November 18, 2003

Creeped Out

Is it just me, or do you too get creeped out by people who write?

Loss and Occupation: In fact, of course, the American South knows what it's like to lose a war, and to be occupied...

First of all, in lots of the South--Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, Western Virginia, Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee (where the author of the above lives)--the overwhelming bulk of the population stayed loyal to the union. And there were substantial unionist minorities elsewhere. For them, the experience of the Civil War was not one of loss and occupation...

But leave unionist states, regions, and minorities aside. There were 9 million inhabitants of the Confederacy. 3.5 million of them were slaves. For at least 39% of the inhabitants of the Confederacy, the experience of the Civil War was not one of defeat and occupation, but one of victory, (however imperfect) liberation, and deliverance.

Why don't they count? Why aren't African-Americans part of "the South"?

Posted by DeLong at November 18, 2003 09:52 PM | TrackBack

Comments

And what does he mean by "Arguably, of course, London remains under foreign armed occupation, but we'll let that pass by."?

Posted by: Jack on November 19, 2003 04:55 PM

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That it is controlled either by the Norman invaders, or (and this is an alternative interpretation) by the Hanoverian regime...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on November 19, 2003 05:30 PM

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"But American southerners know something that apparently a lot of other people seem have trouble with: how to lose a war and not hold a grudge. (Much of one anyway)."

Foreshortened history is always the best kind!

Posted by: john c. halasz on November 19, 2003 05:40 PM

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Touche'.

To the Southern aristocrats, the former slaves were lost property. For today's neo-confederates, the liberation of slaves in the South is an inconvenient fact that is best ignored in revised history. The history of the former slaves is conveniently forgotten because the improvement in their lives is a damning indictment of the practice of slavery in the US and the war fought to expand slavery into new territory.

Some of the freed slave population had fair skin and married into white society. Numerous ex slaves took jobs herding cattle in the grasslands of the west. Many cowboys were former slaves. Former slaves became college professors and college presidents or successful in business. Former slaves were free to move to cities and work for better pay in factory jobs. Even former slaves that stayed in agricultural jobs fared better. The end of slavery ended the burden of supporting the expensive institutions required to maintain slavery.

Maybe the article is creepy. It is certainly weird and factually challenged. The monument pictured in the article is a war memorial placed by the NY 79th who defended Fort Sanders from attack. Some of the 79th are buried in the National Cemetery at Knoxville. The statue is not the Secessionists reconciling with the Union, but the Union determination to be known as benevolent victors. (Is he spinning this??)

After the war, soldiers from North and South were known to hold reunions and had much common experience. Even General Sherman was a popular speaker in the South following the war. Those that fought the war were relieved that the horros of war were over and the worst fears of slave revolts wiping out families and properties did not materialize. Many families had members living in both the South and the North. Important trade between the North and South, disrupted by the war, could resume. Many of the economic hardships imposed by the war were lifted in the peace that followed.

Secession occurred in a fever of violence and passion that cowed the cooler heads and threatened or throttled the opposition. The war itself carried as much or more deprivation than the reconstruction, although the reconstruction affected areas untouched by battles. The war was a military failure for the South and an economic failure for secession. Many were glad the war was over and glad to return to normalcy.

The generation removed from the war did harbor resentment against the Union for the Civil War. The South had a large percentage of their investment in slaves. That investment disappeared with the end of the war. Economically, the South had underfunded its infrastructure and had a plantation economy that concentrated wealth and political power into the hands of a few to the detriment of the poorer members of society. The Yankees became a convenient scape goat for the failings of the plantation economy. There are many Southerners that harbor a grudge to this day. One has only to count the numbers of Confederate Battle Flags on pickup trucks or the rancor surrounding the removal of that flag from State Property. The resentment against Federal mandates for civil rights is a strong minority in much of the South.

The South was more militaristic than the North prior to the Civil War. A disproportionate number of Southerners were in the military prior to the war. There was a Southern tradition of military academies (Citadel, VMI) and even Louisiana State University was started in the late 1850s as a military school run by General Sherman. (He resigned when Louisana seceded.) The militarism was encouraged by the plantation system. The enslavement of a population requires a force with martial training. The expansion of the Southern US into Northern and Western Mexico required a military force. The North was less preoccupied with the British in Canada. I don't think his thesis about the South becoming more militaristic after the war holds.

As always, armies most easily recruit from the economically depressed areas that have fewer options for advancement. The majority of today's US army consists of recruits from low income families. The military offers a path for advancement to those with limited resources. The economic depression in the South until the time of FDR is a reason why Southerners would find the military an attractive option that has nothing to do with the fallout from the Civil War.

In conclusions, the article was written without the advantage of knowledge of history of the civil war and the post war period. The policies of the current administration and the penchant for neo-confederate revisionism among the GOP leadership males me wonder if anyone in the GOP reads history?

Posted by: bakho on November 19, 2003 11:16 PM

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Sorry, but is Mr Reynolds positing "race memory" or something? I'm from the American South, and I don't have a fricking clue what it's like to lose a war and be occupied. What I do have a clue about is what it's like to be surrounded by a bunch of deadend wingnuts who blame the Civil War for their current troubles - as if Lincoln himself was keeping them from getting decent jobs and bodacious chicks. How this compares to the experiences of those who've suffered real life, non re-enacted bloodshed on their own soil I haven't a clue.

Posted by: Reuben on November 20, 2003 08:53 AM

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Sorry, but is Mr Reynolds positing "race memory" or something? I'm from the American South, and I don't have a fricking clue what it's like to lose a war and be occupied. What I do have a clue about is what it's like to be surrounded by a bunch of deadend wingnuts who blame the Civil War for their current troubles - as if Lincoln himself was keeping them from getting decent jobs and bodacious chicks. How this compares to the experiences of those who've suffered real life, non re-enacted bloodshed on their own soil I haven't a clue.

Posted by: Reuben on November 20, 2003 08:57 AM

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bakho says:

"Some of the freed slave population had fair skin and married into white society. Numerous ex slaves took jobs herding cattle in the grasslands of the west. Many cowboys were former slaves. Former slaves became college professors and college presidents or successful in business. Former slaves were free to move to cities and work for better pay in factory jobs. Even former slaves that stayed in agricultural jobs fared better. The end of slavery ended the burden of supporting the expensive institutions required to maintain slavery."

true probably that many former slaves were able to marry well, get an education and make their way into american society, but many more were taken west to the territories where they remained slaves (juneteenth, remember). many slave narratives tell of owners who refused to free their slaves and travelled west to hold on to their "property". slave narratives also tell stories of slaves who remained to take care of former masters, who stayed to farm former plantations and who ended up sharecropping and harassed by the "night riders" and pre-ku klux klanners.

nice try to paint the aftermath of slavery a rosy picture full of black folk pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and making their way unimpeded in american society.

if all was so easy for the former slaves, bakho, why the creation of jim crow, why the great migrations, and why the need for civil rights legislation?

Posted by: ellejeezy on November 20, 2003 09:29 AM

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Blacks are part of the South, they just aren't Southerners. At least, in the great cultural/ethnic name game, they are "southern blacks" while southern whites are "southerners." In the most extreme form of the game, the two groups live in different countries. (In fact, that was once the plan, but now simply exists as an "ideal" that has been frustrated by intervention by "northerners.") "Northerners" can be black or white. It is acceptable to speak of "northern blacks" but it is not an expression one hears much, and is more often (in my experience) to distinguish them from southern blacks than from northern whites.

Posted by: K Harris on November 20, 2003 11:14 AM

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Glenn still likes that old US constitution, the one where a black person = 3/5 of a white person.

Posted by: P O'Neill on November 20, 2003 11:46 AM

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Sorry for the misunderstanding. I was trying to highlight some of the benefits of the end of slavery that were missing in Hubbard's article without dwelling on the negatives of race discrimination since emancipation. Please don't say that we were better off under slavery. If I need to bring up racism, I can.

Everyone knows that life was not rosy for freed slaves. Freedom was far short of equality and equal treatment under the law. Civil rights and voting rights were battles that had to be fought for over a century and are still being fought today. However, it cannot be denied that freedom was a step forward that was both necessary and welcome. Make no mistake, as bad as jim crow, the Klan, discrimination and intimidation are and were, slavery was all that and worse. Some of the neo-confederates would deny that much. They argue that life after slavery was worse. That is not true.

The poor treatment of blacks in the US and the failure of the US to invest the former slave population with the full rights to life liberty and pursuit of happiness is no excuse for the institution of slavery. The struggle for civil and voting rights is ongoing and will unfortunately need to continue well into the future because of racism.

You can add to the list of current racist policies the felony voter laws that deny voting rights in spite of civil and voting rights legislation. Make drug crimes felonies Make felons ineligible to vote. Since the courts are stacked against blacks and the poor, the poor and black can be convicted of felonies and the wealthy and the white can be charged with misdemeanors or allowed to walk. The voting rolls can be selectively purged of black and poor voters. Don't think that wealthy Florida resident Rush Limbaugh will get a felony drug conviction lose his vote. The motivation may be mysterious, but the racist results are revealed.

Or, make funding for schools dependent on local funding. Allow white flight to gated communities and majority white school districts and encourage and lend state support to private schools. The result is the reestablishment of separate and unequal schooling for whites and minorities. Work to undermine affirmative action and eliminate opportunites for blacks and minorities. The motivation may be mysterious, but the racist results are revealed.

Yes there are plenty of battles left to fight. The fight did not end when slavery ended. Still the end of slavery is a victory that resulted in the improvement of life. We should not allow them to ignore it or pretend that it was not a step forward.

Posted by: bakho on November 20, 2003 12:07 PM

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Hi, I hit this page while searching through JBDL's site, looking for

I'm doing some writing on the growing tide of revisionism in southern history; but the page I've just pulled up (e.g. the one I'm posting on) has no reference or link to the creepy article you are all discussing...

Can someone send the reference to the above address? Thanks.

BFK

Posted by: Brian Kelcey on December 16, 2003 09:59 AM

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