From my personal experience, Tennessee is an excellent place to forget about our daily responsibilities. Nashville, could be either a getaway to party like there is no tomorrow, or a place to take the entire family for some quality time. And, as someone who enjoys American History, I found it to be filled with plenty of antiquity. However, some of these “memorials” made me pretty uncomfortable, and confused about the message they were sending.
Not too far from Downtown Nashville, is Historic Downtown Franklin Tennessee. Right in the middle of the public square, there is a statue erected in memory of confederate soldiers. Etched towards the bottom of this memorial is a confederate flag wrapped around its flagpole. It was the 4th of July while I was there, so this confederate memorial was decorated with small American Flags. While it seemed everyone around me was happy to admire this commemorative statue, I couldn’t help but to feel as if it was inappropriate and out of place. The 4th of July is a time to celebrate this countries unity and perseverance against British Rule, but we were standing around a statue that stood for racial division and uncertainty. There is something wrong with this picture.
Throughout time, the reasoning behind the Civil War has been romanticized as a war about States Rights. However, it is often not mentioned, owning African slaves was the only right the confederates truly cared for. The Vice president of the Confederate States was quoted saying slavery was the “immediate cause” of the Civil War and succeeding from the United States. South Carolina wrote in their Declaration of Immediate Causes of Succession, “increasing hostility on the part of the non- slave holding states to the institution of slavery” as part of their reason for leaving.
There was a time when the South completely relied on African Slaves to keep the Southern economy going. Some southerners even felt without slaves, the South would be inhabitable. For Example, Ferdinand Boesel, who served in the Fourth Texas Cavalry pitifully stated in his journal how without slavery “the South would be a desert.... [and] no white man could live there.” Boesel, had a severe paranoia that the union wanted the over 6 million black slaves to be freed so they could subdue the whites in the South. He truly feared the Southern economy would deteriorate if slavery was abolished, and he wasn’t alone. 1 in 10 confederate soldiers were slave owners, and over 36% of confederate soldiers and officers belonged to a slave owning family. The South was desperate to preserve their slave owning life style and the confederate states were willing to tear this country apart to do so. To them, it was their last stand before slavery disappeared forever. The Confederate States would go on to face their worst nightmare, and on May 10, 1865 Jefferson Davis was captured by federal troops, then two days later Robert E. Lee surrendered. December 18, the 13th Amendment was implemented into the Constitution–246 years after the first Africans Slaves arrived at Jamestown, Virginia.
The documentation surrounding the attitudes and the mission the South had when succeeding from the Union is very telling. So why is it not obvious to places like Franklin Tennessee or South Carolina? Why do they continue to honor such an unworthy cause? Do we not have the backbone, as a country to own up to our mistakes? Well, some Southern States do. Armed with riot gear, city workers brought down a confederate monument in New Orleans in front of angry protesters. However, while some feel as if this is disrespectful to those confederate soldiers who gave their lives fighting the Civil War, civil rights groups like Southern Poverty law group feel as if these monuments perpetrate hate. Confederate flag wavers need to be further educated on what that flag stood for, and how slaves suffered for over 200 years before the Civil War had begun. There is no reason to sugar coat the reason why the South Succeeded from the Union, and any attempt to do so is just denying the menacing truth.
Weekend Read: The State of the Confederacy in 2017
Southern Poverty Law Group
2017-04-28 / 7-12-2017
Marching Masters : Slavery, Race, And The Confederate Army During The Civil War [e-book]. [N.p.]: University of Virginia Press; 2014.
Available from: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 12, 2017
Elliott S. Isham G. Harris Of Tennessee
Confederate Governor And United States Senator [e-book]. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press; 2010. Available from: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 12, 2017.