CONFEDERATE PRIDE: Just A Few Thoughts... [On Slavery] Confederate Pride

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Just A Few Thoughts…

by Bob Harrison
EMAIL: [email protected]

To All Parties Concerned:

There has been much recent discussion regarding the CSA and Slavery in general. I wish to add the following comments to this discussion.

As an African American historian, reenactor, and descendant from two Virginia Slave families I am more than aware of the complete history of American slavery. I currently reside in the middle of the historical roots of my family in Virginia; from King and Queen and Southampton counties to be exact. I am also a former resident of the glorious state of SC and quite knowledgeable of John C. Calhoun as well.

I find it particularly interesting the comments of the individual from my native PA particularly that he hails from Schukyll Haven. Having lived in PA for the first 33.5 years of my existence, spending almost 6 of those years living a stone throw away from Schukyll Haven in the city of York, PA, I am also well experienced in the level of hate and racism that PA and the North in general espouses and projects. However, before going into that, I wish to share some simple facts about this whole conversation.

In terms of the Southern states leaving the US and forming the new Confederation of States known as the Confederate States of America:

When the Articles of Confederation were signed, in York, PA, it left 13 independent sovereign nations who banded together for the common good of all the states. This was later solidified by the writing and adoption of the Constitution.

At no time did any of the states relinquish their rights of self determination. At no time did the states, by ratifying this Constitution, surrender their rights to a centralized government. The Constitution’s sole purpose was to establish a central governing body to “provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare.” To ensure the principal of States Rights was honored, the 10th Amendment was established stating “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people.”

Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that a State may not leave the Union if it so chooses to do so. The right to prohibit secession was not granted to the Federal government nor was the right to secede prohibited to the states. The most common argument here involves Article 1, Section 10, which reads “No State shall enter into any treaty, Alliance, or Confederation.” However, what that clause means is that States, as members of the Union of States may not engage in such measures and it was particularly intended to prevent the states from making foreign treaties which was a right granted to the Federal government. It had no relation whatsoever to what communication or agreements the states might have with each other. It does not say that a state cannot decide to leave the Union and then do so if they so choose. When the states that later became the Confederacy left the Union they did so completely legally and each became once again a sovereign nation as they had been recognized in the Article of Confederation. Lincoln did not use force to bring them back into the Union because he knew that under the circumstances to try and do so would have been in complete violation of Constitutional law. It was not until the firing on Fort Sumter that Lincoln finally authorized the use of force under the guise of Fort Sumter being “Federal property.”

I also call your attention to Arizona and New Mexico which currently have secessionist bills on the docket. Secessionist thought and concepts have not only formed the foundation of our country, but they are alive and well also. Secessionism is not, nor has it ever been an act of treason. Our forefathers formed this country on the very concept of secession arising from the concept that government derives its power from the consent of the governed. When Mother England and her law no longer served the people, the Colonies rose up and seceded from the from British Empire.

One of the most common arguments against the CSA is that its government, the States of which it was comprised, and its armed forces were traitors who attempted to break the Union. As with their ancestors before them, they supported the current government so long as it represented them and their interests. When the exiting government began to exceed its boundaries and began to take a heavy handed approach with the states the states seceded from that government and formed their own Confederation.

Secessionist thought is not only NOT an act of treason but the act of a true Patriot.

In Terms of Slavery:

Slavery as an institution was never limited to the Southern states. Every state in the Union had the institution of slavery within its borders under Constitutional law. Even the so-called Border States, which were states loyal to the Union and thus were Union states, kept slavery as an institution. These Union states and the Confederate state of Tennessee (somehow carefully excluded from the Emancipation Proclamation) remained slave states under Federal law for eight months after the South surrendered and slavery ceased to exist there.

One irony is that in the Union slave states of Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky Lincoln occupied them with Federal troops to prevent them from seceding but did not interfere with slavery in those states during his lifetime. Wall Street in New York was one of the BIGGEST slave markets of its day. The very first colony to legalize slavery was Massachusetts. Slavery was a very profitable industry backed by Northern finances. During the mid to late 1700’s tens of thousands of slave ships landed in Massachusetts. Rhode Island and New York later became leaders in the slave industry respectively.

In Terms of the Emancipation Proclamation:

Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

“That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebone, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”

When we carefully and critically read the Emancipation Proclamation we discover that it did not free a single slave as it was never intended to free anyone. Only those slaves who were held in “states or part of states whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States” were “freed.”

What makes this interesting is that even though Tennessee was a member state of the Confederate States of America and most definitely “a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States” it was specifically excluded from mention. It is even more interesting to evaluate the “excepted parts” which were “for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.” The interesting fact is that those were all areas under Federal control. The Union slave states, all parts of the Confederacy under Union control, and the Confederate state of Tennessee where Lincoln and the Federal government actually had the authority to end slavery they were careful to leave it untouched. Further, those slaves that were “freed” as the Union Army advanced were captured by Union soldiers and kept as “servants” not as free men.

If the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation was to “free the slaves” why was there such careful preservation of slavery in the Union? The explanation can be found in the real reasons the proclamation was issued – which had nothing to do with any effort to actually end slavery.

The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than a political ploy used by Lincoln to attempt to accomplish several ends entirely apart from slavery. Commonly expounded is the effort to keep England and France from coming in on the side of the CSA by making it difficult for them to support a country apparently fighting to preserve slavery when these countries had ended slavery less than 50 years ago. The second explanation is that Lincoln wanted to give the war a “moral and righteous” meaning thus quieting the threats of Northern Abolitionists threatening further disunion, quieting violent draft riots and the growing complaints of white Northerners who were growing increasingly tired of a war of economic conquest the North was losing very badly at first. The real and most compelling reason for the Emancipation Proclamation was the intent and hope that it would result in widespread bloody “servile insurrection” that would cause rebelling slaves to murder thousands of women and children and draw Confederate soldiers home to protect their families.

Despite the anticipation that the lack of presence of white males serving in the Confederate Army would inspire slaves to rise up and murder in the name of “freedom” there were no such anticipated uprisings. Lincoln and his advisers miscalculated the real relationship between the races and the classes in the South.

Slaves were not freed until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, almost eight months following Lee’s surrender. Slavery remained legal and protected by Federal law in the United States after slaves in the South were freed.

5. Blacks were not considered citizens until passage of the 14th amendment on July 9, 1868 over THREE YEARS AFTER Lee’s surrender.

In Terms of Northern Racism (Historically)

The focus on the abolition of Slavery stemmed from economic reasons not the moral ones we have been taught to believe for so long. The general feeling was that “it was a form of cheap labor and took away jobs from skilled white workers.” Under the leadership of Samuel Adams it was purposely kept out of the goals and platform of the American Revolution. The Boston Gazette falsified the cultural identification of Crispus Attucks (he REALLY was black and the FIRST to die under British fire), told nothing of abolitionism in England, and show nothing written by blacks themselves. It reflected “the attitudes of white Bostonians which was one of disgust and inferiority towards their black neighbors.” With the increasing competition for jobs between escaped slaves, free blacks, and European immigrants race relations in the North deteriorated. Northern states passed Black Laws reflecting the growing racial hatred against blacks. Some Northern states made it illegal for a black person to immigrate there. In Illinois, if a black person was found they could be flogged and sold. It was illegal for blacks to vote or be jurors. Full segregation of most public establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and theaters to name a FEW were commonplace. Blacks were not allowed to testify against whites, which meant the only legal protection blacks had was a white person willing to testify on their behalf. In 1829 in Cincinnati local whites decided to enforce Ohio’s anti-integration laws on their own. In the black section of town, upon hearing local blacks were given an extended time to prove their freedom and post a bond as a guarantee of good behavior, whites indiscriminately and mercilessly beat women and children, looted stores and burned houses. After many left for Canada the local paper, which started the riot to begin with, wrote that the respectable blacks left and only derelicts remained.

One of the most blatant institutions of racism at the time was the American Colonization Society. To combat “racial problems” Northern whites fully supported the formation of this organization. Its principal purpose was to buy the freedom of the slaves and colonize them back in Africa from which the republic of Liberia was formed. It received such wide spread support that Congress voted $100,000 to help with its work. The support for this organization was fueled by growing concern of Northern whites about the growing number of freedmen and slaves coming north, perceived falsehoods about blacks that they were immoral, unrestrained, inferior, possessing criminal tendencies, and being incapable of any improvement. According to Alexis DeTocqueville, “The anti-Negro sentiment was most extensive in those states where slavery has never been known.” While the American Colonization Society did hire some blacks to act as agents, it was a heavily pro-white group run by whites for the sole benefit of whites with the underlying theme of black inferiority at its base.

Several Colonial leaders aided in furthering the inferiority theory to maintain the institution of slavery while preaching for freedom from England. Bostonian leader Nathaniel Appleton based the abolitionist premise on economics; it prevented white settlers from settling the continent and would prevent white from doing similar work because of its association with slavery. He even suggested it led to prostitution because it took away work lower-class white girls could do. These colonial leaders felt that the slave’s inferiority was so bad that he was already enslaved to his own lusts and passions, and therefore only fit to be enslaved. In the words of Samuel Hopkins, “If we could only divest ourselves of these strong prejudices which have insensibly fixed on our minds, we begin to feel towards them as we should towards our children and neighbors.”

Northern newspapers ran columns regarding the inferiority of blacks. On November 22, 1860, the Philadelphia Daily News stated, “it is neither for the good of the colored race nor of our own that they should continue to dwell among us to any considerable extent. The two races can never exist in conjunction except as superior and inferior; The African is naturally the inferior race.”

These horrifying acts of bigotry were not just limited to everyday civilians. The Federal Armed forces had its share as well. L.D. Phillips at Pope’s plantation wrote to Edward Pierce of the Treasury department, “The whole village, old men, women, and boys, in tears were following at our heels. The wives and mothers of conscripts, giving way to their feelings, break into the loudest lamentations, and rush upon the men, clinging to them with the agony of separation. This rude separation of husband and wife, children and parents, must remind them of what we have always stigmatized as the worst feature of slavery. Never in my mind did Major-general fall into a sadder blunder and rarely has humanity been outraged by an act of more unfeeling barbarity.”

In terms of Confederates of Color

Confederate Colonel Shipp wrote of his black troops at Petersburg saying, “My men always acted with utmost promptness and goodwill. Allow me to state sir, that they behaved in an extraordinary acceptable manner.”

At the battle of First Manassas (Bull Run I) one black Confederate was moving about the field when a Union Officer ordered him to surrender. The black confederate, after informing the Union officer that HE was being taken prisoner, shot the officer dead.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest had all 45 of his former slaves, upon being granted their freedom, stay and fight with him until the end of the war. Forrest said of his men, “These boys stayed with me, drove my teams and better confederates did not live.” In August 1866, federal cavalry rode onto Forrest’s plantation. The general’s old war horse, King Philip, charged at them. When they began beating at the horse Forrest’s former slave and valet, Jerry, rushed out to defend the horse. The Federal Captain responded, “General Now I can account for your success. Your Negroes fight for you.”

Union soldiers also validated the existence of Black Confederate soldiers. Giving only one of many examples, an Indiana soldier wrote back to his hometown newspaper in the fall of 1861, “a body of 700 Negro infantry opened fire on our men, wounding two lieutenants and two privates. The wounded men testified positively that they were shot by Negroes, and that not less than 700 were present, ARMED with muskets. We have heard of a regiment of Negroes at Manassas, and another at Memphis, and still another at New Orleans, but did not believe it until it came so near to home and attacked our men. One of the Lieutenants was shot in the back of the neck and is not expected to live.”

Even foreign observers vouched for the existence of Confederates of color. Captain Arthur Freemantle, British observer, witnessed Black confederates escorting Union prisoners of War saying, “This little episode of a Southern slave leading a white Yankee soldier through a Northern village, alone and of his own accord, would not have been gratifying to an abolitionist; nor would the sympathizers both in England and in the North feel encouraged if they could hear the language of the detestation and contempt with which the numerous Negroes with Southern armies speak of their liberators.”

In Terms of Modern racism in the North

While working at my old alma mater, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, for a year as a Library Instructor from September 21,1998, through August, 1999, I was honored to be elected co-chair of the University President’s Commission on Human Relations. As part of my duty as such I was a session moderator at the Annual PA Black Higher Education Conference in Pittsburgh where I met and began a close friendship with Ann Van Dyke of the Pennsylvania State Commission on Human Relations. During that session it was discussed that of all the states in the Union, the top four states with the highest number of hate groups and hate group activity were ALL northern states. In no particular order they were California, Washington state, New York, and my native Pennsylvania.

While residing in York, Pennsylvania, for almost six years I worked at the local public library where I was witness to hate beyond my wildest dreams. Local members of the Eastern Hammerskins had nailed a pig’s head to the door of a local synagogue, spray painted racist graffiti all over black owned businesses, and groups of Skinheads severely beat helpless citizens.

While Pennsylvania ranks in the top four most hateful states, the Susquehanna Valley Area, where York is located (near Schukyll haven) is center to vast majority of it. There are 5 KKK chapters active there, at least 4 skinhead groups active, and a host of other bigoted organizations. According to a newspaper article in the York Daily Record in 1996, the York County KKK, at its zenith, had more members than ALL of Georgia combined.

In terms of Black support for the South and its history

According to the late Dr. Leonard Haynes of Southern University, “When you eliminate the black confederate soldier, you have eliminated the history of the South.”

Even though he is leery of groups using his research for personal agendas, Dr. Ervin Jordan of the University of Virginia resents the flak he has gotten form liberal academics and fellow blacks who feel he is “airing dirty laundry” and abetting racists by writing about black loyalty to the South. He says, “I don’t think Black Confederates should be pushed to the back of the closet because they are inconvenient or make us feel uncomfortable.”

According to Black historian Roland Young, “Some if not most black Southerners would support their country, demonstrating it is possible to hate the system of slavery and love one’s country.”

Dr. Edward Smith of American University in Washington, DC, puts it best saying, “There is this caricature of all blacks in the South being victimized and supporting the North. But we are just as complicated as any people. We are three-dimensional.” Dr. Smith expresses frustration at the lack of attention given to the subject by black media outlets because “it gives a different focus on a topic they have decided is already one way.”

Speaking of historians in general Dr. Smith says, “Our job is to present things people may not have access to. A lot of that may be stuff you don’t like. But if you are going to be true to the profession you have to do it. History is pretty in a lot of ways and ugly in a lot of ways, but the WHOLE story needs to be told.”

In Terms of the ever-growing mass migration of African Americans BACK to the South

One study done put 30% of the country’s black owned businesses in Georgia, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida as opposed to the 2% in New England.

Deteriorating social and economic conditions in the Northeast and Midwest, along with great improvements in the social and economic climate of the South are largely behind this reverse migration.

In the April 1990 issue of Ebony magazine, Maya Angelou put is best saying, “Many African Americans left the South; the soul-crushing prejudice and prohibition and moved north drawn by the promise of better lives, equality, fair play, and good old American Freedom; the atmosphere which blacks imagined as free of racial prejudice was found to be discriminatory in ways different form the Southern modes and possibly even more humiliating. In the words of writer John Oliver Killens, “Macon, Georgia is down south. New York City is up south.” They found their lives minimalized and themselves trivialized. Many yearned for the honesty of southern landscapes; even if hate mongers targeted and wanted them dead, at least they were credited with being alive. Northern whites with their public smiles of liberal acceptance and private utter rejection angered blacks. They returned and found or made their places in the land of their foreparents. Southern themes will range from a generous and luscious love to a cruel and bitter hate, but no one can ever claim the South is petty. Even in the little town of Stamps, Arkansas, black people walk with an air which implies, “When I walk in, they may like me or dislike me, but everybody knows I am here.”

Any and all persons who wish to cast negative light on the South would be best served by checking for racist monsters under their own beds. Clearly the people of the South – white, black and otherwise – are growing closer together and learning to truly love and respect their fellow human being despite the racial rhetoric the country may have to say.

At your service,

Bob Harrison, 1st Sergeant
37th Texas Cavalry, Company B, CSA