Back in January I announced that I was adding affiliate links for Amazon.com books into my posts. As a result, I get a small percentage of each sale in the form of a gift certificate. A few weeks ago I added a widget in the sidebar that extends this affiliate program to include titles from my personal library. Well, this little experiment has gone better than I anticipated. Since the beginning of January Civil War Memory has earned $55 dollars in commissions based on the sale of 49 ordered items. I am feeling very good about this program. Most importantly, I have complete control over the products that I advertise and it is clear that readers of this blog are clicking through, which implies a certain amount of trust on your part.
I’ve proceeded carefully down this road with the full understanding that it is my wide readership that makes Civil War Memory such a popular and dynamic site. The last thing that I want to do is alienate readers with misleading advertisements or even worse, inferior products. I have resisted utilizing Google Ad Sense and other automated programs precisely because they do not afford me a sufficient level of control over the placement of specific products. At the same time I simply can’t ignore the fact that this site could help to supplement my income over the next year. If anything, it could help offset the costs involved in maintaining this site and given my impending move to Boston every little bit helps.
What I can guarantee all of you is that the ads will compliment the content of this site and will allow me to continue to direct this blog’s audience to companies that support my broader mission of history education. Let me know what you think and please feel free to voice any concerns.
I trust that after this post no one will accuse me of dismissing any and all evidence for the existence of black Confederate soldiers. Better yet, I give you at least one black Confederate general. The interesting question is whether the Sons of Confederate Veterans and others will accept him as one of their own. From The Boston Globe:
Randall Lee Gibson, an urbane, Yale-educated Confederate general, mocked black people as “the most degraded of all races of men.’’ Later, as a US senator from Louisiana, he helped broker the end of Reconstruction, freeing the South to harass and lynch blacks virtually at will…. In the 20th century, his orphaned son, Preston, was raised by an aunt and her husband, who had been a justice on the US Supreme Court that legitimated racial segregation in the infamous case of Plessy v. Ferguson…. What Senator Gibson did not know was that his great-grandfather Gideon Gibson was a free man of color, and a substantial landowner and slaveholder, who led the “Regulators’’ to a successful back-country revolt in Colonial South Carolina. To his peers, the author contends, Gideon Gibson was neither black nor white but merely rich and respected. His marriage to a white woman further blanched his progeny, and their relocation to Mississippi and Louisiana allowed the family’s African-American past to fade away altogether.
The following passage comes from a review of a new book that explores the complex web of racial identity through the experiences of three families that straddled the the racial divide. Gibson’s life is also the focus of a recent biography by Mary Gorton McBride, titled, Randall Lee Gibson of Louisiana: Confederate General and New South Reformer (Louisiana State University Press, 2007). In 1876 Gibson was attacked by former Republican governor James Madison Wells, who accused him of being “colored” in the pages of the New York Times. Gibson followed up by consulting with two historians in Mississippi concerning his family history. Apparently neither Gibson nor his siblings had any knowledge of their black ancestors, but what is more interesting is that the accusations apparently had no impact on how he viewed himself or on society’s acceptance of Gibson as a “white” leader.
So, was/is General Randall Lee Gibson a black Confederate?
Things have been a bit slow around here this week owing to the amount of time I’ve spent preparing our house to be sold. I have to say that it was at times difficult going through my library and making the tough decisions as to what to keep and what to discard.
One of my readers tipped me off to this video from the 2011 auditions for “American Idol.”
From the Civil War Era Collection at Gettysburg College
Description: “Robert E. Lee and a southern planter pull apart a slave into two pieces. Lee states, “I must have the slave or cave in.” The southern planter states, “Anyhow you can’t have MY Nigger.” His armies were so depleted in 1864, that General Lee advocated the conscription of blacks into military service. This was thought to be fundamentally against the ideas of the South, and planters severely opposed the idea causing a political battle in the Confederate Congress. It was not until 1865 that blacks were conscripted, and even then they did not see any action in the war.”
Comment: Slaveholders resisted the efforts on the part of the Confederate government to conscript as well as impress their slave property. They resisted, in large part, because they viewed these efforts as a direct violation of their rights as property holders. In other words, they viewed these efforts as a reflection of a government that had overstepped its constitutional bounds. The cartoon also places the eventual conscription of a small number of blacks into the army as an act of desperation rather than a measure that conformed to the expectations and assumptions of a slaveholding society at war. In short, it was a last ditch effort that made no impact on the eventual outcome of the war.
These cartoons serve to remind us of just how far removed the public discussion is from anything approaching a proper historical context. Thanks again to Vicki Betts for passing along this reference – wonderful image.