Today, January 19, is a holiday. It is Confederate Heroes Day It falls on the birthday of Robert E.lee. similar holidays are in place around this time all over the South. Stonewall Jackson was born on Jan. 24. April also brings Confederate Memorial Days in several states. The point of these holidays has nothing to do with race, or slavery. They have one purpose, to honor the memories of the many brave men who served in the Confederate military. A good number of my ancestors served in that war. Among the regiments are the 4th south Carolina Cavalry, my Great-Great Grandfather Allan Dean McWhorter, who went blind in a Northern prison camp. The 29th Georgia Infantry, my Great-Great-Great Uncle Stephen W.N. Hagin, The 56th Georgia, my Great-Great Grandfather Lt.William A. Allen, who lost an eye at Vicksburg and the 63rd Georgia Infantry, and my Great-Great Grandfather Martin C. Mewburn, who was wounded at Kennesaw Mountain. There are others from Florida, Alabama, and many more from Georgia.
This morning, I saw some recent columns penned about how bad these holiday are, and how we should just forget about our past, and our heritage. Mainly these pleas for erasing history come from some, historically challenged, and emotionally fragile sort who is deathly afraid of offending someone. Funny these folks are not worried about offending me, or many other Southerners. They do not concern themselves with offending those that do living history presentations, or those that value history being preserved. these folks tend to be Liberal, but sadly, some “Conservatives” go down the path of hyper-sensitivity as well. They seem mostly concerned with not appearing too extreme. they are willing to sacrifice the Confederate portion of American history. Guess it never dawned on these geniuses that by bowing to those attacking Confederate heritage, history, and symbols that they are helping the radical Left to attack our Founders, and our American heritage.
Sure, we can condemn Lee, Davis, the Confederate Flags, there are hundreds of different flags that were carried by different regiments, and songs like Dixie in the name of “sensitivity”. But, any “sin” you can accuse those symbols of also apply to Old Glory, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and The Star Spangled Banner. Don’t think so? Listen to the constant attacks on America by the Left. Slavery, White Supremacy, injustice, exclusion, and so on. Of course, history, such as it is taught, has indoctrinated millions to embrace Lincoln as a great Emancipator, and the South as nothing but a bunch of white Supremacists fighting for slavery. You have to ignore the many things Lincoln said about Blacks as being inherently inferior to Whites, and his wish to expel all Blacks from the country after their freedom was won, many Abolitionists also shared that vision on an all-White nation too, but don’t let history get in your way. Forget that much of the opposition to expanding slavery was based not on setting men free but on NOT allowing a new challenge in the labor pool.
You can forget that the States of Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Virginia only seceded after Lincoln asked them to supply troops to help subjugate the Confederacy. You can forget that the ordinances of secession from these state do not mention slavery. You can forget that many Americans saw secession as a right, and that most states, upon ratifying the Constitution, declared that they remained sovereign states. You can forget that the “other” issue the issue of tariffs that deeply divided the nation. You can forget that because reducing the war to the “good” North vs the “evil” South is far easier than examining the issues and causes. Intellectual laziness is way easier! And, just to be clear, I know many people have studied this war in a very thorough way, and some of them conclude that slavery was the main cause. While I disagree with them, I respect their integrity and their devotion to history.
You can forget that many Southern generals favored enlisting Blacks in the Southern armies in exchange for granting them freedom. You can overlook that such a desire to win the war clearly showed far more than slavery was driving these men. You can forget that Stonewall Jackson ran a Sunday School in Lexington Virginia that educated blacks. You can forget that after the war Robert E. Lee, who called slavery an abomination, was attending church at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church when a Black man rose to take communion Edward C Smith tells the story
One Sunday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, a well-dressed, lone black man, whom no one in the community—white or black—had ever seen before, had attended the service, sitting unnoticed in the last pew.
Just before communion was to be distributed, he rose and proudly walked down the center aisle through the middle of the church where all could see him and approached the communion rail, where he knelt. The priest and the congregation were completely aghast and in total shock.
No one knew what to do…except General Lee. He went to the communion rail and knelt beside the black man and they received communion together—and then a steady flow of other church members followed the example he had set.
After the service was over, the black man was never to be seen in Richmond again. It was as if he had been sent down from a higher place purposefully for that particular occasion.
Today, and deservingly so, Lee is honored throughout the country. Only Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln exceed him in monuments and memorials.
Unfortunately there are many Southerners who claim to cherish Lee and revere the flag for which he so nobly fought but still harbor rabidly racist sentiments towards blacks and their long-delayed social progress. Such people do not honor Lee, instead they disgrace him.
Lee absolutely never felt what these modern Southerners continue to feel—and certainly he would not want them, of all people, serving as the self-annointed guardians of his memory. His lasting legacy, in his own words, is, “Before and during the War Between the States I was a Virginian. After the war I became an American.”
To be an American, at least for Lee, meant to embrace the new social order that the war had established and that the Constitution had codified through the addition of three new amendments which abolished slavery (13th) in 1865, made blacks citizens (14th) in 1868, and awarded black males the right to vote (15th) in 1870.
While you are at it, you can forget that Jefferson Davis, saw it as the duty of Whites to educate Blacks so they could one day compete with and be part of the nation. Yes you often hear that education of slaves was illegal in the South. What you do not hear is how many southerners ignored those laws. Yes, often it was for religious reasons, they cared about the eternal souls of slaves. And yes, it is an odd thing for us to fathom such a time. Slavery was evil, but, the South neither started that evil, nor did many Southerners embrace it. And yes, some slave owners were Black themselves.
You can also forget that Lincoln, in 1848 said this
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
Perhaps Lincoln forgot that in 1861?
Yes, you can over simplify the debate America had over slavery by forgetting that some of the disagreements were based on the fact that at the time slavery was constitutional. For example, you can forget that many Southern leaders are accused of being “for the expansion of slavery” into the territories. They were in favor, but that is not the entire story. The fact is that Jefferson Davis saw slavery as constitutional, and as territories were federal property, and not yet states, he felt that banning slavery there violated the constitution. He also held deeply that once those territories became states, it was perfectly within their right to either allow of prohibit slavery. Once you look at the entire story, you get a different view of Davis, and the many Southerners who agreed with him. And no, I am not going into the typical scripted “I am not defending slavery” spiel here. If you are too stupid to get what I am saying then to Hell with you frankly. The point is that Davis was a man who held the Constitution sacred. He believed as most Southerners did, that there was but one way to change the Constitution, and that was to amend it! While I am at it, let me remind you that there were many “Republicans” at the time that believed in what they called higher law. To them higher law superseded the Constitution, I suppose it was their version of the Constitution being a “living, breathing” document.
As a Southerner, and a proud one, I am appalled that at one time slavery existed here. I am also of Jim Crow Laws, The same can be said of my pride in being American. Slavery was an awful stain on a great nation, but to be fair to men like Davis, and Lincoln, we ought to judge them based on the values of THEIR time, not ours. History is many things, and sometimes it is very ugly, and the portion of American history that deals with slavery is extremely ugly. hat does not mean that we ought to ignore it, nor should we pretend as many on the Left do, that it still exists.
You can forget whatever you like I suppose. But, once you start forgetting history because it is easy, or convenient, you have started down a path of ignorance that will only lead you to repeat much of the same history you have tried to bury.