The debate over black Confederate soldiers and servants has been reignited on Kevin Levin's blog. Since he also posted some earlier comments by Professor Carmichael, I thought it would be appropriate to provide some balance and my response (last year), which came by way of invitation from Pete. I also follow up here with a post I wrote in response to Kevin's (as well as others) earlier suggestion that anyone who thought there could be "familial" relations between slaveowners and slaves, was "dangerous." Please don't waste time composing comments that rehash the same old worn-out, cliched arguments or those which parse words, split hairs, or simply serve an agenda. They won't be posted. But if you have something new to add, go ahead.
20 October 2007
“No one can ignore the overwhelming historical evidence of mutual closeness between blacks and whites within the Slave South . . .”
No one except those who have an agenda or who cannot grow beyond their own preconceptions.
Would it be unreasonable to suggest that “mutual closeness” is synonymous with “friend” and “friendship”? No, it would not. As a matter of fact, MS Word lists “closeness” as one of the synonyms for the word “friend.” So does www.synonym.com and further includes the word intimacy. And my electronic version of Meriam-Webster includes this in its definition of “closeness”: intimate, <close friends>
Some ill-considered, ill-informed, and reactionary comments on various blogs, as well as other places, have suggested anyone believing that slaves and slave-masters could be friends is “dangerous.”(?!) Thus implying those who hold such views should be discredited or silenced (Typical of those who say they believe “tolerance” of diverse views is so important.) and charging them unfairly with perpetuating stereotypes that are inaccurate and over-simplified when, in actuality, the exact opposite is true.
Would “dangerous” include Dr. Camichael? Would it include the late Ms. Fox-Genovese? Would it include Professor James I. Robertson, Jr.?
As Professor Robertson wrote in the foreword to my book:
“He became [Stonewall Jackson] a spiritual teacher for scores of slaves and freedmen as well as the best friend many of them ever had.” - Page 12
The following quote is taken from my book, Stonewall Jackson – The Black Man’s Friend:
and . . .
“Such thoughts [of
“Fox-Genovese reminds us that such feelings were expressed in a system that bought and sold African-Americans. Rather than proclaim the universal loyalty of the slave and applaud the tireless benevolence of the master, or condemn all owners as cruel beasts and celebrate every slave as a rebel, the author asks us to put aside simple generalizations and explore the complicated world that masters and slaves built together on their terms, not ours.” I agree. As with so many issues, the truth lies somewhere between the extremes of two views.
These simple generalizations would include, in
But, as Carmichael further acknowledges, Fox-Genovese’s “agrees that the plantations facilitated physical and emotional intimacy between slave and master . . .” (These are
Another quote from my book . . .
“Amy was also purchased before
Of course, as I also point out in my book, not all slave-owners were “benevolent.” Many were cruel, not only in their abusive physical treatment of slaves, but also in a way that I would consider even crueler: the separation and break-up of families. As inhumane as physical abuse is, most physical wounds heal over time, but the emotional wound of unjustly being separated from a child, parent, spouse or other close loved one lingers throughout life. No one outside of that experience can comprehend it.
“Contextualizing these expressions of animosity as well as love and respect are essential if we want to understand the broader patters [sic] of thought and actions in the Old South.”
Once again, I agree wholeheartedly. Interestingly, my book is dedicated, in part, to “all who wish to understand.” Sadly, some prefer their agenda to understanding.