The scene: A statue of a young Confederate soldier stands on a monument in McCorkle Place on the University of North Carolina campus at Chapel Hill. A small crowd gathers at the base.
Silent Sam speaks: Hey, y’all down there, I hope you won’t do something stupid. I don’t know why you protest, but I’ve been standing here at my post for over one-hundred years with no complaints.
You know why? I’m here to honor the 321 UNC students who died defending our State against an invading army. Let me ask you something: would you have the courage to take up arms and risk your lives to defend your families, homes and property if a foreign army invaded your State?
Many of us didn’t want to leave the Union that our forefathers fought for; and most of us didn’t own no slaves. But when President Lincoln demanded that our governor raise 75,000 troops to attack our neighbors in South Carolina we seceded from the Union that insisted on war rather than peaceful solutions.
In the end my people—and the Southern black freemen and slaves—lost everything, but those who fought with us knew it was the right and patriotic thing to do. You Southerners, white and black, should honor the sacrifices of your ancestors, instead of allowing others to tear down your history and dishonor them.
I hear talk that this was all about slavery. That ain’t the whole story. The Yankees needed cheap cotton to run their mills up North. Their slave ships populated the American colonies with African slaves. Then they decided to put high tariffs on our cotton to protect their manufactured goods from foreign competition. That caused our Southern farmers to pay more for things we needed.
Big money and power up North did us wrong. They wanted to go to war; we didn’t. We just wanted them to leave us alone. We called it the “War for Southern Independence.” We knew that slavery couldn’t continue; England and other European countries ended slavery without a war. We tried to find a peaceful and practical solution to end it. The abolitionists could have offered compensated emancipation, but all they offered was hatred and vengeance.
You students; don’t take my word for it—go to the library and read about our history or, if you can find an honest history or economics professor, ask him to explain it to you. You’re supposed to be here to learn something instead of protesting things you don’t know nothin’ about.
Back off from my hallowed space and do something constructive with your lives. Go to independent (not government-sponsored) historical web sites and learn what we North Carolinians personally sacrificed to be free of an oppressive federal government.
It didn’t work out well for us but, by damn, I’m proud standing here to remind people of the terrible thing that needlessly tore our country apart.