July 13, 2015

Who Should Modern America Honor?

By Glenn

The debate over the Confederate flag has finally forced America to confront its past.   In Louisiana “the mayor of New Orleans is proposing the most comprehensive plan yet to achieve lasting racial reconciliation in the wake of last month’s mass shooting in a South Carolina black church. Mitch Landrieu wants to dismantle a historic city statuary that honors key figures of the civil war, and rename a major parkway whose namesake led the Confederacy.”

His proposal starts with the fact that the Confederate States of America left the United States of America to protect the states’ right to legalize race based slavery.  This was their great “moral cause.”   Whites in the South feared they would lose their position as the superior race. Yes, there were other issues, but this issue dominated all others during the war, during reconstruction, during Jim Crow and during the Civil Rights era.  Do the Southern politicians, generals and soldiers who waged that war against the United States of America deserve our honor?  Our respect?  Our admiration?

South Carolina made the issue clear in its Declaration of Causes of Secession (December 20, 1860). It complained that United States failed to uphold its Constitutional obligations.  What obligations were those? The Northern States refused to return fugitive slaves to their rightful owners.  Making matters worse, the Northern states elected Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States on a platform of opposing the expansion of slavery.  Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself.

But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the Institution of Slavery has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the general government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution….The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection….

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery…The Guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Slavery was the right under attack.  Slavery was the “sectional” issue under debate. The ownership of human cattle was the “property right” at stake.  The Southern states lost an election and choose to leave the Union rather than accept the eventual changes necessary for Modern America to flourish.

As state after state followed South Carolina’s lead, they repeated the same grievance.  Slavery was under attack.  Southern heritage was under attack.  Southern prosperity was under attack.  They created the image of Southern victimization.  Senator Jefferson Davis, who became the President of the CSA, bid farewell to the Senate and explained why he could not be a part of the USA anymore (January 21, 1861).

It has been a conviction of pressing necessity, it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us, which has brought Mississippi into her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races….When our Constitution was formed, …we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men–not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three fifths. Then, Senators, we recur to the compact which binds us together; we recur to the principles upon which our Government was founded; and when you deny them, and when you deny to us the right to withdraw from a Government which thus perverted threatens to be destructive of our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our independence, and take the hazard. This is done not in hostility to others, not to injure any section of the country, not even for our own pecuniary benefit; but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit unshorn to our children.

He could not stay an American because too many in the North fell under the spell of racial equality.  He wanted to pass on white racial superiority to his children.   This historical fact rarely gets told to children growing up in the South.  Instead it is conveniently left out.  Notice how this 1942 film avoids the question of Davis’ racist motivations for leaving the Senate.

By erasing the racism, Jefferson Davis became an honorable man, a person deserving respect regardless of politics.  He simply loved his state.

Alexander Stephens, later Vice President of the Confederacy, also resigned from the US Congress.  He had served in the US House since 1843. When he returned to his native Georgia, he left no doubt why states had exerted their sovereign rights (March 21, 1861).  He explained the superiority of the CSA’s new constitution over the USA’s old constitution.

The new constitution  has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew….

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

The “cornerstone” of the new constitution was the truth of White Supremacy.  Is it any wonder why the KKK adopted the Confederate battle flag?  The South was defending the truth against the lies of the north.  From where did this truth spring? The Mind of the Creator.

With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator.

So why are we dealing with this today? Because Southerners have fought long and hard to deny these simple facts of history. The have fought long and hard to honor the dishonorable.  In the late nineteenth century, southerners began building monuments to “honor” their ancestors. They didn’t honor all soldiers killed in the war. They only honored southern soldiers killed in the war.  They didn’t honor those damn Yankees that fought to protect the Union.  No, southerners stripped away all of the truth behind the rebellion and left behind an “honorable” fight against a tyrannical federal government. This revision of history made the rise of Jim Crow possible. The monuments told African Americans the dream of equality was dead. The war of Northern aggression was unjust. The South would rise again.

Who should we honor as a people? Who should we put on a pedestal and tell our children to emulate? Do we really want to teach our children the United States government is evil and waged an unjust war against the South? Or do we want to teach them the truth behind the War of Southern Aggression? A war fought to protect the right of whites to own blacks as simple livestock?

 

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