Monday, April 30, 2012

Here is question number nine posed by Ben Stein

Why is not more attention paid to the stunning contributions of the black man to his own freedom?

Both sides considered blacks unfit to be good soldiers until about 1863. When Lincoln finally relented, they proved to be superb fighters, and their presence on the Union side was a major factor in the Union victory. Other than maybe in the movie Glory, I don’t think that the black soldier gets the credit he deserves for coming from a tradition of oppression and humiliation and then fighting with utmost courage as soon as the chains had been struck from his body.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why is the Southern cause so compelling even now?

In my attempt to organize, condense and purge my many Civil War file boxes, I now have them lined up in a row out in the garage. From the local office supply store I found handsome blue plastic 'hang and store' containers with lids; they're out there lined up, too. I'm getting closer to being organized. Now the hard job begins - sorting and purging.

So, I continue now with another question posed by Benjamin J. Stein in his 2003 “The American Spectator” article: “Preserving the Civil War”.

7. Why is the Southern cause so compelling even now?

Knowing - as we do - that the Southern economy was largely based on a horrifying notion of racial supremacy, why do we find the South still so haunting and sympathetic? Is it Gone With the Wind? Is it moonlight and magnolias and nonsense? Is it the romance of a lost cause? Why do we find Lee so much more compelling than Grant? Why do we find Lee so much more compelling than a general that even Lee said was the finest on either side in the Civil War, Nathaniel Bedford Forrest? Why do I cry when I visit one of my favorite battlefields, the one at Upperville, Virginia? And why do I have nightmares every time I visit Gettysburg, when most of my ancestors did not even come to America until thirty years after the Civil War ended?

Americans, Northerners at least, had little or no sympathy and compassion for the South in 1865. So when did this romanticism with that cause begin? Did it develop shortly after the last of the Civil War veterans died off in the early 20th Century? What part did Gone With the Wind play, or not play, in this? Has anyone written specifically about this?

When I next comb the History shelves at Barnes & Noble I'll be searching for an answer.