Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy

"Jefferson Davis was flaming racist"
Jefferson Davis was an unapologetic racist

This past Friday, February 18 marks the 150th anniversary of the swearing in of Jefferson Davis as the president of the Confederate states of America. All over the South there will be grand balls, commemorations and most importantly civil war battle reenactments. As a liberal Republican, I’ll pass on any of the festivities.

Let me first say that I have no doubt about the sincerity of the South and their justification for secession from the union which ultimately led to the great Civil War. There is no doubt that many young men gave their lives valiantly for what they believed in. However, they were on the wrong side of history. There is no reason in the world to justify killing other human beings to preserve the peculiar institution of slavery. As an Obama Republican, I can’t register my protest any stronger.

Reviewing Jefferson Davis’s inaugural speech there is no mention of slavery at all. For those who lionize, and deify the leaders of the old confederacy, they fail to recognize America’s” original sin.” To this day, the United States government refuses to apologize for the evil institution of slavery. Ironically, the overwhelming majority of Southerners today feel slavery was wrong and was a mistake.

What I find perplexing is, why would you want to reenact anything where you are the loser? Sure there is the historical value and appeal towards one’s curiosity about American history. Love it or hate it, this is American history. Lest we learn from the lessons of the past, we are bound to repeat them.

Until we’re willing to have recognition and reconciliation over the issue of slavery, we will always have racial issues to confront in the United States. To this day the way blacks and whites interact with one another is all predicated on a past that we wish to forget.

Race is the white elephant in the room all across America. It’s there but no one wants to recognize it, no one wants to talk about it and everyone refuses to confront it. Until we address this issue head on we will surely not make progress as Americans. Yes, Barack Obama is president, but it’s still there!

As the grandson of a former slave, there is no doubt which side of the issue I’m on. Sadly, we try to gloss over slavery, we try to sanitize slavery and the simple truth is, there’s no way you can do that. Slavery was cruel and inhumane. There is blood on all of our hands and there’s no other way to put it. The barbarism that was perpetuated on kidnapped Africans was unspeakable.

It’s particularly disheartening to hear historical revisionists portray slaves as “happy darkies” who actually didn’t mind their servitude. That’s an insult to one’s intelligence. The stories passed down to me by my father from his father speak of an institution so horrid it cannot be described here. So please spare me fond recollections of life down in Dixie. History is always subject to the interpretation of the victor and this ugly portion of American history is no exception. This Republican will not be fully recovered until we address this issue and make it right.

© Recovered

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  • Jen

    As a northerner, I find it peculiar as well, this tragic, blinkered mythmaking of an evil and brutal past. I’m not saying I’m perfect or that the north was any great shakes, but who can possibly celebrate this? What kinds of stories about yourself do you have to tell to want to honor this history of dishonor? What myths do you have to create in your mind to keep from facing the reality of the situation, which was horrific? It really does perplex me deeply how there is no sense of shame in these people. Whatever deep character flaw, and I mean DEEP, that would allow a culture of subjugation of fellow HUMANS, is clearly still alive and well. When people speak of slavery as still happening in different parts of the world, and as happening even now with migrant workers and in the trafficing of women here in the US, I can clearly see how it could be true. It’s repulsive and it appears we have learned nothing.

    • Jen,

      Thanks for your insightful comments. As the grandson of a former slave, it’s nothing to revel in. If we don’t learn from the lessons of the past, we are bound to repeat them! Given the backlash due to having a black president, more immigrants and a bad economy hate groups are at an all time high. More cause to evermore vigilant. That will be my next article.

      Recovered

  • Elcidfanatic1842

    “Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the CONSENT of the governed- That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it”

    Declaration of Independence  1776

    The Southron of 1861 was fighting for the same cause that the Southron of 1776 was. That most ancient of rights of free people……SELF GOVERNMENT.

    DEO VINDICE!

    • Anonymous

      Free government at the expense of entire race of people? I find that reasoning tired. The south lost because they were wrong. States rights, only meant right to own slaves.

      My father fought for this country in a segregated unit in WWII. Many of his friends didn’t make it back. Many blacks fought in the Revolutionary war, not to mention every war this country has ever fought. America is just as much our country as yours. We have died for freedoms that you and I both enjoy.

  • Elcidfanatic1842

     Africans were not “kidnapped”. It was not necessary for roving bands of white men to scour the countryside for servants. YOU SOLD YOUR OWN PEOPLE. Bet your Grandaddy didn’t tell you about that part did he? Read the Slave Narratives that the WPA collected for an accurate view of our peculiar institution as that GREAT STATESMAN John Caldwell Calhoun called it.

    • Anonymous

      Obviously, you are pro-slavery. I realize that tribal warfare enabled the slave trade. All African-Americans are descended from the western part of the African continent. I’m sure in many white men’s minds this justifies slavery. Slavery continues to be a stain on the soul of our nation. No matter how Africans came to our shores, it was abhorrent and vile.

      Until we reconcile the evil institution of slavery, we will always have racial discord in this country.

  • Elcidfanatic1842

    you also could have posted Abraham Lincoln’s picture above with the same caption. See “Forced Into Glory” by the former publisher of Ebony Magazine. “I am not now, nor have I ever been, in favor of the equality of the white and black races.”  Abraham Lincoln

    • Anonymous

      You are correct that Lincoln was a white supremacist like most of the white citizenry of the time. He actually believe in “colonization.” While he didn’t care for slavery, he did not see the two races as equal. History has deified Lincoln because of emancipation. I am a student of history and do not fall for the okie doke! The ignorant and ill informed do that!

      Everyone thought the civil war would only last a few months. As the war drug on, Lincoln did believe that the carnage was “blood atonement” for America’s original sin of slavery.

  • Gracenttrue1

    There is such a widespread denial of racism in America . People like Elcidfanatic1842 generally respond with a cold, injurious attitude by saying that
    black people are merely crying over spilled milk. It is this form of racism
    that has fueled the conservative agenda. This attitude not only
    reinforces the denial, but deepens the wound and the bitterness. To make
    matters even worse, in a white dominated society, particularly the
    workplace, where the institutional and micro-expressions of racism are
    ubiquitous, white people will justify their denial by befriending a
    black person as a sign of respecting black people, as long as the issue
    of pain or racism is not an issue. This is also carried into the realm
    of politics. How else can we explain the presence of Condeleeza Rice as a
    member of the Bush administration? To promote racial healing or to deny
    it?  What a troubled friendship!

    Imani

     
     

  • I agree with both your premise and conclusions, but I think there are some flaws in what you are saying. I know quite a bit about American, historical, and ancient slavery, and I understand how you could justify calling slavery a “peculiar institution”. I dont think America formally apologizing for slavery would change anything. In fact, I think such an act would re-open the discussion over reparations, which will lead to white resentment and give hatemongers a rallying cry. I also dont think all interactions between blacks and whites are predicated on slavery. But I will admit, being only 23 and raised entirely in an attempted post-racial society, that my perspective maybe limited. We will also always have racial issues in the US, regardless of how we come to terms with slavery. Racial issues are largely a result of the way our brains are hardwired. Also, the legacies of our nation’s history has been far reaching and resulted in things like institutional racism which cannot easily be fixed and will lead to racial issues for a long time.
    MY LARGER ISSUE: You are absolutely right to say the blood of slavery is on all our hands. Throughout history, every group has been enslaved by everywhere group. And almost none of the Africans who became slaves were rounded up and captured by whites. I think its a huge mis-characterization to say our look at slavery is only marred by santiization and that historical revisionists just try to make slavery look kinder and gentler.  I think, probably the greatest example of this is what I call the “Roots narrative”. Almost everyone seems to think most slaves had to experience of being on a planation like that portrayed in Roots. This was not the case. The large majority of slaves did not live and work on plantations. The majority were owned by households who owned 1 or 2 slaves, and treated them more like servants. This was largely because slaves were a huge investment for most people and were treated more like pets. (And whats hillarious is that I get attacked as a racist or as tryng to minimize the horror of slavery simply by telling people the widely accepted facts)

    • Anonymous

      Zach:

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are appreciated. If you check most written works of the period, slavery was always called the “peculiar institution” Thomas Jefferson, I believe was one of the first to coin the phrase. As he eloquently put it, “slavery was like a wolf you held by the ears, you didn’t like it, but you dare not let it go.”

      My grandfather was born into slavery in Ark. He lived to be 105 years and died on Christmas day, 1955. He shared stories with my father of the horrors of slavery. I believe I can speak with some authority on the subject given my very direct link to it.

      Feel free to come back and share your thoughts.

      Recovered

      • Staceyhershfield

        Dear Recovered2 …Have u and/or your family chroniclled those stories of slavery…They would be invaluable as a source of information. My e-mail is Staceyhershfield@gmail.com I’m a public school teacher. If you have stories to share…I’d like us to be in touch….Thanks,

        • recovered

          I would be happy to.

          Recovered

  • Dfvsdfvsdfv

    Racist here. Enjoy ignoring basic biology and science.

    Silly liberal creationists.

  • Chrispeebles

    your so ill informed,the civil war wasnt fought over slavery,most southerners beleived slavery was wrong even then.also there were blacks who fought for the confederacy and were paid equally along with their white counterparts,unlike the north who obviously didnt beleive that a black life was worth the same amount as a whites. maybe you should actually read up on a subject before you speak out.

    • recovered

      The civil war was fought over “states rights.” The right to own slaves, yes, only the planter class owned slaves which was a small minority of southerners. My grandfather was born a slave in Arkansas, being a slave was not fun or cool. The “Gone with the wind” version of the south is far from the truth.

    • George Harsh

      Put down the crack pipe, buddy. The south can attempt to deceive themselves and others that the war was not about slavery because secession precipitated the war and reunion was the primary northern war aim. However, secession was all about slavery. If you doubt me, read the documents the seceding states published at the time justifying secession.

  • Jefferson_Davis_Rocks

    Hey dude, I am related Jefferson Davis.  So shut up, almost all your facts are wrong and the only racist guy here is you, and what is an Obama Republican

    • recovered

      So, he loved blacks and hated slavery????? Yeah, right!

  • Brendan

    You talk so much about your daddy and granddaddy, ya almost fooled us into thinking you knew a thing or two about the subject.

  • Andrew Bennett

    Before and at the outset of the Civil-war! President Jefferson Davis sent out a decree that any Black Man or woman; Slave, freedmen, Servants! Would be free; if they fight and support the Confederate States of America in any capacity! In the year 1859; 1.3 Million Black Men and women went to the local Church meeting hall to volunteer and sign up! Before the Start of the Civil war the CSA Congress wouldn’t pass a bill to pay them to Volunteer! When the battles started the Black Volunteer wouldn’t get paid! Many white offers and white enlisted men would split their payroll with the Black Volunteers and Their Black families , even when the Black Confederate Volunteers died on the battlefields!

  • Andrew Bennett

    President Jefferson Davis Never surrender! It was the traitor ass Robert E Lee who surrendered without a fight helpin General Grant burned 99.9% of the Cities of the CSA to the ground!