Why Did We Take Them Back?
When members of the Senate and the House who represented Southern states began walking out of the Congress in December, 1861 they were simply declared as ‘absent’ from the two legislative chambers and it was assumed that they would return at some point or that substitute legislators would appear.
When none of them reappeared and replacements weren’t sent, their seats were declared ‘vacant’ and that was the end of that.
Things changed on April 12, 1861 when rebel cannon started shelling Fort Sumter in the Charleston harbor in South Carolina and the ‘War of the Rebellion’ was on.
In fact, the Civil War wasn’t a rebellion, if what we mean by that word is an attempt by citizens of a particular country to overthrow their government with the use of force. The cannons which fired at Fort Sumter were equipment owned and operated by a totally-independent national government known as the Confederate States of America, which had its own legislature, its own court system, its own Constitution, its own Chief Executive named Jefferson Davis and a well-organized military led by General Robert E. Lee.
In other words, the war which lasted from 1861 to 1865 and claimed the lives of more than 600,000 combatants wasn’t a ‘rebellion’ at all. It was a war fought between two entirely independent countries, both of which escribed themselves as such. When Lincoln, in his First Inaugural speech, said that no state could withdraw from the Union, he was inventing this dictum out of whole cloth.
For that reason, I have never understood why we took them back. Why did we feel the need to re-incorporate this baggage of unrepentant, racist crapheads when almost an entire continent from the Missouri River to the California mountains was on the verge of being opened up?
But we took them back. And here’s some of what we got.
#1. Millions of poor Blacks who were crowded into Northern ghettos that couldn’t have been better than what they experienced in the South. I knew a Black guy who moved from New York to South Carolina in 1976 because, as he said, “You don’t know what it was like to be raised in the Polo Grounds Projects.”
#2. Tobacco, one of the South’s major cash crops. We need tobacco like we need a hole in the head. How many people have died from its use? A lot more than were killed in the Civil War.
#3. Militarism. Notice how a majority of the military leadership always comes from the South. Notice how until it suddenly became unfashionable, that so many military bases in the South were named after Confederate soldiers. How many military bases did we name after members of the Nazi General Staff?
#4. Right-wing Evangelicalism. Try Billy Graham who pompously defended Nixon’s handling the Viet Nam War. He was followed by Jerry Falwell whose first educational institution was a private school, Lynchburg Christian Academy, which advertised itself as a school that didn’t admit Blacks.
And here’s the best one of all. Of the 12 states that have the highest Covid-19 rate since the outbreak began, eight of them are states in the Old South. Of the 12 states with the highest Covid-19 risk, which is calculated by looking at vaccination rates plus high levels of the Delta variant, six are in the South.
So the question needs to be asked: If we could have imposed the same kind of travel ban for the South that we imposed for countries in Europe and Asia at different times, who knows how the United States would be suffering from Covid-19?
I don’t find anything particularly interesting or culturally enlightening about the South. Not the music, particularly the hillbilly junk. Not the writings of Faulkner nor the homespun humor of Mark Twain. I couldn’t care less.
As far as I’m concerned, now that Trump is a resident of Florida, let the whole bunch of those crummy states secede again and in 2024 he can get elected President again.