Tag Archives: Adam Domby

Bogus Conclusions of “False Cause” Book

 “No man is so blind as one who will not see.”

(November 6, 2020) After watching this interview with Dr. Adam Domby about his new book, The False Cause, I emailed the professor a request to interview him but he never responded. As a result, the video below is an exposé of his bogus narrative. Basically he concludes the the primary purpose of Confederate memorials—particularly those erected between 1900 and 1920—was to proclaim and enforce Southern white supremacy. In reality the wave of statue-building was a response to the fact that the old soldiers were fading away and the South’s inability to pay for monuments prior to 1900.

While watching a seventy-minute interview with Professor Adam Domby about his book, The False Cause, I was surprised at the number of errors, biased interpretations and even endorsement of “extralegal” conduct by anti-statue mobs. The False Cause focuses on Civil War and Reconstruction memory, particularly involving Confederate memorials.

First, and foremost, Domby erroneously proclaims that the signature Confederate statues erected in Southern courthouse squares between 1900 and 1920 were chiefly installed to celebrate white supremacy. In truth, they were erected because the old soldiers were fading away. The typical surviving Confederate veteran was aged 60 in 1900 and 80 in 1920. Moreover, memorials for both Federal and Confederate soldiers surged during the war’s semicentennial from 1911 to 1915. Additionally, prior to 1900 the postbellum South was too poor to fund many memorials. Even in 1900 the region’s per capita income was only half the national average. Finally, after the sons of Confederate veterans eagerly joined the military to help win the 1898 Spanish-American War, Union veterans realized that their former rivals were also Americans who deserved their own memorials.

Second, Domby wrongly singles-out Southerners as racist without mentioning Northern racism. Consider, for example, the widespread obsession with defeating black heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson.

Johnson became the first black to hold the title in 1908. Since most white boxing fans were outraged that a black had become champion, promoters searched for a white boxer to beat Johnson. In 1910 they matched him against previous champion Jim Jeffries who had earlier retired undefeated. San Francisco novelist Jack London had summoned The Great White Hope, “Jim Jeffries must now emerge from his Alfalfa farm and remove that golden smile from Jack Johnson’s face. Jeff, it’s up to you. The White Man must be rescued.”

The bout attracted unprecedented attention. Led by The New York Times, the mainstream press was hostile toward blacks: “If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors.” After Johnson won the fight, race riots erupted in New York, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Omaha, Columbus, St. Louis and Wilmington, Delaware.

It took boxing promoters another five years to find a white fighter, Jess Willard, to beat the aging Johnson in 1915. When his victory was displayed on a bulletin board updated by telegraph in New York’s financial district the roar from the streets “would have done credit to a Presidential victory,” according to the New York Tribune. “For a moment the air was filled with hats and newspapers. Respectable businessmen pounded their unknown neighbors on the back” and acted like gleeful children.

Third, Domby sarcastically disparages the fighting qualities of the Confederate soldier. He suggests that the Civil War would have lasted far longer than four years if Southern warriors were any good. He’s merely repeating a common but flawed analysis taught by academics. America’s Revolutionary War, they argue, lasted eight years, which was twice as long as the Civil War. But that remark overlooks the relative casualties.

Soldier deaths during the Revolutionary War totaled 25,000, which was 1% of the population. In contrast, at least 300,000 Confederate soldiers died during the Civil War, which was about 5% of the available white population. (Assuming a larger 400,000 Northern soldiers died during the Civil War their loss ratio would have been only 1.8%.)   Thus, the Confederate death ratio was five times the rate of the Revolutionary War in half the time. Such casualties were unsustainable. If America were to engage in a war today and endure the same proportional losses, the number of dead soldiers would total nearly 17 million.

Fourth, to support his assertion that Confederate statues are “all about” white supremacy Domby referred to businessman Julian Carr’s speech at the 1913 Silent Sam statue dedication at North Carolina University. Carr notoriously boasted of whipping a black woman shortly after the War as punishment for insulting a white woman. In the telling of the story Domby makes a number of ommissions and misrepresentations.

First, his claim that Carr was the most prominent speaker is dubious. There were five others including the state’s governor and the university’s president. None made racist remarks, nor are there any such words engraved into the statue.

Second, although the nineteen-year-old Carr’s racist incident is indefensible, Domby fails to explain that he later became a major benefactor to blacks. His was among the first Southern textile mills to employ blacks in production work as opposed to maintenance. His donations to black education included the North Carolina College for Negroes, presently known as North Carolina Central University (NCCU). The school’s black founder praised Carr: “I have never known the first time for him to fail to give to any enterprise which he thought would benefit the colored people or to lend his influence in their behalf. . .  I have known scores and scores of colored people who were the recipients of his kindness and generosity. . . I have never known a colored person too poor or ignorant who went to General Carr for assistance who did not receive the same.”

Third, Carr also helped black educator William Gaston Pearson who was born a slave in 1858 and worked as a youth at the Carr Factory. Carr recognized his potential and financed his education at Shaw University where Pearson graduated in 1886 at age 28. Thereafter, Pearson began teaching in Durham. In 1922 he became principal of Durham’s Hillside Park High School. In 1931, Hillside was accredited by the Southern Association of Secondary School and Colleges, a major achievement for a black high school during the Great Depression. Pearson also made other business, religious, and educational contributions to the Durham community.

Even if, for purposes of argument, it is assumed that Southerners seceded for slavery, it is not the reason they fought. The North could have let the first seven cotton states secede in peace but instead chose to coerce them back into the Union. Thus, they fought to protect their homeland from invasion. As historian William C. Davis put it, “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. . .”

Fifth, Domby excuses such present acts as mob destruction of Confederate memorials by explaining that any laws protecting  them justify that opponents use so-called extra-legal means to demolish them. Since “extra-legal” is merely a euphemism for illegal, Domby’s argument is the same as the one the Ku Klux Klan used. The Klan argued their extra-legal conduct was necessitated by the ironclad control of the voting apparatus of Carpetbag regimes. Even though he condemned the KKK, South Carolina’s last Carpetbag governor (Daniel Chamberlain) considered it a predictable result:

No excuse can be framed for its outrages, but its causes were plain . . .It flourished where corruption . . . had climbed into power and withered where the reverse was the case. What is certain is that a people of force, pride, and intelligence [when] driven to choose between [temporary] violence and lawlessness and [permanent] misrule will infallibly choose the former.

In his farewell address to the Massachusetts legislature in January 1866, Republican Governor John Andrew warned that Reconstruction should require no humiliation in the South and that it should ally with “the natural leaders” of the region. He prophetically explained that if such men were not taken in as friends, they would resume their leadership as enemies. Republican Reconstruction architects Thaddeus Stevens and Oliver Morton ignored Andrew’s advice.

Chamberlain ultimately concluded that Radical Reconstruction was born of sinister motives, cruelly exploited Southern blacks and was destined to die of its own inadequacies. In retrospect he was certain “there was no possibility of securing good government in South Carolina through Republican influences. . . The vast preponderance of ignorance . . . in that party, aside from downright dishonesty, made it impossible.” The blacks, he felt, were egregiously abused. “Race was used as the tool of heartless partisan leaders.” Blacks were “mercilessly exploited for the benefit of a political [Republican] party, and heartlessly abandoned when the scheme had failed.”

Sixth, Domby makes the common mistake of citing the Declaration of Causes for secession of such states as Mississippi and South Carolina as so-called proof that the Civil War was all about slavery. Yet he ignores the sectional conflicts that are revealed by comparing the constitutions of the CSA and USA.

Unlike the Federal Constitution, the Confederacy’s did not permit protective tariffs. Southerners were ahead of their time in recognizing the benefits of Worldwide free trade. They also outlawed public works spending, which were instead to be financed by the states themselves. Since Southerners disliked crony capitalism their constitution prohibited subsidies for private industry, which were  arguably allowed under the “general welfare” clause of the Federal Constitution.

The Confederate Constitution only permitted spending for military defense, repayment of national debt, and the operating costs of the Central Government, not pork barrel spending.  In order to further discourage pork spending the President was given a line item veto and bills were normally introduced to Congress by the executive branch. If Congress originated a bill it would need a two-thirds majority to pass as opposed to a simple majority for one proposed by the President. Although her constitution authorized one, the Confederacy never formed a Supreme Court. As a creature of the Federal Government, Confederate leaders, their parents and ancestors had observed that the U. S. Supreme Court tended to make rulings that increasingly concentrated power in the Central Government, which was contrary to the South’s tradition favoring states’ rights.

Seventh, even though Domby states, “Anytime you have someone trying to prevent a topic from being debated, it is a sign they are on the losing side” he never responded to my request to be interviewed on this YouTube channel.

In sum, Domby’s interview by the Avery Research Center suggests that his research merely follows the predetermined conclusion of cloistered academics regarding the reasons for Confederate memorials. Presumably his only purpose was to find evidence that the statues were erected to celebrate and enforce white supremacy, particularly up to 1920. But given the wartime loss ratios noted earlier, only a cynic could reach such a conclusion. To repeat for emphasis, if America were to fight a war today with the same loss ratio as the Confederates, our soldier deaths would total about 17 million. Nobody can doubt that 30 years later the families would badly want to build memorials to both the dead and survivors before they faded away.

*

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North Carolina’s Endless Penance

(June 14, 2019) North Carolina appears resigned to the perpetual self-flagellation demanded by the politically correct for her historical sins, real and imagined. Thirteen years ago in 2006 America’s cultural elite delighted at a chance to condemn her for her supposed endemic racism evidenced in the Duke LaCrosse rape case. As athletic white males, playing a fashionable collegiate game, and students at a prestigious Southern university, the three defendants were the archetypical villains required by an agenda-driven media.  Simultaneously, a biased press welcomed the opportunity to portray the black accusing prostitute as a struggling single-mom and college student forced into degrading work by a Southern society that gave her no other option. In short, she could be portrayed as a victim of a protracted plantation society.

Consequently, the accused were immediately convicted in the court of public opinion. Within three weeks, 88 Duke professors signed a student newspaper advertisement condemning the LaCrosse players. Nearly every mainstream media outlet, even within North Carolina, denounced the boys. Accuracy in media largely defaulted K. C. Johnson’s then-anonymously authored “Durham in Wonderland” blog. Most regrettably, mob outrage corrupted reelection-seeking prosecutor Mike Nifong who conspired to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence, which led to his disbarment. Mob impulse and Nifong’s lies tested—nearly to its breaking point—North Carolina’s judicial resolve to avoid a rush to judgement. 

Fortunately, the courts resisted vigilante justice and the boys were acquitted. In contrast, accuser Crystal Mangum has failed to live up to her popular image as a victimized single mom. She is presently in jail. In 2010 she was arrested for attempted murder after her nine-year-old daughter phoned the police to intervene in a domestic disturbance. Convicted of a lesser charge Mangum was once again arrested in 2013 and convicted of second degree murder. She was never held to account for her false rape accusations.

Having failed to tag twenty-first century North Carolina as a plantation society in the Duke LaCrosse case, the politically correct more recently turned to the state’s Confederate statues. The best example was last year’s mob toppling of Silent Sam at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina. When UNC grad student Adam Domby discovered in 2011 that one of the six Silent Sam dedication speakers boasted of a racist incident he used it to fuel smoldering anti-statue sentiment.

Specifically, Confederate veteran Julian Carr (1845 – 1924) bragged that at age 19 he horse-whipped an African-American “wench until her skirts hung in shreds [because] she publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady.” Consequently, a year after the mob removal, the UNC Board of Governors has yet to replace the statue as required by state law. Evidently they prefer to keep it down as a form of self-flagellation for the typical Confederate soldier’s sin of defending his homeland.

While Carr’s 1865 conduct is indefensible, it is not the whole story.

First, there were five other statue dedication speakers, none of whom mentioned race. An honest appraisal of all remarks given that day can only lead to the conclusion that Silent Sam was meant to honor the students who sacrificed themselves for a call to duty. Another speaker and then-Governor Locke Craig put it this way: “[T]he soul of the beholder will determine the revelation of its [Sam’s] meaning.”

Second, it appears that neither Domby nor anyone in the UNC History Department bothered to learn anything more about Carr. Perhaps like prosecutor Nifong they didn’t want the truth but only information that would support their objective. If they had looked deeper, they would have quickly discovered that Carr was a major North Carolina business leader and philanthropist who was often politically progressive. Susan B. Anthony, for example, praised him for supporting women’s voting rights. He gave generously to colleges including Duke University and UNC. He was also a benefactor for the Training School for Colored People in Augusta, Georgia.

Carr was among the first Southern textile mill owners to employ blacks in production work as opposed to maintenance. His in-state donations to black education included the North Carolina College for Negroes, presently known as North Carolina Central University (NCCU). The school’s black founder praised Carr: “I have never known the first time for him to fail to give to any enterprise which he thought would benefit the colored people or to lend his influence in their behalf. . .  I have known scores and scores of colored people who were the recipients of his kindness and generosity. . . I have never known a colored person too poor or ignorant who went to General Carr for assistance who did not receive the same.”

Since the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors will ultimately determine Silent Sam’s future, it may be noted that four of them have connections to NCCU. One is a NCCU graduate and another is currently a NCCU student. A third was once Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance at NCCU and a fourth is on the Board of the NCCU Law School.  All, therefore, are connected to a historically black school which Julian Carr helped launch and sustain.

Carr also helped black educator Willam Gaston Pearson who was born a slave in 1858 and worked as a youth at the Carr Factory. Carr recognized his potential and financed his education at Shaw University where Pearson graduated in 1886 at age 28. Thereafter, Pearson began teaching in Durham. In 1922 he became principal of Durham’s Hillside Park High School. In 1931, Hillside was accredited by the Southern Association of Secondary School and Colleges, a major achievement for a black high school during the Great Depression. Pearson also made other major business, religious, and educational contributions to the Durham community.

As indicated by Carr’s conflicting conduct and elsewhere, Southern race relations were often inscrutable for a hundred years after the Civil War. Academics would do better to investigate those nuances for meaning instead of endlessly seeking incremental reasons to condemn the earlier Southerner for being a man of his time and place.

As they decide Silent Sam’s future, perhaps UNC Board Members will ponder the words of one Confederate mother’s thoughts about the fallen sons such statues represent:

What need of question now, whether he was wrong or right?
He wields no warlike weapons now, returns no foeman’s thrust
Who but a coward would revile an honest soldier’s dust?

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Paradoxes Can Lead to Big Discoveries

(June 4, 2019) “The most exciting phrase in science, the one that heralds new discoveries,  is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but “that’s funny.” —— Isaac Asimov

Some of the greatest discoveries came from scientists who decided to investigate an oddity. When bacteriologist Alexander Fleming saw that one of his petri dishes contained an unexpected mold he remarked, “That’s funny.” Upon investigation he learned that the mold was a powerful new antibacterial agent. He named it penicillin.

Similarly, researchers of Civil War and Reconstruction Era history should focus more attention on paradoxes. Instead they almost universally concentrate on two objectives. One is discrediting “Lost Cause Mythology,” which is “an interpretation . . . that seeks to present the war, from the perspective of Confederates, in the best possible terms.” The second is to replace it with “Pious Cause Mythology,” which is historical revisionism based upon the Evil Twin metaphor. It metaphorically interprets the era as a contest between twins in which the North is the “good” twin and the South is the “evil” twin.

One example is provided by the College of Charleston’s Dr. Adam Domby whose biased research ultimately help provoke a mob to destroy the Silent Sam Confederate statue at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina (UNC). Eight years ago when a UNC graduate student, Domby discovered an outrageously racist incident involving one of Silent Sam’s six dedication speakers. Specifically, Confederate veteran Julian Carr (1845 – 1924) bragged of an event that happened only months after Appomattox upon his return to Chapel Hill at age nineteen. He personally horse-whipped an African-American “wench until her skirts hung in shreds [because] she publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady.”

Although the whipping is indefensible, it appears that Domby didn’t bother to learn anything more about Carr. If he had, he would have quickly discovered that Carr became a major North Carolina business leader, philanthropist and supporter of progressive causes.

He was among the first Southern textile mill owners to employ blacks in production work as opposed to maintenance. His donations to black education included the North Carolina College for Negroes, presently known as North Carolina Central University. The school’s black founder praised Carr: “I have never known the first time for him to fail to give to any enterprise which he thought would benefit the colored people or to lend his influence in their behalf. . .  I have known scores and scores of colored people who were the recipients of his kindness and generosity. . . I have never known a colored person too poor or ignorant who went to General Carr for assistance who did not receive the same.” He extended his charity beyond North Carolina as a benefactor for a black training school in Augusta, Georgia. 

Carr also helped black educator Willam Gaston Pearson who was born a slave in 1858 and worked as a youth at the Carr Factory. Carr recognized Pearson’s potential and financed his education at Shaw University where he graduated in 1886 at age 28. Thereafter, Pearson began teaching in Durham. In 1922 he became principal of Durham’s Hillside Park High School. In 1931, Hillside was accredited by the Southern Association of Secondary School and Colleges, a major achievement for a black school during the Great Depression. Pearson also made other major business, religious, and educational contributions to the Durham community.

Carr’s enigmatic attitude toward race is a taboo subject among Pious Cause historians who contend that Southern whites were unforgivably racist until at least the 1970s. Earlier historians were more broadminded and at least willing to address the dichotomy. One example was Herbert Agar who concluded in 1950 that whites partially blamed black voters for the hardships of Reconstruction that might have been less severe without the Carpetbag regimes.

It was wicked to force the Negro to rule the disfranchised white man [during the Carpetbag era] when everybody knew the position would be reversed as soon as Northerners grew sick of governing their fellow Americans with the sword. It was wicked to turn the Negro free . . . without thought for his future except that he must be bullied into voting Republican. It was extra wicked to commit both these cruelties simultaneously. . .

There is a limit beyond which only the mad moralists and the truly corrupt will go. It was the fate of the Negro . . .  to be sacrificed to an alliance between these two. He didn’t want to run the South . . . But his Northern friends wanted to prove their political theories, or they  simply wanted his vote. The moralist thought he could eat freedom . . .  the others didn’t think at all, beyond the next election. But . . . he gave them his vote, since they asked for it. And the white South has not forgiven him in eighty years . . .*

Booker T. Washington, who would become one of the most prominent of all freedmen, may have anticipated Agar’s analysis. He felt that his race was given more rights than it knew how to use constructively and paid a penalty for decades thereafter. When Radical Republicans abruptly gave blacks full citizenship privileges the ex-slaves didn’t have time to develop leaders or a code of ideals and goals. Washington wrote, “In many cases it seemed to me that the ignorance of my race was being used as a tool with which to help white men into office, and that there was an element in the North which wanted to punish the Southern white men by forcing the Negro into positions over the head of the Southern whites.”**

Any historian wanting to honestly understand Southern race relations should be curious enough to investigate Carr’s inscrutable relationship to blacks. It may have been far more common than modern academics want to admit. Undeniably he was once a devil, but later a major benefactor, highly praised by perhaps North Carolina’s leading black educator of the first half of the twentieth century. Evidently, the riddle doesn’t interest Professor Domby who is working at a tax-supported college on his new book: The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory.

* Herbert Agar The Price of Union, (Boston: Hougthon Mifflin, 1950)466-67

** Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, 84

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