The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, January 12, 2009

Davis for Governor? No thanks.

Bob Martin, publisher of The Montgomery Independent, published a column recently about Artur Davis and his chances of becoming governor. Well, not exactly, because anybody with any sense can see that the chance of that happening is zero. The column was more about how Davis running for governor could assure Republican success in the governor's race and other
races across the state.

Davis wants to follow Obama's lead. Martin points out that while Obama polled 43% of the white vote nationally, he only received 10% in Alabama.

This says nothing about Davis. His charismatic personality and republican-like talk plays well in our a point.

No, it says more about the people of Alabama. More on this later.

Davis has a good gig in Washington. He needs to stay there. Even though I don't agree with him on a few many issues, if he drops out of congress, Sheila Smoot has threatened to run. Yikes!

Ok, back to the people of Alabama. Over the last few weeks there have been several letters in the Birmingham News about the Civil War and why it happened and such. People from our state still argue that it was not about slavery. They argue tax issues, trade issues, economic issues...but those things all lead back to the slavery issue.

Here are some quotes from the Declarations of Secession from several states.

South Carolina: "...A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery..."

Mississippi: "...Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world..."

Alabama: "...Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of president and vice-president of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions* and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama..." (*sugar coated term for slavery)

Georgia: "...A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia..."

Texas: "...We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable..."

Ok, that's just picking and choosing quotes from a few of the declarations, but there is a common theme. Some of the states, with the benefits of previous declarations, were not as detailed, but like I said, just read them and you will see a common theme...the south did not want to give up slavery.

Look back at the quote from Alabama. That is the mentality that today's white vote in Alabama evolved from. The "domestic institutions" of 1861 that allowed "peace and security" are comparable to the "domestic institution" of segregation that was overcome in the 1960's. In 2010, the "peace and security" that might be important to the whites in the state might be disrupted by elevating a black to the position of governor, so it just won't happen.

Alabama is slow to change. Davis running in 2010 will do nothing to bring change, especially as to which party holds the Governor's seat.


Anonymous said...

I would have to disagree with you on the cause of the Civil War. While I believe that the secession of the Southern States was due to the issue of slavery (In a nutshell. It was rather the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak.) the war itself was economically driven.

If the United States had allowed for a peaceful secession it would have seen great losses in taxable assets and there was great fear that the Northern banks that held a lot of the loans for southern businesses would collapse due to Southern business refusing to pay.

The United States really didn't make slavery a "fighting" issue till well into the war. It was more patriotic driven until around 1862-63. Even when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation he only addressed slavery in the Confederate States (which didn't really listening to him at the time) and not the slave holding states that sided with the Union or that were under Union control.

Anonymous said...

I do think the reasons for the Civil War were at base partially for economic reasons... but it was to preserve an economy based on slavery. That Lincoln decided to make this the thesis driving the war partway thru its existing can be also seen that it was one of the major storylines that emerged, but a true storyline. That some northern industrialists actually wanted the status quo does not lessen that slavery was a root cause.
If you look at every war: the American Revolution, World War I and II, the Iraq War, etc... you can almost always find that the economy was a root cause. But history is complex. Economy and slavery were both causes of the Civil War. It wasn't a coincidence that secession largely fell along those lines, and that within slave states, such as Alabama, the more pro-Union populations were in areas that had more subsistence level farming rather than plantations.

Anonymous said...

"within slave states, such as Alabama, the more pro-Union populations were in areas that had more subsistence level farming rather than plantations."

Very true, take the county of Winston for example.

But to clarify, I stated that succession was caused by slavery related issues. The war itself (from a U.S. standpoint) was to preserve the Union and that the driving reason to do so was economic not moral. I am trying to keep separate succession and the war as one led to another but the two are not the same.

Anonymous said...

I agree with that.
The first time I even heard that Lincoln was great because he unified the country was in China. This storyline was much more relevant to modern China than one of slavery. I kind of thought it a bit naive at the time. Now I see that that it was quite true.

Joe said...

Oh Brother I see your point, but dig deeper. "The war itself (from a U.S. standpoint) was to preserve the Union and that the driving reason to do so was economic not moral."

The Union was split (thus in need of being preserved) because of secession, and secession because of slavery.

Economics may have been the "excuse" but slavery was the cause.

Lincoln campaigned against expanding slavery, but conventional wisdom led the southern states to believe he was against it everywhere. So they declared their secession. That was viewed as rebellion, so that in itself was grounds for war.

Maybe it would be better to say the existence of slavery was the cause, not an attempt by the north to end slavery. In any case, if slavery had not been a part of the economy of the south, there would not likely have been any secession and no war.

I don't claim to be a civil war historian, but this is how I see it.

Anonymous said...

"In any case, if slavery had not been a part of the economy of the south, there would not likely have been any secession and no war."

I'd agree with that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe:

I gather you saw my letter in the News quoting the Miss. Ordnance of Succesion, and I'm glad you took the trouble to look at the other Confederate state's declarations. How can anyone read these and say that the war was NOT about slavery?

The Mississippi Ordinance, in particular, contains a very convincing essay on the history of the anti-slavery movement in the U.S. (from a pro-slavery standpoint, of course) from colonial times to about 1860 that must convince the most adamant skeptic...

... except that the human power of self-deception is the most awesome power of all.


Joe said...

What I can't figure out is what their motive is in denying slavery was the cause.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe:
Well, it must be horrible to think of your ancestors as defending something now almost universally regarded as repugnant. The memes that slavery wasn’t such a bad thing, and anyway, the war wasn’t really about slavery anyhow, began to circulate not long after
Appomatox, and thrived in the South for the next century. I grew up in Florida, and went to elementary school in the early 1960s. I well remember my first textbook on US history, telling how most slave-owners were kindly, good people, who taught their slaves about Christianity, and how the slaves themselves were mostly happy and grateful to be rescued from their horrible lives in Africa. This was in a public school, by the way, not some segregation academy. It seems delusional now, but not so long ago in the South this was conventional wisdom. And it aint dead yet, you see.

Holocaust denial in Europe must be a similar phenomenon. “Grandfather was so good and kind. If he was a member of the Nazi Party, they couldn’t have been so bad.” Etc.

Hope I haven’t godwinned myself here, but it really seems like a valid comparison.