Letter: Civil War historians should face reality

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

I was in town for a few days, acting like a tourist since my wife was attending a conference. I’ve seen Asheville from the “outside” and wanted to learn more about the city.

I picked up a copy of [the May 16] Mountain Xpress and read, with interest, the article on Karen Cox, “Dixie’s Daughters.” Cox joins the long list of haters who would sell their souls to get people to buy her books.

In addressing the Confederate monuments, she says that they “should never have gone beyond cemetery gates.” She criticizes the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s efforts at providing accurate information to the children of the future about the War for Southern Independence. For a historian, Cox has much unbiased research yet to do.

It was heroes, not haters, who fought for the South’s independence. They were farmers and shopkeepers, most all of whom had no slaves. They gave up everything, everything, to ensure freedom for the South. Just as in the Revolutionary War some 80 years earlier, the South was being overly burdened with taxes in an effort at pressurizing them to buy Northern machinery instead of trading with France and England.

At the time of the war, does Cox know that slavery, as bad as we know it is, was legal! It was legal by the Congress of the United States, by the Constitution of the United States and by the Supreme Court of the United States. How is it that Lincoln, with no authorization from Congress, invaded the Southern states, causing the deaths of over 600,000 Americans? This was the same president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed not one slave! 

Now, people like Cox, by her writings and lectures, have incited individuals to do such things as to deface the plaque to Gen. Robert E. Lee at the Vance Monument. Lee, by the way, was more anti-slavery then most Northern politicians or citizens. Compare him to the racist Lincoln who tried and tried again to move all blacks to colonies in the Caribbean or in Africa.

It’s time for the likes of Cox to face reality. Lincoln and the North’s actions in the war were as illegal as anything ever done in America. Will she now call for the removal of all plaques honoring the veterans of the Vietnam War — after all, that too, was a “lost cause.” How about the many streets, towns, buildings and monuments raised to honor Washington or Jefferson, both slaveholders?

In closing (I could go on forever), remember the words of Sir Isaac Newton, that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. When our flag was attacked, sales of that Southern icon skyrocketed, the ranks of organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans swelled, and a new awareness was begun to defend our noble and God-given right to remove ourselves from a corrupt nation. Yes, we lost, but the truth will never lose, despite the words of the haters, such as Cox, and her words are helping in this new awakening.

— Brian Weber
North Augusta, S.C.

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22 thoughts on “Letter: Civil War historians should face reality

  1. boatrocker

    Hmmm, 2 points to bring up:
    -Removing all Vietnam memorials? Great idea for the GOP ignoring the findings of Robert McNamara’s
    4,000+ pages of info for it being an un winnable war via the Pentagon Papers. Thanks, Nixon.
    -Weber’s own words “Yes, we lost”… no, “we” didn’t lose, the Union was saved, slavery was abolished
    and historical revisionists still can spout fake news platitudes under our rapidly disappearing free press.

    • Mark Lynn

      Hmm, the GOP? Thanks Nixon? Completely glossing over Democrats, Kennedy and Johnson. But it’s to be expected from someone declaring the Union as right and the Confederacy as wrong and anyone stating fact for the South as a backwards revisionist.

      • boatrocker

        Nixon was prez for the biggest 1968 and beyond build up of troops in Viet Naaaaam.
        Eisenhower sent ‘advisors’ the late 50’s, JFK followed suit, LBJ called it “Game On!” but not a war,
        and many ‘Murican boys came home in bags for the MIC’s influence over Congress.

        The Pentagon Papers are available to read (the uncensored parts) in both print and online form,
        by the way if you ever lost a friend over there.

      • luther blissett

        “it’s to be expected from someone declaring the Union as right and the Confederacy as wrong”

        What precisely should someone declare instead?

  2. luther blissett

    “She criticizes the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s efforts at providing accurate information to the children of the future about the War for Southern Independence.”

    Oh dear. This is why historians matter, and why the MX’s archive series posting contemporaneous Lost Cause revisionism is useful.

    (Also, stop trolling the readers.)

    • boatrocker

      T. Calder’s historical writings are my favorite from this rag as other historians show up in the funniest of places.

  3. Traci

    Excellent commentary on the current modern trend of historical interpretation, which since the 1960s has taken the dominant narrative, the Myth of the Just Cause, to a new and unprecedented extremism. Cox is definitely in the anti-Southron camp with a clear agenda of bias, hate, and cultural disrespect. Comments here are a clear indicator of how deeply the narrative of the victors, to the exclusion of any other point of view, especially the Southern point of view, has gripped the national consciousness. How sadly easy and accepted it is to villify not only the history but every aspect of a region, a people, and a culture with overly simplistic soundbites, propaganda, creative censorship, and retroactive self-righteous judgment.

    • luther blissett

      “the narrative of the victors, to the exclusion of any other point of view, especially the Southern point of view, has gripped the national consciousness.”

      Oh, bless your heart. There aren’t many statues of George III in colonial cities. And there aren’t many monuments to Grant and Sherman in the south. Though perhaps there should have been.

      “How sadly easy and accepted it is to villify not only the history but every aspect of a region, a people, and a culture–”

      It is Lost Cause dead-enders who insist that their revisionist mythology is inextricable from regional identity: that to demean the toxic civic religion of Jim Crow is to demean the south. That is a lie. The actual Civil War history of southern Appalachia belies that. It is a narrow and exclusionary definition of “y’all” and always will be.

    • Gary Scheuer

      Yup. I especially like the part where slavery and the idea of the superiority of the White race are the cornerstone of the Confederacy. It ‘s all right there in the exact words of the Confederate vice president. “Revisionist history” indeed.

    • C-Law

      Here’s a few primary sources you will likely just ignore “boatrocker.”

      “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.”–Abraham Lincoln speech on the floor of Congress 1847

      “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality … I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.” Abraham Lincoln Sept. 18, 1858

      “We do heartily accept this doctrine, believing it intrinsically sound, beneficent, and one that, universally accepted, is calculated to prevent the shedding of seas of human blood. And, if it justified the secession from the British Empire of Three Millions of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.”–Yankee abolitionist Horace Greeley, New York Daily Tribune, Dec. 17, 1860

      You also do realize that the sovereign states of Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island expressly reserved the right of secession as conditional to their ratification of the Constitution of the United States.

      And we all know how brilliant you think of yourself “boatrocker”…maybe you rate up there with the likes of James Madison–James Madison, who wrote of the proposed constitution, “a breach of any one article by any one party, leaves all other parties at liberty to consider the whole convention as dissolved.” But ‘boatrocker” is really smart and will surely explain to us all how he knows history and politics better than the brilliant revolutioanries who actually did “rock the boat” of world history when they broke free from the British Empire, and 80 years later attempted to free themselves from the burgeoning Yankee Federal Empire.

      So “boatrocker” what have you got? Just another fascist-empire lover is my guess. I will never give up the doctrine of consent of the governed. I will never abandon the truth and justice of my ancestors from the Scottish Wars of Independence, to the First War for Colonial Independence or the War for Southern Independence to comfort your ignorance and hatred. You don’t have to love it, but then again, you don’t have to live here either! Deo Vindice!

  4. BRO

    The war for southern independence? Don’t you mean the southern attempt to commit treason? The work to betray our nation as traitors?
    That was put down, as it should be. It is also over.

    • C-Law

      Haha! BRO, your statement betrays your utter ignorance…let us consider your statement for a moment–you claim the southerners or at least their political and military leaders were traitors and committed treason…I will turn your statement right back at you—why WEREN’T any CSA political or military leaders EVER convicted of treason after the war? Especially if the noble Yankee Empire was so righteously justified in their invasion, destruction, and military occupation of the free and independent CSA, assuming the CSA had illegally seceded from the “Union?”

      It is obvious you are full of hatred and and are not very astute, but consider how ridiculous your conclusion sounds in light of this simple thought experiment–Transport yourself to the summer of 1865 if you are able…CSA armies have laid down arms and surrendered, the CSA government has fallen and Jefferson Davis has been captured, and the newly deified “Honest Abe”, the “Great Emancipator” had been recently martyred with the Northern press screaming for blood vengeance on the CSA and its leadership…Hmmm, seems like a slam dunk if you were a Federal Empire attorney!?

      Here was the North’s big chance to prove the South wrong once and for all, in a solemn and dignified court of law, in the eyes of the entire world and for all of posterity, but they refused to take it. Why? They certainly had not suddenly had a change of heart toward the South. It was Reconstruction, the body of the assassinated Lincoln was barely cold in the ground while the hateful Charles Sumner, no doubt still smarting from his caning by Preston Brooks, along with Thaddeas Stephens and other South hating radical Republicans were ascending in Congress. Northern troops were in control of every Southern government while large numbers of former Confederates were disfranchised. This was exactly the time the federal government would have wanted badly to convict the Southern president IF it had had a case. The Federal Yankee Empire was willing to kill hundreds of thousands of Southerners on the battlefield, so there can be no doubt it would have relished humiliating Jefferson Davis in a courtroom. It is a virtual certainty that if the North’s case had been strong they would have taken it to trial and vindicated their war against the hated South once and for all. That the Federal government did not go to court against the Confederate president after keeping him in jail for two years charged with treason, is more strong evidence that there was indeed a legal right of secession and the South had exercised it properly. There were no other treason trials against former Confederates because any one trial would likely prove the legal right of secession, and imminently practical Northerners were not about to lose in a court of law what they had won on the battlefield.

      At least the Yankees and Empire builders of old were intellectually more honest than BRO, boatrocker, et al., who like to post their hatred in these forums. The Yankees of old knew they had no right to invade the free and independent CSA and there was much unjust blood shed on their hands, but the dunces who post on here actually believe the Yankee Empire was a righteous victor and its cause just! Haha! Pretty hard to fathom, oh well…several generations of goobermint-run pro Yankee Empire public school must be part of the answer! ;)

      BRO–you are certainly free to be ignorant and have such hatred for honesty, but my response to you and others like you is that I will NEVER abandon truth and justice to comfort YOUR ignorance and hatred! Deo Vindice, Molon Labe, if you dare!

      • Phillip Williams

        I also find a particular irony in the recent flap over Harry’s on the Hill’s decision to remove the statue of their mascot, Chief Pontiac. I really don’t have a problem with it – sounds like a business decision made by the owners of the statue and the corporate/private property upon which it sits. Mr. Boyle in his AC-T piece now loftily proclaims that some monuments to the Cherokee need to be erected – and I do not disagree with this.

        I wonder if these Confederate-haters around WNC would like to honor the fact that the Cherokee, along with the other “civilized tribes” (the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole), overwhelmingly sided with the Confederacy – largely out of hatred for what the United States government had been doing to them ever since 1776? And the fact that not an acre of Tribal land was commandeered by the Confederacy?

        Or, in the way of honoring individuals, perhaps they’d like to honor Colonel William Holland Thomas -commander of the 69th NC Infantry, otherwise known as Thomas’ Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders – Thomas also holds the distinction of being the only white man ever to become a Chief of the Cherokee Nation? Or maybe Brigadier General Standhope Watie – a Cherokee, and the only Native American to attain General Officer rank on either side during the Civil War – and the last Confederate field commander to surrender?

        History is not as cut, dried, straightforward and divided into black and white as some folks try to make it. More layers than a chicken yard – and, to paraphrase the Prophet Ezekiel said “Wheels within wheels.”

          • Phillip Williams

            Yes. Funny. Although it was indeed an element of Thomas’ Legion that participated in the “firing of the last shot”, the plaque doesn’t even mention Thomas’ Legion or any specific units – only names Lt. Conley of “The Confederate Army” (it is true that Lt R.T. Conley was commander of Co F, Love’s Regiment, 69th NC Infantry – and their opposition was COL W.C. Bartlett’s 2nd NC Mounted Infantry)…..and it is a rather small plaque after all. There were several places that claimed the distinction of being the “site of the last shots of the Civil War”.

            At least the Cherokee members of the 69th were regular attendees of the Confederate veterans conventions right up until they quit having them… I see quite a few Cherokee features in this photo – the old gent with the goatee third from the left in the back row was Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Stringfield of Waynesville – Deputy Commanding Officer of the Legion, and later, proprietor of the Sulfur Springs Hotel. His Son, Grandson and Great-Grandson all became physicians – unless he has retired recently, Dr. John Stringfield is still a family GP in Waynesville. http://www.thomaslegion.net/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/thomas-legion.jpg

          • Peter Robbins

            And the (hardly inadvertent) failure to mention the Cherokees on the plaque confirms the analysis of Professor Cox — that most, if not all, Confederate statues and monuments were erected to advance an ideological narrative incompatible with racial equality, unfaithful to inconvenient historical facts, and in conflict with the current-day values of the communities in which the tributes stand. It would have been better if the builders had simply placed historical markers at places where events occurred and explained what happened there. But that wasn’t the most important thing on the agenda.

          • Phillip Williams

            Maybe I am just thick, but I honestly don’t see how that particular monument (a very small plaque mounted on a stone cairn) “advances an ideological narrative” of any kind – or purposefully “excludes” anyone, although its particular claim to fame was disputed by multiple other localities almost from the git-go……

            No – kindly looks to me like the builders had simply placed a historical marker at the place where an event occurred and explained what happened there……

          • Peter Robbins

            You’re just not used to agreeing with me. To be sure, the Waynesville marker is better than most Confederate statues and monuments. Way better. But even it still bears subtle indications of the racial agenda of its makers because it doesn’t mention a fact that someone with a dispassionate interest in history for its own sake would not have neglected. There are plenty of monuments where the agenda is more overt. Much more. And that, as I understand it, is Professor Cox’s point.

          • Phillip Williams

            Ah, well…”Endeavorrrr to perseverrrrrre..”

          • Peter Robbins

            Indeed. Start by reading Professor Cox’s book. Don’t wait for the cartoon version. That’s already available in the letter to the editor that has drawn so much thoughtful praise on this thread.

      • Peter Robbins

        The Confederates were given an amnesty as a path to citizenship. That sometimes happens when lawbreaking becomes widespread.

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