Holding leadership positions at several energy companies, Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City also finds time for community organizations, including the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Civil War Trust. Duke Ligon is on the Civil War Trust’s board of trustees.
The Civil War Trust is committed to preserving the history of the American Civil War. Ligon’s intere is borne not only from his own experience as a Bronze Star-holding U.S. Army captain, but from a family history that counts three ancestors in the conflict.
The Civil War was the single bloodiest experience in U.S. history in terms of American casualties. At the same time, it was also a critical transformative experience. New Constitutional amendments abolished slavery and expanded citizenship and voting rights, the federal government had established its supremacy over the states, and northern entrepreneurial capitalism become the economic ideal over southern traditional agrarianism.
These consequences were not limited to the US itself, however, as the country was still very much an experiment in republican government – one which firmly held the attention of Europe and its former colonies.
As the Civil War progressed, many of the monarchs, emperors, and aristocrats anticipated that the US would emerge broken, conclusively proving the failure self-government. Spain and France even initiated plans to reclaim portions of the Americas. Instead, the US emerged from the war with a formidable military, thriving industry, and renewed commitment to its principles, emboldening other proponents of self-government throughout the hemisphere to take action. Spain and France withdrew their interests, Britain allowed the dominion of Canada to become self-governed (expecting that the US would attempt to annex it anyway), and Russia sold its Alaskan territory to the US, resulting in a complete European withdrawal from the Americas. In the case of Britain, Spain, and France, all three nations would see their monarchies either removed or severely limited in power by the end of the 19th century, adopting democratic reforms in their place.