30 April 2007

Robert Krick and Historical Revisionism

At the recent Stephen Dill Lee institute sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the well-respected historian and author, Robert Krick, made some insightful comments and observations regarding the distortion and revisionism that has taken place in regards to the character of Robert E. Lee in recent years. While some historians scoff at such ideas, Krick made a powerful argument that revisionists have most certainly attempted to redefine Lee, not by the facts or any reasonable logic and scholarly research, but by pseudo-history and psycho-babble. Calling some of these writers “anti-confederate” Krick went on to note that those making these false assertions about Lee—particularly that his hero status was the result of “Lost Cause” sympathies after the war—must, by necessity, fall into one of three categories:

  1. They are stupid.
  2. They are lazy.
  3. They are malicious.

Krick, who by his own admission is not a particularly religious man, correctly notes that evidence abounds proving that Lee’s status as an American hero, exemplary officer, and Christian gentleman was well-established long before the end of the Civil War; thus the three categories. Krick *seemed to indicate that he believed that most of these writers fell into the third category (as do I, reserving, however, the opinion that there is a distinct possibility some fall into all three) and he further noted that this indicates these writers “have an agenda” and “are not concerned with the truth.” He warned that readers should “be careful of everything else they write” as well. Again, I would agree with that conclusion.

Krick also observed that “those not interested in character won’t be interested in Lee”—another simple, yet profound, observation; although my take is more condemning. I believe those “not interested in character” are, in fact, interested in Lee, but only to try to cut him off at the knees by calling into question his reputation and character, thus allowing these same moral midgets to more easily look Lee in the eye. How miserably they have failed. This “maliciousness” as Krick describes it is, I believe, both personal and agenda driven. Thus these revisionists gain smug satisfaction on a personal level while at the same time feeling they have contributed to their own activist political cause on a broader scale. As historian and pastor Tom Dixon has written:

“Social historians are often driven by activist goals. Historical research becomes not an attempt to understand the past but a propaganda tool for use in modern political and social power struggles.” (The Death of Truth, Bethany House, 1996, p. 133.)

But these historians are ignoring the elephant in the room: Lee’s own correspondence. Anyone with a computer can search Lee’s thousands of letters and gain insight into Lee’s character and you do not need someone with a university degree and a politically correct agenda to “interpret” Lee’s letters for you. Of course, those defending the character of General Lee are dismissed as “neo-Confederates” and then the new McCarthyites blather on with their groupthink revisionism, afraid of real debate and truth. But the Year of Lee continues.

*Note: I do not assume to speak for Mr. Krick. These comments simply reflect my take on this particular lecture, which I've now heard him give on two separate occasions. See previous post.

Stephen Dill Lee Symposium on Lee

This morning's Washington Times has a great article about the SCV's Stephen Dill Lee Symposium: Lee - Hero or Traitor? I must say, this was one of the best conferences of this type I've ever had the pleasure of attending.

The Times piece notes that Robert Krick, once again, attacked the politically correct assertion that Lee's greatness was a myth created by Lost Cause sympathies after the war. I have posted on this same thought previously.

From the Times' piece:

Robert E. Lee has been attacked by revisionist historians who have argued that the Confederate commander's reputation was a "postwar mythical creation," a Civil War historian said at a weekend conference in Arlington. "A wretched flood of Lee biographies" has been published in recent years, Robert K. Krick told more than 200 attendees at Saturday's Lee Bicentennial Symposium at the Key Bridge Marriott hotel. "These kinds of books ... offer no new evidence," said Mr. Krick, author of 16 books on the war. The revisionist arguments, he said, consist mainly of "counterfactual blathering." Revisionists have asserted that Lee's reputation was inflated after the war as part of a "Lost Cause myth," said Mr. Krick, who spent three decades as chief historian of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Criticism of the event will no doubt come from the usual corners and Krick's comments would have driven those in pc-denial mad as he offered a warning about their ilk, which I'll be posting on later, along with more photos. C-Span was also there to capture Krick's speech on tape.

(Photo is of Robert Krick speaking at the conference)

26 April 2007

Please Support the Civil War Preservation Trust

"For me, these hallowed grounds, these living memorials to the 620,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives to fight in the Civil War, have special, personal significance. Ancestors of mine fought on both sides during the war, including William Jewell, who was wounded in the Battle of Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County, VA, wounded again at Antietam and was finally killed in action at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. It is not every day you can visit these battlefield sites and have an immediate, direct connection with your ancestors. We must preserve these sites so that future generations might see and touch the very places where so many sacrifices were made, by soldiers and civilians alike . . ." ~ Virginia Senator James Webb

Window Interview

On Wednesday, I was contacted by a cable news program for an interview regarding the Stonewall Jackson Memorial window in Roanoke. I am tentatively scheduled to be interviewed some time next week. May 10th marks the 101st anniversary of the window's installation. Interestingly enough, the story will tie in to a series that relates to Virginia's historic commemoration of Jamestown's 400th anniversary. More on this next week.

25 April 2007

Lee the Hero

Yes, as hard as it is for some folks to comprehend, many in America still consider Robert E. Lee a hero. There are some things which are well-established facts; as Washington & Lee University's "Lee at 200" program notes, Lee is worthy of honor. (See previous post for a symposium worth considering.)

Lee - Hero or Traitor?

"Arlington . . . where my affections & attachments are more strongly placed than any other place in the world." ~ R.E. Lee

I will be travelling to Arlington this coming Saturday for the Sons of Confederate Veterans' symposium, Lee - Hero or Traitor?
The Symposium will be held at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The SCV has recruited an impressive list of speakers and scholars (including Robert Krick) and claims to be the "largest event of its kind" this year honoring Lee. Not suprisingly, honoring an American hero is foreign to many modern "historians" these days. Many of these moderns are more interested in trendy pyscho-babble that they claim is history. I've already heard Robert Krick, at an earlier seminar, masterfully dissect--and then destroy--that politically correct, but rather ridiculous notion. In that same seminar, Krick also thoroughly skewered the idea that Lee's reputation as a soldier and Christian hero was a result of "lost cause sympathies" and nostalgia created by Southerners after the war. I think most see that opinion for what it is: an inability for so many moderns to identify with someone whose moral character is superior to their own.

I won't be speaking, just one of the over 200 who have registered to attend. I noticed that the National Park Service's official name for Arlington House still includes "The Robert E. Lee Memorial." I wonder how long it will be before someone complains about that and demands a name change. I'm looking forward to this historic occasion and will post some comments and photos next week.

As an aside, some readers may not know that Arlington House was illegally siezed from the Lee family during the Civil War.
But, in 1873, son Custis Lee sued the Federal Government for just compensation for Arlington. The United States Supreme Court ruled that Arlington had, in fact, been illegally seized and Custis regained title to the property. He sold the title back to the U.S. Government for $150,000.

24 April 2007

Books

"He who by sending forth a good book...is a benefactor to mankind to an extent which no human arithmetic can calculate." ~ W.B. Sprague

Spring in Virginia

There is nothing that will lift your spirits more than spring in Virginia. After a couple of false starts this year, that event has finally arrived. The blooming of the state flower, the dogwood, ushers in my favorite season. There is absolutely no more beautiful place on earth than the Shenanoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains in spring. I am blessed to live right at the edge of the Great Valley and at the base of the Blue Ridge, so I can enjoy both. All nature declares God's wisdom and glory in creation, especially this time of year.

It is sometimes difficult to believe that so many fathers, husbands, and sons marched off to war at this time of year in 1861; many of them never to return. It is not difficult to understand, however, why they wished to defend a land so blessed with beauty.

23 April 2007

The Solution to "Global Warming"

Concern over "global warming" prompted Sheryl Crow to make the follwing statement:


"I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting."
Yes, this woman is serious.

Hmmm. I propose a limitation be put on
stupid statements being made by Hollywood types and leftists who preach idiocy but don't practice what they preach and who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. I further propose we start a collection of corn cobs be sent to Ms. Crow. She'll need a lot of them. She requires three tractor trailers, four buses, and six cars for her touring company. Just like Al Gore, total hypocrisy from the left. I wonder how much toilet paper her entourage uses on an annual basis. This is problematic. If we ban light bulbs, as the left also suggests, how will we be able to work with just one sheet of toilet paper in the dark? We will need a new government agency to address this issue.

So typical. One set of rules and standards for the left, one for the rest of us. What does all this have to do with the Civil War? CW soldiers used corn cobs. Wisdom from the past. Which proves one of my theories for today's problems. Always look behind you for solutions.

Uh-oh, I just thought of something. Ms. Crow will need another tractor trailer to haul all those corn cobs. The additional fuel use will mean more "global warming" and, of course, with a tractor trailer loaded down with corn cobs, there is always the possibility of wiping out. Complicated issues my friends. I sure am glad we have intellectuals like Ms. Crow working on it, aren't you?

22 April 2007

Virginia's Christian Foundations

"The first motivation mentioned in the 1606 charter is to spread the Christian religion. The statement below is made by or on behalf of King James to the major investors in the Virginia Company," ~


Wee, greately commending and graciously accepting of theire desires to the furtherance of soe noble a worke which may, by the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the glorie of His Divine Maiestie to suche people as yet live in darkeness and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God and may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and quiet governmente…


See full story here.

20 April 2007

William & Mary President at the Crossroads?

As noted in a February 3 post, William & Mary College has been debating the "appropriateness" of displaying an antique cross in a 275 year-old chapel. (?! Yes, I know.) The cross was first removed, then returned after student protests, to be "displayed in a glass case." I suppose school officials wanted to send the message that the cross is simply an arcane symbol of some lost, quaint civilization that is better "interpreted" as a museum piece. You see, if we put it in a "museum" for "interpretation" then someone much smarter and educated than the rest of us can tell us what the cross really means, i.e. everything bad in the world. Ah, yes it sounds all too familiar, does it not? Certainly don't want to lead anyone to believe that the chapel was designed as a Christian sanctuary to worhsip the God of the Bible; might offend someone don't you know?

Well it seems that the school's actions may be having some unintended consequences; such as losing a $12 million donation. Ouch! The school's anti-Christian bias had already led to an injunction against the school from a federal judge. Slow learners these pc folks. Maybe they need someone to interpret these things for them.

Not too long after the "offensive" cross was removed, the school was the scene of the "Sex Workers Art Show" which featured topless dancers, demonstrations of sex toys, and Q&A time with male and female prostitutes. The stated goal was to empower "sex workers." (?! Yes, I know.) College President Gene Nichols said of the "art show" that "it's not the practice and province of universities to censor or cancel performances because they are controversial." Unless, of course, it involves Christianity. At least they're consistent.

Now the students are wanting to crucify the college president. Most liberals love rebellion against school authority. Let's see how well they like this rebellion.

Read full story here.

(But, hey, political correctness is just the new boogie-man of those crazy right-wingers.)

17 April 2007

Virginia in Mourning

As everyone has heard by now, the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as the rest of the Nation, suffered a tragic loss yesterday. Over 30 persons at Virginia Tech have been murdered and there are many parents, grandparents, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and friends in mourning today. We grieve with them. As many of you know, America's preeminent Civil War historian, Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. has, for many years, taught history at Virginia Tech, so this strikes especially close to him. Let us remember all of these folks in our prayers.

16 April 2007

The Confederate Bible Belt

I marvel at how some writers and historians show such disdain and/or skepticism for the religious emphasis in the Confederacy, believing it to be "lost cause revisionism" without basis. Those who hold such opinions are either ignorant of history or promoting an agenda other than the truth. You can almost see the sneers on their faces as they write with such venom when discussing the Christian faith of Southerners. Consider these comments taken from a piece at Christianity Today and written by Dr. Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr.


"The army revivals probably made a more lasting effect on Christianity in the South than in the North.

At the close of the war, the North's religious aspirations for America rose to a peak. The very success the Union enjoyed encouraged northerners to new labors: converting immigrants entering their cities, alleviating oppressive social conditions through a Social Gospel, and bringing the gospel to 'benighted heathen' overseas.

At this time, however, traditional doctrines seemed to be under attack. Liberal Theologians were thought to be cutting away at Christian orthodoxy and rejecting the idea of a changeless faith. Amid the materialism and secularism of the Gilded Age, many ordinary Christians in the North fitfully sought reassurance that their beliefs were still true.

In the South, on the other hand, little seemed to be left except for religion. For many years after Appomattox, southern Christians spoke of the spiritual benefits they had gained through adversity. Temporal prosperity made men and women arrogant and seduced them into believing they did not need God. The South's hardship, on the other hand, taught forbearance and Christian humility."

Dr. Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr., teaches church history in the School for Ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. He is author of A Shield and Hiding Place: The Religious Life of the Civil War Armies (Mercer University Press, 1987).

(Painting image by Dale Gallon)

History News Network

I just discovered I've been linked by George Mason University's History News Network, (CLIOPATRIA'S HISTORY BLOGROLL) on a page called Blogging History--From the Right. Their mission statement says, in part:

"Among the many duties we assume are these: To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history."

I could not agree more.

Another Positive Review

Harry W. Crocker, III who is Executive Editor at Regnery Publishing and the award winning author of Don't Tread on Me: A 400-Year History of America at War, from Indian Fighting to Terrorist Hunting and Robert E. Lee on Leadership: Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision, recently reviewed my book, Stonewall Jackson ~ The Black Man’s Friend.

From Mr. Crocker's Review:

“Another hero is to be found in Richard Williams’s excellent, gracefully written study of Stonewall Jackson’s religious faith and its role in guiding him to help teach black Southerners to read and learn the Gospels. Williams’s research is meticulous—praised by no less than Jackson’s esteemed biographer James I. Robertson, who contributes a foreword—and shines new light on ‘Old Blue Light’ himself, with a special focus on Jackson’s ‘relationship with his black brethren,’ which ‘was, in many ways, illustrative of Southern Christians’ bond with one another—regardless of race.’ The story, to my knowledge, has never been told so well or in such detail.”

14 April 2007

Back from Gettysburg

I just returned from book signings and giving a presentation at Gettysburg and the 10th annual History Meets the Arts Festival. My wife and I had a great time and I had the privilege of meeting a number of other Civil War authors including:
  • Brian R. Dirck who is Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at Anderson University and is the author of several books about Abraham Lincoln.
  • Joan E. Cashin who is Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University and the author of a biography of Varina Davis.
  • Fellow blogger Scott Mingus who is the author of two books about Gettysburg.

Scott and I had an interesting conversation about the publishing industry and the explosive growth of print on demand publishers. While there has been a lot of criticism of these publishers, there are quite a few bright spots in that niche. First, it has allowed otherwise unknown authors to get a foothold (The first edition of my first book of quotes from the writings of Robert E. Lee was published by a POD publisher) and it also allows those authors who have the know-how to do their own marketing and keep much more of the financial reward. It is certainly an option worth considering and works well with the right book and author.

I had not been to Gettysburg for several years, but I truly love the area. In my opinion, they have an excellent mix of historic preservation and commercialization—something for everyone. We stayed at a hotel right across from the American Civil War Museum and there were several South Carolina Confederate reenactment units camped on the lawn right in front of our room. They were really into it, staying up late around the camp fire, etc., but I could have done without revelry at 6:30 this morning!

I was inspired to see the flag display in front of the museum—one large American flag flanked by another smaller American flag and a Confederate battle flag as well. Lincoln Square at town center was buzzing with activity all weekend including music, demonstrations, and the school children pictured here performing a patriotic program. All in all, a great weekend!

Now, I've got fast approaching deadlines on 3 articles that all HAVE to be completed by the end of April and then, I dive into my next book.

12 April 2007

News-7 Poll: Keep "Confederacy" in the Museum of the Confederacy

Museum of the Confederacy Poll shows strong favoritism for the museum . . .

Roanoke based TV station WDBJ 7 had a scientific poll conducted of the western Virginia area by SurveyUSA which questioned 500 adults randomly about the museum. Overwhelming support was found for the museum to retain its Confederate appeal. Of those surveyed 80% favored the museum retaining the word CONFEDERACY in its name.

Click here to see complete story.


Off to Gettysburg

I will be unable to post much until the first of next week. I will be leaving early Friday morning for the 10th Annual History Meets the Arts Festival in Gettysburg. This will be a mini-vacation for my wife and me but I will also be giving a lecture and presentation about my book on Stonewall Jackson Friday evening, as well as participating in a book signing event on Saturday. On Friday evening, I will be speaking at the historic Gettysburg Hotel:

"The Gettysburg Hotel has a tradition of hospitality that dates to 1797, when James Scott first opened his tavern. In the summer of 1863, the hotel played witness to one of the seminal events in American history as Union and Confederate troops swarmed over the small town of Gettysburg during a pivotal and bloody three-day battle. President Lincoln honed the immortal words of his Gettysburg Address at the Wills House, just steps away from the hotel."

I've only visited Gettysburg twice in my life, but I truly love the area and its history. I am very much looking forward to the trip. From what I've heard, this festival is very popular and there will be a number of other authors and artists presenting their work. If any readers happen to be in the area, please stop by and say hello. I'll be sure and get some good photos and will be posting about the exprience next week, then its head first into working on my next book. I've FINALLY got the passion for this unusual project that has, until now, been missing.

10 April 2007

Booker T. Washington: April 5, 1856 - November 14, 1915

(Last week marked the 151st birthday of one of my favorite Virginians: Booker T. Washington. The following is a piece I wrote several years ago for a Christian publication. I post it today in a belated celebration of Washington's birthday. Unfortunately, Washington is largely forgotten today, but his story is no less inspiring than it was 100 years ago.)


“My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings.” So writes the great educator Booker T. Washington on the first page of his autobiography Up From Slavery (Williamstown, MA: Corner House Publishers, 1978). Not a promising start, but Washington’s life of discipline and sheer determination holds many lessons for us today. As a black man entering American society just after the Civil War, his accomplishments are all the more remarkable. Though Washington would eventually make Tuskegee Institute in Alabama one of the most successful schools in the South (in 1905, Tuskegee turned out more self-made millionaires than Yale, Harvard, and Princeton universities combined), his humble beginnings gave no indication of his future success.

Born a slave on a Virginia farm on April 5th, 1856, Booker’s formative years consisted of nothing but hard labor and a home deprived of even the most basic comforts, with bare openings for windows and dirt for the floor. Booker’s childhood was devoid of even the small “civilities” that most Christian readers take for granted. He writes, “I cannot remember a single instance during my childhood or early boyhood when our entire family sat down to the table together, and God’s blessing was asked, and the family ate a meal in a civilized manner.”

So how could a black man born and raised in such destitution ascend to be one of the most powerful and respected men in America in the early twentieth century? The same way any truly successful person does today: by possessing an intense desire to achieve something and better one’s self and his fellow man, being aware of one’s calling and life purpose, refusing to quit despite setbacks, and trusting in the care and good providence of God. Just what was this intense desire that consumed young Booker? The desire to learn: “From the time that I can remember having any thoughts about anything, I recall that I had an intense longing to learn to read. I determined, when quite a small child, that, if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers.”

But Washington’s desire to learn was not satisfied with just being able to “read common books and newspapers.” After the war, the Washington family ended up in West Virginia with Booker going to work in a coal mine. One day while at work, he overheard a conversation between two other miners as they were discussing the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, established especially for blacks. Booker immediately resolved to attend this school. He seemed to have an awareness of God’s leading; though the obstacles seemed insurmountable, he could not rid himself of the seemingly impossible notion that he could travel the five hundred plus miles to Hampton and be admitted. “I had no idea where it was, or how many miles away, or how I was going to reach it; I remembered only that I was on fire constantly with one ambition, and that was to go to Hampton.”

Every person ever involved in any successful endeavor knows from experience that it takes this kind of desire and determination to surmount the sometimes daunting challenges that come our way. Scoffers and skeptics, discouragement and debt, bureaucrats and bad advice—the obstacles and opposition we all face every day could fill volumes. But the desire that often keeps a person wide-eyed at three in the morning and will not let him quit until he succeeds is the same passion that drove Booker T. Washington to pursue his dreams. And his dreams would eventually come true.

Washington finally did reach Hampton Institute, just sixteen years old, dirty from the long trek and destitute, but still determined to be accepted. And accepted he was. He worked full time in addition to his heavy course load and graduated with honors in just three years. He eventually joined the faculty and was being groomed to take the helm of the growing school, but Providence intervened. An Alabama legislator by the name of Wilbur Foster, a former Confederate colonel, introduced a bill in the Alabama legislature to establish a school for black teachers for the benefit of former slaves and their children. The bill passed and General Samuel C. Armstrong, the headmaster of Hampton Institute, was contacted to recommend someone to lead the new school in Tuskegee, Alabama. Without hesitation, he suggested Booker T. Washington. Booker was offered the position, accepted it, and struck out for Alabama.

Starting with not much more than Alabama’s blessing and his own resolve, by 1915 Washington had built Tuskegee Institute into a school of 107 buildings on 2000 acres with over 1500 students and more than 200 teachers and professors. This was an especially astounding accomplishment; considering the times in which Washington lived.

Washington’s approach to higher education was somewhat unique and is another reason his philosophy is relevant for us to study today. He not only offered and emphasized the traditional academic courses, but industry and trade skills were also required. Students learned bricklaying, forestry, and timber skills, sewing, cooking, and practical agriculture, and every student was obligated to master at least two trades so he or she would always be able to contribute to the industry and betterment of society and be self-supporting after graduation. Louis Harlan explains that “Washington’s efforts as Tuskegee Institute were to train students to become independent small businessmen, farmers, and teachers rather than wage-earners or servants of white employers” (Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee [New York: Oxford, 1983], 142).

But there was more to Booker T. Washington than learning and industry. His spiritual side was well known and he expressed a sincere faith in Christ. Devotional exercises were held every morning at Tuskegee as well as evening prayers. He wrote of the support that Christians had given to his efforts to lift African-Americans out of poverty after the Civil War: “If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christ-like work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian.”

He readily acknowledged his dependence on God in all endeavors. Regarding his preparation for the now-famous “Atlanta Exposition Address,” he wrote: “The next morning, before day, I went carefully over what I intended to say. I also kneeled down and asked God’s blessing upon my effort. Right here, perhaps, I ought to add that I make it a rule never to go before an audience, on any occasion, without asking the blessing of God upon what I want to say.”

The life of Booker T. Washington should be required study for every school child in America. Of his humble beginnings as a slave and his “discouraging surroundings” he was later able to say, “It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top.” And that is a simple, yet profound lesson that every one of us should master—and an eternal lesson of the gospel: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12).

New Life For the Museum of the Confederacy?


"A proposal to move the Museum of the Confederacy from Richmond to Lexington remains alive following Monday’s meeting of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors voted 5-0 to approve submitting a proposal to the MOC board for having the museum relocated to Courthouse Square. Lexington City Council is scheduled to take a vote this Thursday, April 12, on whether to endorse the submittal of the proposal."

See full story here.

09 April 2007

Jamestown & Political Correctness

Once again, Ed Hooper has graciously granted me permission to give an "advance look" at his editorial for the next Civil War Courier issue, a publication I highly recommend.

********************************************************************


The New Jamestown Tragedy
by Ed Hooper

This month Queen Elizabeth II will visit Jamestown, Virginia as the nation marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the colorful British colony that eventually gave birth to the United States. Instead of the pomp and circumstance that is normal for commemorating such an event, Queen Elizabeth and U.S. citizens alike will discover how the prelates of political correctness have hijacked the commemoration and found pliant allies in the Virginia state government with the unknowing assistance of Congress, who initially chartered the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission (H.R. 4907 / Public Law 106-565). Do you want a sample of your tax dollars at work?


The word “Celebration” has been banned from the Jamestown anniversary because influential members of the organizing committee have stated the colonial settlement was, in fact, an “invasion” that led to a “holocaust” of American Indian tribes and the institution of slavery on American soil. It gets better. The Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, among others, were paneled on a committee to discuss the Jamestown “tragedies” – a surprise to me since I was unaware their esteemed resumes included expertise in 17th century American Colonialism. There was also a discussion on the settlers’ ecological habits – earning the glorious accolade for Jamestown as the “origin of environmental injustice in America.” Let’s not forget that two self-professed “Native Americans,” are also selling a new book called “The True Story of Pocahontas.” It is allegedly a wonderful addition to the misery of what was thought would be a day of importance in modern American history by depicting the colonists as murderers, rapists, slavers and thieves. The book’s release was timed to the “commemoration” date and is supposedly based upon what the authors claim is the “sacred Mattaponi Tribe’s oral traditions” unheard for 400 years. Not to be outdone at Jamestown are the official tour guides, who now cautiously describe the role of Christianity in the settlement’s founding referring to plaques bearing the Ten Commandments, The Apostles Creed and The Lord’s Prayer as simply “religious” in nature and even the National Park Service’s official “commemoration” display minimizes the role of the settlers at Jamestown.


As thinking Americans, we are all for free thought and discourse, but let us push aside for a moment the historians of minutia; disregard that the first African slave owner in Jamestown was a free black man, who, like thousands of poor whites, was a former indentured servant himself, forget the “environmentally-friendly,” Indian tribes who, instead of cutting down trees and building homes from the timber to make room for gardens, torched the forest and planted crops in the blackened soil or had their own slaves do the work, and lets forget that most tribes acquired their ancestral lands by force from neighboring tribes. In addition, some colonists, as noted by the records of the day, were far from saintly in their own lives. Dispassionate scholars will tell you it’s called life and people in the present cannot morally judge the past or be expected to redress the grievances of ancient sins. Man will hopefully advance further and opinions possessed now on morality, or the lack of, may seem unthinkable to our descendants in the future.


In 1607, however, slavery had been a globally accepted practice since Biblical times and had the American Indians found a common language, mobilized under centralized leadership and mastered the oceans with the riches of America in hand, Jamestown, Virginia could have easily been Tanasi on the Thames, Pocahontas the Indian equivalent of Queen Victoria and the aristocracy of Europe replaced with the meritocracy of American Indians. Why? Because it is the principal nature of human beings to explore, advance and colonize. It is a trait common to every color and creed as evidenced by the archaeological records of ancient and modern civilizations around the world. The goals and values established by the early Christian colonists at Jamestown that gave birth to this nation were Utopian in their day – a fantasy thrown in the lot of mythical civilizations like Atlantis and El Dorado, but by hard work, tough times and near disaster their goals were achieved and this nation’s people are a testament to their existence. A nation where black, brown, red, yellow, and white, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew and Muslim people stand and speak with one voice.


The controversy over the CELEBRATION of Jamestown’s founding is proof the enemies of western civilization have finally found this nation’s Achilles heel and can successfully exploit it. These enemies have also reemphasized that a real war is a multi-faceted assault. The tree of liberty is like any other tree. Simply cutting it down will not kill it. You have to attack its roots. The enemies of the west couldn’t defeat it on the battlefield, in the marketplace, or in the arena of ideas. Instead they turn their attention to its greatest weakness – the noble conscience of its people who pride themselves on fair play and justice. While they have absolved themselves of the sins of their forefathers, they don’t extend that same privilege to Americans or Europeans. They romanticize historical victimization, implant it like a Trojan horse in the social classes and practice psuedo-intellectual extortion against a honorable republic under the guise of political correctness. It has unfortunately proven to be a gold mine for them and their accomplices in academia, the popular media and politicians straining to show they all possess commonness. In fact, political correctness survives by capitalizing on the American idea of the common man’s struggle, but it fails miserably because that is where “p.c.” philosophy dead-ends. It disregards the facts that all people bear the scars of racial injustice at one time or another in their history and outright ignores that the United States and most people around the world celebrate the uncommon in our ranks.


President Herbert Hoover once stated during a 1948 speech at the Wilmington College of Ohio: “We are in danger of developing a cult of the Common Man, which means a cult of mediocrity. Let us remember that the great human advances have not been brought about by mediocre men and women. They were brought about by distinctly uncommon people with vital sparks of leadership. Many of the great leaders were, it is true, of humble origin, but that alone was not their greatness. It is a curious fact that when you get sick you want an uncommon doctor; if your car breaks down you want an uncommonly good mechanic; when we get into war we want dreadfully an uncommon admiral and an uncommon general. I have never met a father and mother who did not want their children to grow up to be uncommon men and women. May it always be so. For the future of America rests not in mediocrity, but in the constant renewal of leadership in every phase of our national life.”


The political correctness exhibited at the 400th Jamestown commemoration is far from a celebration of the uncommon, but the die is cast and unfortunately the “Manhattan mindset” that prevails in the network news media seems to lack the common sense to see a story in this modern tragedy.


If there has ever been a time for the people of this republic to man their battle stations, assume a leadership posture and take a stand against the commissars of political correctness to preserve the American heritage, it is now. The pressure to change what is happening in this nation must be brought to bear by the common citizen to news desks, bully pulpits and elected representatives’ offices across the nation. If we stand by and allow this to happen without raising our voices in protest, we will become accomplices to the egregious acts at Jamestown and can only blame ourselves for the devastating results that will affect every U.S. commemoration from this day forward.

********************************************************************



By the way, in a related matter, I have had several individuals recommend Tim Hashaw's: The Birth of Black America: The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown Mr. Hashaw is, himself, descended from some of the first African-Americans that landed at Jamestown. He is also the descendant of at least one Confederate soldier. (We have a complicated history, do we not?) I hope to be able to get my hands on a copy soon. Hashaw is currently working on a biography of William Ashworth. Ashworth was a free black colonist who moved to East Texas from Louisiana in 1831. According to Hashaw, Ashworth went on to become Texas' "first great cattle baron."


07 April 2007

The Washington Times Reviews "Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man's Friend"

From the review: "The book is well researched and comprehensive, ranging from actual correspondence of Jackson and his contemporaries to written material about the slave trade. It includes material from black writers such as Ervin Jordan of the University of Virginia and Carter G. Woodson, considered the father of Black History Month. Eminent Jackson biographer James I. Robertson Jr. provides an excellent foreword."

06 April 2007

Confederate Heritage & History Month - Part 3

On top of Love Mountain, just a few steps off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and about 3 miles from my home (as the crow flies), rests the mortal remains of my 3rd Confederate ancestor and great-great grandfather, Morris P. Coffey. G-G-Grandpa Coffey lies on ancestral land in a crude family cemetery with 16 other family members. Wounded twice during the war, Coffey, like my G-G-Grandpa McGann, served in the 51st Virginia Infantry. Also, like McGann, he owned no slaves. He was simply fighting against an invading army that threatened his home and family. Perhaps Coffey and McGann fought side by side, never suspecting they would one day have a common descendant. (Morris Coffey is also the great-great grandfather of my dear wife. Yes, we are cousins! It’s an Appalachia, Scots-Irish thing don’t you know.) Coffey was captured at the Third Battle of Winchester and taken to Point Lookout in Maryland. He was released in a prisoner exchange in March of 1865 and admitted to Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond on 18 March with “chronic dysentery.” He was there in the same hospital where my G-G-Grandpa Crutchfield died 10 days later on 28 March. Perhaps they also knew met, again, neither of them knowing that they would one day have a great-great-grandson write about them. Coffey was, unlike Crutchfield, one of the fortunate ones at Chimborazo. One out of every ten Confederates brought to Chimborazo with diarrhea or dysentery died. The overall mortality rate at Chimborazo was 20%--actually good by 19th century standards.

Three Confederate ancestors: Coffey, Crutchfield, and McGann. Two of them, Crutchfield and Coffey, were both wounded and both were POW’s in camps with deplorable conditions. Crutchfield ultimately died from his wounds. McGann served in the same unit as Coffey, Coffey was in the same hospital as Crutchfield. All 3 were brave men. All deserve my honor and respect.

Two of them—Coffey & McGann—are buried within a few miles of my home, both resting on top of wind-swept peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The other ancestor—Crutchfield—lies in a common grave in Richmond marked only by the number “91.”

April is Confederate Heritage and History month and I honor the service and sacrifice of my Confederate ancestors.

"It is indeed a glorious thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors." ~ Phaedrus

05 April 2007

Confederate Heritage & History Month - Part 2

Number 91 on a weathered, lonely, blank headstone; a shared grave with two other men. Not much of a tribute for someone who was a POW and died for his country. For 140 years my family knew nothing of what happened to my great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield. We did know that Grandpa Crutchfield left the family farm, walked to Gauley Bridge, Virginia (West VA today) and enlisted with the 60th Virginia Infantry, Company F at the beginning of the war. He did not own any slaves. He simply wanted to defend his home. He was wounded at the Battle of Piedmont in the Shenandoah Valley (just a few minutes from my home here in Augusta County), taken prisoner by the Federals and transported to the infamous POW Camp Morton in Indiana where prisoners received cruel treatment at the hands of Union soldiers.

Transferred to Chimborazo Hospital in March of 1865 in a prisoner exchange, my grandfather died there on March 28. There, the story ended – or so the family thought. John Crutchfield’s widow died years later not knowing what had become of him. Had he deserted? Had he run off with another woman? Had he been killed in battle? No one knew until the 1950’s when my great aunt discovered the information about the Battle of Piedmont and Chimborazo. But the family still did not know what became of his body. Where was he buried or was he buried? Then I wrote this piece for the Washington Times’ Civil War column detailing some of my grandfather’s story. (This story refers to a "James" Crutchfield. That was my mistake, John is the correct name. John had a son named James that was born in 1861.) The story was read by a gentleman in Richmond; a fellow Sons of Confederate Veterans member. This man was working on the restoration of Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. This cemetery, where many Confederate veterans are buried, had fallen into shameful neglect in recent years. I was contacted by this gentleman and he told me that he knew for a fact that John Meredith Crutchfield was buried at Oakwood – family mystery solved! The photograph of Oakwood shown here was taken in April of 1865, just after my grandfather would have been buried. Almost exactly 140 years after the fact, John Meredith Crutchfield’s family now knows where his grave is. Grandpa Crutchfield has never before had someone from his family visit his grave, weep over his death, honor his sacrifice, or place flowers upon his final resting place. That is about to change. I love history. And I love the God of history who providentially shows us what we need to know to honor our fathers.

04 April 2007

Confederate Heritage & History Month - Part 1

Some Civil War historians and “scholars” seem to take great pleasure in mocking Confederate History Month and those who choose to honor their ancestors and heritage. Their juvenile, snide, condescending remarks betray a heart beguiled by the trendy notions of hero bashing and despising of tradition. Very MTV like—"cool". These folks worship whatever is faddish in academia as they seek to please their peers and whatever the potentates of political correctness dictate. Always giddy over what's neweven when it's wrongthey stumble over the obvious for no other reason than it's "outdated"even when its correct. As the Apostle Paul described those with similar outlooks: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Or, as the Wizard of Oz so aptly put it: "I can't give you brains, but I can give you a diploma." They then claim—in very sanctimonious and arrogant tones—to be free of bias and intellectually “above it all.” Yeah, right.


Thankfully, I don’t have that problem.
Pictured here is my great-great grandfather, John W. McGann, in front of his home in Nelson County, Virginia. Grandpa McGann, though he owned over 250 acres, was little more than a poor dirt farmer—financially speaking. His wife’s (Mary McGann, also pictured here) Confederate pension application lists his income the year prior to his death as “zero.” No powerful plantation owner he.

McGann fought for the 51st Virginia Infantry on and over land that his son would eventually come to own. The 51st earned a reputation as a brave and hard-fighting unit and led the charge at New Market. This victory saved the Shenandoah Valley and the Confederacy for another year.

McGann lies buried on the land he farmed, only a few steps from his home which still stands, and his grave is marked by only a simple field stone. The McGann’s did not own any slaves, though they did donate a small plot of their land to be used by local blacks as a cemetery. Some of the land my grandfather fought on, and to defend at the Battle of Waynesboro, passed from his son to my grandmother, to my father and then to my brother and me.

I honor my great-great grandfather's sacrifice and bravery and his contribution to his community and I bless his memory; despite what moderns
think.

03 April 2007

Palm Sunday

This past Sunday I had the privilege of worshipping at the Randolph Street United Methodist Church in Lexington, Virginia. I was invited by descendants of James "Deacon" Jackson, the legendary African-American barber who, according to local tradition, cut Robert E. Lee's hair. The shop's slogan was "If it is good enough for General Lee, it is good enough for you." After the communion service we all enjoyed fellowship and "dinner on the grounds" - delicious!

The Randolph Street church was started by the Reverend Ephraim Lawson in October of 1864. Lawson was a convert from Stonewall Jackson's black "Sabbath-school." The church pictured here is one of First Baptist Church on Main Street in Lexington. James Deacon Jackson was one of the founding fathers of First Baptist. James' son, Thomas, attended the Sunday school class after Stonewall Jackson's death.

02 April 2007

The Arabia

The Arabia - the amazing story of a sunken steamboat in a cornfield. I just had to share this. This past Saturday Alan Farley, along with his wife Faith, of Reenactors Missions, shared the story of the Arabia - a sunken steamboat that was found and excavated. The story of its preservation is fascinating. Take the time to visit the site and read about this remarkable time capsule.

Natural Bridge Event


I had the honor of speaking at the Natural Bridge Living History & Symposium on Saturday evening. Other speakers included Brandon Dorsey on the possible move of the Museum of the Confederacy to Lexington, Liberty University Professor Kenny Rowlette on the Civil War poetry of Walt Whitman, and Rev. Alan Farley brought a timely and relevant Gospel message. My beautiful daughters, along with International Bluegrass Association female vocalist of the year nominee, Heather Berry, entertained us all with appropriate music. We enjoyed a fine meal with the church members and General Lee (Al Stone) was gracious enough to join us. Colonel Bob Drane is the heart and soul of this event and is working hard to increase interest each year. We always enjoy attending.