In Anticipations, Ruffin imagines a war between the free and slave states that follows the election of William H. Seward in 1864. The book is instructive on a number of fronts, but I want to briefly address his discussion of how the slave states utilized slave labor during a war, which resulted in Southern independence. First, Ruffin imagines an invasion of Kentucky – which in this story the state seceded – made up of both fugitive slaves and white soldiers and led by abolitionist general Owen Brown, the son of John Brown. The paternalism of southern slaveowners as well as the lack of military skill among the black soldiers doomed the invasion from the beginning, according to Ruffin. Many of the black soldiers deserted or were captured. Some of those who fell in the latter category volunteered to execute captured white soldiers.
In short, slaves made poor soldiers and they certainly wouldn’t turn on their former slaveholders. Southern paternalism remained intact.
Update: A reader of this blog just pointed out that the proclamation below is dated 2016. My apologies for the mix-up. Turns out that the 2017 proclamation is word for word identical.
This week Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant signed this year’s proclamation recognizing April as Confederate Heritage Month. The proclamation fails to say anything praiseworthy about the Confederacy or the men who fought in the ranks. Yes, it says that the men who served should be “honored” but offers nothing as to why it is justified. It is ultimately an exercise in saying the least possible without offending.
There was a time when Southern states were not embarrassed when recognizing Confederate History/Heritage Month. [click to continue…]
The image below is being used to announce and celebrate Confederate History Month. I have to admit that this image of stern-faced Lee wielding his sword and leading his men into battle strikes me as highly unusual given popular depictions of the Confederate general going back to the postwar years. [click to continue…]
This is the latest in an ongoing public conversation at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. about what to do with its stained glass windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve made my through about half of the discussion and it is quite good. I especially enjoyed listening to Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral, who has her finger on both Civil War memory and its religious implications.
Check out this earlier discussion that included John Coski.