First of all, if you are referring to "The War Between the States" (aka "The War of Northern Aggression"), it is impossible to view the era without considering how both North and South had slaves; with time comes the "need" to clean up the realities of History that are, - inconvenient. So if that horrific way, which in its day was not considered as it is now - At least HERE; for slavery STILL exists around the world; another little "clean-up" has been done there also. [BUT LEAVING THAT ASIDE; it is a can of worms that someone will want to open and I do not, so I will instead take the documents of that era which I own, and share what they tell me; my interpretation of the day to day World of the past; nearly 100 letters; scores of reports and numerous Books, booklets and stories contemporaneous within this general era].I think very often the Past is romanticized, and not without reason. It is so clear in the letters from that era; before, during and after the War.
The Dr wrote:do you feel the era is now considered more romantic than it (really) was?
When you read these letters between individuals, or from the Judge and someone asking for help, whether they were poor or wealthy, there is a politeness, a respect regardless of economic class; If I could put up these letters, and have you read the letters from a particular Judge to those who were very poor, versus those who were very wealthy, I don't believe you could tell the difference - although the wealthy usually did receive a scolding for not knowing better! The less educated were often given a break, depending on the problem, at least in the examples I have, especially in the South. And it makes sense; position and power were looked at very differently on a local level. EVEN TODAY, I may receive a ticket on the Expressway, but locally
, if the Sheriff or the Highway Patrolman who lives out where I do should stop me (only once in 15 years), to suggest I slow down, we ended up talking for half an hour; but where I live is remote, comparatively slower than a big city and personal relations are kinder and not so automatonic. If I am the only one on a stretch of road at night, why drive 45 MPH, unless I know there is a deer crossing?I believe it is very difficult to place ourselves in a very different time where "normal" was certainly incredibly different than what we would consider so today.
But the gentile manner in which scores of letters I have between friends, between business people, even between opposing sides
are usually Beautifully written and polite; this seems to have been either believed a function or WAS a function of intellect, education and character. Whereas it may be easy to be rude and lowly in the anonymous virtual modern age, there was a time when it made a person LOOK and to be considered lowly and not the sort of person that was accepted; It is so clear in these letters and even in later communication.I wish I could share the early cylinder recordings I have; one set is "How to write Business letters", and whether the amount due was $0.43 or $3.50, even the 4th or 5th letter was very polite on "If you could please remit the $1.12 due on May 12th, last, we would be so appreciative and we Thank You Sincerely for your patronage".
Now a computer prints out when it is due and what the automatic penalty is for paying late! The humanity is fading; the ability to have time to understand a person's situation and WHY
they may be late is fading. So much of what was once normal and on a higher plane of thought and reasoning is fading for all manner of reasons. So why not look at a time that was in MANY ways better?
Life was slower, and most people travelled very little in the way of distance; so it was not strange that you would be and continue to be kind to your neighbors; it was also the right thing to do because of ones Religion; or at least the Golden Rule. In these letters, and stories, there is talk of the family playing instruments together; regardless of economic status, each did what they could, and the family was closer and some culture was distributed by playing the Classics or common songs; it was an era of a warm togetherness, and extreme sadness from the poor medical knowledge; yet even THAT brought people together and private as they may be, there was still a sense of community while still remaining most certainly an individual with your way done within your family; NO ONE would tell you how to conduct your private affairs as long as it did not interfere with others.
One letter is apparently one of dozens - handwritten of course, "customized" letters to thank members of the Church (and others it turns out), for bringing food and paying a bill here or there while a widow was taken ill and bedridden. I have (3) of these letters, each very different, I suppose they were "first drafts" or something; or perhaps the lady's weak handwriting was copied by someone else and then THOSE
letters distributed. Whatever the case, these were not form letters; they were genuine thank you letters for a time when neighbors naturally looked out for one another; whether because it was the right thing to do, or whatever the reason, they did so. It is still so; get stuck in Colorado on a snowbank, and chances are someone will have a chain or rope to help out. When my neighbor, just a few miles away, had to go take care of a sick family member, I and another neighbor watered his livestock. It was very easy, since he has hoses going directly to each watering site. But without that help in midsummer, his livestock and his livelihood would have suffered.So I think we DO romanticize the Past, if only to remind ourselves that there is a better way. The Past Reminds Us that in many ways; despite hardships of all types, Life can be Better, and Richer; and Kinder. The 1880s may perhaps be a better era to do this; without the sad reality of slavery, the South, recovering, and the Great Freedoms to the West and Adventure.
Every era has its problems, so does each day; but one Great Point of History is we have a chance to see how certain things were indeed Better then than they may be today; and by our ability of seeing this
, it allows us the chance to gain back what of Goodness and Greatness of one age was lost, and make Tomorrow Better. This is what I see when I read the totality of the books and stories and papers; Insights they give into those now seemingly distant times.
"Everything is a Poison; it is the amount or degree that separates one Poison from another"