I just got back from an Executive Committee meeting in the great state of New Mexico.
On April 12, 1861, guns in Charleston harbor opened up on Fort Sumter, and 150 years ago the nation was at war with itself. I cannot help but draw the parallel to the deep divisions in our nation today. But for the sophistication of communications and the fact that our population today is so mobile, I fear that our nation would be headed for Civil War today—only this time the divide would be much more complex.
One hundred and fifty years ago our nation had no idea of the horrible carnage that lay ahead. An entire generation of American men was lost, and it took the Southern states 50 years just to regain their 1860 GDP level. One in three Southern men of military age had either been killed or maimed. The “limb”-making business thrived for years after the war ended.
I have thought a lot about the war lately and how Main Street’s community banks are locked in a war with the Wall Street financial services titans for the very soul of this nation’s financial services sector. It will be a long and intense struggle as well. May the community banking sector never give up its independence and its soul to the forces of overconcentration and unbridled reach. May community bankers never allow themselves to be used as pawns in the struggle for this nation’s financial soul. Main Street made this nation the greatest nation on earth with the most enduring values—may we always stay true to that course.