From One Southerner to Another: Just Say No to Confederate History Month

The governor of Virginia has yet to issue a proclamation for Confederate History Month or Civil War History in Virginia Month as his predecessor chose to call it. I am assuming that is just fine with fellow blogger and historian, Robert Moore, who writes from the Shenandoah Valley.

Robert worries that the Lost Cause-laced content of most proclamations distorts more than it reveals the antebellum history of the South.

I’m a firm believer that the Southern-born postwar narrative has done a gross disservice to the history of the South… even to the point where either people define prewar via the postwar narratives, or where they don’t really grasp much of an understanding at all about [the] prewar South.

Actually, I suspect that a proclamation coming from Richmond is not as troubling to Robert as the county-wide public proclamations that have and will continue to be issued throughout the Valley and beyond.

Go ahead… ask most who partake in Confederate History Month to give a fair and accurate summary of the pulse of the Shenandoah Valley prior to the Civil War. If you don’t get a story tainted with the Southern postwar narrative, I’d be surprised.

For someone as rooted in local history as Robert is, I can appreciate his concern. We’ve all seen these proclamations. They bleed into one another with the same meaningless platitudes that have almost nothing to do with local history and likely do very little to connect individuals to their historical surroundings and the stories of neighbors long passed.

Read Robert’s post in full. Helping people forge meaningful connections with rich local stories is what he is all about.

20 responses... add one

You have made an excellent point. Why should we, the real Southerners in Virginia go to our government to ask for a proclamation! What is the deal here? Does our liberal yankee governor own all the proclamations? I don’t think so. I think the more things we ask for the more powe they think they own over us. Do it Yourself!

Yes, I know it was not your point, so sorry!

I just never have liked to notion of different groups, especially my SCV, trotting up to the governors office to get his proclamation. MacDonalds big flub a few years back is one that shows the radicalness of the whole process. The writer didn’ have a clue of what he was suppose to cover! Evidently he had never read your works!

It is all about securing legitimacy and validity for something no matter what that subject is. Is a subject worth validating? Now, this could also be extended to say that the government is of the people therefore if they ask for something to be recognized should their request be considered before granting? Is the request examined or do the politicians use the proclamations just to look good to voters? In the recent cases of confederate history month, the answer is yes on looking good to voters in my opinion.
I personally think a proclamation would be wonderful as long as it was historically accurate and specifically stated that the Confederacy was created specifically for the primary purpose of continuing the institution of slavery. I’m sure that would be met with applause by a large majority of people and extreme anger by a small group of people who prefer fiction over facts.
But then again, not recognizing confederate history month is also the same as ignoring the heritage types so either way it’s a win for factual based history.

Jimmy, you speak like your a damn Yankee! The Confederacy was never about maintaining the institution of Slavery. The Confederacy was formed because of the Centeral Govt overstepping its bounds in governing the States by disregarding individual States rights. Not to mention the unjust taxation of goods by the North from the Southern States. Maybe you should consider reading some other History books besides those written by Yankees!!! Because if you’re a true Southerner then you have no idea of what the War for Southern Independence was about and need to find and talk with some people from the SCV that live close by you!

The Confederacy was never about maintaining the institution of Slavery.

This would have been news to the very people who led the Confederacy.

“Not to mention the unjust taxation of goods by the North from the Southern States.”

As far as I know, there wasn’t any taxation of Southern goods by either northern states or by the U.S. government. There weren’t even any tariffs on southern exports.

Kevin, have I missed something here?

Name those state’s rights. I’ll be waiting, but I won’t hold my breath. While you look for them or make them up, I suggest you read some documents written by Southerners in 1860/61 on why they were wanting to secede from the Union. Oddly enough they say it was about slavery. When they do mention anything remotely close to state’s rights it also involves slavery. So if you are a real Southerner you don’t deny why the South seceded. You are proud to say it was about slavery just like the Southerners in the 1860s did.

Good God! Exactly the OPPOSITE should be the case. Now that the Confederate Cause has been proven correct by the illegal and tyrannical actions of our present out of control central government, that Cause should be embraced and furthered by all Americans who love freedom no matter where they come from or what their race.

For the South did NOT fight for slavery (see Lincoln’s own words and the Corwin Amendment) but to prevent the “federal” government – a constitutionally created AGENT OF THE STATES – from becoming all powerful with the States and the People under its control. Again, Lincoln said as much in his First Inaugural when he said that he had taken an oath “to protect the GOVERNMENT.” He did no such thing! He took an oath to protect the Constitution which he intentionally gutted – it has NEVER recovered. Sherman also worshiped at the altar of the State and believed that death should be the fate of those who did not bow the knee to Washington.

It’s time to forget all the nonsense and lies about slavery being the reason for the war and realize that the war was about views by BOTH sides regarding the role of the central government in the lives of the States and the People – views which were antithetical, diametric and insoluble. The People of the South hoped to leave the ever increasing central tyranny and return to the limited republic of the Founders. Sadly, despite the constitutional right to do so, that attempt was defeated by main force and now, 150 years later, we are suffering from the full effects of that defeat. For it wasn’t just the South that was defeated in 1865. The misguided and foolish folk of the North gave away THEIR heritage for a mess of federal pottage.

Hey Val. Nice to hear from you. Thanks for helping to clarify the central points made by Robert Moore. Stay classy.

You make a big mistake if you think the war was about slavery. That old myth just doesn’t fly anymore with people who have read the truth. You can try to peddle that to keep people enslaved to an immoral government, but you really have to work to keep them ignorant. Each year, more and more people find the truth. The North was fighting for slavery just as much as the South, if you believe their words. They were there, and you weren’t, so I assume they are more familiar with the situration. You might read some recent books by Tom Woods, Jr., Tom DiLorenzo, Clyde Wilson, Brion McClanahan, Kevin Gutzman, Don Livingston among many others. They have some very enlightening books. You can’t understand how we got where we are today, if you have a distored view of history. You may know the problems of today, but if you don’t understand how we got here, you can’t help recover the republic of our Founders.

Thanks for the book recommendations. I am going to have to check those out. :-)

Kevin,

It appears your blog is under attack, if not gathering a real neo-Confederate following. Never seen so many before. Maybe a designed campaign to keep your observations in check? ;)

Keep posting actual history, Kevin, and know that you have one fan who enjoys your blog when you do.

Sincerely,
Neil

Kevin,

It appears you have some first-time commenters, because I think it’s clear they are walking over the same ground covered time and time again in past posts. :)

Also, “Hey Val… Thanks for helping to clarify the central points made by Robert Moore.”

Indeed. I think someone just stepped up as the DH and hit it out of the park for me, without even realizing it. That particular comment was all about embracing four years and the rhetoric of the Lost Cause in the aftermath of the war, while totally trashing (or ignorant of…) over 250 years of the South’s history that happened before the war. How can anyone legitimately say they embrace Southern heritage and history without dislodging themselves from “that rut” to see what really exists before that time?

More importantly, let’s just take all of this banter about the proclamation out of the discussion. In fact, my post had nothing to do with a proclamation, but rather, was focused on the month itself… with or without a proclamation… and the rhetoric that so often comes out in events during the month.

Like I said in my post, Confederate History Month is often a “carnival of half truths”. Not only can it prove to be a demonstration of the lack of understanding of the war (and most certainly, the different positions taken by different Southerners, regarding their motivation to secede and fight), by many who claim “Southern Heritage”, it most certainly demonstrates a lack of appreciation for a great deal of what the South was about before that time. How? In expressing rhetoric so steeped in the Lost Cause narrative which all too often muddies/obscures the history of the South before 1861 (and even earlier, into the 1850s).

I’m not suggesting that folks ignore the four years and what the Lost Cause narrative reveals about the South, but that they have to step back from that in order to better understand that which has been lost about the history of the South and its people, in the popular history. Ironically, it’s not because of the North, but because of many within the South. The defensive postures/argments taken by different Southerners just before, during and after the war served a purpose, to them, at that time, but actually did a gross disservice to the history of the South prior to that time.

“Helping people forge meaningful connections with rich local stories is what he is all about.”

That’s perhaps the most valuable comment I take from this post. Thanks, Kevin.

Hi Robert,

Keep in mind that Val doesn’t even live in the South. She lives in Long Island. :-)

More importantly, let’s just take all of this banter about the proclamation out of the discussion. In fact, my post had nothing to do with a proclamation, but rather, was focused on the month itself… with or without a proclamation… and the rhetoric that so often comes out in events during the month.

I realize that, but the distinction is not really relevant for the reasons that I mentioned in the post. These proclamations almost always contain claims that are as disconnected from the historical past as the activities that take place during this month in many places. It’s a distinction without much of a difference.

Ironically, it’s not because of the North, but because of many within the South. The defensive postures/arguments taken by different Southerners just before, during and after the war served a purpose, to them, at that time, but actually did a gross disservice to the history of the South prior to that time.

I am increasingly appreciating the extent to which Northerners contributed to the creation and maintenance of the Lost Cause narrative even in the immediate wake of the war in that first wave of reporters who traveled throughout the South. That’s beside your point. Thanks again for a thoughtful post.

“Keep in mind that Val doesn’t even live in the South. She lives in Long Island. :-)”

Voluntarily displaced Southerner, or another one of those “wannabes”? :)

“These proclamations almost always contain claims that are as disconnected from the historical past as the activities that take place during this month in many places.”

True on both counts.

“I am increasingly appreciating the extent to which Northerners contributed to the creation and maintenance of the Lost Cause narrative even in the immediate wake of the war in that first wave of reporters who traveled throughout the South.”

Also true, and a worthy subject of study.

Glad you enjoyed the post.

Having graduated from a fine Southern institute of higher learning, having lived in the South for eleven and a half years not counting my college years, and having had two children mostly educated in the South I’m more of a Southerner than Ms. Protopapas. I think Robert hits the nail on the head.

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