War can be seen as a pillar of the American tradition. We are a nation born of war - our Revolution - and defined by war - our Civil War.
There were a number of circumstances that led to the colonists' rebellion against England and the monarchy. Tensions began to rise when King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763, banning English settlements west of the Appalachian mountains and ordering anyone in those regions to return east.
In 1764, the Sugar Act was passed, increasing duties on imported good, and established a court to deal with custom matters.
The Currency Act prohibited colonists from issuing paper money as legal tender, thus, destabilizing the colonial economy, and colonists called for a boycott of British luxury goods.
The Stamp Act of 1865 ordered colonists to pay tax directly to England and the Quartering Act ordered colonists to house and feed British troops.
That same year, the Sons of Liberty was formed to rebel against the Acts, and more merchants join in the boycotts.
Over the course of the next several years, numerous incidents of frictions and often violence broke between the colonists and British troops, each Act passed by England met with rebellion and each act of rebellion met with new Acts.
In 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia with delegates representing every colony, and included Patrick Henry and George Washington.
This was the beginning of a new nation being born from a society that regarded its freedom greater than life and submission to monarchy. The Congress elects George Washington as general and commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army, and by July 4, 1776, it adopted The Declaration of Independence.
This declaration of independence was a unique and powerful statement of commitment by a people united in cause and intent. Not only is the content of this document powerful, but it is worded in simple eloquent terms. Given the modern legal culture of today, it is difficult to imagine that if a document of such magnitude were written today that its content would be so sparse, more likely it would be quite voluminous. However, the wording is simple and to the point, declaring that a people have the right to "dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another ... that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
The beginning paragraph is perhaps the most poignant, stating that all men are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among which are "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," and that when any government becomes destructive to these ends, "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
And that is exactly what the Founding Fathers did by drafting the United States Constitution.
Again, the language of the Constitution is as simple and straightforward as the Declaration of Independence, and again causes pause as to how many volumes it would encompass were it written today. It states that "in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," this Constitution is established.
It contains seven articles, most of which are merely one or two sentences in length, the first of which establishes the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the last calling for ratification of the states.
A month after Abraham Lincoln was elected President in November 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union, followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
Lincoln had stated that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free" and so a month before Lincoln was sworn in as president, Jefferson Davis was named as president of the Confederate States of America.
And when the Confederate soldiers opened fire at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, America was once again at war, however, this time the enemy was its own.
By the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, several major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, were under threat of attack from General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army which had crossed the Potomac River and marched into Pennsylvania.
The Battle of Gettysburg was the most important and decisive battle of the American Civil War, for due to miscalculations and error in judgement by Lee, what began as a skirmish ended…