What Should Washington and Lee University Do?

It is unlikely that the general public will hear much more regarding the list of demands made by a small group of black law students at W&L University about their school’s connection to the history of slavery and the Confederate memory. My hope is that the administration and student body will arrive at a resolution that benefits the entire school community and the surrounding community as well. Continue reading “What Should Washington and Lee University Do?”

From the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the White Citizens’ Councils

Just finished reading Jill Ogline Titus’s thoughtful essay on the Civil War sesquicentennial and its renewed focus on the themes of slavery and emancipation in the most recent issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era. Jill surveys how various institutions have interpreted these controversial themes through their exhibits, symposia, and websites. Continue reading “From the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the White Citizens’ Councils”

From Robert E. Lee to Cliven Bundy

Robert E. Lee (1856):

The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. (1856)

Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races while intermingled as at present in this country, I would depreciate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both. (1865)

Cliven Bundy (2014):

They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, when they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and a garden, and the people had something to do?

Bundy’s views on race and slavery, while shocking to most intelligent and decent people, have a long and distinguished pedigree.

“I Am Silas”

Looks like the story of Andrew and Silas Chandler is now the subject of a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, which appears in the collection, Lines in Long Array: A Civil War Commemoration: Poems and Photographs, Past and Present. There is something satisfying about the story of Silas making it into such a collection and some of the stanzas are quite beautiful, but it is unfortunate that Komunyakaa makes so many mistakes. More to the point we are presented with the story of Silas as the loyal slave whose world is defined by service to Andrew and the Confederate cause. Continue reading ““I Am Silas””