View single post by MAubrecht
 Posted: Fri Jul 7th, 2006 03:00 pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 7th, 2005
Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia USA
Posts: 143

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Oh boy... this could thread could get ugly...

Everyone has made some great points. I personally feel that people in general (BOTH north and south) are pretty ignorant when it comes to REAL American history. They tend to look at things in the shortest and most rudimentary sense and not the whole story - especially from different perspectives. Often this results in the "defeated" foe being portrayed as a villain. Many people in the South are outraged NOT because of the Northern victory - but how their Cause was (and is) depicted. Slavery was absolutely an issue - but not the only issue. I've spent the first half of my life living just a few hours from Gettysburg and the last half living in Fredericksburg. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I was taught the Union's point of view, while my adult education in Virginia has focused more on the Confederacy's. Regardless of what "side" you line up on, it should bother all of us that "Rebs and Yanks" living in the same country are being intentionally skewed in their understanding of the Civil War. In the North, "the Gray" is often portrayed as the bad guys, a bunch of barefoot, slave-owning ingrates. In the South, "the Blue" is often remembered as an evil dictatorship, hell-bent on invasion and the nullification of states' rights. In many ways both are right, and both are wrong. Now, given the relaxed teaching standards in schools today, imagine what our kids think. Ultimately we are losing the next generation of Civil War buffs to the Playstation and Cell phones. I think that this lazy attitude makes people angry and more defensive.

I remember in sixth grade, the Civil War took up months of our history-class curriculum. Today, it seems that many schools are glazing over the conflict in a matter of weeks. Many of the newer textbooks, for example, leave out important events and present what is left over in a very generic and politically correct manner. This can be partially blamed on teachers who blindly use whatever lesson plan is presented to them from the book-of-the-month club. Also, parents are at fault--as we often accept this "generic" American history (in abbreviated format) as adequate material for our children's education. Finally, writers and historians (me included) share the guilt as we often present our own findings with a loyalist attitude. So we are all guilty of "favoritism" in one way or another.

The South today is also very much like the South back then in regards to praising and preserving the memories of their ancestors. No general in the North ever received the love and admiration of the Southern generals during the war or after. There was no Jackson or Lee that were (and are) regarded as "godlike" figures. You cannot even begin to imagine how much these men are loved and revered. I'm sure that my efforts are certainly in support of that. In addition, I have found through contacts in both the historical and re-enactor community that the idea of the U.S. Government "turning" troops on its own people still harbors anger and animosity. Many believe that this can and may happen again someday. Therefore, they feel that they can directly "relate" to the notion of big government pushing its citizens around (I think we all can). This widens the gap of separation and recalls an "us vs. them attitude" that harkens to their ancestor's plight.

One other observation came to me this weekend and really brought to light just how little "really" changed (following the war) in regards to race relations on a nationwide scale. AMC was showing "Gone With The Wind" and during one of the commercials the host mentioned that Hattie McDaniel had won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (the first black-woman to do so), but that she had to sit in the back of the room at a table by herself. This is an outrage and shows just how guilty the north-south-east-and west were of racism - not just the CSA.

BTW: Jackson had a manservant who received pay for his service - technically, he was not a slave in the sense of "forced labor".

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