Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"We must seize the torch from their hands"

We are upholding the great principles which our fathers bequeathed to us; and if we should succeed, and become, as we shall, the dominant nation of this continent, we shall perpetuate and diffuse the very liberty for which Washington bled, and which the heroes of the Revolution achieved. We are not revolutionists; we are resisting revolution. We are upholding the true doctrines of the Federal Constitution. We are conservative. Our success is the triumph of all that has been considered established in the past. We can never become aggressive; we may absorb, but we can never invade for conquest any neighboring State. The peace of the world is secured if our arms prevail. We shall have a Government that acknowledges God, that reverences right, and that makes law supreme. We are therefore fighting, not for ourselves alone, but, when the struggle is rightly understood, for the salvation of this whole continent. It is a noble cause in which we are engaged ... The glorious inheritance which our fathers left us we must never betray. The hopes with which they died, and which buoyed their spirits in the last conflict, of making their country a blessing to the world, we must not permit to be unrealized. We must seize the torch from their hands, and transmit it with increasing brightness to distant generations.

From "Our Danger and Our Duty," a tract written in 1862 by Rev. James Henley Thornwell and distributed to the people and the armed forces of the Confederate States.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Soldiers' Monument, Santa Fe, New Mexico

How could the capital of a state be named "Holy Faith"? Surely some sensitive soul in multicultural America is offended, right? We'll save that subject for another time.

Our topic today is the monument that stands in the center of the historic Square in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Erected shortly after the War for Southern Independence, the obelisk recognizes the service of U.S. troops at the battles of Valverde and Glorieta Pass, where they "fought with rebels." It is said that the word "rebels," used here to describe Southern soldiers, is the only place where that word appears on a monument. At least that was the story told in 1880.

The monument goes on to hail those blue-clad warriors who fell "in battles with savage Indians." In 1973 a young man wearing a ponytail took it upon himself to chisel off the offending word, "savage."

His assumption was, of course, that in less enlightened times all Indians were labeled "savage," and such bigotry must be eradicated. It has since been pointed out that in the 1860s Southwest, the term "savage Indians" applied specifically to tribes such as the Apache and Navajo, not to the settled Pueblo Indians, who were often at war with the nomadic "savages" themselves.

But wait a minute! Should they be calling Southern patriots a bunch of "rebels"? Now that's offensive!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

As strange as it may seem to us today, opposition to slavery in antebellum America was based largely on racism.

Most of those marching in the anti-slavery crusade wanted that institution kept out of the western territories for the simple reason they wanted no blacks living there. Rhode Island senator James Burrill asked rhetorically if the West should be settled by “free white men,” or “by slaves, and blackened with their continually increasing progeny?” David Wilmot, congressman from Pennsylvania famous for his proviso banning slavery from territory acquired in the Mexican War, expressed the same view. “The negro race,” complained the abolitionist, “already occupy enough of this fair continent.” “All the unoccupied territory,” said Republican Horace Greeley, “shall be preserved for the benefit of the white Caucasian race—a thing which cannot be except by the exclusion of slavery.” Abraham Lincoln shared that widespread prejudice. “The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these territories,” he said in 1854, speaking of America’s western lands. “We want them for the homes of free white people. This they cannot be, to any considerable extent, if slavery shall be planted with them.”

Years earlier, Alexis de Tocqueville encountered this attitude during his travels in America. “Race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists,” the Frenchman wrote, “and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known.”

True to his observation, the Illinois Constitution of 1848 required that laws be enacted to “prohibit free persons of color from immigrating to and settling in this state.” “When we say that all men are created equal,” proclaimed Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, “we do not mean that every man in organized society has the same rights. We don’t tolerate that in Illinois.”

The final solution to the nation’s race problem, according to Lincoln? The peaceful deportation of every black from American soil, a dream he said would be “a glorious consummation.”

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sound familiar, compatriots?