The historian, Jay Winik, in his book April 1865 argues that the manner in which Grant and Lincoln allowed Lee to surrender “saved America” — at least from several years of guerrilla warfare.
Unfortunately, by giving the Confederate States the illusion that their cause was honorable — when it was, in fact, traitorous and immoral, the way the war ended has led to 150-plus years of murder and hate. Yes, it’s easy to look back at the leaders in history and say they shouldn’t have done what they did. That their short-term vision cost us too much.
But, let’s not just blame them. Let’s now take the hard step and call the Confederate cause what it truly was: A traitorous rebellion against the United States of America, which was fought to preserve an immoral institution. There is no honor there. That must be repeated over and over for a few decades — at least a generation. Just as Hitler’s flag and the cause of Nazism were degraded after the 2d World War, so must the Confederate cause and flag be dishonored — even at this late date.
The leaders in 1865 may have made a mistake. We don’t need to keep perpetuating it.