Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne noted on Dec. 27:
“The coming year will mark the 150th anniversary of … the Civil War (which) has forever captured the American imagination (witness the popularity of re-enactments) for the gallantry and heroism of those who fought and died, but also for the sheer carnage and destruction it left in its wake.”
Dionne goes on to note:
- “There remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race and slavery, not states’ rights or anything else.”
- “When the war started, leaders of the Southern rebellion were entirely straightforward about this. On March 21, 1861, Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy’s vice president, gave what came to be known as the ‘Cornerstone speech’ in which he declared that ‘the proper status of the Negro in our form of civilization’ was ‘the immediate cause of the late rupture.’”
- “‘Thomas Jefferson,’ Stevens said, had been wrong in believing ‘that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature.’
“‘Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea,’ Stevens insisted. ‘Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government is the first in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.’”
All this raises a number of historical questions by most Southerners today who surely disagree with Confederate Vice President Stevens:
- Why, in citing Thomas Jefferson, does columnist Dionne fail to mention that Jefferson, like Washington and so many other of our nation’s Founding Fathers, was a slave owner?
- Why does Dionne fail to mention that the movement to secede from the union began not in the South – but in New England, where it very nearly came about in 1814 at the Hartford, Conn., convention?
- Why does Dionne fail to mention that historical estimates conclude that 75 to 90 percent of the troops in the Confederate armed forces were not slave owners and that there was a similarly small percentage of slave owners in the Continental Army, which won our nation’s independence and was led by a commanding general – and slave owner – who was the Founding Father of our country?
- Why does columnist Dionne fail to mention the considerable number of American owners of black slaves who were themselves black? Their existence was confirmed to me by the late Dr. John Hope Franklin during a radio interview.
- Finally, how on earth does this Washington Post writer urge his readers not to “spin the Civil War” when his very own spinning fails to mention that the war’s greatest Union general and future president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, was himself a slave owner before the war, and during that war, Mrs. Grant was with her two slaves when they were nearly captured by Confederate cavalry?