From Civil War to Civil Rights

Phil Bryant, MississippiIt’s an overused reference that often waters down the complexity of the history that it hopes to render intelligible. In this case, however, it seems appropriate. Last week the state of Mississippi broke ground on a new Civil Rights museum that should be open in about four years.  The photograph above shows Governor Phi Bryant presiding over the ceremony alongside the Mississippi state flag. We can debate to what extent project represents progress on various fronts from race relations to memory, but for now I will leave you with a bit of context.

Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun.

These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

2 comments… add one
  • grandadfromthehills Oct 31, 2013

    Good move by Mississippi. Many of that day wrongly supported slavery as a means of supporting commerce. The Civil War rightly overcame that to work toward equal rights. However, in doing so it also created an animosity that still reverberates in our recent history. We do not ever need to bury our memory of Mississippi’s historical even though it is not in accordance with that moral truth that no person should ever own another. A human’s value can have no price fixed upon it and dignity is owed to that life from its very inseption. If your problem is with the state flag, get over it. It is their flag and their heritage is on to be remembered – even with its errors and sin.

    Sam Vanderburg
    Thankful for the rain in Texas

  • Jeff Howell Nov 1, 2013

    My home state….we seem to have infinite capacity to miss the irony in life. Sigh.

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