Skip to comments.Americans Owe Confederate History Respect
Posted on 12/16/2004 6:48:26 AM PST by cougar_mccxxi
Americans Owe Confederate History Respect
By CHRIS EDWARDS
The Time Has Come To Take A Stand After attending the Confederate Memorial Day service on June 1 in Higginsville, I found myself believing our nation should be ashamed for not giving more respect and recognition to our ancestors.
I understand that some find the Confederate flag offensive because they feel it represents slavery and oppression. Well, here are the facts: The Confederate flag flew over the South from 1861 to 1865. That's a total of four years. The U.S. Constitution was ratified in April 1789, and that document protected and condoned the institution of slavery from 1789 to 1861. In other words, if we denigrate the Confederate flag for representing slavery for four years, shouldn't we also vilify the U.S. flag for representing slavery for 72 years? Unless we're hypocrites, it is clear that one flag is no less pure than the other.
A fascinating aspect of studying the Civil War is researching the issues that led to the confrontation. The more you read, the less black-and-white the issues become. President Abraham Lincoln said he would do anything to save the union, even if that meant preserving the institution of slavery. Lincoln's focus was obviously on the union, not slavery.
In another case, historians William McFeely and Gene Smith write that Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant threatened to "throw down his sword" if he thought he was fighting to end slavery.
Closer to home, in 1864, Col. William Switzler, one of the most respected Union men in Boone County, purchased a slave named Dick for $126. What makes this transaction interesting is not only the fact that Switzler was a Union man but that he bought the slave one year after the issuance of the Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Of course, history students know the proclamation did not include slaves living in the North or in border states such as Missouri.
So if this war was fought strictly over slavery, why were so many Unionists reluctant to act like that was the issue?
In reviewing the motives that led to the Civil War, one should read the letters soldiers wrote home to their loved ones. Historian John Perry, who studied the soldier's correspondence, says in his three years of research, he failed to find one letter that referred to slavery from Confederate or Union soldiers.
Perry says that Yankees tended to write about preserving the Union and Confederates wrote about protecting their rights from a too-powerful federal government. The numerous letters failed to specifically say soldiers were fighting either to destroy or protect the institution of slavery. Shelby Foote, in his three-volume Civil War history, recounts an incident in which a Union soldier asks a Confederate prisoner captured in Tennessee why he was fighting. The rebel responded, "Because you're down here."
History tends to overlook the South's efforts to resolve the issue of slavery. For example, in 1863, because of a shortage of manpower, Lincoln permitted the enlistment of black soldiers into the Union Army. Battlefield documents bear out the fact that these units were composed of some of the finest fighting men in the war. Unfortunately for these brave soldiers, the Union used them as cannon fodder, preferring to sacrifice black lives instead of whites.
These courageous black Union soldiers experienced a Pyrrhic victory for their right to engage in combat. However, history has little to say about the South's same effort in 1865. The Confederacy, its own troop strength depleted, offered slaves freedom if they volunteered for the army.
We know that between 75,000 and 100,000 blacks responded to this call, causing Frederick Douglass to bemoan the fact that blacks were joining the Confederacy. But the assimilation of black slaves into the Confederate army was short-lived as the war came to an end before the government's policy could be fully implemented.
It's tragic that Missouri does not do more to recognize the bravery of the men who fought in the Missouri Confederate brigades who fought valiantly in every battle they were engaged in. To many Confederate generals, the Missouri brigades were considered the best fighting units in the South.
The courage these boys from Missouri demonstrated at Port Gibson and Champion Hill, Miss., Franklin, Tenn., and Fort Blakely, Ala., represent just a few of the incredible sacrifices they withstood on the battlefield. Missouri should celebrate their struggles instead of damning them.
For the real story about the Missouri Confederate brigades, one should read Phil Gottschalk and Philip Tucker's excellent books about these units. The amount of blood spilled by these Missouri boys on the field of battle will make you cry.
Our Confederate ancestors deserve better from this nation. They fought for what they believed in and lost. Most important, we should remember that when they surrendered, they gave up the fight completely. Defeated Confederate soldiers did not resort to guerrilla warfare or form renegade bands that refused to surrender. These men simply laid down their arms, went home and lived peacefully under the U.S. flag. When these ex-Confederates died, they died Americans.
During the postwar period, ex-Confederates overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party. This party, led in Missouri by Rep. Dick Gephardt and Gov. Bob Holden, has chosen to turn its back on its fallen sons.
The act of pulling down Confederate flags at two obscure Confederate cemeteries for the sake of promoting Gephardt's hopeless quest for the presidency was a cowardly decision. I pray these men will rethink their decision.
The reality is, when it comes to slavery, the Confederate and United States flags drip with an equal amount of blood.
Chris Edwards is a local musician and MU graduate student of history. He is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and of the board of Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation.
Here's one that will go to 5000+ posts. Too bad it will be as anti-historical as all the others.
This is completely true and nice to see someone finally point it out. At the same time, I believe we may have glorified the Confederacy a bit too much. While I realize that they were good people and most of their motives were pure, the simple fact is that they took up arms against their government. Last I knew, that is considered treason. The Confederate veterans have been treated throughout history much better than most guilty of treason could ever hope for.
There is more than enough 'conveient memories' on both sides.
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. The North was just as guilty of exploiting slaves as the South. The majority of the people just tended to stop at an earlier date. However, that was more to do with the economic culture than a sudden wave of morality towards the black man.
What's to be upset about? The end had to be in Canada since the Fugitive Slave Act required that runaway slaves be sent back South if apprehended.
They also didn't like the fact that the first slaves sold in the Colonies were in Massachusetts.
If they check their history they would have found that the first slave was in the Virginia/Maryland area.
Nor did they like to remmeber that the triangle trade that made Boston very rich included bringing molasses to Boston to be made into rum which was taken to Africa to be traded for slaves.
Without demand for those slaves the Boston traders wouldn't have brought the slaves anywhere, would they? So the south has no moral high ground in the slave trade scenario.
Well, for one thing taking up arms against the government is not neccessarily a bad thing. The colonies did it against the King. Second, it's not like they were trying to take over the government or rule the country as is typical in a civil war. They had no interest in ruling the northern states, they just wanted to be let alone. That being said I agree with the above comments that there is too much glorification of the South, even though I agree with their fundamental right to secede and admire some of their military leaders.
No, we don't. But the Northern states don't either. Both sets of states had businessmen that grew rich off the slave trade, directly or indirectly.
Exactly. What gripes me most as a southernor is the false idea that all the morality was in the North and that all Notherners were fighting for the sole purpose of defeating slavery. That's totally bogus.
Both sides share the guilt.
I sympathize with southerners who are sick of the insulting, bigoted attitudes of northeastern white liberals, but I don't understand at all how that translates to celebrating treason.
To be reviled by a liberal, regardless of shade or location, is more of a badge of honor than a mark of shame. But the south itself does it's cause little good by clinging so tightly to their myths about the war.
I can agree with that. But it's an "all or nothing" type of situation. Had we lost the Revolutionary War, the military and political leaders of the revolution would have been tried and, most likely, executed. You have to admit that the North was much kinder to the South than that.
. . . even though I agree with their fundamental right to secede and admire some of their military leaders.
The genius of the South's military leaders is what kept the South in the war as long as it was. Think about it, the Conferacy had no pre-existing government, no tax base, no economic prosperity, and a much smaller population than the North. What else could explain their relative successes, or at least the success in delaying the inevitable, than their military genius. Think about it this way, who is more revered in the South even today, Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee? One was a so-so political leader, the other was quite possibly the best military mind we ever had. Too bad he lived in a time where his expertise had to be used in the way it was.
Not sure I agree that they had the right to secede though.
"To this day, The South is reviled and held in contempt by northern white liberals. It's almost pathological."
Its not almost pathological; it IS pathological. In the same way that "northern white liberals" hate America herself.
The only thing wrong with trying to utilize the truth in this argument is that truth doesn't matter much to those of the NAACP persuasion.
I once watched footage of a black speaker in the house of reps state that "sharks still swim the route of the slave ships because so many were thrown overboard" on their way from Africa to here. Any ideas on how he was able to verify this outrageous claim?
Yes, it's true that our American flag stood for slavery for far longer than the Confederate flag did. But it's also true that people were captured/kidnapped by black slave traders before they were brought here to be slaves. Another snippet of truth is that there were black plantation owners who owned slaves.
If truth mattered to these people, they'd just shut up.
Yes, I agree.
Not sure I agree that they had the right to secede though.
I do, It's strait out of the declaration of independence.
Sorry, but they didn't take up arms against their government. They SECEDED from the US Gov. formed their own, and took up arms to protect themselves from invasion.
Well, there IS that little matter of shelling that fort in Charleston harbor...
Our Confederate ancestors deserve better from this nation. They fought for what they believed in and lost.
So did John Walker Lindh. Should we "honor" him, too? Even if we assume that the war had nothing to do with slavery (which is a HUGE assumption), these men fought against the United States. Why should the United States then turn around and honor them? As a pragmatic matter, their treason against the United States was overlooked and forgiven. Shouldn't that be enough?
Most important, we should remember that when they surrendered, they gave up the fight completely. Defeated Confederate soldiers did not resort to guerrilla warfare or form renegade bands that refused to surrender. These men simply laid down their arms, went home and lived peacefully under the U.S. flag.
Some did. Others joined the Klan and used terror tactics to murder and terrorize black Americans and keep them from exercising their rights as Americans. Now, these were not Confederate guerrillas, but they certainly did not simply lay down their arms and "live peacefully."
Friday April 12, 1861 4:30 AM - A mortar shell was fired over Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC.
There were negotiations going on over Fort Sumter, and the union sent ships to reinforce Sumter during the negotiations. The South fired on Sumter before the reinforcements could get there. Hostilities were pretty much mutual.
So you're saying that the US should be able to keep military installations in other countries without permission?
But the fact remains that the first shot was fired by the Confederacy.
The Klan was formed to keep the carpetbaggers from the North from terrorizing Southerners.
Leaving aside the entire question of whether South Carolina was another country or not, Sumter was the property of the federal government. Southern secession, even if legal, did not change that. Wouldn't it have made sense to negotiate the disposition of federal property in the southern states before the acts of secession?
And for the record we do keep military installations in other countries without their permission. It's called Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
***To many Confederate generals, the Missouri brigades were considered the best fighting units in the South.***
Well Missouri was fighting the War with Kansas before the rest of the country joined in. I even like to think that the last action of the Civil War was by Confederate Raiders lead by the James and Younger family on the Yankee money supply in Northfield Minnesotia in 1876.
Then why did they lynch and murder black people?
And what were these supposed "terror" tactics, besides teaching black kids to read and ensuring that the black Americans could exercise their right to vote? (Or was it that the ex-Confed's found literate black children and enfranchised black men to be terrifying?)
Suggesting that it is treason to seek to retire from a Federation is absurd. You can make a much stronger case for treason against the founding fathers, who revolted against a Government that claimed to be ordained by God.
The idea that the Federal Government has some sort of all overriding claim on the States is more akin to the Nazi German theory of one Reich, one Volk, one Leader, than anything ever intended for America.
I, as a Conservative Ohioan, am very glad the South is still part of the Union. Without those Southerners who honor their Confederate traditions, the prospects for American Conservatism, generally, would be very bleak indeed. But I also understand what is involved in the endless spewing of venom against the Old South. It is an attempt to break down one of the last bastions of Conservative values in America. It stems from the far Left. It has been embraced by the brainwashed academics and media types--the useful idiots for the far Left. It is given absurd credence, today, by those other Americans who never learned to question what those brainwashed academics prattled. But it is analogous to some very, very ugly parallels in Lenin, Trotsky and Stalinist Russia, and in Nazi Germany.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
I gotta tell ya, people are so unbelieveably ignorant about the whole issue of slavery in this country. The most ignorant of all are the "African-Americans" - those who use that term as a source of pride are largely oblivious to the very facts surrounding their own heritage.
*** Keep reading!!!***
First of all, the slave trade in this country was outlawed in the early 1800s - but it was perpetuated illegally by Northern merchants. They were the ones with the wealth to finance the trips to Africa and the goods used to purchase the slaves. Most Southern landowners played no part in the actual importation beyond the purchase -- and they weren't the only ones making those purchases either!
Secondly, slavery was indeed a "trade". To hear so many "activists" in this country, you'd think that we took armies to Africa and rounded up potential slaves at gunpoint and brought them back. Not the case - no how, no way! Slaves, who were born into the institution of slavery IN Africa, were sold -- exchanged for a wide variety of goods including textiles, sugar, spices, etc. -- BY THEIR OWN "PEOPLE"!!!
Next is the fact that by bringing slaves into this country, so many doors were opened up for blacks to eventually achieve a higher standard of living. Look at how many millions of "African-Americans" we have in America today. Regardless of the claims to the contrary, opportunity abounds for everyone in this country, no matter their skin color. All it takes is a good attitude, hard work, and a sense of appreciation for just how good we really do have it here. What do you think were the prospects of Africans 200, 300, 400 years ago? Not good, when you think about it. Anyone of African heritage who thinks they would be better off today had slavery never existed in America should take a trip to Sub-Saharan Africa and have a look for themselves. Muhammad Ali told the tale pretty well back in the 1970s - but like most things that don't pander to people's pre-conceived notions and tell them what they want to hear - his statements went largely unnoticed.
And finally, the treatment of slaves in America - if you believe all the horror stories, you'd think they were all beaten and whipped daily. Again - no how, no way! Of course, there were many cases of maltreatment at the hands of cruel slaveholders - no denying that. However it simply was not a widespread practice for one basic reason: investment. The cost of a slave back then translates to a very high dollar amount by today's standards. Slaves were used for labor - labor they cannot perform if they are injured...and certainly not if they're dead. Most slaveowners were actually very good to their slaves and provided them food and shelter -- things they simply would not have received enough of if they were living the life of a slave IN AFRICA! If they ran away here - yes, they were disciplined. If they ran away in Africa - they were killed on-the-spot. There were simply too many to be found at practically no cost over there for the slaveholders to bother with a concept such as "discipline".
Bottom line is that, even though slavery was a deplorable institution in this country, it existed in every corner of the Earth back then. America was hardly the sole violator of "human rights". Actually, slave treatment in America was a cut above the rest.
I'm not justifying slavery by any means. I'm simply pointing out the ignorance of many people and their refusal to accept facts by those who try and champion the cause.
As with most things - a good dose of real history can cure ignorance.
The difference between being a revolutionary and a traitor is all in the difference between winning and losing. Had our founding fathers lost the Revolutionary War, you can bet your sweet bippy they would have been tried and executed for treason. Nathan Hale was, after all.
The Yankees were taking property that belonged to Southerners and giving it to blacks. They also appointed blacks to positions of authority such as law enforcement and encouraged them to brutalize Southerners.
There were negotiations going on about the disposition of the US Ft.- Lincoln was overriding those by attempting to resupply the Fort.
Why? In this context, all a Federation suggests it that the constituent parts (here the states) retain control of their internal affairs. It says nothing about the Federation's permanence.
You can make a much stronger case for treason against the founding fathers, who revolted against a Government that claimed to be ordained by God.
Actually what the founding fathers committed was treason to King George III. And thank God for it. Just as Claus Von Stauffenberg committed treason against Adolf Hitler. The question is whether that treason was to be denounced or applauded.
The idea that the Federal Government has some sort of all overriding claim on the States is more akin to the Nazi German theory of one Reich, one Volk, one Leader, than anything ever intended for America.
I disagree here. The Nazi reference is interesting in that they eliminated the traditional role of the Länder and made the state a unified state. The Bundesrepublik after the war revered the Länder to a federated state. I would not say that the Federal Gov't in the US, even at its strongest, ever eliminated the existence of the state governments. However, the question is really whether a voluntary submission to a federal republic can be reversed. That is the essence of the secession question.
I'll repeat. Wasn't the time to negotiate the disposition of federal property before secession? Seizing the property and offering to negotiate after the fact seems akin to taking posession of the house and offering to pay for it after you've moved in.
...and this justifies rounding up innocent blacks and killing and lynching them, denying them their right to vote, to hold office, to their property, to be left to enjoy their lives, and their right not to treated like a second class citizen for the next 100-odd years? I see.
They also appointed blacks to positions of authority such as law enforcement and encouraged them to brutalize Southerners.
Oh, the horror of the dew of Southern whiteness being subject to the terror of blacks in authority. I forgot that the history of the South since the Civil War was a history of blacks rampaging through the countryside, taking innocent whites and hanging them from trees and lighting them afire...
Frankly, given the history of race relations in America prior to the end of the war, Southern whites should have been on their knees and been thankful that there was not a massacre of whites as there had been in Haiti. Was it not Jefferson, reflecting on this possibility and the truth of the treatment of American black, who stated, "Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."
Excellent read. Do agree the south deserves our belated
respect. I weary of hearing how a college may not display
the image of anything related to the Confederacy yet seem
to recall Ike kept the image of Gen.Lee behind his desk in the Peoples House. (Washington D.C.Aug.18,1960 TO Dr.Scott.
Oke noted "a nation of men of Lees calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul." Seems to me if neither
Abe Lincoln,nor Eisenhower could condemn this great man
neither should any lesser man.For they were Americans all.
According to the Declaration of Independence -and elements
of the US Constitution -they very clearly had a right to secede. As we we still do today. One must accept the consequences of ones actions though. I am deeply offended that any carpetbagger would charge them all with Treason.
Lee and others were schooled in th emilitary academies who
were not as harsh-- but understood a mans natural desire
to defend his home--and State from agressors.
The arguement can be made that the states had the right to secede. But the question is did those southern states have a right to unilaterally secede without the approval of a majority of those affected by their actions? I don't think that they did.
I see nothing wrong with negotiating after secession. The South was willing to let the military equipment and supplies be removed by the North.
If your neigherborhood was suddenly overrun by foreigners
that were dispossesing you of your property, don't you think you might fight back?
Having a bunch of Yankees appointing people to rule over you
when you are used to electing leaders yourself can cause lots of ill will.
Race relations have always been better in the South than in the North except when interefering Yankees were down here stirring up trouble. Seems like Yankees busybodies love to
go to places they don't belong and tell everyone that they have to conform to their "obviously superior" way of living.
Telling people that our flag "drips with blood" isn't a good way of convincing them to give one's opinion a hearing. If he has to demean our flag to make his own look good, he's lost the argument already.
There certainly was a connection between slavery and the American flag, or the French or Spanish or British flag for that matter. But as we've grown and changed, though, we've added new stars to the flag, and also changed what it represented. Does the Stars and Stripes flying at home or abroad now represent slavery? Don't you feel uncomfortable or embarassed posting such a claim in time of war?
The Confederate flag hasn't been able to disassociate itself from its unfortunate connection to racialism. In part it's because the Confederacy was defeated and Confederate history stopped, but the Confederate Battle Flag also became a symbol of segregation and White supremacy, so naturally many people are hostile to it. If you want to try to redeem that flag, give it a try, but it will take a lot of effort. Don't assume that that redemptive work is unnecessary or has already been done.
Check out some of the webpages the article you posted linked to. It looks like they are convinced not just that fallen Confederate soldiers deserve respect, but that the rebels were right, and that they were fighting for "our" liberties. Some even advocate secession today.
There's very little serious reflection on slavery and what it meant at the Confederacy Project. The "slavery" that concerns the website's owner is federal taxes and regulation. The condition of slaves a century and a half ago doesn't seem to bother him much.
Intelligent and responsible spokesmen might be able to make a good case for the Confederate Flag flying over Civil War monuments and battlefields, but the net effect of many of those working for that cause is simply to drive people away and convince them that the other side is right.
As for our own flag, think of the reparations controversy. Some measure of "reparations" were paid by those soldiers who fought and died to end slavery in America. There are all the little loopholes: they didn't go to war to free the slaves, the war itself couldn't free all the slaves, some slaveowners fought on the Union side, etc. But even taking that into account, a lot of men gave their lives for the end to slavery, and this, together with later efforts to achieve equal civil rights has helped to redeem our flag of some of its historical associations.
By this point in time, our flag represents people who opposed slavery and felt it wrong and regret it in more than a perfunctory and backhanded way far more than it represents slaveowners. I'm not so sure one could make the same statement about the rebel banners. In any event, insulting the national flag isn't the right way to proceed if you want to convince people.
How about negotiating after seizure of the property? The south seized armories, mints, customs houses, military facilities throughout the south without compensation. Then, once they had posession, we are to believe that they would have paid a fair price for them. If one party takes the property belonging to the other party, that party is at a distinct disadvantage in the negotiations. It no longer has posession of what belongs to it, and has to take whatever the first party offers no matter how unfair. Or else fight for what is theirs. That's not negotiation, that's brinksmanship.
Seems like "Yankee busybodies" left the South alone for eighty years to end slavery, and they didn't. Then "Yankee busybodies" left the South alone for another three quarters of a century to wind up segregation and they didn't do that by themselves either. Take our history as a whole and the picture of so "superior" interfering Northerners and Southerners who just wanted to be left alone to live together in peace and harmony doesn't quite work.
Where you see continually interfering Northerners, plenty of people see long periods when Northerners essentially left the South alone to do as it pleased. In those times, the slightest whisper of criticism was enough for White Southerners to circle the wagons and rally against any change. It might be comforting to believe that things would all have been for the best and that racial problems would have been amicably resolved if not for those "Yankee busybodies," but it's just not true.
Your holier than thou pretense is just too much. Davis sent a legation to Washington to negotiate a settlement on property issues, and Honest Abe just left them to cool their heels. One of the sites the Southerners wanted to talk about was Fort Sumter, so at least this hadn't been seized. Lincoln never had any intention of coming to any peaceful settlement that included recognition of the Southern government and you know it.
It certainly would have been natural for the South to control forts and harbors within their own territory. And I never hear folks like you suggesting that maybe the South should have been due compensation for their share of Federal assets in the north which they partially funded and of which were natural part owners.