Are We on The Doorstep of Another Civil War?

Before I get into my analysis, I want to make it clear I believe that anyone who wants a civil war to happen in the U.S. is dangerously naïve, insane, or working for one of America’s enemies.  Imagine a Russia-Ukraine-type conflict in the U.S.

Thanks to Hollywood, most Americans believe that rebellions can be started and won by small ragtag groups of patriots, freedom fighters, insurrectionists, or everyday common folk.  All you need are pistols, assault weapons, bows and arrows, and maybe a few Molotov cocktails.  Blow up the Death Star, and the problem is solved.

But that is not how it usually works.  Revolutions require armaments, soldiers, money, something worth fighting for, and popular support.  Unless lives are at stake, few people are angry or committed enough to leave jobs or families to risk going to jail or dying needlessly.

The most daunting task is overcoming the opposition.  The weaponry and manpower available to peacekeepers in our country is formidable.  This includes the local sheriff’s departments, city police, state police, National Guard, and various federal agencies, most notably the FBI.  Plus, in a crisis, these organizations will usually work together.  An uprising of twenty, fifty, or even a hundred-plus armed citizens would quickly fail.

Ever heard of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794?  In 1791, Congress passed a distilled spirits tax.  Residents of western Pennsylvania, who used whiskey as money, protested and refused to pay the tax.  Sporadic acts of violence and resistance began, along with threats to secede from the Union.  The unrest culminated in 1794, when a group of around 600 armed citizens took a federal marshal prisoner.  When the government sent 13,000 troops, commanded by George Washington, to restore order, the rebels went home without firing a shot.

What about John Brown’s Raid?  In 1859, abolitionist John Brown and 21 other armed followers attempted to start a slave rebellion by capturing the Federal Arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.  He and his followers were confronted by U.S. Marines, commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee.  Ten of the rebels were killed during the ensuing firefight.  Seven more were tried and hanged later.

Remember the Weather Underground?  This was a Marxist antiwar faction that wanted to start a revolution by radicalizing students to oppose the Vietnam War.  The Weathermen, a group of around 400 people, were involved in numerous bombings of federal and state facilities between 1969 and 1973.  Almost all of them were eventually arrested and imprisoned.

This brings me to the two most significant military conflicts on American soil, pitting family against family and brother against brother.  One is the American Revolution, basically an English Civil War, and the other is the American Civil War.  One was fought over taxation and individual rights, the other over slavery and states’ rights.

The battles that started the Revolution were between the British army and the Massachusetts militia.  Some might equate the word “militia” with a mob.  But at that time, the militia was a legitimate military organization, like today’s National Guard.

On April 19, 1775, around 700 members of the British occupation force in Boston were sent to capture or destroy military supplies stored at Lexington and Concord.  During the early morning hours, the militia was warned that the British were coming, so individual units began to assemble while the military stores were being moved.

At Lexington, around 77 local militia faced roughly 400 British troops.  The militia realized they were heavily outnumbered and were about to disperse when someone fired a shot, prompting the British to open fire and charge.  Eight militia members were killed and several wounded.  This might have been swept under the rug as an unfortunate incident except for what happened at Concord.

At North Bridge, roughly 400 militiamen faced off against about 100 British soldiers.  As both sides maneuvered to control the bridge, supposedly, a panicked British soldier fired his musket.  Before their officers could stop it, other British soldiers opened fire.  In self-defense, the militia did the same, resulting in several killed and wounded on both sides.

As the British began to retreat, other militia units began to arrive.  Word of the casualties at Lexington and Concord had spread, prompting a running firefight between the militia and the British all the way to Boston.  In only one day, the situation had gone from an uneasy peace to an armed rebellion.  In 1776, the other colonies finally chose sides and declared their independence.

In 1860, the U.S. was divided over the issue of slavery.  When Abraham Lincoln, who supported the abolition of slavery, was elected president, seven Southern slave states decided to secede.  These states then asked that all federal facilities within their jurisdiction — forts, shipyards, etc. — be turned over to them.

However, Lincoln refused to give up Fort Sumter in South Carolina.  So, on April 12, 1861, the South Carolina militia opened fire with artillery and bombarded the fort.  Two days later, the small contingent of federal troops defending it surrendered.  Lincoln then issued a call for volunteers to fight the rebels.  At that point, the eight other slave states decided to either secede from the Union or stick with it.  Now that sides had been chosen and shots fired, the war began.

You might notice a pattern here.  First, important issues divide our country, like independence versus obedience to the king or slavery versus freedom.  Then, either a military skirmish occurs before sides get chosen or sides get chosen before the military gets involved.  Both the Revolution and the Civil War were started by state military organizations, not by groups of armed radicals.

We are at a similar junction in history right now.  Politics has divided the country, and the pivotal issue is unlimited illegal immigration.  Few wanted it.  No one expected it when he voted for Biden.  And now almost no one is willing to pay the price socially or financially to support it.

The White House may have believed that its open border policy would get someone, anyone, to pick up a gun to stop the madness.  It would give Biden an excuse to impose martial law, ban assault weapons or handguns, or both.  But the horde of right-wing extremists the far-left fantasizes about does not exist.

It seems the administration may have gone too far too fast.  The whole country is aware of this issue, and opposition is rising, leading the states to get directly involved. 

The Texas National Guard has been sent to the border to stop the flow of migrants.  Roughly half of the states have declared their support for Texas.

If Democrats want to continue unlimited illegal immigration, Biden could nationalize the Texas National Guard, take control, and send it home.  But what happens if Texas says no?  Would Biden order the armed forces to disarm or attack the Texas Guard?  Would the use of the armed forces be legal?  Do Democrats care?

History tells us that civil wars happen when our country is divided and the states believe they must get involved.  That time may be at hand.

Pray that sanity prevails.

Image: Michael Theis via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.

If you experience technical problems, please write to