30 May 2016

Southern Heritage, Southern Family, Southern Tradition: Part 3

Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Image source.

The following post consists of an excerpt from the introduction of my latest book, The Battle of Waynesboro. I post it in in hopes of explaining how some Southerners connect to their heritage and in remembrance of Memorial Day.

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. –Psalms 16:6

Sitting in my basement office typing the manuscript to this book, I am surrounded by mementos that constantly remind me of my hometown of Waynesboro, Virginia. Among them is an old photograph of Confederate veteran and former mayor of Waynesboro Colonel Charles H. Withrow. And there’s the bridle bit that belonged to Withrow’s horse, “Bird,” hanging on the wall. There’s also a portrait of my great-grandfather, “Mr. Charlie” McGann, who cared for the Colonel’s horse in the early part of the twentieth century. There’s the antique, wood-framed barber’s mirror that used to adorn a barbershop in Waynesboro’s African American community on Port Republic Road. Just up the road from that barbershop was the elementary school that I attended after desegregation in the 1960s—the Rosenwald School. These items, along with many others, are old friends that summon up misty-sweet memories.

I grew up in a Waynesboro neighborhood known as Wayne Hills, just a few blocks west of Port Republic Road. In early March 1865, that area would have witnessed Confederate artillery shells sailing overhead as Confederate artillerist Henry Robinson Berkeley fired his cannon at Sheridan’s advancing army from the high ground near Port Republic Road. Just a bike ride across town lived my paternal grandparents. As a young boy, I visited my grandparents often and spent many restless summer nights lying in a bed in a second-story bedroom of their home. I recall the air often being still and humid, and I would move my pillow to the bottom of the bed, getting closer to the open window in the hopes of catching a breeze of relief. The summer sounds—crickets and cicadas and the occasional barking of a dog—filled the night air. Charles Lockridge McGann started building the home in 1909 on the corner of what was Locust Avenue and Fourth (now Fourteenth) Street. Downstairs, hanging on an archway that joined a hallway to the dining room, was my great-great grandfather’s Civil War musket.

The sounds I would hear on those summer nights were much more serene than the ones that filled the air in March 1865. The McGann home sat squarely in the middle of ground that had hosted the Battle of Waynesboro—the last Civil War battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley on March 2, 1865. The home was built in an area that would later become known as the “Tree Streets”—designated a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002; it is a 120-acre area of stately, late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century homes and structures. During the American colonial and Victorian periods, it was common practice to name streets running north to south after American species of trees. As the old battlefield reverted to farmland after the war, it became part of an apple orchard and was then developed into a quintessential southern residential neighborhood with Victorian-style homes lining the streets of Oak, Cherry, Locust, Pine, Maple, Walnut and Chestnut Avenues. Included in part of the Tree Street historic district is Wayne Avenue, named in honor of the town’s namesake: Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony” Wayne.

From that bedroom in my grandparents’ home, hands folded under my chin on my pillow, I could look out the second-story window up the hill one block away toward Pine Avenue and what had been the Confederate line—the very line where my great-great-grandfather’s unit, the 51st Virginia Infantry, had dug trenches in what would prove to be a futile attempt to repel Union general Philip Sheridan’s numerically superior army.

And there were other memories: stories and objects that would sometimes sweep a young boy’s imagination into the time warp that William Faulkner described in Intruder in the Dust:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.

In writing those words, Faulkner seemed to be manifesting what Ernest Hemingway described as the task of writing: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And when one writes about wars and battles, one must bleed—at least metaphorically. For wars and battles are about much more than glory and gain, more than conquerors and conquered, more than troop movements and maneuvers—wars and battles are about bleeding, about the loss of life, about what was won and what might have been won, what might have been prevented, what might have been saved or lost. It is impossible to read the letters, diaries and accounts of battles without, at least to some degree, entering into what the writer of those accounts was feeling and describing. To do less would be a disservice to all those who bled and died in those battles.

Yet authors and historians and writers are advised to separate their own emotions and feelings from their work. But is that really possible? It is even advisable? Of course writers should, as much as possible, restrain their biases when presenting history. But what is writing without emotion? What is storytelling without sharing the passion of the event? Stale facts and recounting of numbers killed and wounded do not tell the story adequately. While connections to subjects and events can be a stumbling block when attempting to write objectively about those same topics, they can also serve as motivations—even giving keen insight and unique perspective attainable no other way. It certainly motivates me. And it is no coincidence that the biographers of the South’s two greatest Civil War generals were themselves southerners.

The definitive biography of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was authored by historian James I. Robertson Jr., who has said that he developed a keen interest in Civil War studies when he first became aware that his great-grandfather had been a Confederate soldier and cook for Robert E. Lee. And Robert E. Lee’s most noted biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, penned his massive four-volume biography of Lee due to a personal attachment to the War Between the States and after being “profoundly moved” by something he had witnessed. Freeman biographer David Johnson gives some of the details of what Freeman experienced when, as a seventeenyear-old young man, he observed a reenactment of the Battle of the Crater:

Douglas stood with his Confederate veteran father and watched the pageant of history unfold in front of him. Back at the hotel, he saw the veterans from a closer vantage point. They were “feeble, crippled, some of them blind, many of them poor.” He was profoundly moved by the events of the day…All these emotions, shaped and colored by his heritage as a son of the South and Walker Freeman, had evoked self-examination and prompted action. Now, he made to himself a solemn commitment, one that he knew would outlast the zeal of youthful novelties. “If someone doesn’t write the story of these men,” Douglas Southall Freeman resolved, “it will be lost forever.” “I’m going to do it.” ~ David Johnson

Some historians have even grieved over the fact that they lack such a connection as Robertson and Freeman:

Any historian who argues that the Confederate people demonstrated robust devotion to their slave-based republic, possessed feelings of national community, and sacrificed more than any other segment of white society in United States history runs the risk of being labeled a neo-Confederate. As a native of Los Angeles who grew up on a farm in southern Colorado, I can claim complete freedom from any pro-Confederate special pleading during my formative years. Moreover, not a single ancestor fought in the war, a fact I lamented as a boy reading books by Bruce Catton and Douglas Southall Freeman and wanting desperately to have some direct connection to the events that fascinated me. ~ Gary Gallagher

Both Robertson and Freeman have been criticized by other Civil War scholars and historians for being “too close” to their subjects. That is a fair observation and one, I believe, neither man would have totally denied. But knowing these historians’ “closeness” to their subjects and the widely acclaimed quality of their scholarship, did this closeness really detract from their work—or did it actually enhance it? Gary Gallagher, in his introduction to the 1998 edition of Freeman’s The South to Posterity, seems to echo that sentiment in quoting Bruce Catton: “[It] would be foolish to pretend that Dr. Freeman’s history was at all times completely objective. It was scholarly and it was fair, but it was never detached or passionless. It would be poorer history if it were those things.”

It is my opinion that readers should be much more skeptical of historians and writers who refuse to acknowledge their biases and connections to the topics they write about, as well as of those writers who, though admitting their biases, make no attempt to bridle them.

The Battle of Waynesboro, along with the rich heritage and history of the whole Shenandoah Valley, is part of me, and I want readers to know this. As historian Jeffrey Wert has astutely observed, the Shenandoah Valley has an almost spiritual connection with its residents, particularly those who are native to its soil: “In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, roots went deep into the rich soil…The Valley seeped into bones, touched souls.”

So, as you read The Battle of Waynesboro, know that the author was born on and grew up on the very ground that hosted the conflict. Know that all six of my children were born on that battlefield. Know that I have never lived more than ten miles from that ground. Know that two of my great-great grandfathers served in the 51st Virginia Infantry, which fought in that battle. Know that my family and I have owned some of that battleground. Know that I have held swords, bullets, grapeshot and a musket from that battle. Know that my body has been nourished from food grown from that ground. Know that I reverence that ground, that connection and that heritage. Know that this ground has seeped into my bones and touched my soul. Know that all this simultaneously burdens and rewards me with certain biases and perspectives. Know also that while I have attempted to bridle my biases, I am, at the same time, thankful to God for the heritage that birthed them. And finally, know that I have sat at my keyboard and bled a little.

Richard G. Williams Jr. Huckleberry Hollow, Virginia July 2014

28 May 2016

I Warned You That Frankenstein Could Not Be Contained

Consider these Memorial Day weekend headlines:

Vandals Deface Vietnam War Memorial

Purple Heart plant bed vandalized days before Memorial Day

Vandals strike Anniston veteran's memorial for second time

Is it just coincidence that we've seen an increase in these types of acts since the feeding frenzy on Confederate flags and Confederate monuments? No, I don't believe it is. As I've said over and over, Confederate iconography is the low-hanging fruit. It's the whole of American history that is under attack and it's politically and ideologically motivated. America's history and founding must be evilized for the moral reformers to prevail. Activists and certain historians have created and encouraged an environment where everything representing America's "evil past" must be destroyed. Don't forget that. It explains much of what you're seeing, both in the news and coming from a number of academic and professional historians.

27 May 2016

Academia Preaches Diversity (For Others)

Research by Northwestern University Law Professor James Lindgren shows that the legal system feeding cases to the Supreme Court over-represents Democrats and under-represents Christians. While 41% of the working population are Democrats, 61% of lawyers claim that affiliation. At the same time, 68% of lawyers are Christians compared to 78% of working Americans. That’s a bit problematic, but not overwhelming.

When you go a little deeper and look at who’s teaching the next generation of lawyers, the differences become truly astounding. Nationally, there are a few more Democratic voters than Republicans and Independents, but the overall numbers are fairly even. However, among law school faculty, 82% are Democrats, 11% Republican, and 6% Independent. Fewer than half are Christian.

If we want our legal system to look like America, the nation’s law schools are not even close. [Emphasis mine. Source.]
I believe the same it true, to one degree or another, about history professors. Just more of "do what I say, not what I do." Where I come from, we call that hypocrisy. 

25 May 2016

What Academia Has Wrought

The fruit of "safe-spaces" and suppression of opposing points of view. 
In September, the pundit Greg Lukianoff and the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published a cover story in The Atlantic called “The Coddling of the American Mind,” arguing that young people taught to embrace “vindictive protectiveness” were being poorly educated for the challenges of the real world. Shielding students from unwelcome ideas was unhealthy for the workforce and the democratic commonweal, they wrote.
And now students are demanding an end to mid-terms and all grades below a C. I have a better idea, why not just take their tuition money and give them all "participation diplomas."

More here and here

23 May 2016

Southern Heritage, Southern Family, Southern Tradition: Part 1

As we approach Memorial Day each year, a lot of fond memories always come to my mind of childhood summers growing up in the Shenandoah Valley. With that in mind, I'm going to post a series on "Southern Heritage, Southern Family, Southern Tradition." Part one is simply some a couple of audio/videos featuring a couple of songs from a recently released album by various country artists. It's a great way to introduce the series - for a whole host of reasons.

As a number of bloggers (who claim to be professional historians) take almost daily victory laps over the removal of Confederate icons from the South's landscape, many Southerners simply shake their heads and continue to live their lives, despite the cultural cleansing. The South is so much more than the four years that made up the War Between the States, though that is a very important part. (I'll address that some in Part 2.) But if you think that Confederate icons are the real issue, you're quite naive. But I digress. 

Part of the South's great heritage is its music. A recently released album both celebrates the South's music traditions, and our way of life as well. To those readers who grew up in the small town, rural South, these songs will resonate. To those who didn't, it's an opportunity to learn.
Perhaps it was defeat and dislocation that solidified the need for deep roots, for tangible heroes and subtle pleasures.  Time moved with the rhythm of nature, slow and plodding.  Southerners had time to think, reflect, and pray under the hot sun and long growing seasons.  They lived in the dirt.  They communed with the dead and wept for the living.  They were patient.  They had a reflective acceptance of the present, knowing that for many tradition served as a reminder of better times.  They knew that death was a journey with God. This pain made great music.  It still does. ~ Dr. Brion McLanahan
Here's a couple of my favorites from this new album, Southern Family:

19 May 2016

Yale: John Calhoun Stays - But What About Elihu Yale?

Despite decades of fervent student protests that reached a peak last fall, the president of Yale announced on Wednesday that the university would keep the name of a residential college honoring the 19th-century politician and white supremacist John C. Calhoun. . . . “Universities have to be the places where tough conversations happen,” he said. “I don’t think that is advanced by hiding our past.” (Unless, of course, we're talking about Confederate monuments, then we do have to hide the past or, at least, vandalize it.)
More here.

Oh my, the virtue-signaling, moral reformers in academia are in such a moral dilemma these days, aren't they? The facts and truth keep rearing their ugly heads to bite them in the butt. One ugly truth is their intellectual bankruptcy which has mated with their rank hypocrisy and produced one ugly little freak. This is what happens when you use history for a morality play. Tsk, tsk, tsk. (Shouldn't a number of Civil War bloggers take a hint? Yes, but they won't. They're too heavily invested in their preferred narrative. As Hillary Clinton would say, "I come too far.")

I mean, seriously, if there is going to be any honest discussion about Yale renaming a residential college named after John Calhoun, shouldn't there be a discussion to rename Yale itself? After all, Elihu Yale (whom the school was named after) was involved (at least indirectly) in the slave trade and there was even this portrait which, until very recently, hung in Woodbridge Hall on the campus of Yale. It depicts Yale (along with others) being served by a young black boy with a silver collar around his neck:

Though this painting was removed a couple of years ago, how it was interpreted by at least one student is telling:
. . . there’s no doubting the fact that he [Elihu Yale] participated in the slave trade, profiting from the sale of humans just as he profited from the sale of so many actual objects that were part of the East India trade empire. As such, Elihu Yale’s wealth was linked to a global economy that was deeply, practically inextricably, interwoven with the sale of human beings to other human beings. In fact, when we look at the paintings it is safe to assume that Elihu Yale was a willing participant in that economy. Since he could have selected anything to represent him in these paintings we can conclude that he chose to be depicted with enslaved people because he believed this narrative would best signify his wealth, power, and worldliness.[Source.]
So if we use the same logic used in regards to Confederate figures and icons in the South, Yale should change its name. Why don't we hear that demand from the "historians" in the blogosphere? That's simple. It does not serve the purpose of their agenda, at least not yet.

And maybe, in this instance, the administration at Yale realized that Calhoun was the low-hanging fruit and once he had been vanquished, the offended would aim higher - at Elihu Yale. And what might alumni benefactors have to say about that? All that there moral reformin' could get expensive. Virtue-signaling evidently has a budget limit.

Of course, in more reasonable times, important historical figures in our nation's history were not judged by the presentism-obsessed, virtue signaling, moral reformers in academia as they are today. Rather, they were judged by the contributions they made with an understanding that they were simply products of the times in which they lived. That's how adults think. Take, for example, John Kennedy's understanding of this reality:

For 8 years in the U.S. Senate I have occupied a seat which was once held in the Senate, from Massachusetts, by a distinguished Senator, Senator Daniel Webster. He served in the time before 1850, when the Senate was at its height, and included within its ranks Lewis Cass, Clay, Douglas, Benton, and all the rest. But none of these were considered by Daniel Webster to match the talents and the character of the Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun. They were both born in the same year; Calhoun was a native of Abingdon, S.C. They both went to college in New England, one to Yale and the other to Dartmouth. They had both entered Congress as young men, and they stayed in Congress for 40 years, until they died in 1850, John Calhoun, and in 1852 Senator Daniel Webster. They worked together on foreign relations, the development of the United States, fiscal improvements. Each served in the House as well as in the Senate. Each was Secretary of State. And yet through most of their lives, they also differed on great questions. But to his dying day, Senator Daniel Webster said of John C. Calhoun, "He was much the ablest man I ever knew. He could have demolished Newton, Calvin, or Locke as a logician." He admired above all his powerful mind and his courage.
Sitting as I do in the U.S. Senate, succeeding Senator Webster in succession, I have also admired John C. Calhoun. When I was selected as chairman of a committee to pick five outstanding Senators in the history of this country, John C. Calhoun's name led all the rest, and his painting is now in the Senate reception room. And when I wrote a book about courageous Senators, I mentioned John C. Calhoun. I am not here in South Carolina to make glittering promises or glowing predictions, but to express the hope that in 1960, South Carolina and the Nation will be guided by the spirit of Calhoun and his courage. "I never know what South Carolina thinks of a measure," he once said. "I act to the best of my judgment and according to my conscience. If she approves, well and good. If she does not, and wishes anyone to take my place, I am ready to vacate. We are even."~ Senator John F. Kennedy, Columbia, South Carolina, 10 October 1960
(Uh-oh - are there any buildings named after Kennedy at Yale?)

This whole issue at Yale reveals a number of things about the juvenility of many modern historians and academics:
  1.  They're rank hypocrites and phonies.
  2.  They have an agenda and one that's easily recognized by a growing number of Americans and even professional historians within academia, such as Professor Gordon S. Wood.
  3. They're doing a great disservice to students and Americans in general by their own, self-serving, self-centered moral posturing. (Which is why Americans go elsewhere to learn about American history.)
I would suggest readers do what more and more Americans are doing when you read and hear about such nonsense. Roll your eyes and laugh at them.

17 May 2016

Academia is Actually Turning Things Around . . .

How encouraging:
As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing . . .
More here.

You know what's really cool about this? History bloggers have provided an example to follow. Kudos. 

15 May 2016

Justice Clarence Thomas on Academia and Political Correctness

From his commencement address at Hillsdale College:
Thomas lamented various aspects of contemporary society, especially with regard to colleges and universities. He diagnosed what he regards as a contemporary tendency to take pride in having "grievances rather than personal conduct" and to focus on individual rights as citizens, rather than responsibilities. "Hallmarks of my youth such as patriotism and religion seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts," Thomas said.
Said in other words, progressives in academia have turned values and common sense on their heads. And they revel in it, parading their pseudo-intellectualism as enlightenment. They've become caricatures. History will judge them accordingly. 

And I so love this quote:
Thomas said he learned this from his grandfather, who taught him to revere "duty, honor [and] country" even though he was raised in a racially-segregated society. "He knew that though not nearly perfect, our constitutional ideals were perfectible if we worked to protect them rather than to undermine them," the justice said. "Don't discard that which is precious along with that which is tainted."
So simple, yet so timely and profound. 

More here.

14 May 2016

Perception vs. Reality: American Exceptionalism

I just read an interview conducted by the Library of America with Professor Gordon Wood. It's worth reading. This question/response jumped out at me:
LOA: It has become a commonplace in American politics today to call the United States an exceptional nation. Would Adams have agreed?
Wood: Jefferson believed that the United States was a chosen nation with a special responsibility to spread democracy around the world. More than any other figure in our history Jefferson is responsible for the idea of American exceptionalism. Adams could not have disagreed more. Deeply versed in history, he said over and over that America had no special providence, no special role in history, that Americans were no different from other peoples, that the United States was just as susceptible to viciousness and corruption as any other nation. In this regard, at least, Jefferson’s vision has clearly won the day.
While I agree with the good professor that, in regards to American Exceptionalism, "Jefferson's vision has clearly won the day", I would also note that it's quite obvious that Adams was certainly correct in pointing out that, in Wood's words, "the United States was just as susceptible to viciousness and corruption as any other nation." Read the news lately?

So I do not believe that Jefferson's and Adams's positions are mutually exclusive. I'd also be quick to point out that it's not quite as "commonplace", even in politics (particularly among leftists)
"to call the United States an exceptional nation", unless, of course, one believes the U.S. is "exceptional" because of its (ostensibly) "history of oppression." That perspective also serves a particular agenda and many in academia provide the faux intellectual cover for that agenda.

You can read the interview here.

13 May 2016

Time For Another Edition of Academia Gone Wild

Skinny Confederate soldiers caused Americans to hate fat people
Regarding a recent presentation at the University of Minnesota:
Tovar’s talk, entitled “Dispelling Myths: Fat, Fatphobia, and Challenging Social Stereotypes,” was designed to help students understand that “fat phobia” is rampant in a “white, heteronormative society” that is looking to actively oppress people with larger body types. Society’s bias against fat people is, apparently, a form of bigotry and discrimination, evident in everything from sexual preferences to the size of seats on public transportation. She even, reportedly, compared society’s anti-fat culture to so-called “rape culture,” and chastised society for its obsession with what she termed “thin privilege.”
Since one of the popular Civil War blogs has featured comments on "rape culture" and the hip "privilege" thing, I fully expect that blog to somehow jam this into Civil War "perspective" (remember, it ain't about history). Let's see, maybe this will work:
Since most Confederate soldiers were thin, they were an intricate part of pushing America's bigoted "anti-fat culture" which oppresses and enslaves millions of obese Americans. This oppression is made even worse since much of Southern cuisine is so much more delicious than its Yankee competition and is often fried with lots of butter. We should therefore remove any and all monuments of skinny Confederate soldiers and replace them with one depicting someone more robust, like this:
We should also ban all fried foods as a symbol of oppression and hatred. That is all.

11 May 2016

Historian Paul Johnson on Political Correctness

PC has an enormous appeal to the semieducated, one reason that it’s struck roots among overseas students at minor colleges. But it also appeals to pseudo-intellectuals everywhere, since it evokes the strong streak of cowardice notable among those wielding academic authority nowadays. Any empty-headed student with a powerful voice can claim someone (never specified) will be “hurt” by a hitherto harmless term, object or activity and be reasonably assured that the dons and professors in charge will show a white feather and do as the student demands. Thus, there isn’t a university campus on either side of the Atlantic that’s not in danger of censorship. The brutal young don’t even need to impose it themselves; their trembling elders will do it for them. ~ Paul Johnson

06 May 2016

Defining the "Good Southerner"

The “Good Southerner” has much in common with his cousin the “Good Indian.” The “Good Indian” was that Native American who agreed to settle his wandering ways and adopt the ways of the European. During the wars on the Plains, the “Good Indian” stayed on the reservation, learned to farm, occasionally scouted for the U. S. Calvary, and for his efforts received spoiled rations, whiskey, and a Henry rifle. His less “good” countrymen held him in suspicion and contempt for abandoning the paths of his fathers. The trap the “Good Indian” found himself in was truly pathetic. No matter how high he rose on the ladder of “civilization,” no matter how obsequious he was to his white masters, he remained an Indian. Phil Sheridan, the maker of war upon women and children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley captured the predicament quite well, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” The “Good Southerner” is a more sinister and less sympathetic type. He adopts the simplistic, Manichean, moral vision of his cultural imperator and condemns any and all things that his betters condemn. If the Northern Myth of the War must replace the Southern Myth of the War then so be it, and the truth be damned. If the monuments are to come down, the flags forever furled, and the songs effaced, then to it man! Our ancestors were villains and the moral imperators must be appeased! But of course they shall never be appeased; the elect are always in need of the damned in order to be affirmed.
The “Good Southerner’s” duplicity lay in his unfaithfulness. He cares not a whit about the half-truths and detractions hurled at his ancestors, or for the distortion of history. There is money to be made, foreign industry to attract, basketball tournaments to host, bowl games to sponsor. His ancestors who are deserving of pietas for their virtues and achievements and understanding and forgiveness for their sins and defects (for who among us is without sin?) instead have been dishonored. The South was once, together with Ireland, the last non-material civilization in the West; now it has certain sons and daughters more than willing to put the patrimony up for sale, for it is always about money and power with the secular puritan and the “Good Southerner” on the make. The “Good Southerner” is the ultimate secessionist, for he has undertaken a secession of the heart. He is less pathetic and more sinister because he not only allows his enemy to define him; he welcomes this alienation as a sign of redemption and acceptance. He no longer remembers who he is, and is happy for his ignorance of and alienation from his history and his culture.  ~ Dr. John Devanny
More here.

03 May 2016

The Wisdom of a Yankee

Like much of early Americana, agronomy changed and began its decline during the Civil War period. Young men returned from an unnecessary war too disillusioned to go back to where they had left off: they had seen big cities and quick money. Daddy was no longer the “lord of the earth’; he was regarded as an archaic stay-at-home comic character called Rube, with shoddy clothes, rubber boots and chewing on a blade of grass. The farmstead was no longer an estate built up and left to generation after generation; from then on, children would inherit money instead, and capitalism would become as much a personal philosophy as a national economy. ~ Eric Sloane
As I've noted many times before, Eric Sloane is one of the unknown jewels of American writers and has been a favorite of mine for many years. His simple wisdom is absolutely profound and priceless. He can say more in a paragraph than most modern writers can say in a whole book.