Never thought I would live to see it…
But shidt is about to get real bad.
I wouldn’t have thought this possible as little as 20 years ago…
The resolution calls for Southern Baptist churches to discontinue displaying the Confederate flag as a “sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ.”
The U.S. Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on Tuesday repudiating the Confederate battle flag as an emblem of slavery, marking the latest bid for racial reconciliation by America’s largest Protestant denomination.
The resolution, passed at the predominantly white convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis, calls for Southern Baptist churches to discontinue displaying the Confederate flag as a “sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ.”
The action came four years after the denomination elected its first black president, Fred Luter, a pastor and civic leader from New Orleans.
In 1995, a Southern Baptist committee issued a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for condoning slavery and racism during the early years of the denomination’s 171-year history.
The convention, currently made up of more than 46,000 churches nationwide, was established in 1845 after Southern Baptists split from the First Baptist Church in America in the pre-Civil War era over the issue of slavery.
The denomination now counts a growing number of minorities among its more than 15.8 million members and has sought in recent years to better reflect the diversity of its congregants and America as a whole.
“This denomination was founded by people who wrongly defended the sin of human slavery,” said Russell Moore, head of the convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Today the nation’s largest Protestant denomination voted to repudiate the Confederate battle flag, and it’s time and well past time.”
The flag carried by the South’s pro-slavery Confederate forces during the 1861-65 U.S. Civil War re-emerged as a flashpoint in America’s troubled race relations after the massacre of nine blacks by a white gunman at an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. The assailant was seen afterward in photographs posing with the flag.
The episode stirred a movement to eliminate the Stars and Bars flag – seen by many whites as a sign of Southern heritage, not hate – from South Carolina’s statehouse and many other public displays in the South during the months that followed.
There are a lot of Southern Myths about the Civil War and Antebellum South, and what life was like in the period leading up to the War. The root of the war was economic. By 1860, over 60% of the GDP, and near 80% of the trade was generated by the South. And just about every penny of that money was built and fully enabled by slavery. It is no mystery why the Articles of Secession by every Southern State lists the cause of their actions as to maintain slavery.
The South was by no means monolithic as the Southern Myth would have you believe. And it was a dangerous place, with rebellion seething just under the surface. One of the few things which kept the slave master’s cruelty in check was the distinct possibility that ol’ Massa might “fall off his horse and break his neck”. There were hundreds, if not thousands of slave rebellions, and the risk was so great that during the Revolutionary War the Southern States supplied few troops to fight the British…Because they were needed at home to keep the slave rebellions in check. The sight of Haitian Troops marching to Savannah to attack British forces holding the city must have sent chills down the spines of Southern slave owners.
Further the South wasn’t monolithic. Large regions, especially the Appalachians, had no real economic ties to slavery, making the western Southern States a battleground between pro and anti-slavery forces. If you examine the maps of the Shenandoah campaign between Union General Phil Sheridan and confederate General Stonewall Jackson, you will find that there are areas conspicuously avoided by the rebs, You will find the same in certain areas of North Carolina. Those areas weren’t “confederate friendly”.
This Memorial Day we should celebrate those who fought to put down the rebellion, and ultimately end slavery. Over 100,000 of whom were white Southerners, and 260,000 of whom were black, often escaped slaves.
In all the recent debate about erasing Confederate history, no one talks about the history the South itself has erased, such as the many Southerners who fought for the Union.
Earlier this past week a judge ruled that the city of Louisville, Kentucky can proceed with the removal of a Confederate monument near the campus of the University of Louisville. Arguments against removing Confederate monuments over the past year have often claimed that in doing so communities run the risk of erasing history. What has been universally overlooked, however, is that the push to establish monuments to the Confederacy during the postwar years helped to erase the history of those white and black southerners who remained loyal and were willing to give their lives to save the Union.
Southern Unionism took many forms during the Civil War. Some disagreed with the right of a state to secede from the Union at the war’s outset while others grew weary of the Confederacy in response to a number of factors, including a Conscription Act in 1862 that exempted large slaveowners, the impressment of horses or mules for the army, and a “tax-in-kind” law that allowed the government to confiscate a certain percentage of farm produce for military purposes. Others in places like Appalachia and other highland regions that included few slaves saw little value in supporting a government whose purpose was the creation of an independent slaveholding republic.
Resistance to the Confederacy also took many forms throughout the war. The release of the movie, The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey next month, will introduce audiences to Newton Knight, who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi. Some joined clandestine political organizations such as the Heroes of America, which may have contained upwards of 10,000 members. Networks of communication kept resistors in touch with one another and their activities throughout the region. Unionists risked arrest by Confederate officials, ostracism from within the family, and violent reprisals from the community.
It is impossible to know just how many white southerners remained loyal to the Union during the war given disagreements over its very definition, but we do know that somewhere around 100,000 southern white men from Confederate states, except for South Carolina, served in the U.S. military. East Tennessee supplied somewhere around 42,000 men, but other Confederate states yielded significant numbers, including 22,000 from Virginia (and West Virginia) and 25,000 from North Carolina. The First Alabama Cavalry, which was considered one of the toughest units in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army, took part in his “march” through Georgia and the Carolinas in 1864-65.
The decision to express one’s loyalty to the Union by joining the army was often a painful one to make from the lowliest private to some of the highest-ranking officers. While the story of Robert E. Lee’s decision to resign his commission in the U.S. army, rather than betray his home of Virginia, is often told and re-told in tragic prose, others grappled with the same decisions and yet chose to remain loyal. The man who offered Lee command of the U.S. army in 1861 was another Virginian by the name of Winfield Scott. Scott, whose military career stretched back to the War of 1812—including a failed presidential bid in 1852—was the highest-ranking general at the beginning of the war. Scott’s decision was no less difficult than Lee’s and yet he remained loyal and although too old to take command in the field, he helped formulate military policy that ultimately proved successful in subduing the rebellion.
General George Henry Thomas, also from Virginia, became one of the most successful generals in the war and saved the Union army from being completely routed on September 19, 1863, earning him the nickname the “Rock of Chickamauga.” His loyalty to the nation cost him his family, who refused to speak with him ever again and even turned his picture against the wall. Very few monuments to the service of these men and others like them, who defied family, friends, and community for the sake of the nation, can be found in the former Confederate states. And yet the removal of some Confederate monuments has caused some to worry about erasing history.
The other significant Southern bloc that voiced their loyalty to the Union and commitment to crushing the rebellion was the region’s slave population. From the beginning of the war, and in the shadow of a Supreme Court that as recently as 1857 ruled that free and enslaved blacks could not be citizens of the United States, African Americans offered their services to the military. Beginning in 1862 along the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, former slaves rushed into the first all black regiments. By the end of the war roughly 150,000 former slaves fought and died to save this nation. They did so under the most harrowing conditions. Black soldiers were massacred on battlefields and even sent back into slavery at places like Fort Pillow in Tennessee and at the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia by Confederates, who refused to treat them as legitimate soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough, their own government refused to pay them what white soldiers earned. Only sustained protests that lasted more than a year and continued demonstrations of bravery on the battlefield led Congress to correct this injustice in the summer of 1864.
Southern Unionists, both black and white, may have celebrated Confederate defeat, but they continued to be persecuted owing to their wartime beliefs and actions by terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Life was especially difficult for former slaves, who fought for the Union and now hoped to exercise the right to vote, own land, or run for public office. Their sacrifice for the Union ended in the rise of Jim Crow state governments by the turn of the 20th century.
After the war, as white Southerners erected monuments to their Confederate dead they also erected monuments to their former slaves, only they recalled not brave men who fought to preserve the Union, but their loving former “servants” who remained loyal to master and their Lost Cause. The very act of monument erection helped to erase this history for much of the 20th century.
The removal of Confederate monuments need not result in the erasure of history. In fact, it may for the first time create the intellectual and physical space to commemorate and remember a new narrative of the past, one that corresponds more closely to the long and rich history of service and sacrifice to this nation that is recalled each year on Memorial Day.
One of my distant ancestral family members was a man named James Armistead Lafayette, related by marriage. During the Revolutionary War, he worked as a double-agent providing false information to the British Lord Cornwallis, and sending British War plans to George Washington. He worked as a servant, and was ignored as a threat because he was a slave. He was one of the most famous of American spies during the war as over dinner, British Officers blithely ignored the slave in the corner, believing him part of the furniture.
The confederates apparently didn’t learn that lesson. Black women were particularly effective in running spy rings, and collecting information even in the Capital of the confederacy.
The servants knew. The Confederate White House in Richmond, Virginia, was not a happy home. The coachman had heard Varina Davis, the first lady of the South, wondering aloud if the rebellion her husband led had any prayer of success. It was, he heard her say, “about played out.” Less than a year into the war, she had all but given up hope. And the president himself, Jefferson Davis, gaunt and sere, was under tremendous strain, disheartened and querulous, complaining constantly about the lack of popular support for him and his policies.
What the servants at the dinner table heard could be even more interesting: insights into policy, strategy and very private lives. They could glimpse up close the troubled emotions of Varina, who was much younger than her husband. She was in her mid-30s, he was in his mid-50s, and her energy, even her sultry beauty, were resented by many in that small society. She had a dark complexion and generous features that led at least one of her critics to describe her publically as “tawny” and suggest she looked like a mulatto.
Varina’s closest friend and ally in the cabinet was Judah P. Benjamin, the cosmopolitan Jewish secretary of war and then secretary of state. He was a frequent visitor to the Davis residence. He shaped Confederate strategy around the globe. And over port after dinner, what intimacies might have been revealed about this man, whose Louisiana Creole wife lived in self-imposed exile in Paris, and whose constant companion in Richmond was her beautiful younger brother?
As in any of the big households of yesteryear (one thinks of Downton Abbey, to take a popular example), what the servants knew about the masters was a great deal more than the masters knew about them. And in the Davis household the servants were black slaves, treated as shadows and often as something less than sentient beings. The Davises knew little of their lives, their hopes, their aspirations, and they certainly did not realize that two of them would spy for the Union.
History is almost equally oblivious. When it comes to secret agents, or servants, or slaves, all learned to tell the smooth lie that let them survive, and few kept records that endure. When it comes to the question of the spies who worked in the Confederate White House, where solid documentary evidence has failed, legend often has stepped in to fill the gaps and, to some considerable extent, to cloud the picture.
The one slave-spy we know the most about is William A. Jackson, the handsome coachman who appears to have been hired out by his owner at one point to work as a waiter in a Richmond hotel before being rented to the Davis family to drive them around the city.
In early May 1862, soon after New Orleans had fallen to the Union and as the Federal army under Gen. George McClellan was inching its way up the peninsula from Yorktown toward Richmond, the slave William Jackson crossed the lines into the Federal camp and began telling his story to the officers, who debriefed him at length, then to a handful of reporters. Over the next several weeks, tales about his revelations were printed and reprinted in papers all over the country.
Thus, one could read in the The Liberator, an abolitionist paper out of Boston, an article picked up from Horace Greeley’s Tribune in New York that was a paean to the escaped slaves making their way to Union encampments. Typically they were called “contrabands,” not yet entitled to their freedom (the Emancipation Proclamation was not announced until later that year, and did not go into effect until 1863).
“The fact cannot be questioned that the most important information we receive of the enemy’s movements reaches us through the contrabands,” the author of the Tribunearticle proclaimed.
When Jackson made his appearance in the Union camp, we are told, generals, colonels and majors flocked around him and the commander, Gen. Irvin McDowell, telegraphed the War Department with some of Jackson’s revelations.
If he brought useful tactical intelligence, however, it didn’t make it into the Northern newspapers, which focused on the gossip he passed along.
Jackson described Jefferson Davis as “pale and haggard,” sleeping little, eating nothing, constantly irritable and complaining about his generals: ‘He plans advances, but they execute masterly retreats,’” Jackson is quoted saying.
Varina Davis, meanwhile, had become a terror to her servants. “Mr. Davis treated me well,” said Jackson, “but Mrs. Davis is the d–––l,” the word devil considered too fraught for the paper’s readers.
Jackson seems to have spent quite a bit of time driving Varina around, and listening closely to her depressed views of the “played out” Confederacy. In part, no doubt, Jackson was telling the Union officers and press what they wanted to hear, raising their morale by talking about the declining mood in Rebel Richmond. He said not only slaves but whites were looking forward to the arrival of the Union troops. The Davises kept their bags packed and ready to go, he said, and even Mrs. Davis couldn’t pass off Confederate money…Read the Rest Here, including the story of Mary Elizabeth Bowser the amazing woman who operated a spy ring in the confederate capital...
The Southern Myth has an entire alternate universe explanation about the causes of “The War Between the States”… COvering up the real reasons.
This is Col Ty Seidule, Head of the History Department at West Point
One of the more interesting divergences of the Southern Myth – is the Myth of the Black Confederate Soldier. This one has popped up reliably since in was invented back around 1900, when southern writers tried to whitewash the brutality and savagery of the slave states, and deny that the war was really about slavery.At that time many of the soldiers who had fought in th Civil War were still alive,. The SCV campaigned for pensions for a few black men, All told, perhaps a half dozen black me were awarded pensions for serving in the Confederate Army, bolstering the claim at little expense. No record exists that any of these men ever carried a rifle.
Like anything to do with white supremacy, advocates have been able to dredge the sewers of black life and come up with black advocates – mot notably in this case Uncle Walter Williams.A few others discussed below wave the flag, and even dres up in confederate uniforms, espousing conservative causes.
Lost Cause fanatics—including a handful of African Americans—insist that thousands of blacks fought for the Confederacy. Nothing in the historical record supports that claim.
On Sunday July 19, 2015 Anthony Hervey was killed while driving home on Mississippi’s Highway 6 after attending a rally in Birmingham, Alabama to protest the city council’s decision to remove a Confederate monument in Linn Park.
A fellow passenger who survived the crash claimed that she and Hervey were being pursued by another vehicle containing four or five black men. The accident is under investigation, but given recent decisions at the state and local level to remove Confederate flags and monuments and the resulting conflicts witnessed recently, the reported cause of the crash may not come as a surprise. What may surprise readers is that Anthony Hervey was African-American.
Hervey was one of a very small but vocal group of African-American men and women who identify closely with a narrative of the Civil War that celebrates the Confederacy. These so-called “Black Confederates” have been embraced by heritage organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). In the wake of the South Carolina shootings, they have been front and center in a campaign that dates back to the late ’70s to convince the general public that thousands of free and enslaved blacks fought as soldiers in the Confederate army.
A resident of Oxford, Mississippi, Hervey was no stranger to the often contentious debates surrounding the display of the Confederate flag and other iconography. In 2000 he led protests to keep the Confederate flag flying atop the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina and closer to home, challenged the University of Mississippi’s attempt to replace its mascot, “Colonel Reb” and ban the singing of “Dixie” during football games.
Hervey was often seen wearing a Confederate uniform and carrying a large flag in front of Oxford’s soldier statue. Among his many signs could be read: “White Guilt=Black Genocide,” “The Welfare State Has Destroyed My People,” and “Please! Do Not Hire Me Because I Am Black.” According to Hervey, it is the policies of the federal government that have fueled suspicion and deepened the racial divide in the South. In his final speech in Birmingham, just before his fatal accident, Hervey said, “I don’t like black people. I don’t like white people… but I love the hell out of me some Southerners.”
It should be no surprise that Hervey’s outspokenness in support of the Confederacy and his conservative politics endeared him to crowds at pro-Confederate heritage rallies.
Others like honorary SCV member H.K. Edgerton of North Carolina—arguably the most visible pro-Confederate African-American—also appeared at rallies throughout the South following the shootings. A one-time president of Asheville’s chapter of the NAACP, in 2002-03 Edgerton walked 1,600 miles with the flag and in full Confederate uniform from North Carolina to Texas in opposition to government policies that divide the races and in support of Confederate heritage.
At the time of his walk Edgerton asserted, “If we Southerners don’t stand together we will lose our culture, heritage, religion and region to outsiders who sadly have no appreciation of the unique culture of being Southern.”
In Virginia, Karen Cooper has maintained a close relationship with the Virginia Flaggers, which organized in 2011 to protest the removal of the Confederate flag at the “Old Soldiers’ Home” in Richmond on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Originally from New York and a former member of the Nation of Islam, Cooper identifies closely with her new home and with Confederate heritage. She was introduced to the Virginia Flaggers through her involvement in the tea party and quickly found a home for her views on limited government and her strong stand against a welfare state that she believes has seriously harmed the black community.
As for the history of slavery in the South, Cooper brushes it aside as having existed throughout human history and, curiously, that for every individual it was “a choice.”
All three believe that racial unrest in the modern South and the recent divide over Confederate flags and monuments is the result of failed government policies and a false view of the history of the Confederacy. In their view, it was the Confederacy’s embrace of states rights and its own steps toward the recruitment of thousands of black Confederate soldiers that offered the promise of racial unity and equality. The willingness of all three to don Confederate uniforms and/or wave the flag offers a powerful visual reminder for those who continue to embrace a Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War—a narrative that rejects the preservation of slavery as the central goal of the Confederate experiment in independence in favor of a scenario wherein loyal black soldiers stood by their masters on the battlefield.
In their initial statement following the violent murder of nine black Charlestonians while attending Bible study at Emmanuel AME Church and the publication of photographs of Dylann Roof holding the Confederate flag, the South Carolina Division, SCV offered the following reminder:
“Historical fact shows there were Black Confederate soldiers. These brave men fought in the trenches beside their White brothers, all under the Confederate Battle Flag. This same Flag stands as a memorial to these soldiers on the grounds of the SC Statehouse today. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a historical honor society, does not delineate which Confederate soldier we will remember or honor. We cherish and revere the memory of all Confederate veterans. None of them, Black or White, shall be forgotten.”…Read the rest here
Saw this one on my Amazon Reading List, downloaded it – and have been reading through it the last week or so on my way to work on the subway. Historian Edward Baptist’s treatise on how slavery made America has been greeted with both strong objection from the usual suspects as well as hailed for it’s detailed treatment of a complex historical subject, the ramifications of which still impact American Society today. What Baptist documents is what us students of American History have suspected for a very long time, but until this book – no one really documented it and brought it out front.
What Baptist succinctly points our and documents is the “capitalism” which grew this country from it’s founding in the early 1600’s to an industrial powerhouse owes it roots, and its foundation to slavery. Far from the oft repeated “land of economic opportunity”, slavery generated over half of this country’s economic might, and the worth of slaves alone constituted over 1/6th of the total wealth of the nation prior to 1860. This one smacks the”Southern Myth” regurgitated by conservative right wingers dead between the eyes.
Part of a book review by the NY Times. Follow the link for the whole article.
For residents of the world’s pre-eminent capitalist nation, American historians have produced remarkably few studies of capitalism in the United States. This situation was exacerbated in the 1970s, when economic history began to migrate from history to economics departments, where it too often became an exercise in scouring the past for numerical data to plug into computerized models of the economy. Recently, however, the history of American capitalism has emerged as a thriving cottage industry. This new work portrays capitalism not as a given (something that “came in the first ships,” as the historian Carl Degler once wrote) but as a system that developed over time, has been constantly evolving and penetrates all aspects of society.
Slavery plays a crucial role in this literature. For decades, historians depicted the institution as unprofitable and on its way to extinction before the Civil War (a conflict that was therefore unnecessary). Recently, historians like Sven Beckert, Robin Blackburn and Walter Johnson have emphasized that cotton, the raw material of the early Industrial Revolution, was by far the most important commodity in 19th-century international trade and that capital accumulated through slave labor flowed into the coffers of Northern and British bankers, merchants and manufacturers. And far from being economically backward, slave owners pioneered advances in modern accounting and finance.
Edward E. Baptist situates “The Half Has Never Been Told” squarely within this context. Baptist, who teaches at Cornell University, is the author of a well-regarded study of slavery in Florida. Now he expands his purview to the entire cotton kingdom, the heartland of 19th-century American slavery. (Unfortunately, slavery in the Upper South, where cotton was not an economic staple, is barely discussed, even though as late as 1860 more slaves lived in Virginia than any other state.) In keeping with the approach of the new historians of capitalism, the book covers a great deal of ground — not only economic enterprise but religion, ideas of masculinity and gender, and national and Southern politics. Baptist’s work is a valuable addition to the growing literature on slavery and American development.
Where Baptist breaks new ground is in his emphasis on the centrality of the interstate trade in slaves to the regional and national economies and his treatment of the role of extreme violence in the workings of the slave system. After the legal importation of slaves from outside the country ended in 1808, the spread of slavery into the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico would not have been possible without the enormous uprooting of people from Maryland and Virginia. Almost one million slaves, Baptist estimates, were transported to the cotton fields from the Upper South in the decades before the Civil War.
The domestic slave trade was highly organized and economically efficient, relying on such modern technologies as the steamboat, railroad and telegraph. For African-Americans, its results were devastating. Since buyers preferred young workers “with no attachments,” the separation of husbands from wives and parents from children was intrinsic to its operation, not, as many historians have claimed, a regrettable side effect. Baptist shows how slaves struggled to recreate a sense of community in the face of this disaster.
The sellers of slaves, Baptist insists, were not generally paternalistic owners who fell on hard times and parted reluctantly with members of their metaphorical plantation “families,” but entrepreneurs who knew an opportunity for gain when they saw one. As for the slave traders — the middlemen — they excelled at maximizing profits. They not only emphasized the labor abilities of those for sale (reinforced by humiliating public inspections of their bodies), but appealed to buyers’ salacious fantasies. In the 1830s, the term “fancy girl” began to appear in slave-trade notices to describe young women who fetched high prices because of their physical attractiveness. “Slavery’s frontier,” Baptist writes, “was a white man’s sexual playground.”
The cotton kingdom that arose in the Deep South was incredibly brutal. Violence against Native Americans who originally owned the land, competing imperial powers like Spain and Britain and slave rebels solidified American control of the Gulf states. Violence, Baptist contends, explains the remarkable increase of labor productivity on cotton plantations. Without any technological innovations in cotton picking, output per hand rose dramatically between 1800 and 1860. Some economic historians have attributed this to incentives like money payments for good work and the opportunity to rise to skilled positions. Baptist rejects this explanation.
Planters called their method of labor control the “pushing system.” Each slave was assigned a daily picking quota, which increased steadily over time. Baptist, who feels that historians too often employ circumlocutions that obscure the horrors of slavery, prefers to call it “the ‘whipping-machine’ system.” In fact, the word we should really use, he insists, is “torture.” To make slaves work harder and harder, planters utilized not only incessant beating but forms of discipline familiar in our own time — sexual humiliation, bodily mutilation, even waterboarding. In the cotton kingdom, “white people inflicted torture far more often than in almost any human society that ever existed.” When Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans in his Second Inaugural Address of the 250 years of “blood drawn with the lash” that preceded the Civil War, he was making a similar point: Violence did not begin in the United States with the firing on Fort Sumter.