
In western Pennsylvania, the KKK burnt crosses to terrify my Polish immigrant ancestors. In central New Jersey, my Dutch and Quaker forebears owned slaves. My family history is not either-or. It's both-and. I am all for facing up to history, and to our faults and errors in grappling with it. I believe we carry the weight of our family's past, as well as of our larger social, political, and cultural pasts. I believe we need to admit to the evil therein. But in the case of "7,600 Mainers fought for the Conderacy," LePage is inventing a treachery that did not exist. If I were the descendant of a Maine Civil War veteran, I would be livid.