Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Confederate memorial: Why 1977?

Following up on the Confederate Memorial I stumbled across on the lawn at the old City Hall:

One commenter said: "You wonder what politicians in 2008 think about that memorial? They probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about it at all."

At least one politician wasn't thinking about it at all, because he wasn't aware of it. I called the City Council member who represents uptown Charlotte, James "Smuggie" Mitchell. Mitchell is an African American Democrat, a lifelong Charlottean. He said, "Wow. I did not know it was there. ... That's my district and I kind of pride myself on knowing what's there -- restaurants and places to visit -- and I did not know. Wow."

He thinks the monument should stay. "As an African American I was always taught to associate the Confederacy with oppression," he told me. But as he grew up, he said, he learned that "you have to respect that people fought for what they thought was right." Part of being a leader, he said, is respecting the diversity of opinions that people have.

Of course, he said "Respecting is different from embracing."

He, too, thought the 1977 timing was odd. As another commenter noted: Why erect a memorial so long after the Civil War? ... Was it erected to convince people that it is okay to be racist? Was it a reaction to blacks gaining political power and greater equality? Was it the act of ultra-conservatives that want to make this state like the clearly backward one to our south? Good people died during that war and they should be remembered. However, the fact that this was erected in 1977 suggests that this was more a reaction to modern civil rights than to fallen soldiers."

A reader e-mailed this thoughtful note:
As a Southerner who feels remorse at the conduct of my ancesters, I feel qualified to make this observation. If we remove markers such as this, we remove valuable insight into the mindsets of individuals and groups during the course of history. Someone had this erected, and others did not stop them. This is valuable information to future generations. Rather than removing it, erect another marker telling the people of the future that the people of 2008 feel remorse at the mindset of the past. Both the ones in 1865, and the ones in 1977. Removing the evidence of errors made opens us to the possibility of repeating mistakes.

And one last note: I'm a Southerner, and both my parents grew up in the South and lived there for all but five years of their lives. I've lived in the South all but six years of my life. I've lived in Charlotte for 30 years. You may not agree with what I write, but I'm no Northerner.


Anonymous said...

I must note: Mary gives no indication that she received about 80 comments, of which about 65 were highly negative toward her position and several of which directly demanded an apology.

The "you might not like what I write" comment suggests that she's out to make waves, not cogent arguments.

Brian Willard said...

In today's world Iam made to feel guilty for being an American. In today's America Iam made to feel guilty for being white and for being born a male. Now Mary Newsom wants me to feel guilty about being born in the South -

Well I don't apologize, for any of it. Ms Newsome obviously needs a history lesson, since her knowledge of the War Between The States rivals that of your average 5th grader.

I bet she thinks Columbus discovered America, and George Washington chopped down a cherry tree when he was a lad.

Mary, your short-sided myopic, guilt-drenched view of history makes me ill. I'd hate to think someone was paying you a living wage to come up with this garbage masquerading as legitimate journalism.

Your faulty rhetoric is every bit as narrow-minded as that of the most virulent racist.

Mary Newsom said...

Please read what I wrote, gentle readers.

I didn't say I thought the monument should go. I wondered what others, especially politicians who represent the public, thought. It's a fair question, though not one on which everyone's going to agree.

Anonymous said...

He thinks the monument should stay.

If you asked him his opinion on this issue, implicitly you are opening up the question: "Should the memorial stay?" as a larger issue.

Play innocent all you like, but when you wrote the original article you were making an implicit statement against the preservation of the memorial.

Anonymous said...

And again, none of this has anything to do with "growth in Charlotte".

It's apparently all about driving blog traffic.

Anonymous said...

Mary, your question of "why 1977" is kinda lame. Why not ask, "why 2007" to finally name a MLK Blvd in uptown?

Sometimes, regardless of our passion, government works slow to approve things, especially things that are tied to controversial topics. i.e. Confederate Soldiers and MLK both spurred controversy in their day.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. I think that memorial has EVERYTHING to do with growth and development in Charlotte. And to make things clear, I'm a card carrying college educated gay southern born democrat who lives in Plaza Midwood and rides a scooter. You don't get much more liberal than me! :-) This monument being erected at such a late date is as Charlotte as the Bank of America tower itself. The Civil war had ended some 120 years prior, and Charlotte had erased any evidence of the past by 1977... so they threw up something to at least acknowledge Charlotte had a past. Our relentless push for economic expansion to become a 'world class city' has thoroughly erased anything resembling history in this city. I must insist that anything to do with the confederacy makes me cringe, but what makes me cringe even more is the fact that it is being suggested that we try and erase our own history. We must keep monuments to both our accomplishments and failures alike, to help guide us towards the future. Having a tastefully done monument in front of our City Hall is *FAR* different than a redneck flying one behind his truck's gun rack. To me, the whole suggestion that the monument should even be damaged or removed just makes me wince. Extremes, whether they be liberal OR conservative are just that... extremes. Keep in mind fellow citizens that the whole premise of democracy is to allow us to think what we want, do what we want, associate with whom we want, etc. To get rid of this monument would be in direct violation of those ideals.

Anonymous said...

Mary, be assured that those who were highly negative toward your comments are the descendants of the same ancestors who felt that freedom, liberty and justice applied only to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Why 1977? Why don't you tell us? Why don't you contact the people involved in placing the monument and ask them? Was it a replacement for an earlier monument? Did 1977 mean something to their organization? No wonder the Observer is going out of business. Its reporters don't know how to investigate a story. Here's a hint: Start with city records. Then call the folks who placed the monument. How did you get this job? Alumni connections from UNC-Chapel Hill?

Anonymous said...

An Observer headline I'd love to see:

"Controversial Confederate Memorial Disappears Overnight"

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that District 2 Councilman James Mitchell was unaware the Confederate memorial was in his district.

When irate District 6 residents asked him in 2007 for an explanation of his vote in favor of a controversial rezoning petition, he told them that "Mr. Dulin wanted the development, and I voted to support Mr. Dulin".

Men on both sides of the Civil War died so that all men might have equal opportunity to learn how to reach intelligent decisions.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should look into "Why 1977?", you are a journalist, yes? To give you more "grist for the mill" so to speak. There's probably a pretty good reason for it.

Or is the blog format not worth investigative journalism?

Anonymous said...

We can't forget what year it was before the monument was placed... 1976, our country's 200th anniversary. Obviously with such a milestone comes an influx in nationalism. So I imagine Americans were reflecting on our history, and decided Charlotte needed a nod towards it's own past. It probably took quite a few months to create, then mount the monument in front of City Hall, thus the 1977 date.

Jumper said...

People often forget what it actually means that war, especially such as our Civil War, can more than decimate an entire generation of our best and most committed individuals. As one who believes the Civil War was most definitely about slavery; nevertheless it's obvious that sometimes good patriots choose the wrong side, the side that fights for kith and kin against outside aggression, even while the South upheld the peculiar institution of slavery, a manifest glaring offense to the highest ideals of both America and Christianity. When it was all over, the most capable members of what would have gone on to be the nascent middle class of the entire region lay dead on battlefields. The loss was truly enormous. Perhaps this is why we should remember.

Anonymous said...

Mme Newsom,
Killed in action: 3,000
Total dead: 258,000
Wounded: 137,000+

Whether you agree with their decision of not,Please respect the descendants of those brave Confederate Soldiers who fought for their independence.

Perhaps you should be put on the short list of future ex-Employees of this fishwrapper. Every little bit of savings helps the bottom line. Perhaps other readers can voice their disgust of your comments to Charlotte Observer management.

Anonymous said...

I agree that attempting to answer that question - 'why 1977' -- would have been kind of, sorta like what a journalist might do ... This blog did seem somewhat designed to agitate more than inform, or even begin an informed conversation ...

But regular readers should know Mary N moved to Charlotte sometime in the late 1970s. She has mentioned that fact a lot in her columns. It's a big part of her identity.

Maybe more interesting questions would be asking why SHE has stayed here since the late 70s and if anyone would like to take her down? Why this paper keeps editorial-type writers around for such lengthy stints? Is that typical?

If so, would that we could be a little bit "different" in that regard ... There's nothing more stultifying than stumbling across a politically incorrect relic from days gone by. Oh my.

Anonymous said...

WHATEVER. It's called STATE RIGHTS. Ever heard of it? The South defended itself. It is not racism, it is nothing else.

Here's a history lesson: The War of Northern Aggression was fought about state powers and federal powers. Only later did Abraham Lincoln decide he could use slavery as a cause for his war. The South was far outnumbered and had fewer supplies but inflicted many losses to the North and fought with bravery for what they believed in: states' rights. Now we all live in a world where the federal government has more say over what happens in our STATE than our STATE.

Surely to God it's ok to have a monument in honor of the hundreds of thousands that died, while a street in every freaking city in this state is named in honor of MLK Jr, who as I recall did absolutely nothing to better anyone.

Anonymous said...

What a cowardly response from you to delete the majority of previously posted comments.

Apparently readers are expected to respect your point of view, but shouldn't expect the same in return from you. You obviously have a problem with criticism and opposing points of view.

No, you didn't say the monument should be removed, but you did question the appropriateness of such a memorial.

I'm sure you can also delete this post if you wish, and won't be a bit surprised if you do. But if you're going to write commentary or editorial content, you'll have to learn to accept the fact that not everyone agrees with what you write, and that some of what you write will make some people angry. That, or take the easy way out and just make the comments disappear as you've done here.

What's that old saying? Oh, yeah..."If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

Anonymous said...

"I didn't say I thought the monument should go. "

You called a council member to ask him whether it should go, did you not?

Everything you have written so far tells me you are trying to generate an ugly debate out of thin air.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could do a story about how clueless the council members are about what happens on their watch in their districts.

Anonymous said...

You start a fire, pour gas on it, then don't like it at all when you get burned.

Face facts. Your article was poorly worded and it doesn't look like you spent a lot of time researching it. I guess you had a deadline to meet, and I guess a deadline will trump quality writing every time, won't it?

What sort of response do you expect when you insult something a lot of people care about? Shame on you.

You really just don't get it, do you?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone think about the possibility that this was placed the year after our country celebrated 200 years and maybe the people of Mecklenburg County were just feeling patriotic?

If I recall correctly, didn't the "Civil" War start over a land dispute?

I believe it started and had nothing to do with slavery, or racism at the start of the war.

So maybe the people of 1977 felt pride in the people of the 19th centruy that stood up against the Union for siding with a land thief.

It's just a thought.

Also, did anyone bother to go ask the people that put this up why they did?

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The current term should be, as a previous poster reminded us: The War of Northern Aggression.

At the time, men felt loyalty to their states, and so fought for their states.

I am a proud southerner. Born and raised in Charlotte. I feel no guilt for being a white, middle class male, and in fact am proud to be one.

Those who denigrate those of us who are from here, and proud of it, are beneath contempt.

Lewis Guignard

Jumper said...

I have noticed that people from around here never have given much thought to what went on in Kansas.


Funny, I learned about all this long ago. But I guess some people only care about local history. Or self-serving myth.

Anonymous said...

What was previousloy on the site of City Hall? Perhaps an earlier Confederate mounument? Maybe this one is the result of a 1977 compromise.

Also, how can it be called "The War of Northern Aggression" when Citadel cadets fired the first shots?

Bill James said...

Mary -

Since you are asking elected officials, I say it should stay. Also - there is another one at the Grady Cole Center/Memorial Stadium site. It was placed there during a large gathering of Confederate soldiers (a reunion of sorts in the 20's I think).

Bill James
Mecklenburg County Commission

Anonymous said...

The War of Northern Aggression because that's how it is accurately perceived.

Why did the cadets fire: because of northern presence in their bay.

The military base should have been closed. Instead it was reinforced, a direct affront to the Charlestonians, a hotbed of radicalism.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Oh my God it's Bill James. Hold onto your Bible, hide your gay children .......... Jesus is coming.

Jumper said...

You kids don't make me come back there!

Matt said...

Mary -

I can't give you a lot of credit for original thought, so I am guessing you picked up the confederate bashing idea from some of the other B team journalists that attended your sessions in Cambridge. It's like the sports talk radio host who brings up Pete Rose gaining admission to the Hall of Fame. Good for instant conflict,
when you aren't creative enough to dissect current events.

I'm guessing we're due for another McMansion article any time now.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Art Merrill said...

I'm with Lewis Guignard...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I happen to know the individual that was primarily responsible for obtaining permission from the City to erect this monument and for also raising the money for it. He has also arranged, with the assistance of others, to have similar monuments erected to the North Carolina Military Academy in front of the YMCA on Morehead Street, to the China-Burma-India theater veterans of WW II in Freedom Park and, in Elmwood Cemetery, to four different local Confederate units raised in Mecklenburg County. A number of years ago, he arranged to have the unmarked grave of the last Confederate veteran from Mecklenburg County marked with a headstone. He has also instrumental in arranging with the National Park Service for the erection of a similar monument to North Carolina troops who fought at the famous “Mule Shoe” at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia. He is currently working with the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society on having a similar monument erected in Nashville to the Battle of Nashville.
Mary’s speculation as to the motives of this gentleman and those others responsible for this monument back in 1977 are totally and completely wrong! It had nothing to do with racism. It had everything to do with honoring and remembering the sacrifices of those from Charlotte and Mecklenburg Count who fought in that War. For those of you who still want to attribute racism to this man’s motives, you should know that he has an extended family member that is of mixed race heritage and he could care less about that. I have not mentioned that gentleman's name because he does not know that I am posting this comment and is not seeking to be a part of this discussion.
Mary – As others have rightly pointed out, you failed to research this matter before you spouted off in your blog. That failure was unjustified and you deserve the condemnation that you are rightly receiving.

Anonymous said...

"while a street in every freaking city in this state is named in honor of MLK Jr, who as I recall did absolutely nothing to better anyone."

Hope that Confederate Flag keeps you warm at night.

Anonymous said...

Heritage, not hate...why can't Mary fathom that one can honor the sacrifices of their Confederate ancestors...without being a racist. Dang. is it really that hard?

Furthermore, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation came only after his army finally managed to not horribly lose a major battle...His proclamation was followed by mass desertions in the Union Army by thousands of soldiers who decided that the war they were involved in was not about slavery...at least noy when they began it.

Its called HISTORY, folks. Like it or not, it happened. Don't wrongly villify the Southern "Cause", by assuming that those men suffered and died to preserve slavery. Most just didn't want Washington telling them how to live. And don't think that the Northern "Cause" was a noble gesture to free the slaves. Slavery was a factor in the whole event of the War Between The States, but it was not the cause of either the North or the South.

You insult me and my heritage when you equate honorable men of the Confederate Army with the degenerate racist men of today who rally beneath the honorable Confederate Battle Flag.

Mary's ignorance in this matter is on par with those morons who stole the flag. She willingly chose her position to bait readers. They willingly chose theirs to bait society.

Shame on both.

Anonymous said...

Actually in today's world, in which the fear of terrorism is very real, MLK Jr. would have been labeled a terrorist and would have been sent to prison for almost all of the rallies/sit-downs/protests that he was involved in.

Do you not think its odd that MLK Jr.'s records are under classified status until 100 years after his death? Nixon and Clinton couldn't cut that kind of deal, and they were elected President! I hope I survive to 2068, but by then he might just be canonized...

FYI, King was a communist that was under FBI Investigation constantly, as were many other famous people during the civil rights era. That statement can't be validated until they release his records, but why hide innocence Libs?

Anonymous said...

MLk is beside the point. Let's have one argument at a time.

Anonymous said...

The Emancipation Proclamation 'freed' only those slaves held in states or territories deemed to be in rebellion at the time. Often overlooked is the fact that slaves were still legally held in the North. Especially in contested border states such as Maryland and Kentucky. Lincoln had a very real fear that freeing slaves in those states would push them into the Confederacy.

Anonymous said...

its being hidden because Bobby Kennedy ordered the wiretaps of MLK.

But MLK wouldn't be labelled a terrorist these days; are you nuts?

Anonymous said...

Since you are unwilling to actually research material to whine about, I'll help. There are also markers uptown that show where:
-Jefferson Davis stood when he learned of Lincoln's assassination.
-The Confederate Congress met for the last time with all members present.
-The Confederate Navy Yard was located.
-A large monument outside the Meck County Courthouse dedicated to those lost in the American Revolution. It was constructed in 1898 by a group of veterans led by Jewish Confederate Veteran Louis Leon. Did you hear me? A Confederate Veteran helped construct it! Better tear it down now before it's Confederateness pollutes your whiney Liberal world.

Your reasoning in suggesting that the monument was erected in 1977 was somehow racially motivated represents everything that wrong with media today. Unresearched assumptions like this have no place in modern media, but luckily for you, you should fit in just fine at the Observer. Enjoy your long, prosperous career.

The fact that the Observer would link to this mindless drivel on the front page disturbs me, but hey, maybe its at least a step up from the lady that had her mug smeared across the front page last week blabbing about "detoxing" and such idiotic trash. I wish your hit counter could display the number of dissatisfied viewers, instead of just "hits."

Anonymous said...

Frankly this kind of thing comes close to needing a printed retraction. The suggestion that this monument was financed by a racist, which seems to have been pretty thoroughly debunked here, is borderline libel.

Jumper said...

And the facts emerge! A local historical fan arranged it. See, nowadays on the internet a blogger with an audience doesn't need to do the initial investigation! The truth outs almost automatically! The outraged who emerge from the woodwork with the truth should be hoisted on our shoulders and hurrahed. The internet works, sort of.

Anonymous said...

Slavery wasn't the cause of the Civil War. The issue was States Rights.

More specifically, whether states have the right to keep an entire race of humans in slavery.

Yep, slavery had nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

'Removing the evidence of errors made opens us to the possibility of repeating mistakes."

This is exactly what the Germans have done with a wide array of Nazi symbolism; they just left it there as a silent reminder.

Remember gang, it's only the War of Northern Agression if you're a dithering idiot. Save yourselves from looking like buffoons and morons in the presence of people who know better by simply keeping your mouths shut. South Carolina seceded because of slavery, plain and simple. Hell, the secession document enumerates all the ways SC felt wronged vis-a-vis the North's unwillingness to preserve SC's 'right' to own brown people.

Confederate pride is shameful, and although the men who died in the civil war were certainly brave, they were no more or less brave than the German Nazis; fighting and dying for an ideology that should be forever extinguished from the earth.

//forefathers served under Lee at Gettysburg

Jason Pittman said...


It was erected on CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL DAY...May 10, 1977!


Anonymous said...

How come there isn't a memorial commemorating how the South kept African-Americans in virtual slavery for 100 years after the war ended? Surely patriotic Confederates should be equally proud of that accomplishment. Maybe a Jim Crow marker next to the one Mary mentions would be in order.

Maybe it could be inscribed with a portrait showing those wonderful, thoughful, well-bred Southern boys and girls greeting Dorothy Counts on her first day at Charlotte's Harding High School.

Anonymous said...

How come there isn't a memorial commemorating how the South kept African-Americans in virtual slavery for 100 years after the war ended?

The memorial is meant to honor bravery in battle, in defense of one's homeland and principles (however misguided). It doesn't make any claim to moral superiority on the slavery issue.

Surely we can honor bravery and heroism among even the vanquished and disgraced.

bobcat99 said...

My Confederate ancestors were brave and noble...but they were wrong. My fellow Southerners keep referring to their pride in having ancestors who sacrificed for what they believed in. What did they believe in? The right of a state to keep human beings enslaved if that state so desired? Furthermore, Confederates were traitors to the United States of America. Period. They should not be honored by monuments placed on public grounds and doing so kowtows to the lowest element of Southern heritage.

Anonymous said...

Your ancestors are DEAD. They fought for what they thought was right BACK THEN. Well this is 2008! None of us were in the Civil War! Why do we need to keep re-living it? It is history. Yes, it should be remembered, but people need to get over it! There is a difference! Your heritage is AMERICAN! The Southeast (like the West, Northwest, Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, etc) is a geographic region within the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what you "are". North, South, West, whatever. It really doesn't matter. We are all people. This is 2008 not 1865.

Anonymous said...

What is so funny to me and you see all of these people get upset at this article like they were in the civil war themselves. IT'S OVER PEOPLE. Respect our history. Let those who side with the South, honor their dead and let those who do not agree RECONGIZE that YOUR SIDE THE NORTH WON!!! I have never seen so many people worry about seeing the losing side so much. They lost it was god's way and if they want to put up memorials LET THEM...IF they decided to go to war again to "Protect their ways" They'll LOSE again. Granted they'll take a lot with them because they got their guns but at the end of the day if you believe in God GOOD ALWAYS OUTWEIGHS EVIL! If you don't think slavery is evil then when you past tell the devil I said HA HA HA!! MY NAME IS WAYNE!!! WON'T HIDE FROM MY COMMENTS Area Code is 980 Zip Code is 28273...I'm at home by 7pm everyday.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Charlotte native who was living here in 1977 (though most of my time was in Chapel Hill by then.) I don't remember any controversy about this monument, or that it was even placed and I think I would have noticed and remembered. I don't think it caused a stir-certainly not what we've seen here today.

Some of my fellow natives cling to the Civil War so, so much. I don't understand that. It makes me cringe, but I understand that you are proud of it. Personally, I'd rather cling to and celebrate the wonderful things our state has done in education, business, wealth creation. If you want to celebrate war heroes, why not the soldiers of WWII?

Just Thinkin2 said...

The War of Northern Agression was not about slavery, as far as the South was concerned. It was about States' Rights and about protecting the manufacturing jobs which had been lured from Northern Cities by cheaper mills in the South.

Read the Memorial's words in light of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclimation. What you see in the original Lincoln document is confirmation that distruction of the South's economy was more important than elimination of Slavery. Note that those areas and States , not in conflict with the North, were able to keep thier slaves.

Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the executive will on the 1st day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State or the people thereof shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such States shall have participated shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-In-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for supressing said rebellion, do, on this 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the first day above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Palquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebone, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Morthhampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

Slavery as the real reason for the Civil War is about as true as WMD were for Iraq- good for the press, but not very accurate.

Anonymous said...

The sad fact is that many of the brave, heroic men who fought for what they believed was right were the same men who allowed terrorism in the form of Jim Crow to thrive afterward.

That cowardly action – or rather inaction - tarnished all the bravery, valor and romance of the war, and negated the need to memorialize it on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Lewis said...

Please NOTE:

Art Merrill, Bill James, Jason Pittman and myself are the only people willing to identify themselves with their opinions. Notice our opinions.

Notice NONE of those who are easily considered Yankees use their given name.

Cato said...

With respect to whether the Confederacy was worth honoring, the crux of the matter is whether secession was constitutional. If it was, then the southern states had a right to leave, slavery and all, and the remaining United States were unlawful, imperialist aggressors in trying to stop them. If not, then the North was
entirely within its rights in acting to prevent secession and the South, or at least its leadership, was guilty of treason.

It's fascinating as an historical and jurisprudential exercise (if pointless), and I have my own thoughts, but something tells me this is beyond the intended scope of Mary's thread.

Anonymous said...

It's fascinating as an historical and jurisprudential exercise (if pointless), and I have my own thoughts, but something tells me this is beyond the intended scope of Mary's thread.

Way, waaaay beyond, baby.

The intended scope of this thread was obviously to incite yet another traffic-generating North vs. South argument, which is about all this blog is good for.

Anonymous said...

Surely we can honor bravery and heroism among even the vanquished and disgraced.

Not according to certain [ahem] people.

MIKE said...

When will people realize that none of this really matters anymore? All it does is continue to divide us. Let it be remembered because it happened, but don't obsess over it or act like it is still happening now. There is nothing wrong with being proud of where you are from, but there are other ways of showing that pride through state flags, sports teams, colleges, etc.

mike said...

Let me clarify... official state flags, logos, etc.

Lewis said...

Cato: Whether or not it is what Mary intended, it is an excellent point. There is every reason to believe each state had a right to secede. In fact many of them did, and formed another union. But that right was overun by might.

We have in this country a belief that a simple majority vote confers on any particular issue a moral rightness. Along that same line, we have this belief, that a physical win, a fight, or more exactly a war, confers on the winner some moral rightness.

No, what it does is eliminates those of the opposition by brute force. Their people and policies are then subdued by continued use of force, which makes those left remember too well the abuses of the winner.

But this never changes the truths of the issue.

What the various states had joined, was a union of like minded states, and a constitution was written to protect certain rights of the people and the states. There was no 'no take back' clause. If there was, do you imagine the states would have joined to start with? So when some states legitimately decided to leave a union which no longer served their purposes, those left, seeing a great loss, decided it was better to use force to maintain what was in their economic best interest, than to let it go.

And so the great genius, that warmonger, that genocidal maniac, Lincoln, becomes a hero. Because he was on the winning side.

Much better men were found from the south. Start with Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

And still are.

Anonymous said...
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John Brown's Body said...

Like many, I fail to see how this topic has anything to do with “growth, neighborhoods or urban design”. Maybe by a long stretch it falls under “related topics”. Or maybe the Observer reminded its staff that it’s ratings week, and Mary found a quick way to boost the number of hits at Observer-linked websites.

I think we’ll discover that this was actually a clever ploy to back into one of Mary’s favorite topics – capping I-277.

Yes, we’ll soon probably see a proposal to move the various Confederate markers and monuments around town into the new Confederacy Park to be built above the John Belk Freeway. The park will share the acreage with Jeff Davis Place, the largest concentration of upscale retail between Washington and Atlanta, and Grant Tower, a 100-story condo project catering to wealthy Northern transplants fresh off Wall Street.

This welding of Southern heritage and Northern know-how will be emblematic of New United Charlotte...or at least of the tiny uptown part of this major American city.

Anonymous said...

You can make all the contrived rationalizations you want to falsely claim that there was honor in leaving the Union, or that you had the right to do so. But let’s face it, if you weren't going to be allowed to have slaves, you were going to take your toys and go home. Nothing but childish hubris motivated that action.

I think another famous Southerner, the one who said “"We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, would have gladly kicked, if not spanked, the butt of the secessionist general from the same state for violating that sacred oath.

Anonymous said...

"There is nothing wrong with being proud of where you are from, but there are other ways of showing that pride through state flags, sports teams, colleges, etc."

Great idea!



Anonymous said...

Yes, I respect the German infantryman.

Nazi's were the politicians. Democrats and Yankees remind me of them.

Anonymous said...


Lee and Davis were not heroes, they were nancyboys just like all the other confederate wannabes on this blog. General Sherman was a true manly man who put all of you in their place. Boo-yah!

Anonymous said...
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rcmassengill said...

Still no apology from The Charlotte Observer or Mary Newsome. A public apology is far overdue. If this had offended any other group, the outrage would be far more overwhelming, and The Observer would be offering public retractions and apologies.

And please people - if you are going to bash and call people "rednecks," own up to your own words, rather than cowardly hiding behind anonymous. This is again in no way a threat of any kind, but personal responsibility is the least one should expect.

Tom said...

You can make all the contrived rationalizations you want to falsely claim that there was honor in leaving the Union, or that you had the right to do so.

The soldiers don't make the political decisions. Surely you can wrap your mind around the idea that any honorable man would defend his home and family against an invading army, regardless of political circumstance. It's not as though the Union Army came down seeking civil conversation; in many towns those who did not fight simply starved to death after being pillaged.

This all reminds me a little of Iraq. The mainstream American simply cannot grasp the concept that the Iraqi population would fight against us -- not because they loved Saddam, not because they love Al Qaeda, but because they rightly oppose the idea of being invaded and exploited by an outside army. It's the simplest thing in the world to understand their point of view UNLESS you dismiss them as moral degenerates out-of-hand because their opposition doesn't fit a convenient political fable. If you are that sort of person, you simply think Iraq is about the spread of democracy... just as you might think the Civil War was about the eradication of slavery. But at the end of the day, all wars are about the same thing.

The other common link between the two wars: if you think neo-Confederates have a hard time letting go of old grudges, imagine how long it will be before Iraqis forget what we did to them.

Anonymous said...

General Sherman was a true manly man who put all of you in their place.

Way to get your pronouns mixed up there. Shouldn't it be "all of you in YOUR place"?

If Sherman did today what he did back in 1864-1865, he'd be tried as a war criminal.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Yeah, and Lee and Davis would have been tried for treason.

Lewis Guignard said...

It is well established might makes law. But as Tom pointed out, you can't make me like it. And as Massengill pointed out, The Observer and Mary Newsome owe us an apology.

Anonymous said...
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Jumper said...

Apologize for WHAT? Name it. Troll-baiting, maybe. Impugning the reputation of Southerners? That was the other trolls, not her.

Anonymous said...

"Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state, leading to declarations of secession by four more Southern slave states."

You started it.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I'm proud that I have left the obviously conceited state to the north for the one in which I now reside. If one were to read the Consitution, and study the reasons for secession, it should be obvious that the South had good reason to secede. Slavery was just one of the many factors that led the Southern States to this drastic move. Did you ever stop to wonder why Jefferson Davis was never tried for treason after he was captured? Have you ever heard the following quote: "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can may revolutionize and make their own of so many of the territory as they inhabit." These are words Abraham Lincoln delived as a Congressman on January 12, 1848. How ironic would it have been if Jefferson Davis could have used Old Abe's own words in his defense. In the end, the Federal Govt. couldn't build a case against J. Davis and were afraid to put him on trial. Folks say secession was illegal; but it was done legally by the state's legislatures. Also, you will note that each state's legislatures had to vote (under force) to re-enter the Union after the war.

I apologize for nothing. I feel no remorse. Slavery would have ended peacefully the way it did everywhere else in the world, and maybe there wouldn't be the residual hostilities that exist today.


Anonymous said...

WRC says it very well.

No comment from supporters of the oppressors comes close.

Anonymous said...

OK. What do you people not understand about this? None of us living today have nothing to do with the Civil War. We didn't fight in it, we didn't make the decisions, so stop acting like this is 1865! I can't take this Civil War crap anymore because it doesn't matter anymore! Everyone living today had nothing to do with it and I don't understand why this is so hard to understand. How can you hold a grudge against the people of today? None of us can control what happened in the past because we weren't even ALIVE!

Anonymous said...

Actually, they are the "undead." Vampires. And yes, they WERE around in those days. And their hunger is never truly satisfied. Fear them. FEAR THEM!

Anonymous said...

The truth is out. It is Vampires in the south. Slowly quietly and certainly we lure unsuspecting Yankees down here with low tax rates, pleasant winters, good manners, and a laid back attitude. Then, once they're here, we begin to raise their taxes, slowly, hardly noticeably, until, one day, they find their tax rate is higher than it was 'back home'. But it is too late. They are now old and unable to return to that god-foresaken place, and must pay and pay and pay. All just to see the people they fought so long ago to free, (just ask any of them, the war was to free an oppressed people) lie around on their porches and watch TV, drinking cold drinks from the frigadare, having pizza delivered.

Ah yes, the Yankees freed them, now they pay for them. Such is fate.

Anonymous said...

The reason Jefferson Davis, his cabinet members, other Confederate officials and Confederate Army and Navy officers weren't charged with war crimes was because Lincoln wanted to heal the country.

A lot of good that did. When Northern politicians decided to turn a blind eye toward Klan terrorism as Reconstruction ended,the South quickly showed that slavery had been the real issue all along, because former slaves were virtually enslaved once again under Jim Crow.

Oh, someone will write back and claim that the South during that period was only exercising States Rights Doctrine in denying African-Americans the right to vote, hold political office, live in segregated poverty, etc., etc.

Strange that States Rights would just happen to achieve the same result that slavery had.

Anonymous said...

...and the Southern Democrats filibustered to try to stop the 1964 Civil Rights Act...were they trying to "recapture" their plantations?

Anonymous said...

The Jim Crow era in the South was comparable to the modern Islamist movement in the Middle East. It had more to do with resentment against foreign oppression than with any actual principles. And because the Union politicians had hidden behind the security blanket of "freeing the slaves", southern blacks took the brunt of neo-Confederate anger.

Prior to the Civil War, the concept of "segregation" was meaningless. Whites and blacks, while legally unequal, shared every part of their lives without widespread strife -- from riding public transit together to shopping at the same stores. It was only after the politically-motivated shaming of the South (evidently still continuing today, to judge by the comments above) that Jim Crow reared its ugly head.

Anonymous said...

"...and the Southern Democrats filibustered to try to stop the 1964 Civil Rights Act...were they trying to "recapture" their plantations?"

When one race purposely enacts laws, edicts and economic sanctions to limit the right of another race to life, liberty, justice and achievement of educational and econmic equality, then the aim and result is still slavery.

Why recapture the plantations when you've basically recaptured your slaves? Or did their former owners willingly allow them free market competition and fair wages for services? I think not.

And all this was a reaction to foreign oppresion? Sorry, but the South was part of the Union when Jim Crow arrived. Does anyone believe the South was an independent nation up until 1964, when the slaves were really freed?If it still thought itself an independent nation, then the North made a big mistake by not continuing to maintaining troops and ensuring public safety long after Reconstruction.

In any case, tell me again why I am supposed to respect the men who continued to retard the growth of this region for 100 years past the end of the Civil War.

Anonymous said...

You need to respect the men who were stubborn, foolish and apparently not the brightest cotton bolls in the field for sticking literally to their guns years after the rest of this nation and most of the civilized world had abandoned that lifestyle.

But you also need to honor their progeny, who learned their lesson so well that they continued down a similar destructive path for another century before one Southernor had the sense to say enough is enough.

It's sort of a Don Quixote memorial. Old times here are not forgotten, nor do they make much sense.

Anonymous said...

And all this was a reaction to foreign oppresion? Sorry, but the South was part of the Union when Jim Crow arrived. Does anyone believe the South was an independent nation up until 1964, when the slaves were really freed?

Whether it makes a happy story or not, the fact of the matter is that 13 Southern states legally voted themselves out of the Union and formed their own country. The Reconstruction period was literally a time of Federal occupation for the South, which led to the hard feelings and violent backlashes that ultimately became Jim Crow government.

I am continually astounded at the northerner's inability to understand both sides of the conflict. It is exactly the same attitude that makes Americans so stereotypically insular around the world -- "You'll be invaded and you'll LIKE it, or else!".

Jumper said...

Here I am like an idiot, standing here and talking to myself.

Probably the question is, how much psychic support do we lend to causes that are mostly, or partly, but definitely not entirely, ours? Most Americans nowadays are FOR freedom and AGAINST slavery. So when we encounter a historical episode that scrambled both, no wonder controversy extends to this day.oosdr

Anonymous said...

I'm able to fathom the backlash. What I can't understand is the carrying forward of a grudge for over 100 years, and taking it out on the very people you taught to build and maintain your infrastructure and plantations. What a waste! (Or maybe you or your ancestors thought the slaves were "Northern aggressors".)

Anonymous said...

I'm all for people having the right to erect monuments to their Civil War dead, regardless of which side is honored, as long as those memorials are not on public, tax-payer owned properties.

Move the statues and stones that I've seen in both Southern and Northern states away from the court houses and public squares. Put them in a private cemetery, where they best repose with the dead they honor.

Anonymous said...

I'm able to fathom the backlash. What I can't understand is the carrying forward of a grudge for over 100 years, and taking it out on the very people you taught to build and maintain your infrastructure and plantations.

The memorial was not constructed due to a "grudge" against black people. Believe it or not, Southerners are capable of having feelings such as pride and honor without being redneck racists. Open your mind to the humanity of others.

Anonymous said...

I'm able to fathom the backlash. What I can't understand is the carrying forward of a grudge for over 100 years, and taking it out on the very people you taught to build and maintain your infrastructure and plantations.

The memorial was not constructed due to a "grudge" against black people. Believe it or not, Southerners are capable of having feelings such as pride and honor without being redneck racists. Open your mind to the humanity of others.

Anonymous said...

The monument is there not because of racist attitudes, but because of the oldest and most respectable of Southern traditions...honoring those who came before us. You don't have to like the mission, but you should honor the lives that were lost.

Carl R. Chester, SC

Mark said...

Hey Jumper, you ever looked into why Lawrence got attacked.

I won't tell you I'll let you live your local myth.

Anonymous said...

I have helped erect three Confederate memorials this summer. I will assist with another in November. Mary seems to want free speech for herself but wishes to deny it to others. How very unAmerican! How very uninclusive, non-diversive, non-accepting!

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Anonymous said...

^ We'll do that right about the same time all the Revolutionary memorials around Boston are dug up or closed. After all, it happened over 200 years ago and it's time to move on right?

Anonymous said...

I applaud Councilman James Mitchell for his comment, "you have to respect that people fought for what they thought was right."

He is so right. During the Civil War, the people thought they were right, so they fought for that.

Thank you sir, for your wisdom. If I were a Charlotte resident, I would be proud to vote for you.

Anonymous said...

good grief ... when i lived in Columbia . they made the State take down the Battle Flag .. i honestly feel like this is a form discimination.