Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

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Cosima___J
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Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Cosima___J » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:16 am

I'm very happy to be a resident of the Deep South. But I find this "celebrating secession" distasteful. What's to celebrate about trying to prolong slavery? What's to celebrate about gleefully entering a war that would result in death and destruction? Check out this article from today's local paper:

Civil War ceremonies raise debates on race
Civil rights groups call celebrations disrespectfulAssociated Press
Friday, Dec. 10, 2010

CHARLESTON, S.C. --- At South Carolina's Secession Gala, men in frock coats and militia uniforms and women in hoop skirts will sip mint juleps as a band called Unreconstructed plays Dixie . In Georgia, they will re-enact the state's 1861 secession convention. Alabama will hold a mock swearing-in of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.


Across the South, preparations are under way for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Though many organizations are working to incorporate both the black and the white experience, there are complaints that some events will glorify the Old South and the Lost Cause while overlooking a major reason for the war: slavery.

"It's almost like celebrating the Holocaust," said Benard Simelton, the president of the Alabama conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "Our rights were taken away, and we were treated as less than human beings. To relive that in a celebratory way I don't think is right."

Mark Simpson, the commander of the South Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, acknowledged that an event such as the Dec. 20 Secession Gala in Charleston is seen by some Americans as politically incorrect. But "to us it's part of our nature and our culture and our heritage."

"Slavery was a very big issue. Anyone who denies that has his head in a hole somewhere," said Simpson, a Spartanburg businessman who counts 32 ancestors who fought for the South. "But slavery was not the single nor primary cause, and that's where the line gets drawn."

Simpson said the primary cause was states' rights -- the purported right of states to nullify federal laws and freely leave the Union they voluntarily joined.

Many historians would disagree, and strongly.

"Slavery was the principal cause of the Civil War, period," said Bob Sutton, the chief historian for the National Park Service. "Yes, politics was important. Yes, economics were important. Yes, social issues were important. But when you get to the core of why all these things were important, it was slavery."

Some commemorations are being conducted under state auspices, while others are being privately organized, such as the mock swearing-in in Alabama and the $100-a-head Charleston gala, which will mark the day South Carolina became the first state to secede: Dec. 20, 1860.

Joe McGill, a black historian from Charleston who portrays a soldier from the Union's famed black 54th Massachusetts during re-enactments, sees the 150th anniversary as an opportunity to tell stories that weren't told 50 years ago -- those of blacks and the black units who fought for the Union.

"That is the story we will tell, and that is the story African-Americans want to hear," he said.

During the next four years, there are plans in South Carolina for events that will commemorate the freeing of slaves and the seizure of a Confederate ship by a slave. In Virginia, a conference this fall was called Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History. Last month, black re-enactors from 13 states marched through Harrisburg, Pa., commemorating a similar parade there at the end of the Civil War.

In the run-up to the commemorations, South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession has been displayed around the state.

David Rutledge, a descendant of David Jamison, who was president of the state's secession convention, said he nearly cried when he first read it.

"It wasn't what I expected -- a sense of pride -- but a sense of sadness because I knew that it came at a very great price and brought on war with all its horrors," said Rutledge, a lawyer from Greenville whose great-great grandfather was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness.

Eric Emerson, the director of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, said he hopes the anniversary events deepen people's understanding of the war, but he conceded the divide over the war will remain.

"It's kind of understandable. People want a short answer to everything. That's why people are hitting each other with these buzzwords: slavery and states' rights," he said.

jbuck919
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:40 am

Perhaps they should celebrate with a re-enactment.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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John F
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by John F » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:27 pm

Nostalgia for the Confederacy is alive and well, and it may never die. For the sentimentalists, the "War between the States" (never the Civil War) was fought for independence, like the American Revolutionary War, with what they see as a tragic outcome - they lost. If, as some like to say, it was fought to preserve the Southern way of life, or rather the way of life of white Southerners, then it was well lost, as the foundation of that way of life was despicable. But the planned celebrations aren't likely to show much awareness of this.
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Cosima___J
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Cosima___J » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:49 pm

Well John Francis, at least on this subject we are in full agreement! :D

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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by John F » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:55 pm

My mother was from Roanoke, VA, and my many visits down there made me aware that while the Confederacy may be a dead letter to a northerner like me, to many southerners it's anything but. She was not one of them, indeed her attitudes and even her accent were as Yankee as mine, and I met many of her Virginia friends who were much the same (except for the accent). But also many who were not.
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Werner » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:44 pm

I certainly agree with your initial post. Cosima. And I have spent enough time in the South in my traveling years to appreciate something of the Southern charm, and a sense of tradition going back to the Civil War developing into something like conversational folkways. At least, as far as I heve ever seen, none of this, at least in my days, hinted at a resumption of the figthing, which hopefully will leave the Union intact to meet other more recent challenges.
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:01 pm

Werner wrote:I certainly agree with your initial post. Cosima. And I have spent enough time in the South in my traveling years to appreciate something of the Southern charm
When I first moved here I was very impressed by the charm of people in the South...I still am, of course...
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Barry
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Barry » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:11 pm

Nice post, Cosima. I always use the argument with people who claim that slavery wasn't the main cause of the Civil War that it doesn't pass the "but for" test. But for the issue of slavery, the Civil War wouldn't have happened. It doesn't matter that most of the southerners who fought weren't slave owners and many didn't have slavery on their minds when they went to fight. The "states' right" that was primarily at issue was the right for them to maintain slavery. You can't just claim it as an abstract concept and ignore that plain fact in the process.

There are a lot of things about the modern South that I like, but the continued clinging to the notion that the Confederacy was something noble by too large of a minority of southerners isn't one of them.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by living_stradivarius » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:55 pm

You can tell how things are progressing on this issue by the prominence of the confederate flag. A friend of whose family is from SC tells me that no Confederate flags drape Charleston as they used to in 2000. The flag has been relegated to a more discrete venue - on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse. This is a marginal improvement since 2000, when the flag flew atop the State House dome. :D
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Teresa B
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Teresa B » Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:49 am

As a southerner by birth, I am embarrassed to say we in Tampa have the world's largest Confederate flag flapping in the breeze at the junction of Interstates 4 and 75. What a way to welcome people to our lovely city! :? It's on private property, so nothing we can do.

Teresa
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:47 am

Teresa B wrote:As a southerner by birth, I am embarrassed to say we in Tampa have the world's largest Confederate flag flapping in the breeze at the junction of Interstates 4 and 75. What a way to welcome people to our lovely city! :? It's on private property, so nothing we can do.
No? If it were a giant nude statue of Mohammad (Jesus will do) with an erect phallus you can be sure that something would be done. Short of such an extreme case, New York laws prohibit advertising that can be seen from the Thruway (for years farmers have had their giant billboards up anyway because they get paid more than the fine for having them). Private property is not an absolute right, though I suppose now you'll tell me the flag has already been taken to court and public interest lost.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by living_stradivarius » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:57 am

jbuck919 wrote:No? If it were a giant nude statue of Mohammad (Jesus will do) with an erect phallus you can be sure that something would be done. Short of such an extreme case, New York laws prohibit advertising that can be seen from the Thruway (for years farmers have had their giant billboards up anyway because they get paid more than the fine for having them). Private property is not an absolute right, though I suppose now you'll tell me the flag has already been taken to court and public interest lost.
Good idea, a neighbor should do it. :lol:
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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by lennygoran » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:07 am

>New York laws prohibit advertising that can be seen from the Thruway <

Wow, you gotta be kidding--we use that Thruway all the time to head to places like Albany and Lake George, etc--the signs are prolific--especially those horse riding ranches! :) If they enforced that law with heavy fines they could probably fix all their financial problems! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by JackC » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:23 am

Barry wrote:Nice post, Cosima. I always use the argument with people who claim that slavery wasn't the main cause of the Civil War that it doesn't pass the "but for" test. But for the issue of slavery, the Civil War wouldn't have happened. It doesn't matter that most of the southerners who fought weren't slave owners and many didn't have slavery on their minds when they went to fight. The "states' right" that was primarily at issue was the right for them to maintain slavery. You can't just claim it as an abstract concept and ignore that plain fact in the process.

There are a lot of things about the modern South that I like, but the continued clinging to the notion that the Confederacy was something noble by too large of a minority of southerners isn't one of them.
I think Lincoln got right to the heart of the matter in his Second Inaugural Address:

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.

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Re: Celebrating the South's Secession during the Civil War

Post by Teresa B » Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:42 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Teresa B wrote:As a southerner by birth, I am embarrassed to say we in Tampa have the world's largest Confederate flag flapping in the breeze at the junction of Interstates 4 and 75. What a way to welcome people to our lovely city! :? It's on private property, so nothing we can do.
No? If it were a giant nude statue of Mohammad (Jesus will do) with an erect phallus you can be sure that something would be done. Short of such an extreme case, New York laws prohibit advertising that can be seen from the Thruway (for years farmers have had their giant billboards up anyway because they get paid more than the fine for having them). Private property is not an absolute right, though I suppose now you'll tell me the flag has already been taken to court and public interest lost.
You know, I don't know if it was taken to court, but supposedly the people putting it up had all the "permits" in place. There was a lot of public outcry, and I suspect some county commission meetings. Public interest certainly lost there. (And indeed if it had been such a statue, I'm sure blood would have been shed to prevent it!)

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

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