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Can we have an open, honest discussion about The Confederacy?

Christopher Harris

I wonder how many people are truly open-minded, and mature enough to have a real discussion on this topic? Well, lets find out.

Let me start by saying, if you hadn’t already figured out, I am an American Black Man. I hate the idea of hyphenations, because I know my family heritage, and we have been in America since at least 1813, so very few people walking around can claim to be more “American” than I am. But before I am an American, I am a Christian. A deeply flawed and wretched person, undeserving of God’s grace, yet still someone who is so grateful that I can call Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Thankfully, there is nothing about being a Christian that conflicts with being an American, when you understand what it is supposed to mean to be an American.

You see, as a Christian, Conservative, American Black Man, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, that I was CREATED by a heavenly Father who knew me in the womb. And because I know I was CREATED, I realize that I, like every other HUMAN BEING, at the moment of my conception,  was ENDOWED BY MY CREATOR, with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS. That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Sound familiar?

So with that in mind, as Conservatives, we cannot sit here with any intellectual integrity, let alone MORAL INTEGRITY, and talk about our “Rights”, without acknowledging that no matter how you try to paint the picture, it is wrong to hold another man (as in HUMAN BEING) in the bondage of slavery. If you aren’t quite clear on that, and you call yourself a Christian, allow me to point you to Exodus 21:16 (NKJV) that says “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.”  If we cannot agree on that simple, unassailable fact, then we are not even speaking the same language. And quite frankly, if you don’t agree with that fact, then you should never open your mouth to call yourself a “Christian”.

Because I know the narrative that has been carefully crafted over the generations, and I know how hyper-emotional folks can get on this topic, let me make something perfectly clear. I personally bear no ill will towards “The South”, and certainly no ill will towards “Southerners”, because my family roots are “Southern”.  As a follower of THAT DUDE, Booker T. Washington, I believe that one of the best places for Blacks, is in The South, and he was 100% correct when he gave his famous “Atlanta Exposition Address” at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition on September 18, 1895. In that speech, he addresses the Negroes, who had barely been free from the clutches of slavery for a generation, and said:

To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbour, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”—cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.

He then addressed the White population of the South, and said:

To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defence of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one.

I can tell you that in my own personal experience, I generally get along better with, and relate more to Southerners than I do North-easterners. And when it comes to dealing with White folks, I would generally rather deal with a Southern White person over a Northeastern White person any day of the week. I have found that your average North-easterner has a lot of Leftist (I refuse to call them “Liberals”) ideas, and is generally exponentially more racist and bigoted than your average modern Southerner.

However, we can’t escape the facts of history. Once again, I know the narrative, and I have already experienced people sending hate-mail when you talk about the realities of the Civil War and the Confederacy. It is what it is, and #TruthIsForGrownFolks, and I would rather know an ugly truth, than to believe in a beautiful lie. I am not  going to sit here and paint every Northerner who fought in the Civil War as a paragon of virtue, and I am certainly not going to attempt to paint every Southerner who fought in the Civil War as a wicked person. But if we run from THE TRUTH, we only end up dying tired and stupid.

I have done enough independent research to know that out of the approximately 12.5 Million Africans that were taken from Africa in bondage for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, about 10.7 Million of them survived the “Middle Passage”.

Slave Ship - 100facts_slaveslanded_lg

But what I know, that most people don’t know, is that out of that 10.7 Million human beings who were sold into slavery between 1525-1866, records show that less than 400,000 were shipped directly to North America. The remaining 10.3 Million were shipped into the Caribbean and to South America. So as much of a bad rap as the United States has gotten for the stain of slavery, we have never been the biggest perpetrators of slavery in the world.

I full well recognize that every White person in the South did not own, nor desire to own slaves. In fact, according to the 1860 Census, out of a total U.S. Population of 31,183,582 human beings, “only” 393,975 (about 8% of families) actually owned slaves. Which means that “only” about 1.2% of Americans owned their fellow man as slaves. I understand that out of the approximately 4,427,276 people of African descent who were in the American colonies in 1860, over 10% of them (476,748) were Free Citizens, the remaining 3,950,528 were held in the cruel bondage of slavery, simply because of the color of their skin.  I also know that the very first slave owner in America was someone of African descent, Anthony Johnson; and that in 1654, he actually sued John Casor in court for the right to own him indefinitely, and not just as an indentured servant.

As I have begun to educate myself above and beyond that which I was indoctrinated to believe in the public school system, I have learned quite a bit about this country. And as I have discussions with more people on a day to day basis, I have learned that, just as many folks who call themselves Christians, and are literate, have never actually read the Holy Bible, many people who call themselves “Proud Americans”, and are literate, have never actually read any of the foundational documents that this country was built upon. Many of my fellow Conservatives talk with reverence about our U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence which was the framework of that Constitution, but it’s become glaringly obvious that many have either never actually read the documents, or don’t understand them.

So with that in mind, it comes as little to no surprise that many who are so adamant about defending the Confederacy have never actually read the Constitution of the Confederate States, created on March 11, 1861. So I submit to you the actual words of the that unholy document, in regards to slavery.

Article I, Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

Article I, Sec. 9. (2) Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.

Article I, Sec. 9. (4) No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

ARTICLE IV, Sec. 2. (I) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

ARTICLE IV, Sec. 2. (3) No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs,. or to whom such service or labor may be due.

 

Just as I learned when my family started researching our own ancestors, I have learned that there are plenty of ugly things in the history of this country that are nothing to be proud of. However, I have found that there is much more to be proud of than not to be proud of. But the fact remains that far too many folks have been thoroughly indoctrinated, usually via an oral tradition, to believe that the Confederacy was formed simply in support and defense of “States Rights”, but that just isn’t the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you do your research of things like The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, you will recognize that the Confederacy was formed to protect the institution of slavery.

Listen folks, I know it’s hard to swallow, because this means turning your back on many of the things your parents told you, and I can surely sympathize with you on that. I mean, look at me, I’m a flippin’ Conservative Black Man who is registered as a Republican. Do you have any clue as to what type of outcast that makes me? Think about it, over 90% of people who look like me, think I am a crazy. Worse than that, they think I am a “traitor to my race”. But I would rather stand alone in Biblical Righteousness and Correctness, than to stand together with the crowd in Political Correctness.

In his novel, “The Go-Between”, published in 1953, author L.P. Hartley begins by saying “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”. With that in mind, folks, as much as you might want to believe that I am sitting here trying to bash all Southerners, past and present, that is not even remotely true.  I understand that the institution of slavery was a deeply ingrained part of AMERICAN culture, and in the past (where they did things differently) almost our entire economy, especially the South. was dependent upon the output created by slave labor.  I also understand that simply abolishing it over-night wasn’t exactly a viable option, much like simply abolishing our current welfare and entitlement system isn’t exactly a viable option. But the complexity and current legality of the issue doesn’t make it moral or ethical, especially if you call yourself a Christian.

The truth is, while the South is full of wonderful people, made up almost entirely of the descendants of the nearly 99% who DID NOT own slaves, we can’t escape this one fact. No matter how much your ancestors tried to tell you otherwise, supporting the Confederacy under the belief that it was about “States Rights” is as big of a lie as supporting Abortion, under the belief that it is about “A Woman’s Right to Choose”. The Confederacy was about Slavery, and Abortion is about murdering children in the womb.

I will leave you with the inspiring words of the Apostle John, the longest lived of all the original 12 Disciples of Christ, and the only one who did not die a martyrs death. His words in John 8:32 (NKJV) are so appropriate to this topic. To give context, John quotes Jesus who was speaking to the Jews who chose to believe in him, and Jesus simply said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”   Folks, this is TRUTH that can set you free.

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Comments

  1. Leslie Brown

    My partner “knocks it out of the park” again, tackling an issue few would dare address, and doing so with clarity, honesty, and fact.

  2. Hassan Nurullah

    Good stuff!

  3. Dolores Bryant

    VERY thought provoking. Certainly an issue few people would touch. I like your courage. Well written.

  4. Providence Crowder

    Another well written and thought provoking article from my brother and friend, THAT DUDE Christopher Harris. Keep educating and sharing truth bro, and tackling those topics that others avoid.

  5. Angelia Bronson

    APPLAUSE!!!! This one is out of the park Christopher.

  6. Todd South

    I suspect you and I would agree on most things, sir. God bless and provide wisdom to your dissertations. My family fought on both sides of the Civil War based upon their location, but mostly because they were expected to by their cultures (ranging from NC, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi). They were mostly sharecroppers, though, and about as poor as it gets for any station in America. They certainly never owned slaves and stood by the same Exodus 21:16 direction you quote. You approach a big picture for this thesis, yet please do not dismiss the pressures of any society on its citizenry.

  7. Kara Veal

    Very well written. Great points. This examined facts that people from different points of view regarding slavery will have to, if they are intellectually honest, accept as truth. I love this country the good, bad, and ugly. We can’t ignore it’s history to justify our feelings for today. But we can see just how far we’ve come and how hard it really was to be the greatest country on earth. #truthisforgrownfolks

  8. Shatoyia Bradley

    GREAT article Chris!!! Very well stated facts and full of grace!

  9. Nicholas Marco

    Once again Chris you nailed this – everything was on point, and even I learned some new history. Thank you as always for being honest and truthful

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