I have been spending many of my waking hours this week on a line-by-line, word-by-word, comma-by-comma review of the first-pass edit of my WIP, “Yankee Reconstructed.” This is the stage at which my editor often catches the little mistakes that creep in over the months-long process of writing a novel. Simple errors, like a change of names or eye-color, are easy to correct. Consistency in capturing attitudes from 150 years ago is more difficult to handle.
My new book covers the 10 to 15 year period immediately after the Civil War, known to historians (and the people living through it) as Reconstruction. Highlights of that first ten years include the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which established the basis for all of the following civil rights legislation up to the present day. So I’ve been carefully examining what my characters have to say about those amendments — both pro and con — and particularly, the 14th Amendment, which says:
This morning I opened my Yahoo! home page to check my e-mail, and the first sentence to hit my eye declared that Donald Trump says, “The 14th Amendment is unconstitutional.”
Really? Has he no understanding of constitutional law and what it takes to make a change in that constitution? Do his followers have no understanding of the struggle for civil rights that has gone on for 150 years? Has there been no moral progress on this issue in the past 150 years?
I do not wish to ignite or engage in a political argument here in my blog, and I will not publish comments on this post. However, I return to my editing with an even stronger conviction that modern readers need to learn more about what went on in this country immediately after the Civil War.
Someone once asked me if I really believed that people should take time to read history-based books about events that took place long ago. Oh, yeah!