This is one of my all-time favorite Western fight scenes. You just gotta love Jack Palance as “Jack Wilson” in the movie, Shane (1953). I know this is no way to mark the day that Stonewall Jackson died on May 10, 1863, but you can just attribute it to the fact that I am a “low down lying Yankee.”
I thought we all deserved a little inspiration at the end of this long week. We should all approach our lives as counterfactual and gain solace in knowing that the world may be much better off had we been accidentally struck down by accident. The message that I took away from this is that had Jackson lived and Lee won at Gettysburg the Confederacy may have succeeded in gaining its independence. In that case slavery would have continued. Jackson’s death clearly served God’s plan: “All is well.” Is that about right?
After all, Stonewall Jackson was an active member in Lexington’s Presbyterian Church. He even worked to teach enslaved and free blacks to read the Bible. All of this should appeal to black Americans, who to this day and as a group closely identify with Christianity. Robert E. Lee spent the last few years of his life in Lexington where he served as president of Washington College. During Reconstruction and beyond black Americans identified the crucial role that education would play in their collective success. Taken together both Lee and Jackson have been singled out as embodying Christian virtue and whose lives have been held up as worthy of emulation.
So, should black Americans celebrate Lee-Jackson Day?
- Richmond Reflects on its Past
- New Exhibit on Native Guards Opening at African American Military History Museum in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (No, they were not “black Confederates”)
- National Civil War Chaplains Museum Opens at Liberty University (catch the special on really bad Civil War art prints)
- Sean Wilentz reviews Joan Waugh’s new biography/memory study of Ulysses S. Grant at New Republic
- Why Robert E. Lee is the bestest by Paul Greenberg
A number of readers took issue with last week’s post in which I reduced the celebration of Lee-Jackson Day, here in Virginia, to free parking. I guess I could have provided some thoughtful analysis about the almost complete lack of interest in this particular day as a result of changing demographics as well as other factors.
So, since I didn’t make my own personal view sufficiently clear, let me do so now. The reason I don’t celebrate Lee-Jackson Day is because I don’t celebrate the cause for which Lee and Jackson are remembered. They are remembered for their service in an army that functioned as the military extension of a government that was committed to perpetuating slavery and white supremacy. I find it simply impossible to distinguish between the individuals in question, including their many virtues, and the cause for which they attached themselves to. Because I abhor slavery I am glad that the Confederate government, along with Lee and Jackson, failed and that our national sin of slavery was abolished.
I don’t think I’ve stated anything controversial here. I do hope, however, that it clarifies things.