The South is a place in my heart

by Ernest Roberts

Pittsboro, NC – Yes Mr. Balog, I will be happy to respond to your questions in the Chatham Chatlist on how one can reconcile one’s obvious pride about being an American with those who would leave it and break it apart.

Chatham County historic courthouse in Pittsboro, NC. (Photo by Gene Galin)

Yes, I am a proud American citizen, as was General Lee and many more before the war. The American Civil War has been over now for 154 years. The South’s contributions to the struggles since then are all well documented. Many military bases are in the South, and they have sent many soldiers to defend our nation. Many war heroes are also from the South. I have family, who served in the military to defend the rights that we have today. I can and I am very proud of that fact.

General Patton’s Grandfather, George Smith Patton Sr. was a Confederate Colonel during the Civil War. I believe that General Patton was a very patriotic American. Lee’s father was known as Light Horse Harry Lee. He was a Major General in the Continental Army with George Washington. Robert E Lee married the granddaughter of Martha Washington. Lee was offered command of the Union Army but could not fight against his native Virginia. I believe that they were patriotic Americans. The Confederate States of America was still America. The reasons for secession are many and cannot be simplified by just a few words. This war was no different than WW1, WW2 or any of the wars before, during or after. Politics plays an important role in everything that takes place. All struggles have many sides with different reasons and viewpoints.

In 1812, New England had threatened secession. South Carolina threatened it in 1776. This was not an absurd idea then and it is still talked about today. West Virginia seceded from Virginia in 1863, which Lincoln allowed. There were border slave states that did not secede such as Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri. Lincoln’s Emancipation did not free any of those slaves. White supremacist was not a word back then. We can’t look back through the window of time and place our standards on another era. The New York anti-abolitionist riot of 1812 shows that white supremacy was not constrained to the South, but to the nation as whole. That is just one example. I read that the two most segregated cities in the US are Detroit and Chicago. Cleveland is 5th and Buffalo is seventh.

Question concerning being labeled a white supremacist and the Confederacy being founded on that:

Lincoln’s own words on September 18,1858

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Now we could go on and on about who was racist and who is not. The point I’m trying to get across is that it was a problem on both sides. I don’t agree with Lincolns words, so does that make him a racist and white supremacist? You assume that all monuments were erected during the Jim Crow era were for racist reasons. The Union monuments must be there for the same reason if that is the logic.

Question on legacy of White supremacy that permeated the CSA during its existence and Jim Crow era.

I guess you mean the time after Reconstruction when the South was divided into military districts. It would be easy to understand if you think about how our officials were kicked out and puppet figures controlled by the invading army were put in charge. If you think about the carnage that the North inflicted on the people of the South and how many of its States are still in poverty due to the Northern invasion.

I understand why you don’t like our symbols, but I suppose you still like America with all of its flaws and imperfections. The South is a place in my heart. The people I’ve known and the times that I’ve spent on back-roads, sharing memories and enjoying a simpler time are the only memories I have.

I did not live in that time, but I am sure they were hard times. I know it has not all been good, but where on this earth is there such a place? I can understand your viewpoint but I don’t agree with it. You should be able to understand mine. My viewpoint is just as important as yours. Historians have written about this war for a 154 years with no resolution. We can’t go back and suppose to know what generations before us should have done, or why.

We don’t discard the whole apple because of a dark spot. Swallow the best of the fruit and move on.

They did.