Free Speech – 01.26.11

D ear Mr. Cooper

As a Southerner I must say that I take exception with your article.  Referring to the Civil War down here we jokingly tend to favor the expression “The War of Northern Aggression.” It’s more accurately descriptive than “The War Between the States.”

You also seem to be hung-up on the issue of slavery as being the only reason for the war.  It wasn’t … but it sure made for a greater excuse to rally support than the whole truth. Check into the issues concerning state rights and what actions the federal government employed to thwart free trade between the southern states and England. I think you’ll be surprised. What your article reflects is a by-product of revised history.  The North won the war, so you got to write the history … it’s just not entirely accurate though.

By the time the war started, slavery was already on the way out.  Less than 4% of the population had slaves and many of those who were slaves had become sharecroppers or tenant farmers and continued to work on the same plantations.  If it was so bad, why did they stay? Yes, I know there were factions against abolishing slavery, but they were greatly in the minority.

There was ironically much support for slavery in the North too. Did you know that the last slave ship captured off the coast of Savannah in 1858 was carrying a manifest of 400+ slaves and flying the pennant for the New York Yacht Club? Their final destination was never ascertained and the traffickers were determined “not guilty,” but there certainly was plenty of speculation and the resulting outrage was used as a battle cry.

All in all, slavery was indeed a bad thing. Many back then had already come to that conclusion and had taken the defining steps for its dismissal, so please don’t continue to wave it as the sole banner for justifying the war. It was all about states’ rights. The southern states had simply had enough of being bullied around and pushed back … as they were entitled to. That is the one belief that is as much alive today as it was 146 years ago and I hope it never fades. It’s one of the things that cumulatively makes this country great, despite the past.

As for the caliber of politicians that have come from the South, there isn’t much that can be said. Many of them have disappointed me tremendously and I will not make apologies for their actions or inactions. But you have equally as many in the North, so let’s not point fingers too quickly please. To require that someone from the South must be pure, state-supportive, racist and conservative enough in order to be effective is absurd. That’s just the nature of politics.

J.D. Waldrep

[RE: Free Speech, 1/12/11]

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