Tag Archives: South Carolina

Confederate Flag Apologists Continue to Miss the Point

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.43.23 AMThey say it’s about heritage, they say it’s a soldiers’ flag, they say it’s about free speech. They are right. And from where I sit, no one with any sense is trying to deny the would-be Confederates any of this.  While the flag came down from a government building – as it should – anyone who wants to wave it can, freely and without legal repercussions.

But these flag wavers are missing the point by a Confederate mile. Just yesterday – Rebel apologists staged a “rally” of sorts in Gettysburg and marched brandishing their banners along Baltimore Street and Steinwehr Avenue, in protest of the recent removal of the Battle Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.

They are trying so very very very hard to distance their ancestors from the Confederacy’s not so glorious past – or trying to deny altogether that their past lacks any glory. If you follow the comments on the Gettysburg Museum of History Facebook page (where I found this image above) you will note that flag supporters bring up the usual arguments. Most Confederates didn’t own slaves, soldiers fought to protect their homes, slavery existed in the United States, etc, etc.

Again – all true. Except that they are leaving out a fairly significant detail. Secession only happened to perpetuate oppression – to protect an institution that white southerners feared was in danger. The bid for Confederate independence – the Cause, if you like – was to ensure that slavery didn’t go anywhere. The ONLY way that one can deny this today is by ignoring the evidence, which apparently is a pretty fashionable thing to do among apologists.

Now, no one wants to associate their ancestors with a horrible thing, which is understandable. But all of you who are pointing fingers and accusing the “liberal agenda” (whatever that is) of erasing history might want to stop and consider this: like it or not – your ancestors who fought under that flag fought for oppression – no matter their individual reasons for enlisting. It was the national cause. Call it heritage if you must, but that is the fact. Just be sure to remember that little tidbit of history when you wave your flags.

With compliments,

Keith

Flag THIS

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 8.54.36 AMWell, I learned from reading Kevin Levin’s blog this morning that the good people of South Carolina may no longer have the Rebel battle flag represented among the national and state colors flying over their statehouse. Now if you have been following the flagger/flaggie/flagist news you will most likely note that this will be quite the blow to the “heritage” crowd.

I for one am glad to see it go. If only because it offends a significant portion of the Palmetto State’s population and thus should not be included in a public setting. Your thoughts are welcome.

With compliments,

Keith

Bitter…Table for One?

Screen shot 2014-03-11 at 2.55.31 PMFrom time to time I run across these little gems that I feel I need to share with the world. Here’s one I found while perusing the archives at Washington and Lee University’s Special Collection Department. Back story:  in 1980 (ancient history…) the good people of Darlington County, South Carolina gathered together to rededicate their Confederate monument – on the centennial anniversary of Darlington’s Rebels’ original  tribute to their glorious cause.

The speaker for the day was one William Stanley Hoole – a descendant of Axalla John Hoole, a Confederate Colonel of the Darlington Riflemen who was killed at Chickamauga.  Now you might figure Hoole (the speaker…not the dead Rebel) to be one of those reconstructed types. Let’s see what he had to say…..

Those gallant men and women believed that it was their right to dispel from their lives the economic modernism of the neighbors to the North and thus preserve their own landed conservatism. They shuddered to think that they should ever be forced to shoulder the yoke of Yankee domination. They wanted nothing more than their own country, a country they could love and be proud of, a separate nation, a confederation, a confederacy embracing a cavalier way of life, unfettered by the austerity of Northern Puritanism.

John Brown’s attack on the United States Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry had convinced the most reluctant Rebel that there was no longer any camaraderie between himself and his Yankee counterpart. As one Southerner [E. Merton Coulter] put it, “Black Republicanism has buried brotherhood between North and South in the same grave with the Constitution.”

Our beloved South Carolina, surfeited to the point of nausea by Northern insults and maledictions, as we all know, made the first move toward secession. They simply wanted to be left alone in peace. But the Republican regime in Washington, infiltrated by indecision, deception, and unprecedented machiavelism saw differently. Instead of letting the “Wayward Sister,” as they called our state, go in peace, they seized Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, dispatched addition soldiers, and ignored all appeals for amicable negotiation. These warlike acts at once rendered Fort Sumter a symbol of Yankee domination, an out-right indignity, an international insult, is you please, which could not be overlooked, even by the most ardent seekers of peace.

Yep – he sounds pretty angry, right? But I wonder….is he really “unreconstructed” or just confused? I run across people all the time who claim loyalty to the Union (as did Hoole) – yet pile this sort of inflammatory language high. Many, I find, are very much like their Confederate ancestors. Perfectly willing to embrace the post-war Union, so long as they could commemorate their war on their terms. What do you think?

With compliments,

Keith

John Singleton Mosby on Slavery and the Cause of the Civil War

Screen shot 2014-03-08 at 9.05.26 AMWe all know about John Singleton Mosby, right? Yes indeed – the storied  “Gray Ghost” commanded the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry – aka Mosby’s Raiders. He was known for lightning raids and quick getaways…in other words he drove the Yankees nuts.

Mosby fancied himself a straight shooter (in more ways than one) and after the war had no problem speaking his mind – even on the controversial subject of slavery.

In a 1907 letter to Samuel Chapman, he wrote:

People must be judged by the standard of their own age. If it was right to own slaves as property it was right to fight for it. The South went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war – as she said in her Secession proclamation – because slavery wd. not be secure under Lincoln. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding.

Now if that is not straight to the point I do not know what is. And this from a former Confederate! Now the good people of the South (the white ones, anyway) for the most part looked down on this kind of talk. Mosby had some other problems, too. He supported Ulysses S. Grant for President. This audacious move earned him the title “alien” in at least one southern state – as he informed a Charlottesville acquaintance. I am sure he was called much worse.

Anyway – I’ll admit that Mosby was the exception not the rule when it came to former Confederates and their stance on the “slavery as a cause” argument. I just wanted to point out that not all Rebels thought alike.

With compliments,

Keith

Memory and Popular Culture

Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 2.09.04 PMIn the early twentieth century a new medium – the motion picture, helped disseminate any number of Civil War and Reconstruction era recollections. One could argue (and many have) that the popularity of movies such as D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation helped cement particular (often southern) memories of the war era and its aftermath into the national vernacular.  Well, they certainly had a lasting impact when it came to how Americans remembered the conflict and what followed, but not everyone was on board. The NAACP, for example, was not so keen on the film and its depiction of slaves, freemen, and black soldiers. Union veterans in many cases also found this film to be a great misrepresentation of the cause.

Below is among the most controversial scenes. You will note that the film would suggest black representatives in the South Carolina Statehouse during Reconstruction did not necessarily wear shoes. Or, that they liked to drink whiskey and dance around waving chicken while in session. And it also seems that legalized interracial marriage could move black legislators to burst into a uproarious celebration.

Like it or not, this is precisely how many Americans (especially white conservative southern Americans) “remembered” the period. So much so that memory and history seemed to blend seamlessly. A good number of people thought – just as Griffith had hoped – to be witnessing a true representation of history as it unfolded in the past. I can imagine why this caused such a fuss from opposing parties. I think it is difficult for people today to get their head around this film. I have showed it to students and they are not really quite sure what to say. If you have had similar experiences or have just now become acquainted with this film, I would love to hear your thoughts.

With compliments,

Keith