There is an interesting essay from Allen Guelzo in the Weekly Standard, wrestling with the question as to whether or not the American Civil War should be seen as a "second" American Revolution (h.t. PB).
The search for a revolution inside the Civil War is sometimes simply a search after something novel to say about an American event. Sometimes, however, the search for a “second American Revolution” is the offspring of a question that bedeviled Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and that bedevils historians of a Marxist persuasion today, the question posed by Werner Sombart a century ago: Why is there no socialism in America? Why, in other words, is there, in the land of the American Revolution, no interest in a social revolution of the classes? The answers on offer since then have been many and various. But one answer to Sombart’s question that has been overlooked may be Lincoln and the Civil War itself.
Lincoln and the Civil War imparted to the idea of democracy a nobility and a moral grandeur that democracy has sometimes lacked. After all, democracy assumes that the humblest of citizens is competent to participate in governing; if the humblest citizen turns out to be a boor, a simpleton, or a redneck, democracy will quickly begin to lose its luster. But the victory of the North over slavery was a moment in which democracy shed any appearance of the commonplace and the ho-hum, and was borne up on the wings of courage, self-sacrifice, and the soaring eloquence of one humble but extraordinary president. Democracy can be dreadfully ordinary, because it is about the interests of ordinary people, rather than about knights in armor and royalty in gold carriages; Lincoln and the Civil War gave democracy the strength of giants and put into its hand the shining sword of freedom. Perhaps, in looking for a revolution, people have mistaken the means for the end, for in the Civil War, what we got was not revolution, but freedom. And freedom is worth having, by revolution or any other means.
To read the entire essay, click here: Democracy and Nobility