Just in Time For the Sesquicentennial of the “War For Southern Independence”

The Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans is gearing up for the sesquicentennial with a series of commercials that will air on the History Channel in December. These videos will fit perfectly in between Ice Road Truckers, American Pickers, Pawn Stars and various documentaries about UFOs and Hitler’s Bunker. The first video offers an outline of what the war was about:

  • Men and women of the South courageously stood for liberty in the face of insurmountable odds.  Is this meant for black and white southerners?
  • The South peacefully seceded just like the Founding Fathers did in 1776.
  • All the South wanted was to be left alone to govern itself.
  • Lincoln fought to maintain taxes and tariffs.
  • Men like Jackson, Forrest, and Lee fought valiantly and were often outnumbered 5 to 1.  You would think that the Georgia Division would reference military leaders from their home state.

Additional videos include:

As I was going through the videos I realized that this series will make for a very interesting assignment in my Civil War Memory course, which I am teaching next trimester.  I am going to split up the class into groups of two and assign a video to each group.  Their assignment will be to critique the video by consulting relevant recent scholarship on their respective topics.  Students will be responsible for surveying both the strengths and weakness of these videos.  For instance, one of the videos on slavery goes into restrictions on free blacks in states like Indiana as well as offering a few points about the place of slavery in the North and involvement in the international slave trade.   At the same time the video almost completely ignores the place of slavery in the South.  The video on South Carolina’s secession makes no mention of its own Ordinance of Secession.  They can write up an analysis and present it to the rest of the class or make a video response and upload it to YouTube.  Thanks Georgia SCV.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

13 comments… add one
  • Corey Meyer Oct 18, 2010 @ 5:13

    I find these videos ironc because on the Georgia SCV website they have a link about why Georgia seceded.. http://www.georgiascv.com/georgiaordinance.htm and I did a quick word search on it and slavery shows up 26 times while tariffs and taxes does not appear at all. Go figure!

    • Robert Perkins Oct 31, 2010 @ 14:28

      That’s what you get for using a “word search” function instead of actually READING the document. In fact, there is a rather large section where they talk about tariffs (referring to them as “duties”) and government subsidies to business (referred to as bounties), both of which were strongly supported by the North and opposed by the South. This reads as follows…

      “The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution. While the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African race was fully conceded by all, it was plainly apparent that slavery would soon disappear from what are now the non-slave-holding States of the original thirteen. The opposition to slavery was then, as now, general in those States and the Constitution was made with direct reference to that fact. But a distinct abolition party was not formed in the United States for more than half a century after the Government went into operation. The main reason was that the North, even if united, could not control both branches of the Legislature during any portion of that time. Therefore such an organization must have resulted either in utter failure or in the total overthrow of the Government.

      The material prosperity of the North was greatly dependent on the Federal Government; that of the the South not at all. In the first years of the Republic the navigating, commercial, and manufacturing interests of the North began to seek profit and aggrandizement at the expense of the agricultural interests. Even the owners of fishing smacks sought and obtained bounties for pursuing their own business (which yet continue), and $500,000 is now paid them annually out of the Treasury. The navigating interests begged for protection against foreign shipbuilders and against competition in the coasting trade. Congress granted both requests, and by prohibitory acts gave an absolute monopoly of this business to each of their interests, which they enjoy without diminution to this day.

      Not content with these great and unjust advantages, they have sought to throw the legitimate burden of their business as much as possible upon the public; they have succeeded in throwing the cost of light-houses, buoys, and the maintenance of their seamen upon the Treasury, and the Government now pays above $2,000,000 annually for the support of these objects. Theses interests, in connection with the commercial and manufacturing classes, have also succeeded, by means of subventions to mail steamers and the reduction in postage, in relieving their business from the payment of about $7,000,000 annually, throwing it upon the public Treasury under the name of postal deficiency.

      The manufacturing interests entered into the same struggle early, and has clamored steadily for Government bounties and special favors. This interest was confined mainly to the Eastern and Middle non-slave-holding States. Wielding these great States it held great power and influence, and its demands were in full proportion to its power. The manufacturers and miners wisely based their demands upon special facts and reasons rather than upon general principles, and thereby mollified much of the opposition of the opposing interest. They pleaded in their favor the infancy of their business in this country, the scarcity of labor and capital, the hostile legislation of other countries toward them, the great necessity of their fabrics in the time of war, and the necessity of high duties to pay the debt incurred in our war for independence. These reasons prevailed, and they received for many years enormous bounties by the general acquiescence of the whole country.

      But when these reasons ceased they were no less clamorous for Government protection, but their clamors were less heeded– the country had put the principle of protection upon trial and condemned it. After having enjoyed protection to the extent of from 15 to 200 per cent. upon their entire business for above thirty years, the act of 1846 was passed. It avoided sudden change, but the principle was settled, and free trade, low duties, and economy in public expenditures was the verdict of the American people. The South and the Northwestern States sustained this policy. There was but small hope of its reversal; upon the direct issue, none at all.

      All these classes saw this and felt it and cast about for new allies. The anti-slavery sentiment of the North offered the best chance for success. An anti-slavery party must necessarily look to the North alone for support, but a united North was now strong enough to control the Government in all of its departments, and a sectional party was therefore determined upon.”

      Basically, what the above says is that the true cause which forced the South was that an alliance had been formed between the pro-protectionist manufacturing and shipping interests of the North and the anti-slavery movement, under the banner of the Republican Party, which had conspired to take over the government and impose their programs on the South. If that alliance had not existed, secession would not have been necessary, because the North could not have united itself to the extent that it could take over the government. Therefore the issues of tariffs and government subsidies are of equal importance with the slavery issue in the decision of Georgia to secede.

      See what happens when you actually read the document? Amazing how that works, isn’t it?

      • Kevin Levin Oct 31, 2010 @ 15:03

        Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, you fail to acknowledge the complexity of this issue. The issue of tariffs, duties, and government subsidies was not divided along sectional lines. Any number of recent scholarly studies would be of assistance to you in this. I would start with John Majewski’s _Modernizing a Slave Economy_.

  • Lisa Kapp Oct 16, 2010 @ 5:26

    Incredible! Is the History Channel really going to run these?

    • Kevin Levin Oct 16, 2010 @ 5:33

      That seems to be the plan.

  • Rob Wick Oct 15, 2010 @ 21:11

    I made it through four before I started to retch. I guess anyone with enough money can get on television, but one would have thought the History Channel might have known better. Apparently not.


  • JMRudy Oct 15, 2010 @ 16:37

    I wonder how much ad space on History Channel costs… I bet with the video skills of some of your readers and the American Memory collection at our fingertips, we could come up with some level headed ads to counter them. At very least, I might work up some fun response videos for the YouTubes…

    • Kevin Levin Oct 15, 2010 @ 16:43

      Let me know if you decide to do a video response.

  • Matt Oct 15, 2010 @ 12:49

    These are incredible – thanks for sharing them!

    • Kevin Levin Oct 15, 2010 @ 13:07

      Glad to see you stopped by today. These are incredibly useful for the classroom. Let me know if you do anything with them.

    • John Maass Oct 18, 2010 @ 4:12

      I like “The Truth of Slavery In America” video. Notice the voice over doesn’t have a southern accent?

      • Kevin Levin Oct 18, 2010 @ 4:43

        I agree, John. What is so disappointing about this series is that the SCV has almost nothing at all to say about the war in Georgia. A whole video about South Carolina’s secession, but where is Georgia?

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