Ever since the Spring of 1864, the South has been on the defensive. She has spent barrels of ink explaining the righteousness of the cause she fought and died for. In ever greater learned detail she delves into the origins of the United States, the Constitution which is its charter, the sovereignty of the States, and the right of secession. She argues with unassailable logic the facts and figures over the extortionate tariff imposed upon her, turning the Southern States into the economic colonies of the industrialized, mercantile North. She explains with the facts of history how slavery was imposed upon her during the Colonial period, how England wouldn’t let her prohibit the importation of slaves, and how the issue was fraught with peril for the founding of the Union, its preservation, its growth, and the safety of all concerned. Over the years her defense has filled volumes, to the point of diminishing returns. She thumps down thick and dusty volumes upon the table before her detractors and says to them, “There! What do you have to say about it now?!!” They look at the pile of books and their eyes glaze over. Then they calmly look at her and say “Slavery” or “racism” or “White supremacy” or whatever the latest Politically Incorrect crime the South is being charged with by the self-righteous Social Justice Warriors.
The charges against the South rest upon The Myth of American History, which proclaims that “The Civil War was all about slavery, the righteous North waged it to free the slaves, and the evil South fought to keep them. End of story. Any questions?” Well, yes. Something doesn’t compute, here. If the North were waging a war on slavery, why didn’t she wage war on New England cotton mills and their profits from slave-picked cotton? Or on New York and Boston, the largest African slave-trading ports in the world according to the January 1862 Continental Monthly? Or on Northern shipyards that outfitted the slave ships? Or on New England distilleries that made rum from slave-harvested sugar cane to use for barter on the African coast? Or on the African slavers themselves, such as the Kingdom of Dahomey, who captured their fellow Africans and sold them into slavery in the first place? And why did Abraham Lincoln – a documented White Supremacist - choose to inaugurate the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere to, in effect, drive Southern slavery back into the Union? And why did his Emancipation Proclamation – a desperate measure of total war waged not for the slave, but against his master – say that slavery was alright as long as one was loyal to his government? And why did he work until the day he died to deport those freed by it back to Africa? And why was slavery Constitutional in the North throughout the entire war?
There were many causes of secession, not least of which was that Southerners no longer wished to be in association with people who slandered and despised them so. But that begs the question of why those people waged the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere to prevent their departure. To hear their vitriol, one would think they would have been happy to be rid of such Apostates polluting their “Citty upon a hill.” But they weren’t, for running like a torrent beneath their bigoted pieties was their avariciousness. With the South’s “Cotton Kingdom” out of the Union and set up as a free trade confederacy on the North’s doorstep, the North’s “Mercantile Kingdom” would collapse! So Lincoln rebuffed every Southern overture for peace and launched an armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke South Carolina into firing the first shot and get the war he wanted. South Carolina responded to Lincoln’s provocation at Charleston just as Massachusetts had responded to George III’s provocation at Lexington and Concord. But when Lincoln called for troops to subjugate the “Cotton Kingdom,” Virginia, “The Mother of States and of Statesmen,” refused to provide them, indicted Lincoln for “choosing to inaugurate civil war,” seceded from the Union, and joined the Confederacy. Four other States followed her out. But after four years of arduous service, the South was compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources, and Lincoln drove the Southern States back into the Union at the point of the bayonet. Although John Wilkes Booth made a martyr out of America’s Caesar, Reconstruction cemented his conquest. With an Army of Occupation and the pretense of law, a corrupt Northern political party transformed the voluntary Union of sovereign States into a coerced Union pinned together by bayonets.
Results? For the North? “The Gilded Age.” For the South? Grinding poverty in a land laid waste until the Second World War. For the Blacks? A recent study of military and Freedman’s Bureau records has revealed that between 1862 and 1870 perhaps as many as a million ex-slaves, or twenty-five percent of the population, died of starvation, disease, and neglect under their Northern “liberators”! Freed from their master’s care, “Father Abraham, The Great Emancipator,” had told them to “root hog, or die.” Black enfranchisement in the South (but not in the North), and the disfranchisement of Southern Whites, were merely cynical Northern political tools to cement the North’s conquest, and once she had achieved it with her so-called “Reconstruction,” the North abandoned her Black puppets to the upheaval she had wrought in Southern society and turned her attention (with Sherman, Sheridan, Custer, and those people) to the Plains Indians, who were in the way of her trans-continental railroads. But that’s another story - let the Indians tell you that one. Freedom? Union at the point of the bayonet is slavery to a despotic government. Equality? Chronic Black riots in segregated Northern ghettos speak for themselves, but they keep Desperate White Liberals busy designing crusades upon which to post their own specious virtues and to divert credulous Black attention onto Southern scapegoats.
The latest are hateful attacks on Confederate monuments honoring men who defended their homeland against invasion, conquest, and a coerced political allegiance - just as their fathers had done in 1776. But this vitriol has not always been. In spite of the hatred stirred up by the carpetbaggers, the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Union Leagues, and the radical Yankee politicians during Reconstruction, the scars of the North’s War against the South’s Secession began to heal among the soldiers with Grant’s generous terms to Lee at Appomattox; with his soldiers treating the ragged remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia with the respect due to a gallant adversary; with in later years the old veterans of the Blue and the Gray shaking hands over the stone wall at Gettysburg and joining each other in old soldiers’ reunions; with the erection of monuments North and South to commemorate their respective sacrifices in that bloodiest of wars; and with the unity of the States in the face of global wars in the Twentieth Century. But this began to end with the revolution of the 1960s, and the vitriol has only increased. Why? What happened? And what is going on?
Politics and the evolution of technology is what happened, and what has been happening all along. At the time of the Revolutionary War, technology was such that George Washington could not get to Philadelphia or New York or Boston any quicker or more efficiently than Julius Caesar could get to Gaul two thousand years ago. Then somebody invented the steam engine, steam power replaced muscle power as the prime mover of civilization, social structures evolved to orchestrate it, and the Industrial Revolution roared across the world. Steamboats began to ply the rivers, and railroads began to connect the ports with the inland towns and cities. Somebody invented the spinning jenny, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, the textile industry was put into full swing, and cotton was crowned king.
The mercantile North in the early days of independence readily adapted to this rapidly evolving new technology, but the sleepy-time, agrarian South, based upon staple-crop agriculture and shackled to its four million African slaves, could not so easily do so. With the North’s industrialization, with its more intelligent and profitable free White labor, and with its growing sectional majorities steadily augmented by a flow of European immigrants, came the newly evolving Radical Republican Party. Its agenda was to gain control of the Federal Government, centralize its political power, and use it for the political and economic exploitation of the agrarian South and West. However, the powerful Jeffersonian Democratic Party stood in the way of its ambitions. To gain political control, then, the Radical Republicans used the time-honored method of “divide and rule,” and they had the perfect issue readily at hand. They would divide the Democratic West from the Democratic South by agitating the issue of slavery in the Territories. This was achieved in 1860 with the election of their candidate, Abraham Lincoln, to the Presidency. Secession, war, and Reconstruction followed, and the rest is history. But this history has been twisted out of shape to conform to the political ideology of the United States that has evolved today – the ideology of a multi-cultural Empire based on Radical Egalitarianism, universal suffrage, Critical Race Theory, and Progressive Identity Politics. History so twisted is called “Presentism,” and it has nothing to do with the truth and everything to do, in this case, with making the South the Apostate, the foil and scapegoat for all the racial ills of this country. Let us look at this evolution – or perhaps we should say “devolution!”
The gradual peace and reconciliation after Reconstruction came in part from the South’s “acceptance of the situation,” and in part from the North’s recognition of the South’s difficulty in suddenly assimilating millions of Africans into a European population that had been steeped in Western civilization for thousands of years. As such, since the North had gotten what she wanted out of the war and Reconstruction – which was control of the Federal Government and the economy - she was content to let the South deal with her own domestic problems. But with the evolution of technology came the evolution of mass communication. Southern segregation could not survive the combination of politics and television.
Many Blacks at the turn of the twentieth century had moved North in the so-called Great Migration, filling the Northern cities to work in the industries during the First World War. When they arrived, they found themselves relegated by a cold Northern racism into segregated ghettoes, and discovered that the Northern rhetoric about social equality was a political sham. Television gave Northern politicians a way out of this embarrassing situation by giving them the means to divert Black attention from de facto Northern segregation onto the codified segregation in the South.
Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, CSA, son of President Zachary Taylor, once observed most accurately and succinctly that “Greed for office – curse of democracy – will ensure that demagogues will grovel ever deeper in the mire for ignorant votes.” Just as during Radical Reconstruction, in the Radical 60s demagogues saw their political fortunes in Identity Politics, but their demagoguery provoked racial agitation that broke into urban race riots up North. Desperate, guilt-ridden Northern White Liberals were driven to devise crusades upon which to divert the attention of their unwanted Black population onto Southern scapegoats. First came the “Freedom Riders” protesting Southern segregation, and posting their Progressive virtues before the TV cameras for all to see. But while they were down South delivering tutorials on proper race relations to the benighted Southerners, the Blacks up North were burning their cities down. With this unfortunate result, and with their Progressive Identity Politics continually stirring the racial pot, Desperate White Liberals have been pressed ever since into devising new crusades upon which to post their virtues. Their latest is the crusade against Confederate Monuments. Expect more to come before it is all over with. Thomas Jefferson is already under assault at his University, and one might guess what will happen to George Washington, “The Father of His Country,” when the word gets out that he was among eight of the first ten presidents who were Southern, fox-hunting, slave-holding plantation owners.
As the mania of Identity Politics and Radical Egalitarianism reaches the point of absurdity in the Victimhood Olympics, we are being carried away into Babylon, with women being sent into combat while men push baby buggies around town; with girls becoming Boy Scouts and men “choosing” to be women; with children “deciding” their gender and being given access to the bathroom of their choice in school; with teachers being fired for not using the proper pronoun in addressing transgendered students; with anarchy ruling the classrooms and teachers being assaulted by their students; with history being taught as Marxist indoctrination and Critical Race Theory; with conservative speakers at colleges being run off by Antifa and Black Lives Matter mobs; with prison inmates being released to create racial parity in prisons; and on, and on…
Progressives consider the march of history to be a linear march towards a secular Utopian perfection, where the oppressive Laws of God have been repealed. It began with the New England Puritans. While Southerners were following Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap, these Yankee Utopians were burning witches in John Winthrop’s “Citty upon a hill,” and while Southerners were five hundred miles west of the Mississippi defending the Alamo, these Yankee Utopians were a hundred miles west of the Hudson, establishing their collectivist, Free-Love communes, and setting themselves up as the standard by which all true Americans should be measured. In this they have been remarkably successful, to the point where today they have the inmates running the Equality Asylum. But as the Preacher says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Consider the works of God, for who can make that straight which He hath made crooked?”
Southerners know the Eternal Truths. Southerners know, as the Preacher says, that there is no new thing under the sun. Southerners know that history is not a linear march that will end in a rosy Utopia, but a cyclic March of Folly where rosy Utopian dreams end in totalitarian nightmares. Thus Southerners are and always have been Apostates in this “Citty upon a hill” - this Brave New World where “all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins.” And thus Southerners have power to make the Heathen rage.
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, the author graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1967 with a degree in Civil Engineering and a Regular Commission in the US Army. His service included qualification as an Airborne Ranger, and command of an Engineer company in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star. After his return, he resigned his Commission and ended by making a career as a tugboat captain. During this time he was able to earn a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond, with an international focus on war and cultural revolution. He is a member of the Jamestowne Society, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Society of Independent Southern Historians. He currently lives in Richmond, where he writes, studies history, literature and cultural revolution, and occasionally commutes to Norfolk to serve as a tugboat pilot