July 13 is the anniversary of the biggest outbreak of civil and racial unrest in American history, in Manhattan, in 1863, over conscription.
The rioters had some legitimate complaints against how the draft was implemented, or even that it was, but rapidly turned to violently anti-black (and to a lesser extent anti-Protestant) actions including burning a black orphanage to the ground and lynching 11 blacks.
It’s a somber reminder that even when an undertaking is worthy, as the fight to save the Union and free the slaves was, dark motives lurk in human hearts.
To say so is not to counsel despair over history, to abandon belief in heroes and noble causes. But it is to counsel humility in our own day about how we pursue even the goals we’re most sure we’re right about.