Coming of Age: Wisconsin and the Civil War with Kerry Trask
Kerry Trask, a UW-Manitowoc emeritus professor of history, will speak on “Coming of Age: Lincoln, the Civil War and the Transformation of Wisconsin and the Midwest” for the final Taproom History program for 2021.
The Civil War did more than just end slavery, historian Terry Trask said. “It’s a war of almost national liberation,” Trask said. “It’s a war of independence for Wisconsin and the Midwest.” Almost 49 percent of military age men in Wisconsin served in the Civil War, he said. “They would be there slugging it out, dying by the thousands,” Trask said. “It was this whole colonial thing. A sense of inferiority. All a sudden, they’re having their faces rubbed into it,” he said. Trask said constant comparisons to the more sophisticated east gave Midwesterners an inferiority complex. The election of Illinois born Abraham Lincoln to President started to change attitudes.
“Lincoln’s perceived shortcomings in the war became his strengths,” he said. This eventually transferred to Midwesterners feeling a little less inferior, although still humble.
“All those things we used to apologize for we now point to as virtues,” Trask said. “We stopped being a colonial projection of the east and became our own selves.”
Trask, a native of Ontario, Canada, has written several books on Midwest history including “The Fire Within: A Civil War Narrative from Wisconsin” and “Black Hawk: The Battle for the Heart of America.” He finds local history to offer a wealth of material for discussion.