Last week I took a few moments to post a heartfelt comment on the Roots and Recall Facebook page concerning my dismay over the removal of Confederate monuments across America. If you care to, please visit the Facebook site and read it. Not everyone agreed with what I wrote, nevertheless, it was one of the most widely read posts ever! Besides heavily condemning the individuals and groups that represent the alt-right, I also noted the lack of tolerance demonstrated on both sides of this issue. Statues erected in cities across the South to honor Confederate participants were not, as many have implied, to bolster Jim Crow and racism! It is too bad that most of the individuals participating in the Charlottesville debacle were not even from Virginia and were certainly unaware of the importance these statues hold to the local population. My remarks closed with:
“Take a few hours to enjoy the eclipse but I for one, think this historic event, has already been overshadowed by the disdainful behavior of individuals over the past week in Charlottesville as well as across N.C. Hatred and vandalism of Confederate generals and related historic monuments should have no more place in our country than do those of racial hate, the Nazi swastikas, or usurping the Confederate Battle Flag for a cause to which it never represented.”
This week the Southern Poverty League had a well written and researched article on the time frame when these monuments were being erected. In their biased opinion, they unfortunately stated these monuments represented a strong correlation to the rise of Jim Crow laws, and were therefore symbols of hate and oppression. It was this same thought that one of R&R’s members drew attention to, objecting to our lack of sensitivity. Too bad the reporter didn’t also call attention to the economic conditions of the South following the Civil War and Reconstruction. Talking about third class citizens and racism, Southerners were maligned for decades in books, movies, newspapers and apparently still are. The exception may be that of the wealthiest of Northerners who simply flocked to the South to buy up millions of cheap acres for investment and leisure. They were educated and savvy enough to understand the plight of the Southern states and simply took open advantage of their economic situation. Subsequently, most of these Northerners quickly became entrenched in Southern living and remained. Perhaps it would have been of equal value to the article, and comments by the Southern Poverty League, to have also focused on Sherman’s massive destruction of private property and robbing of Southern assets to further enrich himself and the North. Don’t think these acts of injustice have ever been addressed!
Really, were these monuments not built to simply commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of American men from the South? And yes, they were constructed extensively between 1890-1915. It just so happened these dates do coincide with the first time the South had returned to temporary economic stability since the end of the Civil War. It is also the period when thousands of former Confederate soldiers were dying from old age. If the author was knowledgeable he too would have drawn the parallels more easily and understood that all too often these monuments were paid for through nickle and dime bake sales, community fundraising efforts, and private donations – nothing resembling race-baiters and hatred.
Read a little of how the Ebenezer ARP church raised funds to build their Confederate monument and you to may have a better appreciation for the efforts to honor former Confederate soldiers in their waning days.
Pages you may enjoy searching:
- Ebenezer ARP Church Monument
- Chester Erects a Confederate Monument
- Winnsboro Moves the Confederate Monument to a Park
Can we not all appreciate that there are many valid voices representing historic issues and realize that the suppression of Confederate history is simply another form of intolerance? Remember change is good but rewriting history is simply inappropriate. In the 1950s most Southerners celebrated Robert E. Lee’s birthday and now our grandchildren are given a holiday to honor Martin Luther King. Wonder what will happen when his place in history is also rewritten?
R&R NOTE: How quickly a week can change with the events surrounding local history. We have gone from having a very ugly, hate filled incident in Charlottesville, to that of a wonderful celebration of science and knowledge. The eclipse was marvelous! So too has been the response from several new members of R&R who have not only provided economic assistance but have also shared enormous data on their own family’s histories. As one said, “It’s nice to have a central repository for all these family items. I know it will be a great resource for other researchers.” (R.S. 8.20.17)
Remember, R&R will also be showcasing a new homepage soon, let us know how you like it!
From the Porch – Blog @ RootsandRecall.com – 8.24.17