The Conqueror and the Conquered

The Conqueror and the Conquered

A Story by Chelsea Schermerhorn

An essay I wrote last year for a district academic competition. I placed 2nd in my district with this essay.



What is the point of war? Rather, what good can come of it? The examples of war in history are always given purpose and meaning— the American Civil War ended the reign of plantation owners over the African-American slaves, who in their poverty and oppression were ill-treated and abused, so history tells us. In fact, most slaves were not so badly treated as what people learn in school; many adored their masters and loved them as children love their parents. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, that “started the Great War” in Abraham Lincoln’s words, gives a shining example of this fact. Uncle Tom loves his owners and has always loved them as family. If the condition of slavery was not as bad as seen in eyes today, then what was the Civil War fought over? When the states of the South seceded from the Union, President Lincoln’s goal was to keep them under the government of the United States of America, not to put an end to their booming economy based on slave labor. The North merely wanted to conquer the South, but the façade given to the Civil War is the ending of slavery. This is a tradition that the histories of the world manage to cycle over and over again— the urge to conquer other men is almost always given a mask to hide its true purpose behind.
            The Civil War may have put an end to slavery; however, it did not necessarily improve the lives of the men freed by the altercation. The already poor slaves were pushed even further into poverty after the war by the sharecropping system; the Ku Klux Klan sprang up in hate of the inferior race and their freedom, and the African-Americans suffered extensively at the hands of the white men as most slaves had not before experienced. The North conquering the South and bringing them back into the Union did not accomplish the goals of bettering life for the men who had been slaves; indeed, in some degrees it worsened the situation. A mask was given to the war, and despite the extraneous efforts to accomplish the goal of “freeing the slaves”, the American Civil War is looked upon as a milestone in history.
            The Crusades— the quest to restore the Holy Land by the European monarchs and nobles— tore apart the Middle-East from the very first crusade. This is justified, however, by the fact that the holy ground that was walked on by Jesus Christ the Messiah was being governed by infidels and barbarians and should be taken over and given the proper respect by good Christian men. Concluded, therefore, is the fact that the ideal of the war was concealed and the true reasoning for the battled for the Holy Land completely buried beneath the ashes, blood, tears, and sweat of the battle fields. In the tree Crusades for the holy land, men from Europe poured over the boundaries of the Middle-Eastern countries, seeking salvation in restoring Israel and Jerusalem to the Christians who should be governing the land. Legends have sprung up around the idea of the Crusades— the notorious Robin Hood defended the crown and throne of Richard the Lionheart while the King was away, fighting against the Muslims for control of the Holy Land. John I, Richard’s younger brother is portrayed in these legends as the evil, conniving rival of the King, seeking to remove his older brother from power. Ignored is the fact that Richard ignored his kingdom and left it for rot, to travel to far countries in order to conquer another land; also ignored is John signing the Magna Carta, when he was on the throne, which gave rights to the commoners and peasants of England, taking away from the power of King. All that is seen is the brave, older brother, questing for a greater cause than life itself.
            The Crusades appear similar to the American Civil War in the ideas of portraying the war as something it really was not. The men of the Middle-East did nothing to harm the Europeans who desired to conquer them; however, the wars were portrayed to the rest of the world and to history as an ethical battle of right and wrong. Are not all wars, in a sense, fought over right and wrong—those who conquer and those who are conquered? Even today, wars are justified as being for the right purposes and the conqueror seen as a knight in shining armor going to rescue those in despotism and destitution.
            The War Against Terrorism is a cloak of itself, when in reality, the United States of America is fighting to conquer the government of another country because it merely does not approve of the ways of the country we are fighting against. The attacks of September eleventh are used as a concealment of the true reasoning behind the war the country is in today. Will History remember the War in Iraq that way, or perchance, might people take into account what the wars of history have shown themselves to be? As in 1984 by George Orwell, people only remember in the past what history books tell them, and without a doubt, true history is viable only to those who live through the experience, and subject to the authors of the histories. “Who controls the past, controls the present,” and vice versa.
            If the wars of history are continually masked by some purpose other than what they really are for, then the cycle will continue on, conquerors and the conquered in an endless battle, purported to give freedom, happiness, and health to some third party which might not ever even become identifiable in the struggle. Men have a nature that hungers for war and lusts for blood— the blood of those who are conquered for no reason other than for the conqueror to conquer and to receive the reward that is there for them, be it an entire continent in the case of the Spanish conquering the New World, or just a few more acres of land in the battles against the Native American Indians. Man has an innate desire to carry on war and conquer another party by means of war. In essence, this cycle can be seen as a simple, yet tragic, ever-continuing boys’ game of Cowboys and Indians.

© 2009 Chelsea Schermerhorn

Author's Note

Chelsea Schermerhorn
as of right now, this essay has not been edited.

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I really like this essay. It had a great hypothesis behind it. Your imagery is fantastic. You portray the real trauma of war in few words, which is very difficult to do. You use examples to prove your thoughts, which is excellent. However, I felt that the examples were very lightly touched upon. When writing to convince, it is best to consider the reader ignorant. While most people know the basics of the Crusades and most Americans know the basics of the Civil War and the War on Terrorism, for those who do not know the basics or only know the MOST basic of facts, your references may not be very convincing. The examples within the wars could also have been built upon a little more. Also the transitions are rough, but are fairly good for an unedited essay. Overall this piece was fantastic! I can see why it took second place. Your diction is amazing! I am looking forward to reading more of your work!

Posted 14 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on February 1, 2009


Chelsea Schermerhorn
Chelsea Schermerhorn

Bruceville-Eddy, TX

I like books of all sorts, old and new, I love it when the words of a book draw pictures in my mind, I love movies of all genres except horror, learning about all things, including history, pop cultur.. more..