Don’t Remove Confederate Memorials

(September 17, 2020) Although it is human nature to continuing Web-surfing rather than stop to watch a video, the one below makes my case for preserving Confederate memorials and respecting Confederate Heritage. If you share the goal and want more information to support it, you may find the video helpful.

 

*

Was President Grant really a Civil Rights leader? He supported black suffrage because it gave him the votes his Party temporarily needed. Despite being a war hero, Grant only won a minority of America’s white vote when he was first elected President in 1868. He abandon Southern black voters in 1875. Learn more in Ulysses Grant’s Failed Presidency,

*     *     *

Learn more about my books at  My Amazon Author Page.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Documentary: Shelby Foote, Phil Leigh & Dwight Eisenhower

(September 16, 2020) The documentary below from Conversations That Matter features Phil Leigh, Shelby Foote and Dwight Eisenhower as “talking heads.” It’s the best production including me to date.

*

Was President Grant really a Civil Rights leader? He supported black suffrage because it gave him the votes his Party temporarily needed. Despite being a war hero, Grant only won a minority of America’s white vote when he was first elected President in 1868. He abandon Southern black voters in 1875. Learn more in Ulysses Grant’s Failed Presidency,

*     *     *

Learn more about my books at  My Amazon Author Page.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Confederate Heritage Stereotypes

(September 15, 2020) Surely readers understand that Confederate memorial opponents take every opportunity to portray—and thereby marginalize—Confederate Heritage supporters as racist bigots. Although I believe the portrayal is a bogus stereotype, I was disappointed in some of the responses to my Wealthy Donor Against Confederate Memory post four days ago. The post criticizes a Washington Post Op-Ed written by David Rubenstein urging that the Robert E. Lee name be dropped from the Arlington Mansion memorial notwithstanding that he donated $14 million dollars to restore parts of it six years ago. Some of the replies on forums where I posted my article noted that he is Jewish thereby implying animus toward his family heritage. That is regrettable.

There are plenty of Confederate Heritage opponents who are not Jewish. One example is Joe Biden who reprehensibly implied that all supporters of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue are racist. Another is Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam who has probably done more to wreck popular Confederate monuments than anyone. It should be noted that Judah Benjamin was Jefferson Davis’s most loyal cabinet member. Antebellum Louisiana and Florida put Jews into the U. S. Senate more than forty years before any state outside the South and nearly 100 years before New York. Finally, many Jews served in the Confederacy as documented in Robert Rosen’s The Jewish Confederates.

One example was Phoebe Pember. Born of Jewish parents, the thirty-nine year-old widow left Georgia in November 1862 to be chief matron at one of the five divisions in Richmond’s Chimborazo hospital. Bye and bye a young convalescent soldier named Fisher became a staff favorite. One night a nurse rushed to tell Pember that something was wrong with Fisher. Later Pember wrote of the incident in her memoir:

Following the nurse to [Fisher’s] bed, and turning down the cover a small jet of blood spurted up. The sharp edge of a splintered bone must have severed an artery. I instantly put my finger on the small orifice and waited for the surgeon. He soon came—took a long look and shook his head. . . No earthly power could save him.

The hardest trial of my life lay before me; the necessity of telling a man in the prime of his life . . . that there was no hope for him.

“How long can I live?”

“Only as long as I keep my finger upon this artery.” A pause ensued. He broke the silence at last.

“You can let go.“

But I could not. Not if my own life trembled in the balance. Hot tears rushed to my eyes, a surging sound to my ears, and a deathly coldness to my lips. The pang of obeying him was spared me and for the first and only time in four years, I fainted away.

No words can do justice to the uncomplaining nature of the Southern soldier.

Phoebe’s younger brother served as a Major in the Georgia infantry.

*

Was President Grant really a Civil Rights leader? He supported black suffrage because it gave him the votes his Party temporarily needed. Despite being a war hero, Grant only won a minority of America’s white vote when he was first elected President in 1868. He abandon Southern black voters in 1875. Learn more in Ulysses Grant’s Failed Presidency,

*     *     *

Learn more about my books at  My Amazon Author Page.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Defending Shelby Foote Once Again

(September 14, 2020) Since his exceptional success as a contributor to The Civil War documentary on PBS thirty years ago, academic historians have increasingly demeaned Shelby Foote and even labeled him a racist. In truth, Foote publicly opposed segregationists in his native South as early as the 1960s Civil Rights Movement when it took some courage for him to stand out. Nonetheless, I recently stumbled upon yet another dubious accusation against him, which concerns his remark about a change in the grammatical treatment of the United States after the Civil War. Specifically Foote said:

Before the war, it was said “the United States are”—grammatically it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war it was always “the United States is,” as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an “is.”

Nine years ago The Civil War Monitor published an article concluding that postbellum Americans did not stop referring to the United States as a plural noun and start treating it as a singular noun as a result of the war. The article’s author used Google’s Ngram Viewer to measure the frequency of the two expressions during the antebellum and postbellum periods. Specifically, he compared the use of the phrases “United States are” to “United States is” before and after the Civil War.

The Google tool measures the use of each phrase in the publications archived by Google online. The Monitor concluded, “the two phrases were actually used about equally through the first few decades of the Republic. That began to change in the 1840s, when “United States is” began gradually to pull away from “United States are” in printed usage. By the beginning of the war “United States is” was solidly more common in usage–though not greatly so–than “United States are.”

The above analysis is faulty because it assumes that “United States” is the subject of the verbs, “is” or “are” in Google’s citations. But that is untrue. Presently, the Google tool enables users to inspect the sources used to derive the statistics. Upon examination, the subject of the verb for the “United States is” in the antebellum era was often discovered to be another noun. Here are some examples from books published prior to 1861 that were used by Google Ngram in which the applicable noun is in bold:

French coin shipped to the United States is. . .
power outside the United States is . . .
trade with the United States is . . .
debt of the United States is . . .
Constitution of the United States is . . .
the merchant of the United Staes is . . .

A significant majority of the citations prior to 1861 had constructions like those above. Since the operative noun was not the “United States,” but another word, a different approach is required—one that uses Google Ngram to measure an expression in which “United States” is deliberately chosen as the verb’s subject.

Such is the case in the pair of phrases:  the “United States is at war” and the “United States are at war.” The results for the nineteenth century are graphed below. Generally, “The United States are [at war]” was the dominant antebellum expression as Shelby Foote noted. The chart undeniably shows is was the predominant phrase over “The United States is [at war]” during the War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War. 

The inverted period from 1828 to 1837 is a curious anomaly because America was not at war during those years. It may be speculated that it reflects the political battle between the Bank of the United States (an “is”) and President Jackson together with the ensuing economic depression, (e.g. the Bank of the “United States is at war” with Jackson.)

As Foote also suggested, “The United States is [at war]” gained the upper hand during the1898 Spanish American War. It was the first war when former Confederate and Union soldiers fought on the same side. In fact, former Confederate cavalry General Joseph Wheeler served in Cuba as a Major General at age sixty-one. Among the troops under Wheeler’s command was Theodore Roosevelt and his regiment of “Rough Riders.” 

Thereafter, the United States rapidly became an “is” instead of an “are.” The “United States is [at war]” became so dominant during the twentieth century—particularly beginning with World War I—that it cannot be presented in the same graph as provided above without narrowing the nineteenth century data to inadequate visual resolution. Interested readers may develop their own plots with the Google Books Ngram Viewer here

Foote wins again.

*

Was President Grant really a Civil Rights leader? He supported black suffrage because it gave him the votes his Party temporarily needed. Despite being a war hero, Grant only won a minority of America’s white vote when he was first elected President in 1868. He abandon Southern black voters in 1875. Learn more in Ulysses Grant’s Failed Presidency,

*     *     *

Learn more about my books at  My Amazon Author Page.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Battlefield Park Memorials

(September 13, 2020) House Bill 7608 arrived at the Senate last month with a rider requiring that all Confederate memorials be removed from National Battlefield Parks. Senators should reject it for five reasons.

First, it reflects a bogus zeitgeist that the typical Confederate soldier fought to preserve slavery, whereas the dominant motivation was to defend his homeland. Only 30% of families in the 11-state Confederacy owned slaves.  According to historian William C. Davis, “The widespread Northern myth that Confederates went to the battlefield to perpetuate slavery is just that, a myth. Their letters and diaries, in the tens of thousands, reveal again and again that they fought because their Southern homeland was invaded.” Prior to the war the average Confederate soldier was a yeoman farmer who rarely travelled outside his state. His loyalty was first to his state and secondarily to the Federal Government.

While many historians emphasize statements regarding slavery among the secession documents of most of the first seven states to secede, they minimize other secession-motivating factors, including some mentioned in the Confederate Constitution. Since they opposed crony capitalism, the Confederate Constitution outlawed protective tariffs, private industry subsidies and public works spending. Moreover, four states in the upper South—Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas—only joined the Confederacy after Northerners chose to militarily coerce the first seven back into the Union. Those four states contained half of the 11-state Confederacy’s white population, her chief source of soldiers. They had previously warned the Federal Government that they considered the coercion of any state to be unconstitutional and would fight to prevent it.

North Carolina Memorial at Gettysburg

Second, the Confederate soldier was not a traitor. In the winter of 1860-61 the legal status of secession, interposition and states’ rights was unsettled. Secession was neither constitutionally forbidden nor authorized. Northeastern states had threatened to secede at least five times bet­­­ween 1790 and 1850. Once was during the War of 1812 when they prospered by trading illegally with the British enemy and refused to put their militia into Federal service as ordered by President James Madison.

Third, the reasons for the Civil War and the reasons for Southern secession were not the same. Northerners could have evacuated Fort Sumter and let the initial seven cotton states leave in peace. That would have given the states of the upper South no reason to join them. Even the first seven had no intent to overthrow the Washington government. They just wanted to be left alone.

To understand why the war happened it is necessary to realize that Northerners chose to force the cotton states back into the Union at least partly because they wanted to avoid the economic consequences of disunion. Chief among such consequences would have been the loss of Southern markets to domestic tariff-protected, Northern semi-monopolies.  On March 18, 1861 the Boston Transcript editorialized: 

Alleged grievances in regard to slavery were originally the causes for the separation of the cotton States, but the mask has been thrown off, and it is apparent that the people of the seceding States are now for commercial independence. . . The merchants of [their ports] are possessed with the idea that [our ports] may be shorn . . . of their mercantile greatness by a revenue system verging upon free trade. If the Southern Confederation is allowed to carry out a policy by which only a nominal duty is laid upon imports . . . the chief Northern cities will be seriously injured.

After Northerners gained control of the Federal Government, they increased the average tariff on dutiable items from 19% before the war to an average of 45% for fifty years thereafter. They used the tariffs to protect Northern manufacturing businesses to the point of making them near monopolies. After the war had ended and the South badly needed to rebuild her war-ravaged railroads, for example, railroad iron was priced at $80 a ton in New York as compared to $32 in Liverpool owing to America’s tariff. Although the war ended slavery, America retained access to cheap cotton by impoverishing the entire South. The postbellum South was treated as an internal colony much like Great Britain did Ireland. Not until 1950 did the region’s per capita income rise to the below national average 73rd percentile ranking that it held in 1860.

Fourth, most of the Confederate memorials at battlefield parks are markers to indicate troop positions. If removed, visitors will find it difficult to comprehend battlefield movements. They will not, for example, be able to discern where the Confederate troops in Pickett’s Charge were originally stationed.

Fifth, if membership in a slaveholding family justifies erasing a soldier’s history, memorials to Union Generals Ulysses Grant and George Thomas should also be removed. Two good starting points would be Grant’s Tomb in New York and his Historic Site in St. Louis. Both are managed by the National Park Service. 

While President Grant is sometimes praised for his efforts on behalf of black civil rights, most historians fail to realize that the bulk of the evidence suggests he favored black suffrage only because it established Republican-controlled puppet regimes in the South that kept his Party in power. When he was first elected President in 1868, for example, he won only a minority of America’s white votes. He won the overall popular vote only because of the black votes in the Carpetbag states. But seven years later in 1875 he abandoned Southern blacks when he refused to help Mississippi’s Republican Carpetbag Governor win the state by providing Federal troops to “supervise” the elections. He declined because Ohio’s Republican Party told him if he sent troops to Mississippi they would likely lose Ohio to the Democrats. Federal intervention in Mississippi worried Ohioans that Grant was becoming dictatorial and might use Federal troops in the North as well. Mississippi intervention, Ohio Republicans argued, would set a bad precedent. 

 In sum, after erasing symbols of reconciliation our geographic sections may increasingly drift apart and never again get along.  

*

Was President Grant really a Civil Rights leader? He supported black suffrage because it gave him the votes his Party temporarily needed. Despite being a war hero, Grant only won a minority of America’s white vote when he was first elected President in 1868. He abandon Southern black voters in 1875. Learn more in Ulysses Grant’s Failed Presidency,

*     *     *

Learn more about my books at  My Amazon Author Page.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

How to Fight Back Without Money

(September 12, 2020) Readers wanting to preserve Confederate memorials can take action that won’t cost them a dime by copying the letter below—or writing one of their own—and sending it to: jcampi@battlefields.org or phoning him at 202-367-1861 x7205.

Mr. James Campi
Chief Policy and Communications Officer
American Battlefield Trust

Dear Mr. Campi

Your campaign to purchase another 49 acres at Gettysburg should explain why those of us with Confederate ancestors should donate if there will be no memorials to our forebears on the battlefield.

Three years ago 97% of subscribers to your Hallowed Ground magazine responded to a survey by answering that they felt Confederate memorials should remain on the battlefield. Instead of helping to keep them in place your organization replied to enquires that its purpose is to preserve battlefields and not take a stand on Confederate memorials.

If no symbols of reconciliation will be left in our county, how will we ever get along?

Sincerely yours,

Philip Leigh
It is always those in power who censor, which they do for a single reason: to retain power.

*

Was President Grant really a Civil Rights leader? He supported black suffrage because it gave him the votes his Party temporarily needed. Despite being a war hero, Grant only won a minority of America’s white vote when he was first elected President in 1868. He abandon Southern black voters in 1875. Learn more in Ulysses Grant’s Failed Presidency,

*     *     *

Learn more about my books at  My Amazon Author Page.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh