The UDC, Black Confederates, and the Manipulation of the Past

Thanks to Betty Baye for a brief, but thoughtful column about a recent phone conversation with a receptionist at the national headquarters for the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.  Apparently, Ms. Baye was invited to their national convention and decided to follow up to see if the organization included any African Americans.  The receptionist noted that somewhere between 60-93,000 blacks “served” in the Confederate army though “many” went to war as “body servants” with their masters.  Well, at least she didn’t suggest that they were soldiers, but one wonders what “many” is meant to denote or why we constantly fail to describe these men for what they were: slaves.

The author goes on to describe recent ceremonies conducted by the UDC and SCV to commemorate the “service” of black Confederate soldiers such as Creed, Cornelius, and Claiborne Holland.  I have no idea whether these men were enlisted as soldiers or just another case of sloppy research and poor analysis.  Of course a representative described their presence in the army as “patriots who loved our Southland and suffered in its defense.” Creed Holland’s great-great grandson called the occasion “a day of unification.”  Of course, I cannot say what primary sources were consulted to justify such a claim, though I am willing to wager that whatever the source it was not penned by any of the three men cited or even from the war years.  The author also cited the case of Henry Nenderson, but you can imagine my surprise when I read the following:

Kevin Levin, who regularly blogs about the Confederacy, upon seeing a photo of two white women dressed in mourning attire decorating Pvt. Henderson’s grave, wrote just last month that the women aren’t “honoring a soldier, they are honoring a slave,” who was forced to join his master and who “must be understood as an extension of a broader life story of coercion.” The United Daughters of the Confederacy and similar groups, Levin argues, “teach us nothing about the complex history of race relations in the Confederacy,” and, in fact, “are completely incapable of commemorating Henderson’s life because they fail to acknowledge him for what he was — a slave.” [Read my post on Henderson here.]

Some of you are no doubt tired of these posts on “black Confederates”, but I want to make it clear that I am not writing them for you.  My goal is to build up sufficient SEO weight to counter these ridiculous stories that hearken back to a naive Lost Cause narrative that emphasizes slave loyalty and, ultimately, the distancing of the Confederate experience from slavery.  The UDC has been distorting the history of slavery and the Civil War since the early twentieth century, but their increasing black membership is what is truly disappointing.  By involving the descendants of these men as soldiers with full military honors they are using these family members for their own aggrandizement.  No doubt, the family members involved simply want their ancestors to be remembered and to identify with a larger historical narrative.  If the UDC and SCV want to commemorate and remember the lives of these men than they should acknowledge them for what they were.  There is no shame in acknowledging these men as slaves.  In fact, in the case of Henry Henderson it only makes his life that much more worthy of remembrance.

I am going to conclude this post with Betty Baye’s own assessment:

When the black Hollands were memorialized, Virginia state Sen. Charles Hawkins, a Republican, said, “We need to come to grips with the ghosts of our past. … We need to understand this history if we are to grow and prosper.” Fine words. But some find it impossible to confront ghosts of beloved ancestors who engaged in the dirty business of buying, breeding and selling human beings — a business made no less dirty by speaking of it with gentle words; for example, calling a slave “servant,” a plantation a “farm,” and implying that slaves willingly, and knowingly, fought for a cause that, had it not been lost, would have perpetuated their bondage and spread the evil to yet more territories of a young nation. Rather, the United Daughters of the Confederacy comfort themselves with the words and imagery of Mary Nowlin Moon, who, in 1915, wrote of “a heritage so rich in honor and glory that it far surpasses any material wealth that could be mine.”  Few members today, I daresay, see any irony either in their group hosting a “silent auction” at its national convention.

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41 comments… add one
  • tiredwasp Jan 26, 2013 @ 7:30

    Actually, there are blacks involved in UDC, and if the numbers are not overwhelming, then that probably has more to do with the Northern Revisionism, which told them their families fought in order to continue to be enslaved (now, what sane person would join that?) LOL— the victor writes history, and Django Unchained is the union story (—all slavery occurred in the American south, despite the fact that Portugal ran most of the slave trade, and that the u.s. protestant south, who is blamed in u.s. media for entire world slavery, was a drop in the bucket, in real history; the south must be economically punished forever, to fill northern pockets for “reparations” and so on).

    The “revisionism” of the UDC, if anything, does try to bring some awareness about the REALITY of slavery worldwide, which was not just a problem of the u.s. south, the FACT that the “union” soldiers were brought from overseas (most notably in the Irish Potato Famine that could have been avoided easily, rather than be used to import soldiers who were then conscripted, and caused the “New York Draft Riots.”)

    One could go on. At any rate, no one blames the first generation people who were starved, and whisked off boats (in many cases) to fight for the “union.” Nor large Welfare-Warfare Statist from overseas who sought to support Wage-Debt Slavery (to create the massive “Welfare” or “Nanny State” that the Americans live in today.)

    Clearly, the Founders were not trying to set up a “Nanny State.”

    Also, the “union” army being foreign born is of consequence. This “new blood” of serfs from Europe, voted to reinstitute the “Nanny State” (essentially a neo-feudalism.) By contrast, the Confederates often had much more longevity in the country. Many of the families involved dated from the 1600s. In other words, they were in the country 150 years before the Revolution, and another 150 years to the Civil War.

    This is a saga that the “union” soldiers descendants understandably wish to cover up, not the least of which is the longevity of the confederate families and their aversion to “Marx’s 48-er” who Lincoln used for his war, as they were Statists.

    In reality, anyone in the country with any longevity had people on both sides of the war, anyway.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 26, 2013 @ 8:00

      Roughly 25% of Union soldiers were foreign born. Your comment makes a bit too much of this.

      I have no doubt that you believe that African Americans have been duped by “Northern Revisionism” re: the UDC. Very comforting thought indeed.

  • Kevin Levin May 15, 2009 @ 9:29

    As always I appreciate all of you for taking the time to offer your feedback. That said, while I am not closing the comments for this post I am going to end this little thread that was introduced by Tim Lacy. I appreciate Tim’s thoughtfulness as well as the responses, but this is a bit too far afield from the subject of the post. Richard Williams and Tim Lacy have both offered their own takes over at their respective blogs and I invite you to continue the discussion there. Thanks for your understanding.

  • Richard G. Williams, Jr. May 15, 2009 @ 9:24


    Of course not. But there is a huge difference between “an acceptable intellectual position” and making an unacceptable position criminal. A HUGE difference. And please, let’s get beyond the high-school debate techniques:

    “If you don’t think so, then it is acceptable to discuss when the distortion of historical truth might become criminal. Why? You’ve accepted it in one instance, so there might be another that fits the class.”

    Circular reasoning does not advance your argument. Just because its a distortion, doesn’t mean its criminal. This is the United States, not Germany. We have the first amendment here. I agree with Voltaire, as already noted.

    You write:

    “It has been shown in history that liberty and the freedom of expression are not license to say whatever you want. Good luck finding for me an example of a culture that hasn’t limited freedom of expression in some way, including the United States.”

    You’re obfuscating. We’re talking about something *very specific* here. Academic freedom and historical interpretation, not saying “whatever you want” – as in screaming “fire” in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire. Let’s stay on the specifics of what you’re advocating which is the criminalizing of thought and historical interpretation. Who do you want to police your suggestion? Who writes the rules? Who picks those who write the rules? Shouldn’t we expand your concept to the disciplines of science and economic studies? Marxism or Capitalism? Who’s lying? Someone is and its causing a lot of pain, even death, right?

    And surely those crazy religious fundies polluting the minds of children with Creationist nonsense should be examined by government agents. And some have equated global-warming deniers with Holocaust deniers. They’re complicit in destroying the planet and all human life – surely they should be fined and/or jailed, no?

    Again, your original suggestion in the context in which you presented it is, in my opinion, absurd. And, again, I’m surprised at the lack of shock expressed here by others.

  • Tim Lacy May 15, 2009 @ 9:20

    Dear Richard,

    One more thing: it’s clear you’re distorting my position. Examples include:

    1. You said: “But for you to suggest that American citizens should be criminally prosecuted for expressing views on historical interpretation with which you disagree is very disturbing.”

    I clearly distinguished between denial and interpretation in subsequent comments. And it’s not a matter of disagreeing ~with me~ as an individual, but rather the established record.

    2. You said: “You have no problem making criminals out of someone who disagrees, (rightly or wrongly) with certain aspects of historical interpretation.”

    Again, it’s about denial, not interpretation.

    3. You said: “I find your suggestion quite absurd and I am not a little disturbed that others don’t as well.”

    It’s only absurd if you do not read my comments as a developing conversation. I advocated that deniers of the truths of slavery (ugly truths, such as death, abuse, disease, coercion, rape) be treated gravely, perhaps even punished by law.

    I’m open to a modification of opinion here. If someone wants to say that slavery doesn’t rise to the level of The Holocaust, well, let’s talk about it. That’s the essence of freedom, but the denial of the ugly truths of slavery (sans some caveats) is a subject that’s not “open for interpretation.”

    – TL

  • Richard G. Williams, Jr. May 15, 2009 @ 9:02

    His clarification was not a retraction. He evidently stands by his original assertion that certain historical interpretations and thought should be criminalized.

    Do you think students would fear expressing opinions or even asking certain sincere questions about this subject if Tim’s idea actually became law? Of course they would.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2009 @ 9:22


      I don’t know what to say. To be honest, I am not so concerned about his view on this and I have a number of other things on my mind. As Tim mentioned, there are plenty of examples of democracies, including the United States, limiting “free speech.” We could discuss the arrest of American communists at various times in the 20th century, along with the arrests of newspaper editors in the 1790s as a result of the Alien and Sedition Acts during the Adams administration. Of course, there are plenty of other examples. Tim has taken the opportunity to respond to your concerns. I suggest you engage him with your questions.

  • Tim Lacy May 15, 2009 @ 8:48


    Let’s look at this from another direction: Is denial of The Holocaust an acceptable intellectual position? If you think so, then there is no need for us to continue this conversation. If you don’t think so, then it is acceptable to discuss when the distortion of historical truth might become criminal. Why? You’ve accepted it in one instance, so there might be another that fits the class.

    It has been shown in history that liberty and the freedom of expression are not license to say whatever you want. Good luck finding for me an example of a culture that hasn’t limited freedom of expression in some way, including the United States.

    – TL

  • Richard G. Williams, Jr. May 15, 2009 @ 8:30


    Apology accepted, but you still didn’t answer the question.


    I’m looking at the larger issue here, that of free thought, expression, speech, academic freedom, and opinion. I would agree that some of the interpretations of slavery (and other aspects of history for that matter) and the master/slave relationship borders on the insane. But for you to suggest that American citizens should be criminally prosecuted for expressing views on historical interpretation with which you disagree is very disturbing. I could not care less about the side issues here.

    Your comments, as already noted, were specific and clear, to wit: you have no problem making criminals out of someone who disagrees, (rightly or wrongly) with certain aspects of historical interpretation. Who would police that sir? Academics? Which ones? Those from Harvard U. or Liberty U.? Both are accredited institutions. Perhaps whoever is in political power at any given time would write the rules – that would be fun, wouldn’t it? Should we have a “Ministry of Truth”, a “History Czar?” The parallels of what you’re advocating are obvious, very Orwellian. We would have to have police and government agents enforcing thoughts, opinions, what’s in books, expression, debate. That doesn’t bother you?

    Quite frankly, I find your suggestion quite absurd and I am not a little disturbed that others don’t as well.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2009 @ 8:43


      Sorry for not responding to your question. Well, I’ve found that often my readers fail to properly interpret my own words, so I guess I was just giving him the benefit of the doubt or looking for a clarification. I apologize for not condemning Tim outright with the strongest possible language.

  • Tim Lacy May 15, 2009 @ 8:13

    Dear Richard,

    Try reading my last two posts for a more concrete sense of where I was going. In this case, it’s important to look at the conversation’s current rather than particular offshoots and feeder streams.

    – TL

  • Richard G. Williams, Jr. May 15, 2009 @ 8:06

    You have someone suggesting that folks should be fined and or jailed for their opinions, speech, and writings on historical interpretation and you ask “What are you getting so worked up about?” (!)

    Can you answer the question I posed?

    Actually, what you said was: “I agree that this is going a bit too far.” Yeah, just a bit. Not exactly what I would call a strong rebuke.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2009 @ 8:12


      I apologize for not responding in a way that satisfies you.

  • Richard G. Williams, Jr. May 15, 2009 @ 7:06


    How can you say you don’t believe Tim “was suggesting the handing out of citations and prison sentences” when that is exactly what he said?:

    “I’m not advocating jail time—at least not for most cases.” and then . . . “My point is that all efforts to deny the truth of slavery should be vigorously opposed. If that means issuing citations (outlawing can mean misdemeanors), then so be it.”

    That’s pretty obvious and plain spoken to me. He is certainly suggesting jail time at least *in some cases* and then says “so be it” when it comes to citations.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2009 @ 7:59


      What are you getting so worked up about? I already stated that it’s not the approach I would take.

  • Tim Lacy May 15, 2009 @ 6:58

    Here’s a bit more for my thought exercise:

    “The two leading critical exposés of Holocaust denial in the United States were written by historians Deborah Lipstadt (1993) and Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman (2000). These scholars make a distinction between historical revisionism and denial. Revisionism, in their view, entails a refinement of existing knowledge about an historical event, not a denial of the event itself, that comes through the examination of new empirical evidence or a reexamination or reinterpretation of existing evidence. Legitimate historical revisionism acknowledges a “certain body of irrefutable evidence” or a “convergence of evidence” that suggest that an event_like the black plague, American slavery, or the Holocaust—did in fact occur (Lipstadt 1993:21; Shermer & Grobman 200:34). Denial, on the other hand, rejects the entire foundation of historical evidence…” Ronald J. Berger. *Fathoming the Holocaust: A Social Problems Approach* (Aldine Transaction, 2002, ISBN 0202306704), p. 154.

    I guess the question for those who deny the truths of slavery is this: When is your interpretation, or revisionism, becoming a denial of facts? After watching Kevin’s posts for more than two years, it seems, at times, that some Lost Cause/Moonlight and Magnolias revisionism hovers dangerously close to denial.

    – TL

  • Tim Lacy May 15, 2009 @ 6:52

    Dear Greg, Sheree, and Robert:

    My first comment was a mix of trial balloon, seriousness, and airy theorizing.

    The persistence of denial with regard to the horrible truths about slavery confound and demoralize me. Those who perpetrate those untruths ought to be treated like Holocaust deniers. In Europe, there are laws directed against this particular class of history lying:

    I’m throwing out the idea here that perhaps we need some kind of mild law against deniers of horrible truths of slavery. Perhaps the fear of violating this mild law would free up historians of slavery and the Civil War to work less on fighting Lost Causes and false schools of historiography, and more on forwarding legitimate scholarship on 19th-Century America.

    As for particular legal means, to continue theorizing, the First Amendment, if we were to follow some kind of Strict Constructionist interpretation (of which I am NO fan), offers no protection for using history falsely to incite the masses. The question is probably this: What concrete actions by false perpetrators of ideas (i.e. history) could force the hand of authorities? Sedition? Treason? Lynching? Segregation/Racism? Dragging African Americans to death behind pickup? Crucifying gays on fences in the West? …I realize I’m extending the actions here to questions beyond race.

    When does an idea’s consequences force the hand of law?

    Clearly I’m getting away from Kevin’s post. I say all of this, in part, because of Kevin and his professional colleagues being forced, continually in the public sphere, to needlessly defend known and established historical truths from ideological nutjobs.



  • Sherree Tannen May 15, 2009 @ 6:49

    Hi Greg!

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you. My comment was just juxtaposed with your comment.

    I had three points: one, that the right of free speech ends when a person’s speech or written words result in the violation of the rights of another. In the case I alluded to above, the man’s life was taken. That ended the right of the klan to publish hate material. (We have laws concerning this now)

    My second point was that, as a society, we seem to be allowing the reintroduction of symbols into our culture that can promote and encourage violent acts–re, the flag I referenced above, and that proudly waves in the workshop of my neighbor across the street from me. I have lived here fifteen years. I have never seen a flag with a swastika on it. When did that become ok? It is in the man’s shop. Fine. I can still see it, however. It has disrupted my peace of mind, to a degree. Where does my neighbor’s right to free speech and expression end, and my right to peace of mind and the pursuit of happiness begin? All in all the flag is probably harmless, but is it? It wasn’t harmless sixty five years ago.

    My third point was a hypothetical one. It may not hurt to put our nation on trial imaginatively so that we can understand our past through the lens of those who were at the receiving end of discriminatory practices so great that it is almost impossible to understand those times now. My Indigenous friends begin to despair when white men and women simply refuse to acknowledge our history as THEIR ANCESTORS experienced it, and as they experience it now. In this case, the US and Canadian flags were the symbols of oppression.

    As far as citations, prison sentences, etc, for opposing ideas–I don’t think even the original commenter meant that. I took that as intended hyperbole to make a point–the point being, when are we, as a nation, going to stop denying the reality and legacy of slavery? That is the way I took that comment.

    Really good to talk to you, Greg. I respect your opinion very much. And, as always, thank you Kevin for hosting the conversation. Sherree

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2009 @ 6:52


      I agree with your final thought that I don’t really believe that Tim was suggesting the handing out of citations and prison sentences. My guess is he was doing exactly what you suggested, which is to make a point about the nuttiness of those who continue to push the worst aspects of the Lost Cause.

  • Richard G. Williams, Jr. May 15, 2009 @ 6:15

    Thank you Ken for adding the sensibility of a Virginian’s opinion. (Yours and Jefferson’s.) That this suggestion could even be put forth is quite disturbing to me, regardless of the opinion or the subject. I vehemently disagree with much of what Voltaire wrote and said, but would agree with him here:

    “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.” ~ Voltaire, from his Essay on Tolerance

    It is always oppressive regimes, left and right, that persecute and prosecute people for thoughts, opinions, and speech. It is an extremely slippery slope and a very dangerous one.

    Mike – I believe you are correct.

  • Mike May 15, 2009 @ 5:20

    From Reading articles at UNC I am starting to see the depth in which those people believe in the Southern Cause. It is no wonder then since the UDC, OCR and SCV were organized by Living Confederates that the philosophy would be set as it was and as it continues. Those who hold them dear pass on the Romantic ideas of the South to each following generation. So we continue to see the Lost Cause go on and See these groups grasp with History.

    I see this issue of Honoring Black Confederates as one that is a difference of perspective and philosophy and that it is free of Malice and willful Deception on the Part of the UDC and the SCV. I say that based upon 25 years of relationships with members of these groups in Arkansas and Texas.

  • Ken Noe May 15, 2009 @ 5:00

    As soon as one state bans “denying the truth of slavery,” my legislature will rule that the “truth of slavery” was that it was a peachy keen institution. Who gets fined then? No, I think I’ll stick with Jefferson: “let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

  • Greg Rowe May 15, 2009 @ 4:41


    I am not arguing that injustices have not been commit by a wide variety of people or whether or not those actions would stand up in court. Tim seems to argue for some sort of “ideological police force,” and I wonder how this would work and where do we draw the line.

    Mr. Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center are great folks and do great work. That being said, the Klan and, probably, individuals in the Klan were held legally culpable for their publication which spawned violent actions. Mr. Dees, as I understand it, chose to attack an idea by holding those who have it legally responsible for the actions said idea perpetuated. That is acceptable, however, holding someone legally responsible for an idea that is incorrect, but has not generated a legally actionable claim, is dangerous, in light of First Amendment protections of free speech and expression. It may be stupid to have a particular idea in light of the historical evidence available to us today, but, the last time I looked, being stupid is not illegal. Annoying and unbearable, but not illegal.

  • Sherree Tannen May 15, 2009 @ 0:31

    I am not an attorney either, and I do not know anything about libel laws. As far as the distortion of history and the mechanics of law go, however, Morris Dees et al successfully disbanded the klan by prosecuting the klan for publishing materials that incited violence, including a lynching that was tied to an actual pamphlet distributed by the klan. It is a long way from that case to the distortion of the history of slaves in the Confederate army, or is it? I am not certain when I can look out of my window and see a big red flag with a swastika in the center of it in my neighbor’s workshop. I don’t find that remotely amusing, as I am certain that no one else who reads this blog does either. I wonder how that flag is even in circulation today. Many black men and women feel the same about the Confederate flag. When it comes to intellectual freedom and issuing citations or imposing jail time, Tim will have to explain that. Maybe it is a good imaginative exercise. While we are holding our Nuremburg trials, though, let’s start at the beginning of our history with the Indigenous Nations (of which there were over five hundred at one time) whose land we all inhabit, including those of us who count among our ancestors men and women displaced by other of our ancestors. The charges would be grand larceny and genocide–charges that are provable, with lots of evidence to back them up, just as is the case with the brutality of the institution of slavery.

  • Greg Rowe May 14, 2009 @ 15:17

    I’d be interested in the seriousness of your comments as well.

    As a former newspaper editor and publisher and having been sued for it (thankfully, we won), my understanding of the law is that one can libel a person or group of people, but not an idea or history itself. Neither an idea nor history can make a tort claim in court. Therefore to say, “Rather, it’s my supporting libel with regard to history,” is a little puzzling. No, I am not an attorney, but if you can find one who would argue your case, I would be interested in his legal precedent and case law citations.

  • Robert Moore May 14, 2009 @ 14:14

    “My point is that all efforts to deny the truth of slavery should be vigorously opposed. If that means issuing citations (outlawing can mean misdemeanors), then so be it.”

    Vigorously opposing a certain view on an aspect of history is one thing… issuing citations is an outright unbelievable suggestion. It also opens the door to some equally unbelievable possibilities. Inevitably, this is an unhealthy suggestion for the field of history.

    • Kevin Levin May 14, 2009 @ 14:16


      I agree that this is going a bit too far. At first I wasn’t sure whether Tim was serious, but I will leave that to him to clarify.

  • Craig the Marker Hunter May 14, 2009 @ 8:18

    While I agree with you regarding these organizations (which I like to call ‘quasi-heritage’ ), I think you are misappropriating the concept of SEO here. Figuratively speaking you’re claiming a pneumatic wrench will cut the grass. While a plain old adjustable wrench might help fix the lawn mower, there’s a lot more that factors in.

    The cold hard reality is unique content on a site by site basis. Often times we have to explain to a customer that while their site is #1 on the list, their competitor might have the next 15 listings, all due to creative placement and some jscript tricks. They’ve won a SEO battle, but lost the war.


    • Kevin Levin May 14, 2009 @ 8:22


      Thanks for the concern. I am utilizing a number of wrenches to address this problem, including what I take to be “unique content.” I am well aware of how rankings are determined by Google, which is why I made it a point to reference SEO. Thanks.

  • Tim Lacy May 14, 2009 @ 7:34


    I’m not advocating jail time—at least not for most cases. It depends on the present-day goal for which one is abusing an essential historical truth. I’m no expert in Holocaust denier laws, so I’d have to do some research before I say more.

    My point is that all efforts to deny the truth of slavery should be vigorously opposed. If that means issuing citations (outlawing can mean misdemeanors), then so be it.

    It’s not Nazism. Rather, it’s my supporting libel with regard to history.

    – Tim

  • Woodrowfan May 14, 2009 @ 7:28

    One small point hit home, “a business made no less dirty by speaking of it with gentle words; for example, calling a slave “servant,” a plantation a ‘farm,’ ” My mother’s family owned a plantation in Kentucky, thousands of acres, over 100 slaves, big neo-Georgian house, the whole shebang. By the time my mother was a child (the 1930s) spending her summers with her grandparents, the family’s land-holdings had diminished and it was basically a average-sized family farm with a bigger than normal house. It was always referred to as “The Farm” and never anything else (it did have a formal name.) I never thought about how my Mom’s family referred to it before. (They did refer to the slaves as slaves, at least my mother’s generation did.)

  • ghost May 14, 2009 @ 7:00

    Tim Lacy:
    “I’m decidedly not tired of these posts. You’re tired having to write them, I’m sure, but I think it’s just one of the hazards of your field. Keep up the good work. Who knew that the last vestiges of the Civil War would be fought over two historical schools of thought: “Moonlight and Magnolias” and the abovementioned “Lost Cause.” Think of it along the lines of those who work on Nazism and have to deal with Holocaust deniers. With that, maybe we should take EU approach to slavery deniers: outlaw them. …Yes, it’s that important.”

    What does this mean Mr. Tim?

    You want the government to pronounce the UDC as ‘slavery deniers’ (not because they are, but because you and the govt. say so) and have them arrested and thrown in jail?

    I think that would make you and government the Nazis.

    • Kevin Levin May 14, 2009 @ 7:14


      I don’t think that’s what he is saying at all. The UDC has a long history of rewriting history in a way that ignores the harsh realities of slavery. You should click on the link for a post I did on this not too long ago. For additional reading you should read Karen Cox’s _Dixie’s Daughters_ (University of Florida Press).

    • galndixie Apr 13, 2018 @ 6:31

      In no way does the UDC now, nor has it ever, denied that slavery existed. The organization has never stated that slavery was ‘right’ or ‘just’. UDC has never tried to rewrite history. The fact that slavery existed then, as it did long before that, as recorded in the Bible, is a fact of history. The ones who want to ‘deny’ and ‘change’ history are the ones that will state that all slaves were mistreated. There are many factual historical works that dispute this claim. They include interviews, letters, and documents from slaves themselves, and from the written records of some slave owners. Check the stories in Virginia’s Black Confederates by Greg Eanes. (ISBN9781481986533) It is actual in-person interviews of the men who served. These are people who lived during this time, who were the actual participants of this life. I think no one would know better than they would what life was like. This work also includes much historical documentation of these facts. Joseph Preston Norris served as a body servant to Robert E Lee. You will see that not only was he well-treated and respected by General Lee, but that he also had an unmistakable reverence and affection for Lee. Another black man, personally interviewed, was Anthony Riley. He states that all of the Custis-Lee slaves were treated well, given money and other presents, and were treated with kindness and affection. The Confederate cause employed many blacks in many capacities, one being the sword factory in the county in which I grew up. Those men were paid for their labor, and after the war were granted monetary pensions for their contributions to the Confederacy. There is an instance recorded of a black slave who gave up to the Union his master’s land and valuables. He was later tried and convicted for this, sentenced to hang. Not only did his master publicly defend him and try to get a pardon from the Governor, but when he lost the case, he apologized to the slave and publicly professed his love for the man. It is common knowledge and fact that some slaves were mistreated, but it can never be stated that all slaves were mistreated. There are many who will not bring into view the entire facts, only the facts that suit their purpose, and these are the people who ‘deny’ and ‘rewrite’ the facts. That is not the UDC, or any other organization tied to the memory and reverence and respect for their Confederate and Southern History and Heritage. The UDC, and other Confederate organizations, not only have Black members on their rolls, but have awarded recognitions to many of the Blacks that served. No application for membership into any of these organizations asks the race or ethnicity of any person desiring membership.

      • Andy Hall Apr 13, 2018 @ 14:36

        Slavery apologist.

        • Mike Furlan Apr 14, 2018 @ 15:49

          Hi Andy,

          To put the slavery apologist in context, a recent poll (this year) of Ukrainians show that 28% of them think that Stalin was a “wise leader.” (After Holodomor, Google asks if you want to search for Holodomor Denial.)

          The Russian example is interesting in another way.

          Even today, after all the progress that we have seen, the United States of America puts a higher percentage of African Americans in jail than the percentage of citizens of the USSR who were in the Gulag at the height of Stalin’s terror. What Southern Black Man could feel that he could speak freely more than 100 years ago?

          As for why you might have some rave reviews of slavery from the enslaved, we can quote the Ukrainian Krushchev; “When Stalin says dance, a wise man dances.”

  • Tim Lacy May 14, 2009 @ 6:16


    I’m decidedly not tired of these posts. You’re tired having to write them, I’m sure, but I think it’s just one of the hazards of your field. Keep up the good work. Who knew that the last vestiges of the Civil War would be fought over two historical schools of thought: “Moonlight and Magnolias” and the abovementioned “Lost Cause.” Think of it along the lines of those who work on Nazism and have to deal with Holocaust deniers. With that, maybe we should take EU approach to slavery deniers: outlaw them. …Yes, it’s that important.

    – Tim

  • rhapsodyinbooks May 14, 2009 @ 4:55

    I posted about Robert Smalls yesterday (the anniv. of his great feat of chutzpah) and I was wondering how many other black slaves there were who committed similar acts of bravery and why their deeds have not been more celebrated. If they were, it might capture the attention better of those who want to be a part of the great historical narrative, as you have said, than to identify with the Confederacy.

  • Sherree Tannen May 14, 2009 @ 4:23

    I read the article by Betty Baye, Kevin. It is excellent. Thanks for linking to it. Also, thanks for staying on top of this issue. Sherree

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