Monday, June 18, 2007

Confederates View Independence Day

Confederates were quick to note parallels between 1776 and 1861. Secession, said Jefferson Davis, “illustrates the American idea that government rests on the consent of the governed.” The Charleston Daily Courier pointed out that, “We are fighting as our fathers fought, not for a form of government or for territory, but for the cardinal and essential elements of self-government and independence.” Former unionist Benjamin F. Perry rebuked the Lincoln regime for “trying to reverse the principles announced in the American Declaration of Independence.”

Henry Timrod’s poetry earned him the sobriquet “Laureate of the Confederacy,” but he also proved himself a gifted writer of prose as assistant editor of the Columbia Daily South Carolinian. In a July 1864 editorial, Timrod regretted that Independence Day was no longer observed in the South.

“When the time and our means permit, we shall be glad to see renewed, with every return of the occasion, the bonfires and rejoicings with which it used to be celebrated, and we shall read, with hardly less pleasure than in the season of our boyhood, the familiar but ever fresh truths appropriate to the day written by the art of the pyrotechnist in letters of emerald and crimson against the dusk evening sky …. Yet while we advocate the celebrate of the Fourth by ourselves, we don’t know what right the Yankees have to regard it with like respect …. It is one of the most remarkable proofs of their effrontery as a nation, that they will dare to take the name of that day in vain. The impudence of the thing almost surpasses belief, but it is a piece with the bold hypocrisy of a people who represent themselves as the philanthropists of the world, while they are engaged in a crusade of extermination against another.”

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