The reputation of the region of the United States below the Potomac today suffers from (the) same forces from which the Middle Ages suffered at the hands of historians during the Enlightenment. Chroniclers of Southern history often do not grasp the most elementary concept of sound historiography: the ability to appraise the past by standards other than those of the present.
___ Prof. Clyde Wilson
Recently, in a letter to the Wilmington StarNews, Mr. James Hubbard wrote suggesting it’s time to “retire the antebellum motif of the (Wilmington, N. C.) Azalea Festival.” He thinks that “hoop skirts and escorts dressed in confederate-style uniforms” celebrates “one of the darkest times in our history…when slavery was the law of the land.”
And, writes Hubbard, “let’s stop pretending.” How about the “downside of the antebellum era.” “We could put up a stocks (sic) at the Bellamy Mansion and re-enact a slave being disciplined…renact (sic) a slave auction on the steps of the courthouse.” “And…re-enact a slave hanging down on the waterfront!”
Hubbard concludes his view of the old South with “There is nothing romantic about the antebellum era.”
Nothing? Clearly, Mr. Hubbard has a severely distorted modernist view of American history.
If we purge everything in America that could remind us of the history of slavery and the views toward imported Africans, we must denounce virtually every native American that lived in every State in the nineteenth Century—starting with the “great emancipator,” Abraham Lincoln and “Yankee” disdain for the Negro.
In his 1861 inaugural address Lincoln reflecting the attitude of most Americans during that period Lincoln said, “I have no purpose directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it now exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
In fact, Lincoln approved a new constitutional amendment passed by Congress protecting slavery. “To the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service…I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”
Judging Lincoln by today’s assumed morality, then, we should condemn that former president. He was not the abolitionist Northern historians have told us he was. If we are to “stop pretending” about Southern history, let’s do so regarding the mythical tales about Lincoln.
By current social standards he was a racist; he had no compassion for Negroes, and proposed a scheme to ship them all back to Africa; his phony “emancipation” applied only to Southern States and was widely condemned as an immoral, cynical ploy to encourage Southern Negroes to kill all white Southerners. That never happened despite them being emancipated.
Lincoln started an unnecessary war (slavery could have ended peacefully) by invading Southern States—whose only “crime” was to be independent of a tyrannical federal government—causing death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of Americans and their property; destroying the livelihoods of millions of innocent Negroes; violating our Constitution, forever rending the former union, and turning our republic into an empire.
So, following Mr. Hubbard’s suggestion to cleanse our history of evil, we should revoke the federal celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday; declare his home State of Illinois a “Rogue State” because he agreed with its law’s to prohibit Negroes from living there; and tear down the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Those purges should help prevent future idolizing of one of the “darkest” figures in American history.