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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: Schweitzer's Factually Challenged Tome

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Schweitzer's Factually Challenged Tome

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer's factually absurd essay lends credence to the old saw that Ph.D stands for "Piled higher & Deeper." Such a load of bovine scat is certainly not Earth Day friendly as those cattle most certainly contribute significant methane (a greenhouse gas) to the atmosphere. But enough of these pleasantries, let's address some of the most obvious errors and falsehoods.

JS writes: "But others have a different, more sinister celebration in mind."

Southerners, like other human groups, celebrate the highest ideals of their heritage. Do the German people celebrate the Holocaust or their insane attempt to dominate the world? Do the Japanese celebrate the Rape of Nanking? Or the Bataan Death March? Do Americans (yankees) celebrate the near genocide of the plains Indians? No, of course not. Southerners remember the honor, courage and valor of those who stood against overwhelming numbers and materiel to defend their homes and hearth sides.

JS writes: "No, this is not the continuation of some long-standing tradition, but amazingly a creature of modern politics starting in 1994."

Is this an intentional falsehood? Let's give the benefit of the doubt, and presume that it's merely careless ineptitude and sloppy research. A simple Google search would reveal that Confederate Memorial Day observances have been held since right after the war. Confederate History Month proclamations have been issued by state and local governments going way back. The federal Civil War Commission was founded in 1954 and southern states began preparations for historical tourism related to the Centennial of the war. The state of Georgia completed the Stone Mountain carving, put up thousands of historical markers in the mid-1950s and changed its state flag in 1956. President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation in 1961 encouraging observances and historical study. Many of the southern states observe Confederate Memorial Day as an official state holiday, along with the birthdays of Confederate heroes like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. and have done so for well over 125 years.

JS writes: "With a volley of artillery fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, the South started a war that nearly destroyed the United States in pursuit of a terrible cause. "

Fort Sumter was indeed attacked on April 12th 1861 and forced to surrender, but that was NOT the first act of war in the conflict. Confederate officials had made clear that any U.S. forts in the Charleston harbor was not an option and that that ANY attempt to resupply or reinforce Sumter would be viewed as a hostile act. They fired on the unarmed steamer THE STAR OF THE WEST in January 1861. Major Anderson's stealthy abandonment of Fort Moultrie and occupation of Sumter with a federal garrison in the dead of night was the first act of war. Lincoln sent word that he intended to resupply and reinforce Sumter "by force if necessary" and that a flotilla of warships were coming to do the job. Confederate officials took the action to minimize loss of life. They forced a surrender before war ships arrived. With apologies to Thomas DiLorenzo,  the death toll from the attack on Sumter was {drum roll please}.... one mule. The death toll from Lincoln's reaction to Fort Sumter was 750,000 American soldiers and about 50,000 southern civilians. It was Lincoln who ordered a resupply of Sumter "by force if necessary" and who ordered the invasion which was the start of the war.

Schweitzer writes that columnist Leonard Pitts is wrong, that slavery was not the sole cause of the war. We could not agree more. The cause of the southern states was INDEPENDENCE. It was not a "terrible cause" in long war from 1775-1783, nor was it in 1861.

General John B. Gordon, in his memoirs wrote:
"But slavery was far from being the sole cause of the prolonged conflict. Neither its destruction on the one hand, nor its defense on the other, was the energizing force that held the contending armies to four years of bloody work.

I apprehend that if all living Union soldiers were summoned to the witness-stand, every one of them would testify that it was the preservation of the American Union and not the destruction of Southern slavery that induced him to volunteer at the call of his country.

….No other proof, however, is needed than the undeniable fact that at any period of the war from its beginning to near its close the South could have saved slavery by simply laying down its arms and returning to the Union." General John B. Gordon, from Reminiscences of the Civil War, page 19

Lincoln's support for the Corwin Amendment (barring Congressional interference with slavery) was repeated before and during his first inaugual address. Congress, in the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution in July 1861 confirmed that the war was to restore the union and that slavery was irrelevant. In fact, Lincoln in an open letter to Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune in August 1862 (16 months into the conflict), stated again quite clearly that slavery was irrelevant to the war.

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.
What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union." Abraham Lincoln, from letter to Horace Greeley, Aug. 22, 1862

JS writes: "Specifically, eleven southern states seceded from the Union in protest against federal legislation that limited the expansion of slavery ...."

Not true. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas had NOT seceded by April 12th. Each had considered it and declined. However, three days after Sumter, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers on April 15th from all the states to invade the south and force southern states to pay taxes. Or as Lincoln put it, "to put down a rebellion."

 These four southern states seceded over principle, they would NOT participate in the coercion, indeed the TREASON, that Lincoln proposed. TREASON is defined in the Constitution as "making war on the states"... which is precisely what Lincoln ordered. On April 17th, Virginia reconsidered secession and this time adopted an ordinance to secede subject to ratification by a vote of the people (which was approved overwhelmingly). The other three border states likewise opted to secede in short order after Lincoln's call for force and invasion.

We agree that secession was to protect the rights of the southern states which saw themselves as outnumbered and outvoted.... their liberties were no longer safe against the northern states IN the Union. As Jefferson Davis wrote: "I love the Union AND the Constitution. But I would rather leave the Union with the Constitution than remain in it without the Constitution." Southern states paid the vast majority of taxes (import/export duties and tariffs)... while the House voted to spend most of the revenues on "improvements", canals, railroads and infrastructure in the northern states. Davis, Lee and many southern leaders opposed secession, but once decided, they saw their primary duty and loyalty as to their states.

JS writes: "Let's be clear that the South's quest to secede could only lead to the destruction of the the United States, not only through war but just in the act of secession alone. "

Hogwash. The Founders understood the need of the American states to stick together against the treachery and subversion of the European powers. Likewise, they knew that the Union MUST be voluntary. When New England states threatened to secede in 1803 over the Louisiana Purchase (which they saw as a threat to New England shipping supremacy), President Jefferson wished them good luck. When these sames states threatened secession in 1811 and 1814 (when we were AT WAR with Britain-- they wanted to cut their own deal to free up their shipping), no one called their suggestion of secession treasonous. They threatened secession again in 1845 over the admission of Texas to Union. Those yankees were ALL IN FAVOR of secession until it didn't favor their finances. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison advocated secession to separate from slavery. No one called him a traitor but yankee business men didn't see abolition as a worthy cause. In early 1861, most northern newspapers said, "let them go in peace." Then when bankers and financiers informed them that it would hurt northern shipping and ports and cut US treasury funds... they changed their tunes "when their pockets were touched."

JS writes: "These generals [Lee, Jackson, Pickett, Forrest] and the men they led fought valiantly, with integrity, with honor, for a cause in which they believed passionately even if we despise that cause and know it to be heinous. Honoring a man's bravery or military insight is not equivalent to honoring the cause for which he fought. And have no doubt that the cause championed by the South should cover every American with shame."

Heinous? Shame? Get real and what's more, speak for yourself. Since when is SELF DEFENSE heinous? Since when is INDEPENDENCE shameful? Make no mistake. Absent Lincoln's invasion and blockade, there would be NO WAR. A captured Confederate POW was asked why he kept fighting. He replied, "Because you're here." The South was fighting in self defense because their states and their country WAS INVADED. In the television series THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, Jethro asked Granny what the war was about. She replied, "That's when the yankees invaded America."

Schweitzer cannot seem to grasp that southerners LIVED the war. Out ancestors were the ones whose farms were sacked and burned. What's so difficult to understand about regional pride? Clearly Schweitzer doesn't get it. Again, we take pride in our best ideals and positive traits, not in our failures and injustices.

J.S. writes, "So let us not romanticize what secession meant; it was anti-American by every definition; Rebels were set on destroying the symbol that represented the union they sought to dissolve. That is the very same Stars and Stripes that they now so proudly wave as patriots. The inconsistency and hypocrisy are horribly ignorant of our history."

More hogwash. Nothing can be MORE American that secession, the principle defined in the Declaration. The first flag adopted by the CSA was known as "the stars and bars" (or First National). It's resemblence to the stars and stripes is NOT accidental. Southerners were proud of their American heritage and founding fathers. However, that resemblence to Old Glory caused confusion and identification issues on the battlefield. After First Manassas, the Confederate battle flag based on the Scottish St. Andrews Cross was proposed to be readily distinguished from the U.S. flag.

Let's talk about treatment of flags during the war.

"May 24, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth of Mechanicville, N.Y., was shot by an Alexandria, Virginia hotel owner after tearing down a Confederate flag flying defiantly from the hotel’s rooftop. Ellsworth’s heroic act initiated New York’s critical contribution to the war. New York was first among the states in troops (over 400,000), casualties (more than 46,000), war materiel production, and financial support." ---Bruce W. Dearstyne, Ph.D  (from a 2011 opinion article encouraging observance of the sesquicentennial)  ---

OK, so let’s look at the bare facts. This Ellsworth they are deeming a "local hero" was offended by the "defiant" display of a Confederate flag.
So he went trespassing on another man’s property (the hotel) in another state that had legally declared itself independent, which just happened to be within eyesight of Washington, D.C., and stole the owner’s flag. And he was shot and killed for his efforts.

And given the tensions at that time (Lincoln’s declared intent to make war, Virginia’s secession in protest after said declaration)…Ellsworth certainly had to know that venturing into Virginia to steal someone’s flag was a risky, if not foolhardy, undertaking.

But he’s given credit for not sending some lowly subordinate to do it. How noble. The incident does give new meaning to Virginia’s state seal and state motto: "Sic Semper Tyrannis"… "Thus Always to Tyrants."

But the larger point here is that New York is putting forth this swaggering Yankee thief Ellsworth as a hero, the first Union Officer killed during the war. I’m almost speechless. Almost.

When you think about it, it does seem fitting that the first Union officer killed should be killed for stealing private property…and for having the audacity to think he was right in doing so. It seems the perfect allegory, the perfect parable for the morality play that was the war and it stands as a superior reason to start the war compared to Fort Sumter in which no one was killed by Confederate fire.

With Ellsworth’s death, now we have a solid begin date May 24, 1861 to put on Sherman’s Vandalism. In the end, that really summarizes the entire war effort. The Southern states were looted, burned and robbed for the financial benefit of the northern states…but the soldiers who carried out the crime were simply miffed because the Southern states were…"defiant." They were offended that the Southern states exercised their right to self-government and self determination and they were determined-at whatever the cost- to force the South to bend to their preferences.

Dr. Dearstyne goes on to note that at least forty (40) Union generals hailed from New York including John A. Dix who is noted to be a former senator and future governor, and who was Secretary of the Treasury in 1861. According to Dearstyne, Dix telegraphed Treasury agents in New Orleans: "If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot."

Oh! So, it’s OK to shoot people in New Orleans who might be offended by U.S. Flags… but if someone shoots a New Yorker in Alexandria, Virginia, for stealing flags, they risk creating a martyr. Hmmm…

Appointed a general in the Union army, Dix adds to his heroic resume by arresting pro-Confederate members of the Maryland state legislature to prevent a vote on secession, negotiating prisoner exchange with a Confederate general, and commanding federal troops in suppressing the 1863 draft riot, and "working effectively with New York City officials to organize peaceful resumption of the draft a month later."

Of course, Dearstyne didn’t mention the many deaths of civilians, immigrants and various citizens who died as a result of the "order" Dix restored. In the end, recruiting immigrants off-the-boat to go south and loot another country resumed to D.C.’s satisfaction. The New York Draft Riots did illustrate that many in the North and, in New York in particular, were not in agreement with Lincoln’s war policies or goals. It also illustrates that Lincoln was willing to use brutal force to suppress any dissent.

Arresting state legislators without legal cause or due process and killing civilians rioting over the draft…wow! Dix had some tough assignments, I’ll give him that. Perhaps he should have paused and reflected on his ultimate moral duty. Robert E. Lee faced similar assignments, had he remained in the U.S. Army, but Lee resigned rather than accept orders to carry out an illegal and immoral war against fellow Americans and citizens of his native state in order to suppress their rights. There’s little doubt, at least for this writer, as to which serves as the better moral example.

It seems that it is Dr. Jeff Scheitzer who is "horribly ignorant of our history."

J.S. writes: "A southern loyalist cannot be a patriot; the two ideals are mutually incompatible. You cannot simultaneously love the United States and love the idea of dissolving the bond between states that constitute the country. "

Schweitzer does not seem to grasp the idea of divided sovereignty. As noted previously, both Lee and Davis opposed secession, but once the decisions were made, they believed their first allegiance was to their home states (Virginia and Mississippi respectively). As Davis said, he loved the Union, but would rather leave the Union with the Constitution than stay in the Union without it. What he's saying, Dr. S., is that their ultimate loyalty was to Liberty and the ideals of the Constitution. When I pledge allegiance, it is "to the republic" as defined in the Constitution and its ideals of LIMTED government, Liberty and justice. That includes the Liberty to leave the union when in the state's sole judgment, membership is no longer in the best interests of the safety and liberty of the people of said state.

Is it just me? Or is Schweitzer the crazy one?

Steve Scroggins
Macon, GA


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