By: Jonathan Harris
In a recent discussion I had, two men of differing political persuasions- one was conservative, the other libertarian- were bemoaning the direction of our nation under "Gasp!" Obama. Ironically, although I'm not a libertarian, I tend to empathize with how most libertarians see our history. They tend to see the wisdom in the "Anti-Federalist Papers," the usurpation of Liberty during the "Civil War," and the rise of globalism during the Progressive era as a problem. In contrast, most of my fellow conservatives, up until recently, have looked back to the 1950s as the ideal period. "If everything would just go back to the way it was when I was a kid," or, " ...when my father was a kid." They don't tend to see the War of Northern Aggression, or the Progressive era as problems. In fact, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are usually the prime example of a "tough" conservative's hero. It's only been recently, through the voice of Glenn Beck I suspect, that conservatives have woken up to Roosevelt and Wilson's true legacies, albeit not Lincoln's unfortunately. Obama however has, in a good way, joined these two forces. Everyone knows he didn't come out of nowhere (or should I say "He?"). Obama's election has been brewing for over a hundred years as America's foundation has been under erosion. Both libertarians and conservatives can see this clearly now. During our conservation I pointed out that there was a group of people similar to us, devoted to limited government, the Bible, federalism, the free-market, and everything a true conservative fights for. They were called "Confederates," and they predicted our modern dilemma before the progressive era had even gained sway. We would do well to revive their prophecies concerning our time to glean from their wisdom. Perhaps if more people started reading the Confederate soldiers in their own words, they would see that they weren't a bunch of hick ignorant racists, but rather the most humble of the intelligent that bore arms in defense of their homeland. It's time to stop slandering them and start honoring them; if anything, for their foresight. In the words of Robert E. Lee, "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today."
General Patrick Cleburne
Gen. Patrick Cleburne 1864
General Cleburne, an Irish immigrant, wrote the preceding in reaction partially to the Northern policy of raising Blacks to fight for the Union; a policy Cleburne, along with fifteen Confederate cosigners, thought the South should emulate. If the war had continued another year, this plan would have been fulfilled under the direction of Jefferson Davis upon the urging of Robert. E. Lee. Although many blacks did already fight for the Confederacy (Some estimates put the number higher than blacks fighting for the North), most were consumed with non-combat duties. It is hard to estimate the number of blacks in the Confederacy largely because of the lack of segregation. Northern armies created official black regiments (racism anyone?), while the South had slaves fighting right along with their masters (see General Nathan Bedford Forrest).
Despite the primary issue of urgency being described here, there is something rather prophetic. Cleburne's admonishment was that "Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late." We think of that today under Obama. Unfortunately, we're too late! Cleburne's words were from 1864. What were the aspects of this subjugation? Cleburne states, "We can give but a faint idea when we say it means the loss of all we now hold most sacred - slaves and all other personal property, lands, homesteads, liberty, justice, safety, pride, manhood." We have a few categories being presented under, "all we now hold most sacred."
The first is, "slaves and all other personal property." To those who have been educated from a politically correct perspective, this automatically sounds like racism. "See, the South was fighting for slavery!" Well, in a sense, that is true. Although less than 5% of whites owned slaves, they were all fighting in part to maintain their economic system while progressively eliminating slavery. Robert E. Lee said in a letter to Lord Acton- which we will look at shortly- that the elimination of slavery after the war under the 13th amendment "is an event that has been long sought, though in a different way, and by none has it been more earnestly desired than by citizens of Virginia." From an economic perspective, the worst thing that could have possibly been done to the slaves was to grant them freedom, especially after destroying their master's wealth. This lead the way for the North to start programs which made blacks dependent on the Federal government. Ironically, the modern welfare state many blacks live in has its origins not in the Confederacy, but in the Federal government. The former slaves haven't been freed, they have merely been granted a less compassionate master: Big Brother. The North had progressively eliminated the institution (although for wrong reasons concerned with "white" labor) and so had most other nations in a peaceable way. That's really all the South was fighting for when it came to slaves. That's why the Confederate Constitution outlawed the slave trade (which was being furthered almost entirely by the North). In Cleburne's letter, a distinction is made between slaves and "all other personal property." This is because the Confederate's recognized a distinction did in fact exist. One was a man, the other was inanimate. This is why slave masters generally treated their slaves different than their other property to the extent that less racism and more prosperity for blacks both free and slave existed in the South. (See: "Slave Conditions in the South") Unfortunately, both forms of property would be confiscated by the Federal government. This happened under reconstruction as Sherman's Army raided, raped, and repossessed the "rightful" property of the Union. It's also happening today in an indirect way: Progressive taxation and inflation. Obama may be sneakier, but he's nothing new when it comes to legalized theft. In fact, the first American income tax and national currency came under another president: Lincoln.
The second aspect of subjection is the stealing of "lands [and] homesteads" which also took place under reconstruction through unconscionably high taxes imposed by carpetbaggers along with the Federal military government. It is noteworthy that after the war, the same Union Army marched West to steal Indian land. Surely this type of thing doesn't happen today though does it? Can anyone say, "Imminent Domain?"
How about the third aspects, which I am combining given their common inanimate traits. "Liberty, justice, safety, pride, [and] manhood." We could all perhaps talk for hours about the loss our rights, the lack of justice in our court system, the refusal of our government to stop illegal immigration and thereby protect us, the pathetic lack of American patriotism, and the demise of true manhood. We live in a world predicted by Cleburne to the "T." Regulations have taken our liberty, political correctness has robbed us of both justice and safety, "white-guilt" and by implication "American-guilt" have robbed us of our pride, and feminism has neutered our men. Could this really all be predicted solely based on the erosion of State's rights? The answer is clear: There's more to nationalism than merely "preserving the Union." There's a humanistic religion behind it.
The fourth facet of subjugation is education. The wise general stated accurately:
The history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy ... our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the War, will be impressed by all influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, our maimed veterans as fit objects for their derision.
Talk about specific! How did he know what we'd be learning as standard curriculum in school today? Perhaps being Irish helped him on this one through his observations of what the English had done to his own culture. What is happening in our country right now is often referred to as "cultural genocide." The stable center of our nation referred to as the "Bible Belt" is under constant attack. In fact, it's even more far-reaching than that. Christianity itself is also under attack from a historical perspective. The avowed Czechoslovakian communist Milan Kundera said, "The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was." This is precisely what we are under. The founders were "white racist capitalists." The Confederates, who blatantly stated their commitment to the founder's principles are even white and more racist.
The General's fifth prediction concerns race. It is profound to think that a Confederate soldier could have the foresight to see our modern racial divide. The North would bring about "the hatred of our former slaves, who will on a spy system, be our secret police. The conquerors policy is to divide the conquered into factions and stir up animosity among them." Whenever modern students are taught the history of "Civil Rights,"- which I look forward to writing about from a Southern viewpoint- they are always told that it was the "legacy of slavery." Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality it was the legacy of reconstruction. The slaves lived in a relatively unsegregated society (especially in comparison to the North). It was Northern policy, pitting blacks against whites, that caused racial tension in the middle of the 20th century South. Had the Confederate's won, I highly suspect a civil-right's movement would have been even necessary. It's hard to study historical hypotheticals, but if the modern Confederatos, the only known "un-reconstructed" group of Southerners, are any example of how it might have been, it most certainly would have been safe for both the black and white man. As it stands in today's America, there are places neither one is safe, especially the white man. We have a president elected by 96% of the black population, with their support unwavering even though their promises haven't been delivered. It is obvious a racial divide exists. The Confederates knew it would come to this. They believed in Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Notice even today, most blacks carry vestiges of their Confederate heritage, being Christian and for all intensive purposes being traditionally Southern. Unfortunately, politically speaking there has been a divide do to the breakdown of the family, welfare, and poor education: all elements of reconstruction, not slavery. During reconstruction, former slaves were given more government posts, extra rights including voting privileges, and the ability to get off easier for crimes. This was the start of the resentment that carried through the 1960s.
General Robert. E. Lee
I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.
-Robert E. Lee to Lord Acton 1866
Lee's words ring true today more than ever. Solely based on the erosion of "constitution power of the General Government" through the actions of the Union, Lee predicted a government which would be "aggressive abroad and despotic at home." Although libertarians and I may differ a bit on the "War on Terror," I hope we can all agree that since the War Between the States the U.S. has in fact been more aggressive than it would have otherwise. The Indians wars are a prime example of imperialism at its worst (although I do acknowledge good and bad on both sides). The unwarranted interaction in both the Spanish American War and World War 1 should make any conservative scratch their head a bit on why we even entered them? The fact that we have around 160 military bases abroad currently should make any proponent of small government a bit curious. Is this the aggression Lee was referring to? How about being despotic at home? Words cannot contain the examples coming to the forefront of the minds of every conservative.
Chaplain Robert Lewis Dabney
The State will fall into the hands of teachers who will not even teach secular learning honestly; money will be wasted, and the schools will become corrupting examples to their own pupils of slighted work and abused trusts. . .Christians must prepare themselves then, for the following results: All prayers, catechisms, and Bibles will ultimately be driven out of the schools. . . Infidelity and practical ungodliness will become increasingly prevalent among Protestant youth, and our churches will have a more arduous contest for growth if not for existence.- R.L. Dabney 1879
All Christians would do well to read the writings of R.L. Dabney, General Jackson's Chief of Staff. He predicted both the future of the feminist movement and the outcome of government controlled education (an outcome of the war and reconstruction). He saw a day when Bibles and prayers would be taken out of schools. No doubt many of his contemporaries denounced him as crazy. The Bible was practically universally taught. However, Dabney was dead on when speaking about education. Not only would Cleburne's prediction come true concerning the teaching of history, but the teaching of secular humanism would also commence. in the 1860s-70s the Federal government tool control of the states, the economy, and the children, all of which was an overstep created by a secular humanist worldview. It is not government's job to school. It's the parents. It's not government's job to run the economy. It's the responsibility of individuals. It's not the government's job to interfere with the states responsibilities either. Biblically speaking, all three of these things were rooted in an anti-Scriptural view of reality, that somehow through consolidation and control a utopia can be created perfecting humans by their own wisdom. The Confederates, with a Biblical worldview, saw this and rejected it.
President Jefferson Davis
The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government 1881
Perhaps this is the most encouraging prophecy of all. Sure, bad things happened as a result of the war, but the cause of limited government will one day reassert itself. Incidentally, I believe the Tea Party movement is not far off from picking up where Jefferson Davis left off though not many of them know it. Unfortunately, most of them see secession as a last resort, which really means, a tool never to be used. Davis perhaps can empathize. "I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came." The very president of the Confederacy had a hard time separating from the country he had helped shape and loved, and last of all he wanted a war on his hands. We should have the same mentality. Secession is a viable option, but that doesn't have to mean war. If it does mean war, we are not the aggressors. In fact, secession is the very epitome of a peaceful solution to a political problem. If we are afraid to reassert this right, we must ask ourselves, "What are we afraid of?" And if we are afraid, "What does that say about our current state of freedom?" I think another Jefferson might have some wisdom to shed on this. "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson
Will we honor the memory of our Confederate forefathers, or continue slandering them? They are more than our "conservative" forefathers. They are our "Christian forefathers." (yes, I know there are some exceptions). Their predictions, legitimize their cause. We would do well to place them in high esteem. In the words of Winston Churchhill, "A nation that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it," and again, "No nation can long survive without pride in its tradition."