Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Confederate Monuments

A monument to Confederate soldiers was to be removed from a University of Louisville campus, but a judge blocked it until a hearing.

When I was 20 I’d have been gung ho for removing it—the Civil War was about slavery and I don’t want to honor that.

I’m not 20 any more. The Confederate powers-that-were wanted slavery, but seriously, did the soldiers actually say "Ma, I’m going off to fight the Yankees so our neighbor Jeff can buy himself a slave if he ever saves up enough money"?

One of the points of the war in the first place was "these Southerners are part of us." You can get away with damning the soldiers because of the cause of their rulers, provided you don’t want to be part of the same tribe with them afterwards.

I get the impression that those calling for the universal destruction of all such monuments (*) aren’t interested in living together afterwards.

(*) Though you can melt Jeff Davis down for scrap and I won’t mind.


RichardJohnson said...

I had family on both sides who died in the conflict. I have no sympathy for the Confederates seceding, as docs like the South Carolina Declaration of Secession make it clear that slavery was the reason for the initial secession. States' Rights as an alleged reason for seceding is comical, given that the slaveholders were very willing to have States' Rights in the North trampled on in enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act.

Why did non-slaveholders fight for the South? Some fought because they hoped that some day they would have enough capital to purchase slaves. Some fought because their home states were invaded.

While from my perspective 150 years later, the Confederates were mistaken to have seceded and to have fought hard for an inglorious cause, I see no need to topple the statues. How many of our current beliefs, which we consider to be well thought out and an indication of our innate goodness, will in later centuries be considered the beliefs of fools or of evil people? The statutes should stay up as monuments to our human fallibility. We can be just as fallible as our ancestors, though we may not realize it.

The Mad Soprano said...

The Confederate soldiers were told by folks like Calhoun that they were fighting for their rights.

Mark Anderson said...

There was a time when I believed that the war was simply about slavery, but now I'm not so sure. Read Korda's "Clouds of Glory" or Jay Winik's classic, "June 1865." It was about the economy and the culture and it was about the state -vs- the union. As Shelbey Foote noted in "The Civil War" TV series, before the war the subject of the United States took a plural verb--the United States are... .

Mark Anderson said...

Let me finish the thought. Remember that the revolution was not that remote. Lee's father was a hero in the war and a favorite of Washington's. Lee himself turned down command of the Union army to defend, in his words, "my country."

Christopher B said...

The South wouldn't have attempted to seceded over any issue but slavery, and the North wouldn't have fought over any issue but an attempt to secede. Inextricably linked.

james said...

Certainly inextricably linked--no question. But I strongly suspect that the average soldier was fighting for what he said he was fighting for--ideals shared by the north as well.

I wonder if that plays a role in the effort to knock down the memorials--some people don't share those ideals?

Mark Anderson said...

"Because you're here."

A famous quote attributed to a southern solder after being asked why he --a man w/o slaves--and his compatriots were fighting so strenuously

Mitch said...

Re: Christopher B

"the tariff was only the pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."

Andrew Jackson, May 1833, on the subject of the Nullification crisis.

Doubt he had a time machine