14 April 2015

Life Goes On - Diary Entry of Joseph Waddell: 14 April 1865 (Edited)

Joseph Waddell
Joseph A. Waddell wrote a rich history of Augusta County, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia - From 1726 to 1871. Trained as a lawyer, he came to dislike the profession and eventually became co-editor and co-owner of one of the local newspapers, "The Staunton Spectator." His history of Augusta County included his diary kept during the Civil War. 150 years ago today, he made the following entry:
Staunton, VA, Friday, April 14, 1865.

We heard last night from an authentic source that Gen. Lee has certainly surrendered himself with his army. His address to his men states that the surrender was made in consequence of the immense superiority of force against him and the consequent uselessness of shedding more blood. He returned to Richmond, having been paroled with all of his officers and men. . . . A call has been made by Gen. Lilly for soldiers to meet at Lexington and Staunton to proceed South. I presume that very few will respond as the cause is generally considered useless. Arthur Spitzer has got back -- He marched three days and two nights, on the retreat from Petersburg, with nothing to eat but a can of corn. -- Says he saw men on the road side dying from hunger.
. . .
For several days past the people of this town and county have been appropriating all the public property they could find -- wagons, old iron picks, . . . -- distributing the assets of the Confederate States. What a termination! I am surprised by the general composure -- even very complacency. But while I felt an intense indignation against the North, the Confederacy never enlisted my affections or compliance. I never ceased to deplore the disruption, and never could have loved my country and government as I loved the old United States. Yet our cause seemed to be the cause of state rights and involved the question whether or no the people should choose a government for themselves, or have one imposed upon them. With our fall every vestige of State rights has disappeared, and we are at the mercy of a consolidated despotism. . . .

There is much religious interest in our Church. Meetings every afternoon for more than a week. . . .The weather is delightful.
Note that Waddell, while expressing his love for the old Republic and his disdain for the Confederate government, embraced the cause of states rights and considered a Union victory "despotism." Waddell's comments illustrate the rather complicated and nuanced (even contradictory), positions held by many white Southerners; particularly those in the upper south.


ropelight said...

Note that Waddell, while expressing his love for the old Republic and his disdain for the Confederate government, embraced the cause of states rights and considered a Union victory "despotism."

And, yet, as previously noted, after decades of indoctrination by consecutive generations of instructors from grade school to the PhD level preaching slavery as THE cause, (primary cause, predominate cause, underlying cause, hidden cause, etc.) of the Southern rebellion, combined with the nearly unceasing efforts of newspaper reporters, editorial writers, and TV producers exclusively pushing the single cause slavery narrative as the only legitimate explanation for broad based regional and fiercely determined resistance to federal dictates, have utterly failed to persuade Waddell's fellow Virginians especially (and most other Americans as well) their ancestors voluntarily fought a long devastating war for the sole purpose of attempting to preserve an inhuman institution 3/4ths of the population didn't engage in, most didn't approve of, which depleted the soil and had proved so economically marginal it had all but run its course anyway.

Yet, that's the ridiculous dogma the High Priests of academic history are preaching. The question is why?

Why insist with almost religious fervor that an intellectually vacuous and obviously wrongheaded narrative is the one true historical interpretation and that no others may presume to challenge the collective's revealed wisdom?

What are they afraid of? What are they hiding from?

(I'll have more to say later this afternoon or tomorrow. I have to leave now for an appointment.)

ropelight said...

What are they afraid of? What are they hiding from?

The facts.

The facts are what's being concealed behind the smokescreen of slavery: the undeniable right of free and independent states to secede from the Union; the facts behind the North's provocation to armed conflict; the evidence of Lincoln's duplicity at the llth hour provoking violence at Fort Sumter; and the facts behind an officially sanctioned program of atrocities against the homes and families of Southern civilians.

Yes, slavery is the blood-slander that affords the victor's false narrative it's moral pretense. Slavery silences opposition to the victor's self-serving narrative, provides cover for the revenge of total war against women and children, and bestows moral justification for the accursed retribution of so-called "Reconstruction."

Yes, some overly estimated 1/4th of then contemporary Southerners held human beings in slavery, that wild approximation could be almost as true as it is obviously immoral, but it's also undeniably true that for decades Northern slave traders transported and sold almost all the enslave human beings in the South, a great number of which arrived just days before slavery was outlawed in their home states.

Northern ship owners operating out of ports like Boston, New Haven, and Providence dominated the Atlantic slave trade to North and South America alike. Fortunes were made in the slave trade, almost all of them by ship owners.

Northern slavers prospered by transporting and selling the enslaved field labor which allowed planters in the Northern and Southern hemispheres to produce agricultural crops for European export.

(to be continued tomorrow)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Waddell was also a slaveowner, which makes his position all the more intriguing.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

As I've acknowledged numerous times (and obvious), slavery was part of the motivation for the South's secession. But I think it is extremely naive and an over-simplification to say slavery was "the" cause of the WBTS. There is no doubt many use this meme as a weapon in a broader agenda.

Northern interests were equally to blame for America's original sin, though 2 wrongs certainly do not make a right. As I've also stated before, I firmly believe, as a Christian, that the WBTS was judgement on the whole nation.

I'll have more to say about all this in an upcoming post.

Robert Moore said...

That's an exceptional quote. Waddell illustrates an opinion I've seen reflected in the written voice of a few others in the Valley, as well.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Yes, Robert, I agree. I think it shows that for many, though slavery was involved in their worldview, they truly believed that there were "larger" underlying issues involved in the war.