Tag Archives: Confederate History

The Civil War – Beware the Facts Might Change!!!

The prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. This statement could not be more profound. I refer to history as His-Story.

If you are not aware, we are about to enter into five years of untruths, unreal assessments, and in some cases out and out lies, as we mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This was a critical point in time because a divided nation faced a crisis. It started in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries fired upon federal troops occupying Fort Sumter. Union forces surrendered the next day after 34 hours of shelling; the bloodiest war in the nation’s history had begun.

There is no question this was a significant event in the country’s history. However, we should be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or long-standing myths to cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart. There will be a lot of misinformation that will surely come, as both sides of the debate relive this chapter of American history. So be prepared for the revisionists to create many illusions pertaining to the facts as they relate to the realities of Civil War history.

It’s already begun with a surge of activity, especially among conservatives, to adjust the story to reflect contemporary political positions. One prominent effort occurred in Texas when the state school board revised social studies standards to increase study of Confederate leaders and reduce emphasis on the Founding Fathers’ commitment to separation of church and state. Some wanted to stop referring to the slave trade and substitute a euphemistic phrase, the “Atlantic triangular trade.” Thankfully, after opposition, that idea was dropped.

There was a case in Virginia where the Department of Education conceded its error in allowing a misleading textbook to be used in classrooms. They, against opposition, allowed the history book to continue to be used and the offending passage remained. Even after admitting that the inaccurate passage was “outside of accepted Civil War scholarship.” The disputed passage was a gross falsehood that says two battalions of African American soldiers fought for the Confederacy under famed Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The department would go on to say that it anticipates teachers “will have no difficulty working around one objectionable sentence”.

Also in Virginia, a few years ago, the new Governor signed a proclamation honoring the Civil War and made no mention of slavery, which again after considerable controversy he revised the proclamation. Let me add that Richmond, Virginia was the home of the Confederate capital. Sure the First Amendment protects the Confederate sympathizers’ right to write this nonsense but it is up to us to do our due diligence to understand, although we were never taught the truth, that it is untrue.

Before I go any further, let’s be clear, the war was NOT fought to free the slaves. That narrative came much later when the north was not winning and needed a reason to allow colored solders to fight. Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, although not a proponent of slavery, had no desire to end slavery at the onset of the war. He was for the free-labor ideology of equal opportunity and upward mobility. The issue of slavery, as he stated, “was the morality and future of the slaves and of slavery”. He believed if the nation remained divided on the issue of slavery, the nation would not last. If you recall he borrowed a statement made by Jesus to support this position; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Actually, Honest Abe was considering the option of sending the slaves back to Africa or somewhere outside of America to solve the problem. IN FACT, as an experiment, he sent thousands to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This experiment was not successful because many became ill and died causing him to reevaluate the decision. He also had another plan, which was to acquire land in South America to host this unwanted population to include other locations as well.

On the other side, the south, secessionist, saw it this way. Their leader Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a major slaveholder, justified secession in 1861 as an act of self-defense against the incoming Lincoln administration. Abraham Lincoln’s policy of excluding slavery from the territories, Davis said, would make “property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless . . . thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars.”

The Confederate vice president, Alexander Stephens said, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea… Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone 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.” These guys were very straightforward in their belief that the proper status of the Negro in America’s form of civilization, if free, would be the immediate cause of the rupture.

Views such as this continue today, from various quarters, because there remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race, slavery, or more specific states’ rights. The historian Douglas Egerton says, “The South split the Democratic Party and later the country not in the name of states’ rights but because it sought federal government guarantees that slavery would prevail… routinely shifted their ideological ground in the name of protecting free labor.” I believe it was all about states’ rights similar to today’s conservative perspective.

Let’s be clear slavery was about one thing – economics. The institution and the economics derived from it built America and that wealth made America a powerful force in the world as a result. Therefore, those who try to rewrite or obscure the reality of this evil do so wishing the greatest crime ever inflected upon a people had never ended or that it would return. I suggest that you listen carefully to those who use the code word “States Rights” and hear what they are not saying.

The Confederacy broken up the United States and launched a war that killed 620,000 Americans in a vain attempt to keep 4 million people in slavery does not confer honor upon their lost cause. It’s been 150 years of folks, like back then and now, trying to change the narrative to justify why the war was fought. Some say slavery. Some say tariffs. Others say the Constitution. I found this quote where one captured Confederate soldier, as he was being marched off to prison, was asked, “Why are you fighting?” He is said to have grunted, “Because you’re here.”

If I can remind you this sounds very similar to what the Tea Baggers and the conservatives are saying now! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Mitt and Faith

Mitt Romney, who the Republicans call “Him”, has a past that speaks to a matter of his soul, which I believe is the foundation of his core beliefs. Mitt spent 32 years in a religious organization that indoctrinated the idea that blacks were fundamentally cursed — by God — and that by virtue of their birth were unworthy of the highest spiritual affirmation. Being an African America and someone who believes in God this ideology is a huge problem for me.

Let me give just a brief historical background of his faith. The word Mormon most often refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of their belief in the Book of Mormon, though members often refer to themselves as “Latter-day Saints” or sometimes just “Saints.”

The term has been embraced by most adherents of Mormonism, most notably the fundamentalists, while other Saints denominations, such as the Community of Christ, have rejected it. The term Latter-day Saints (LDS) was given to its founder Joseph Smith during an 1838 revelation mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants. The term “saint” was used by Paul the Apostle to refer to early members of the Christian church with “later-day” being added to differentiate the modern church from the early church.

Most people associate the Mormon religion with polygamy or sex with young girl through marriage which was a distinguishing practice of many early Mormons. However, it was renounced by the LDS Church in 1890, and now they say is discontinued. Today, polygamy is practiced only by fundamentalist groups that have broken with the LDS Church.

From the start, Mormons have tried to establish what they call Zion, a utopian society of the righteous. Mormon history can be divided into three broad time periods: (1) the early history during the lifetime of Joseph Smith, (2) a “pioneer era” under the leadership of Brigham Young and his successors, and (3) a modern era beginning around the turn of the 20th century.

Now back to the cult’s racial views. Romney was confronted during a NBC’s Meet the Press (12/07) appearance when the late Tim Russert brought up the ban on blacks and the fact that Romney was an adult before the ban was lifted. Russert pointedly asked if Romney had a problem with associating himself with an organization that was seen as racist. Romney answered, “I’m not going to distance myself in any way from my faith.”

Russert asked if Romney was willing to disavow the Church’s earlier teachings, and Romney refused — choosing instead to cite examples of how his father supported civil rights. Mitt even claimed that his father, George Romney, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.; a statement that was later proven false and that Romney recanted.

There is “no religious test” for holding political office, but there is a moral one. As a leader in his church, a young Romney would have been compelled to teach the racist Mormon ideology to others. His curious answer to Russert affirms the belief that the church was infallible in its teachings. Romney cannot be excused of his own affiliation with an explicitly discriminatory organization without, at the very least, providing an acceptable answer.

Barack Obama was forced to disavow controversial statements by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, during the 2008 campaign culminating in his now famous race speech. Romney cannot be given a pass especially when, unlike Obama’s situation, Romney remains in a church whose codified beliefs are sketched in proverbial stone. The priesthood ban may be gone, but the cursed text remains and is still taught as divinely inspired doctrine.

The former governor rarely discusses religion. But the recent controversy over the contraception clause of the new healthcare law and the Catholic Church’s public disagreement with the Obama administration precipitated comments from Romney that Obama was attacking freedom of religion. Romney spoke while campaigning ahead of the Michigan and Arizona primaries that he “knows a lot about being persecuted” for one’s faith.

There is a cognitive dissonance inherent in the idea that one can be a victim of religious persecution, while simultaneously adhering to a faith which does the same based on race.

It’s a complicated subject, with an equally complicated history, and though Romney may not now, or ever have held racist feelings or beliefs on a personal level, it is a public office that he seeks. And, as such, he must be compelled to offer an open and honest explanation. Frankly, with his well documented history of flip-flopping (lying) – is this the guy any American would want to be the next president of the United States.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcw0woPX5VY

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”

Legacy – A New Season is Coming!


They’re at it again!!!


Don’t you just love how the revisionists continue to alter true history? You may recall earlier this year, the Governor of Virginia introduced a proclamation celebrating “Confederate History Month” without mentioning slavery’s role in the Civil War making it appear “kinder and gentler”.

Well there is another attempt to revise history that coincides with preparations to marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. We know the capital was Richmond, Virginia which has long struggled to appropriately commemorate its Confederate past. However, doing so, or trying too, does not give them literary privilege to recreate their version of its wretched past.

This time it is in the form of a text book entitled “Our Virginia: Past and Present” distributed to fourth graders in the state’s public elementary schools disguised as a history textbook. Joy Masoff, the author of this book, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, makes the claim that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War. This claim is soundly rejected by almost all historians. In fact, scholars are nearly unanimous in calling her accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history.

Masoff also says, the book was reviewed by a publisher’s advisory council of educators and that none of the advisers objected to the textbook’s assertions. These assertions are most often used by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause for the conflict; like the state of Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and other confederate sympathizing groups. Virginia’s education officials admit the vetting of the book was flawed adding that “Just because a book is approved doesn’t mean the Department of Education endorses every sentence.”

In its short lesson on the roles that whites, African Americans and Indians played in the Civil War, “Our Virginia” says, “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” Now the author attributes this fact concerning the information she provides about black Confederate soldiers from what she’s gleaned primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Let me stop – take a breath. Ok, now. Let’s imagine thousands of slaves, people held in bondage, abused, beaten, owned as chattel, fighting to remain in a state of wretchedness helping their amoral captors/ masters/owners continue the practice of slavery. I think, more often than not, and history shows that they would choose the side of rebellion like a Nate Turner – if anything. What is troubling is that there seems to be a continuing pattern of this type of revision of late.

For example, most of the text books used in America’s schools are modeled on the books used and approved in Texas, which has commissioned a body to alter massive amounts of information as it relates to actual history. The state school board revised social studies standards to increase study of Confederate leaders and reduce emphasis on the Founding Fathers’ commitment to separation of church and state. Some wanted to stop referring to the slave trade and substitute a euphemistic phrase, the “Atlantic triangular trade,” but that idea was, thankfully, dropped.

Carol Sheriff, a Civil War expert at the College of William and Mary, and the person who noticed the lie clarified the facts Wednesday on washingtonpost.com:

“As far as we know from the historical record, not a single black person participated in a battle under the command of Stonewall Jackson… There is historical evidence that individual blacks, usually servants who followed their masters to the front, occasionally picked up guns in the heat of battle. But it was illegal in the Confederacy to use blacks as soldiers until the waning days of the war (early 1865). A few companies . . . were raised then, but none saw battle action, as the surrender followed shortly thereafter. Stonewall Jackson had died in 1863, so no black soldiers could have served under his command.”

Sheriff said that thousands of blacks worked as laborers for the Confederate army, most of them involuntarily, including under Jackson’s command. But that’s very different from agreeing to risk your life in combat on behalf of a government committed to your enslavement, as some Confederate apologists would have us believe.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group of male descendants of Confederate soldiers based in Columbia, Tenn., has long maintained that substantial numbers of black soldiers fought for the South and supported the cause – so says Charles Kelly Barrow who has authored the book “Black Confederates.” Really! The Sons of Confederate Veterans widely dispute the accepted conclusion that the struggle over slavery was the main cause of the Civil War. Instead, claiming the war was fought “to preserve their homes and livelihood”. SLAVES – Really!

As sad as this is on its face, these untruths are a way of purging their cause of its association with slavery. The problem for me is that these efforts seek to find legitimacy of the Confederacy while implanting in the mind of future leaders that it was not really that bad or implying that it was caused by Manifest Destiny and God while denouncing the legitimacy of the emancipation itself. Like a particular Tea Bagger running for office now said that the Civil Rights Bill should be reviewed for its fairness. He was talking about fairness to white America.

More troubling is that Masoff said one of her sources was Ervin Jordan, a University of Virginia historian who claims to have documented evidence in the form of 19th century newspapers and personal letters of some African Americans fighting for the Confederacy. However, in an interview Jordan says the account in the fourth grade textbook went far beyond what his research can support. I think it is safe to assume beyond the pale of reason or what anyone’s research can support.

I often write Thought Provoking Perspectives on historical events concerning the African American Diaspora and know a little about the reality of our legacy. Therefore, I recognize that these attempts frankly are a sad commentary to truth. Let me say this: “If history that I have seen and witnessed in my life has been change, altered, and rewritten I find it hard to believe anything that His-Story professes to be true”. The shocking part about this is that it is accepted as truth. Nothing is as it seems – research for yourself and consider the source.

Finally, November 6 marks the 150th anniversary of the election of Abraham Lincoln, which led to the start of the Civil War. So let me warn you that for the next five years will bring a string of commemorations: Fort Sumter, the Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg, and Appomattox that will offer huge opportunities for the confederate sympathizers to continue to rewrite this sad history until the anniversary of the war’s end.

So get ready for the lies from the revisionists because the conscience dictates that they will not tell the truth.

THE JOHN T. WILLS CHRONICLES
JUST A SEASON – the novel

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