The Civil War is one of, if not the fundamental formative event in America's history. The war not only freed millions held in bondage but resolved long debated on the nature of the power of the federal government and what form the economy of this nation would take. Imagine a time when what the American way of life would be, had not been decided. Imagine a time when how far the basic premises of the freedoms guaranteed in the bill rights and constitution extended? That time was the era between 1812 and 1860. During that time the power of the slave owning states and the proponents of state sovereignty and an agrarian American republic was gradually eroded until they saw only two options, submission or secession. The cultural war lost the shooting war began. The result was the clearing away of old ideas of what America's destiny would be and a clean slate for the development of the America we know.
The deeds accomplished by the historical players in this clash of ideas and values become the basis for what in many opinions is the great American narrative, the tale of how a nation took its first steps toward making the high sounding words of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution a reality instead of evidence of hypocrisy and moral cowardice. In this fight between worlds the drama and human sacrifice would become immortalized in our national memory.
The combination of everything that was fought for, what the nation would become and the sacrifices made result in the Civil War having a place of primacy in our national memory more than a century and half later.