What Southern Heritage is.
Southern heritage is not "The South will rise again" nonsense. It is not an argument that the war was over state's rights and not slavery. The civil war was over slavery. State's rights was a roundabout way of people protecting a free workforce. How well the slaves were treated was dependent upon the people that owned them.
Only 1 percent of white southerners owned slaves. A large slave owner named Pierce Butler had 436 people auctioned to settle debts. It was a horrible breakup of families. Large slave owners often lived in large cities like Philadelphia or New York to enjoy their affluence and culture. Some large slave owners lived on large tracts of land with their slaves and family. Some slave owners owned two to fifteen slaves.
There is nothing good to say about the institution of slavery.
If slavery were legal today, you know there would be people who would own slaves who would justify their actions. Pretty much like someone who has a very profitable business and pays their workers minimum wage. Or someone getting an au pair who helps with a family but is to be paid and have free time being used as a 24/7 childcare helper.
What is as bad as slavery is the prejudice African Americans have had to endure. It is 2017 and the problem is still with us.
But Southern heritage is my family. I had ancestors that fought on both sides of the civil war. I had one branch that received reparations in that they were Union sympathizers that lived in middle Tennessee. However, the bulk served for the Confederacy.
I remember my dad telling my brother before he went to Vietnam that you don't want to lose a war. His answer was based on his experiences in Germany after World War II. His answer was based on grandfathers who served in the Confederate Forces. His answer was based on family deported from England by Cromwell for supporting the bonnie Prince Charles during the turbulent 1600s.
Men were expected to enlist and serve to do their part during the civil war. I came across this letter in doing genealogy research. If I am related to this man, it is most distant. But his letter shares the pathos of the common soldier during the civil war. And this is my heritage.
I do this in memory of my great great grandfathers Simon Bennett and Big John McDuffie. They served in the Confederate Militia. Simon Bennett in a South Carolina Militia and John McDuffie in a Georgia unit. This is my heritage. Both men were not perfect. But they were honorable men and deserve respect.
The Bennett's never owned slaves. The McDuffies did. The civil war alienated people much like today's politics. I don't know if it was the McDuffies or the Bennetts where this story originated. The Southern soldier who was on his deathbed refused to meet with his brother who had fought for the Union.
The customs and treatment of African Americans of that era do not deserve respect. Nor does the class system that permeated the South deserve respect. Both are abominations of the human spirit.
But the men who served and the families that suffered during the Civil War lived through difficult times. I honor them. This is my Southern heritage.
|King Richard Sellers died of typhoid fever in June of 1864. He had two brothers who died during the war. Another brother disappeared during the Civil War. Snipped from https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sellers-141|
The Confederate battle flag is a difficult topic. To me, it is a symbol of the South. To African Americans it is of oppression and slavery. Since 90 percent of the African American population was enslaved before the civil war, I see their side. As an American, I have to stand with them to oppose oppression.
The battle for the Confederate battle flag was lost when hate groups began to use it.
Interesting enough, people outside the South have begun to use the flag to state rebelliousness. I was walking my dogs yesterday evening and thought of this anomaly when the thought emerged that in say twenty years, African american youths might start waving the Confederate flag. Much like Muslim teenagers aggravating their parents by wearing a burka.
Hard to believe I know. But nothing is as queer as folks. But never underestimate a new generations redefining who we are as a culture. I've gotten older and seen changes happen I never thought would happen. I just hope we become a more generous, kind culture.
One thing true about the American people, we don't do anything halfheartedly.