I agree with Tom Cook in his letter [“Erasing Past Deprives Us of Understanding,” July 26] supporting the continuation of Confederate monuments, with some additions.
Racism, indeed, continues, and Southern soldiers were not the sole cause. Racism had been embedded in Europeans when they came to America, North and South. Racism developed differently, especially as Northern slavery died out well before the Civil War, mostly due to the economic “inefficiency” of supporting enslaved families during the barren winter months.
Wealthy Southern families owned slaves, banks and newspapers, and also controlled political offices. The vast majority of Southern whites, however, did not, and actually competed with slave labor to support themselves.
According to historical records, the U.S. (Union/North) fought to keep itself together as most of the Southern slave states vowed to leave because they feared that incoming President Lincoln would further limit slavery, or perhaps even outlaw it altogether (which he hadn’t stated, nor had the power to achieve).
As for the intentions of the Confederate States, their purpose in leaving, according to “The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States,” included “an increasing hostility on the part of the nonslaveholding States to the institution of slavery” in South Carolina, to “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world,” Mississippi stated. Please read the actual Confederate States’ causes for secession if you want to know the facts, not the mythology.
As for calling the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression,” this is pure propaganda, as the Confederacy initiated deadly force against U.S. troops in Fort Sumter.
Finally, if we are to remember our history as it actually happened, we need to place equally large monuments for those who suffered generations of brutal enslavement near every Confederate monument.
We would like to forget about slavery, but this is exactly why racism still continues.
Agreed, we need to talk, using historical facts.
— Dan Kowal