It's Appomattox Day!
April 9, 2010 4:37 PM   Subscribe

It's April 9th! Appomattox Day! The day R.E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Ending the Civil War! Jon Stewart wants to call it Union Victory Month. I'm content with a day. So as Floydd suggests raise a glass of usquebaugh!

Wave that flag!
posted by Max Power (67 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by blaneyphoto at 4:39 PM on April 9, 2010


weird, this was a question on a rerun of cash cab yesterday at like 4 in the afternoon
posted by nathancaswell at 4:39 PM on April 9, 2010


Fun fact:

"usquebaugh" is probably an anglicized phonetic rendering of the Irish Gaelic phrase "uisce beatha" -- which translates to "water of life". And is also the origin of the term "whiskey".

And as for how the heck Irish Gaelic was being used on Civil War battlefields - lots of Irish immigrants were being drafted to serve as soldiers almost as soon as they got off the boats. (Yep, "Gangs Of New York" had this right.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is became are.
posted by The Whelk at 4:45 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the North really won the civil war, why does Nathan "Mr. Ku Klux Klan" Bedford Forrest have a damned state park in Tennessee?
posted by The Confessor at 4:48 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's because the North won the civil war that Nathan "Mr. Ku Klux Klan" Bedford Forrest doesn't have a state park in New Hampshire.
posted by DU at 4:53 PM on April 9, 2010 [21 favorites]




Or rather, not ending the Civil War.
posted by kenko at 5:04 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


wait, strike that, reverse it.

hello whisky my old friend
posted by The Whelk at 5:10 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly, the textbooks should say that we saved the South from themselves. Slavery is not sustainable. It kills off minimum wage jobs in a way that automation and outsourcing can't. It's another human, standing in the place a local employee would. You end up with a ton of dirt poor, disgruntled people, and that's never good.

Plus, if you think "moral decay" can hurt a civilization, you've got that in spades.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:18 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


For a moment, I was terrified that toodleydoodley's comment was going to be Lee/Grant slashfic.
posted by pombe at 5:19 PM on April 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


For a moment, I was terrified that toodleydoodley's comment was going to be Lee/Grant slashfic.

It is a sad reflection on current mores that I am SURE such a thing exists.


It is a credit to myself that I didn't go and find it.
posted by The Whelk at 5:25 PM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


If the North really won the civil war, why does Nathan "Mr. Ku Klux Klan" Bedford Forrest have a damned state park in Tennessee?

Fun fact: In Tennessee, there are more historical markers dedicated to Forrest than any other person.

source: Lies My Teacher Told Me
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:32 PM on April 9, 2010


For a moment, I was terrified that toodleydoodley's comment was going to be Lee/Grant slashfic.

Civil war slashfic stopped being a joke for me a while back when I was googling about some of my ancestors and the old family home and accidentally stumbled onto a slash interracial BDSM fic set in the years immediately preceding the war. I read a couple of paragraphs, which was enough of the non-pr0n framing to figure out where it was going, before closing my browser. I suppose everyone has their kinks, but that's got to be one of the more viscerally disgusting (to me, anyway) applications of Rule 34 I've run into.

My ancestors were on the wrong side of the war, and I'm not sorry they lost.
posted by immlass at 5:42 PM on April 9, 2010


According to my great-great grandfather's Confederate veterans' pension application form, he was actually at Appomattox for the surrender. So that's pretty cool, I guess.
posted by saladin at 5:51 PM on April 9, 2010


Frankly, the textbooks should say that we saved the South from themselves. Slavery is not sustainable.

That explains why the Greek and Roman Empires (among others) did so poorly and lasted such a short time.
posted by DU at 6:12 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fun Fact: about two weeks later Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered over 82,000 troops to General Sherman at Bennett Place near present-day Durham, NC. The largest troop surrender of the war. Granted, a lot of those troops weren't with Johnston at the time and the Southern Confederacy was not going to last long without Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. But that's kind of a little thing North Carolina has going on with Virginia, our surrender was bigger than yours! There has always been a rivalry between the two states about their respective accomplishments, even during the war. (I'll probably bring this up again five years from now.)

The Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park is an interesting place. At one time the McLean house (site of the surrender) was purchased by some investors and dismantled for transportation and eventual display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Never happened, and it sat there as pile of bricks for years. Whenever anyone in the area needed some bricks, they'd go get some from that pile at the old McLean place.

Most the Union soldiers plundered the house for souvenirs. They actually payed for a lot of the stuff, there's some stories about what happened to everything here. I like the anecdote about Grant's table: "taken by General Sheridan who offered $20 in gold to McLean who refused the money; table taken anyway and money thrown on floor."

I've always thought that was interesting for some reason. At the Park today, they have reproductions of the furniture with a little placard telling where everything is today.

George Armstrong Custer was present at the surrender. Also present was Ely Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe and Grant's adjutant. He wrote out the formal surrender document and is kind of an interesting fellow. One more anecdote and then I'll shut up:

"At the time of surrender, General Lee mistook Parker for a black man, but apologized saying, 'I am glad to see one real American here.' Parker was said to respond, 'We are all Americans, sir.'"
posted by marxchivist at 6:15 PM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


But that's kind of a little thing North Carolina has going on with Virginia, our surrender was bigger than yours!

Wow. You're almost French.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:18 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's really a shame that we do have to be reminded of this. This should be a major national holiday. Our country was reunified. War ended between Americans. US slavery was over. That's nearly as significant as Independence Day.

Any fondness over the Old South just seems foolish when you look over the facts and context. The Confederates were fighting for slavery. There's no way around it. You can be proud of your homeland, but the Old South was distinctly divided for slavery, so why not just celebrate the South, period?

Consider that Germans are still proud of their history and culture, but they don't try to act like the Nazis weren't so bad.

No Godwin. Slavery is a form of genocide.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:34 PM on April 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


so why not just celebrate the South, period?

Yeah, I love the south, but lets be honest the coolest things about the south happened after the civil war not before.
posted by nola at 7:00 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


No Godwin. Slavery is a form of genocide.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:34 PM on April 9 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


and yet we continue to celebrate the standard bearers for the slave-owning society. here's a list of high schools in Duval County FL (Jacksonville). NB Forrest is but one, and note the school mascot is still The Rebel. Do they have morale problems at Forrest, you might ask? Why yes, they do. People have tried to get the name changed, but so far the school board has resisted.

and by the way, they don't call it the Civil War down here. generally it's the War Between The States, or sometimes (annoyingly), The War for Southern Independence or (even worse) The War of Northern Aggression. Do we have morale problems down here? Why yes, we do.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lets just take a trip back in time. Pre Civil War South: No Rock and Roll, Jazz, Blues, Country and Western. No RC Cola, Moon Pies, and no AC. No car hops, porky shakes, no Mempish BBQ, no Elvis, no peanuts in your Coke, and no driving your 1970 Monte Carlo down back roads.

In fact the only cool thing about the south back then is still the coolest thing about the south now, and that would be New Orleans.
posted by nola at 7:07 PM on April 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


so why not just celebrate the South, period?

Lets. Drop them britches.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:31 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Our country was reunified.

Was it? You would never know it from the linked Jon Stewart bit, which I thought was kind of mean-spirited. While I understand and agree with the outrage the Virginia governor's recent remarks have caused (we just had a 238 comment thread about this two days ago), the whole "we kicked your ass" response seems designed simply to pour salt on old wounds. After all, clearly McDonnell's comments do not represent all of Virginia (where Stewart notes he went to school) or the South. Thus, instead of a chessboard of burning confederate soldiers, there might have been funnier and more effective ways to highlight McDonnell's racism.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:38 PM on April 9, 2010


Go Tribe!

Really, a griffin? Nerds.
posted by naoko at 7:40 PM on April 9, 2010


Fun fact: In Tennessee, there are more historical markers dedicated to Forrest than any other person.

What makes it even more fun, or at least ironic, is that TN, of all the confederate states, probably had the most pro-union sympathies.

(After secession East TN tried to secede from their parent state back into the Union. They didn't succeed, of course, but they did supply troops and supplies for the union throughout the war, and neither Knoxville nor Chattanooga were ever held by confederate forces. None of this is to say that East Tennesseans were particularly better than their westerly brethren. East TN doesn't really have the type of land to support large scale plantation farms. Funny the role things like geology can play on one's morals.)
posted by frobozz at 7:51 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


and yet we continue to celebrate the standard bearers for the slave-owning society. here's a list of high schools in Duval County FL. NB Forrest is but one, and note the school mascot is still The Rebel.

Fair enough, but fwiw, as an American phenomena this is not limited to the South; consider the Cleveland Indians or Washington Redskins.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2010



Lets. Drop them britches.

NO. Cause really believing in the SOCIALIST UTOPIA means carrying regions that need it cause it's the right thing do regardless of their attitude .
posted by The Whelk at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2010


I am taking an elementary Irish language class currently. Usquebaugh seems similar, as noted, to uisce beatha. When I recently heard "ihsh keh bah hah" in class, I couldn't readily make the connection that with "whiskey" or visualize the spelling. Uisce is water. In my bilingual dictionary, beatha means food or livelihood.
posted by millardsarpy at 8:03 PM on April 9, 2010


hello whisky my old friend

I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left it's seeds while I was drinking
And the vision
That was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of violence...
posted by Evilspork at 8:03 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


What makes it even more fun, or at least ironic, is that TN, of all the confederate states, probably had the most pro-union sympathies.

After Virginia. Those SOBs took half our damn state away with them when they decided to disagree with the secession. Couldn't rise up against the government and be burned, trampled, and overrun by armies to smithereens like regular Virginians. Bah.

Speaking of a national holiday, Memorial Day began somewhat along those lines as a remembrance for the Union dead. Confederate Memorial Day is more on the down and outs these days, however,

I enjoyed Appomattox. It's not hard to visit and imagine it how it appeared 145 years ago. It was the end of a long period of struggle for the Army of Northern Virginia, and it must have also been a moment of such elation amongst the Union troops as they came together to trap Lee's army from hopping on the railroad and riding away. Incidentally, since Forrest was mentioned here, General John Gordon was present at the surrender. After the way, he became governor of his home state of Georgia and at another point, leader of the Klan there.
posted by Atreides at 8:18 PM on April 9, 2010


I was going to post a factoid about most of the flags in the states that were part of the Union during "the recent unpleasantness" being based on their state's battle standard during that conflict, but according to the Wikipedia they really date from the 1893 Columbian Expo in Chicago, where each state wanted some banner to represent it. The More You Know! [/starswoosh]
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:32 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


i'll raise a drink for union victory day and my great-great grandfather, sgt mordecai m mcclave, 9th michigan cavalry
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]




If any of you history buffs haven't already, take the opportunity now to pick up April 1865 by Jay Winik. Really incredible book about the end of the war; especially Winik's poetic (but honest) evaluation of Grant, Lee, and that day at Appomattox.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:59 PM on April 9, 2010


frobozz: After secession East TN tried to secede from their parent state back into the Union...

West Virginia actually pulled that one off and for the same reasons. No big farms, few slaves.

Since it seems so appropriate, here's the Austin Lounge Lizards song The War Between The States.
posted by irisclara at 10:04 PM on April 9, 2010




Wouldn't reuniting the broken Virginia save a ton of money?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 PM on April 9, 2010


Gentleman, I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta....

"But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter."

Unless, of course, you're an Injun, in which case he'll have your entire family killed.
posted by Roman Graves at 10:46 PM on April 9, 2010


Wouldn't reuniting the broken Virginia save a ton of money?

Meh, I'm not really sure on that one, but it's up to both of them for that one. You can't change territory of States without each of the State's permission (which makes the splitting off of West Virginia so contentious; technically, they would have needed Virginia's permission as Virginia was still in the Union the whole time even if they thought differently). Anyway, I doubt West Virginia and Virginia want to be unified as their interests are rather different. So, uh, moot question.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:47 PM on April 9, 2010


DU: ">>Frankly, the textbooks should say that we saved the South from themselves. Slavery is not sustainable.

>That explains why the Greek and Roman Empires (among others) did so poorly and lasted such a short time.
"

Exactly, when the barbarians showed up with their cotton-pickin "industrial revolution", slavery went from being cheap to exspensive and outmoded.
posted by stbalbach at 11:39 PM on April 9, 2010


Wouldn't reuniting the broken Virginia save a ton of money?

Paying for two senators instead of four?
posted by three blind mice at 11:43 PM on April 9, 2010


We're also in Confederate History Month (not sure if that's official), and the 26th is Confederate Memorial Day. I'm not saying that to be some kind of States-Rights-The-South-Will-Rise-Again whacko. I was just in North GA, and several stores (such as Rebel Pantry...it's a real chain) had contests and flyers about Confederate Memorial/History month. I had to warn my visiting baby sister not to publicly scoff at the Confederacy after asking her if she wanted to fill out an entry for one contest. Seeing this post about Lee's surrender just makes me smile after all of that.

(Incidentally, while I've seen Confederate Memorial Day celebrated on April 26th in GA and TN, NC and SC celebrate on May 10th. TX celebrates in January--on Robert E Lee's birthday.)
posted by crataegus at 11:48 PM on April 9, 2010


the whole "we kicked your ass" response seems designed simply to pour salt on old wounds.

But see, the thing is, wound-salting or no, we kicked your ass.

Really.

For reals.

Like, look it up.

It's true.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:08 AM on April 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Totally.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:12 AM on April 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


we saved the South from themselves

Any fondness over the Old South just seems foolish when you look over the facts and context. The Confederates were fighting for slavery. There's no way around it. You can be proud of your homeland, but the Old South was distinctly divided for slavery, so why not just celebrate the South, period?

Consider that Germans are still proud of their history and culture, but they don't try to act like the Nazis weren't so bad.


Who exactly is your audience? This kind of sermon, I only ever hear of it from Northerners. What I hate the most is when I meet people from New England for the first time and they start in with their racism (and it is inevitably greater than any I've seen here or elsewhere): saying things like "the South should have won" and such crap, as if I want to hear all that.

Other than in the odd, God-awful radio country tune, most of them from decades ago, I never, ever hear anyone in the South bemoaning loss of the Civil War, nor wishing Lee hadn't surrendered, nor wishing blacks weren't free. There is no mention of "Old South" or longing for glory days of some weird kind.

And I don't know where toodleoodle lives but yes we DO call it the Civil War down here. Anyone who says "War of Northern Agression" is either a whack job or being deliberately anachronistic. Or really, really old. I've heard of Confederate Memorial Day or Month but have no idea when it is and never celebrated it. Dad said they did when he was a kid; he is in his sixties now.

we kicked your ass

But see, the thing is, a century and a half ago, none of us were born yet, and you're an asshole.

Really.

For reals.

Like, ask your mother.

It's true.
posted by rahnefan at 12:29 AM on April 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Totally.
posted by rahnefan at 12:29 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pedantic nitpick: it's not "Appomattox" (which is a town in Virginia) and it's not "Appomattox Courthouse" (which is a building) either. It's "Appomattox Court House", a "Court House" (two words, first letters capitalized) being the quirky traditional local name for a county seat in Virginia, as in "Charlotte Court House" being the county seat of Charlotte county.

So the location of the surrender was held inside the McLean House, which was in Appomattox Court House (the county seat), Virginia, because the Appomattox courthouse (the building), which was also located in Appomattox Court House, was closed for the day, as it was a Sunday. And the whole shebang, McLean House and Appomattox Court House and the physical courthouse, were technically within the defunct/re-named town of Clover Hill, Virginia. Appomattox, Virginia is down the road a few miles away.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:30 AM on April 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Yeah South. You can't have a special "proud to be south" day without admitting you're monsters for being slave owners."

I'm going to WTF this sentiment. It appears to me that the world is full of days where a particular geographic group of people celebrates the good in themselves without hanging their heads in shame over historical evil.

And I'd be happier about the sanctimony if North America didn't celebrate either Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. Two history rewriting celebrations which appear to wholly gloss over a genocide which still appears to be going on.
posted by seanyboy at 1:26 AM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


they don't call it the Civil War down here

Where's "down here?" I'm not sure that's really true for the South in general; as a lifetime resident of Georgia, I've hardly ever heard it called anything other than "the Civil War." I'm aware of those other names but they don't seem to get much actual use.

This doesn't alter the fact that lots of people down here have incredibly stupid ideas about the Civil War, of course.
posted by magnificent frigatebird at 2:22 AM on April 10, 2010


rahnefan: Other than in the odd, God-awful radio country tune, most of them from decades ago, I never, ever hear anyone in the South bemoaning loss of the Civil War, nor wishing Lee hadn't surrendered, nor wishing blacks weren't free. There is no mention of "Old South" or longing for glory days of some weird kind.
You must have run in better circles than I did (well educated, professional 20-30 somethings; not counting the former police officers). I heard the full litany from locals when I lived in Louisiana:
  • "The war of northern aggression"
  • waxing nostalgic for the ante bellum South (and lots of glossing over the horrors of slavery, e.g. which has been Disney-fied at some of the more prominent plantation tours)
  • If I had a dollar for every time I heard that 'the South killed Northerners at a 10-1 ratio' (and therefore)
  • the South should have won the war, and/or would have won the war, given more time
  • The war wasn't at all -- at all! -- about slavery. Slavery had nothing to do with it. The war was over states rights and the right to secede.
  • musings about what it would have been like if the South won
  • The South would have outlawed slavery soon after the war, anyway.
  • the "n-word" isn't really all that bad of a word, it depends on the context; there's a between black people and "n***ers".
  • did I ment that the War of Northern Aggression wasn't *at all* about slavery, but the entirely pure and laudible issue of states rights?
  • The three most evil people in history, in reverse order: Hitler, the devil, and the most evil: general Sherman.
  • detailed recitations of this battle, or that battle, all kinds of hagiography of obscure Southern Civil War leaders
  • common, pejorative reference of all non-Southerns as "Yankees", including Californians like myself.
  • lots of pejorative jokes about "Yankees". One example, why does the hugely prominent statue of general Lee (on top of a huge column in Lee Circle) face North? Because it's never safe to turn your back on a Yankee". That type of stuff.
  • The main reason David Duke lost was businesses in LA supported his opponent out of fear of what his election would do to tourism. (and that he was misunderstood, had a lot of good ideas, and you known, *those people* really are...")
A few bullet point observations about the racial divide in the more cosmopolitan and progressive city of New Orleans (which was about 85%+ African American) prior to Katrina:
  • The percentage of black patrons in Uptown supermarkets? 85%. Uptown bars and restaurants? Pretty close to 0%.
  • The percentage of African Americans in public high school marching bands at Mardi Gras: 99.9%.
  • The percentage of African Americans in private high school marching bands at Mardi Gras: 1-2%.
  • statements from state legislators after Katrina that 'mother nature' finally accomplished what they've been wanting to accomplish for decades, but couldn't (because of, you know, the federal government): (completely wiping out black neighborhoods and driving their residents out of the state).
rahnefan:But see, the thing is, a century and a half ago, none of us were born yet, and you're an asshole.
Ah, the famous Southern charm... or at least what's becoming the new stereotype of it: angry and insulting.

As for the Confederate flag, I keep hearing that it's all about pride in Southern heritage and culture and has nothing to do with racism or slavery.

Never mind that stars and bars were added to a lot of the southern state flags during the 1960s as a symbol of their opposition to the federal government imposing segregation on them.

Never mind that the Klan marches with the confederate flag. Or that the Klan was started by a famous confederate leader. And that leader is something of a hero in the south.

And that the GOP is dominated by Southern Republicans who have to kiss the confederate flag as a prerequisite to win the nomination (cf. McCain/Bush in South Carolina).

And top GOP leaders like Trent Lott were fierce opponents of segregation (his fraternity was stockpiling weapons), who waxed nostalgic about the candidacy of pro-segregationist Strom Thurmond, who refused to vote for MLK day, who refused to vote for bills condemning lynchings of African Americans in the South... one might forgive the casual observer for lumping Republicans, Southerners, and racists together. And the odd similarities in the rhetoric between pro segregationists and anti-Obama tea baggers doesn't help.

Remember, if Southerners were truly sincerely in promoting a positive image of Southern culture, an image that is entirely devoid of racist overtones, they would simply find another symbol. (after all, the addition of the confederate flag to Southern states is generally a VERY recent thing; and there were plenty of great Southerners BEFORE the Civil War, e.g. Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
posted by Davenhill at 3:02 AM on April 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


It appears to me that the world is full of days where a particular geographic group of people celebrates the good in themselves without hanging their heads in shame over historical evil.
I don't think anybody has a problem with Southerners celebrating Southern culture (but note that there are no other major regional analogues). But perhaps you can understand that it gets weird when the manifestations of that cultural pride are expressed in terms of the "confederacy" or symbolized with the confederate flag.

If you'll forgive the violation of Godwin's law, it's a little like the difference between Germans celebrating German culture, or Germans celebrating the Third Reich. Or using the Swastika as the symbol of their cultural unity.

Again, if the South simply used non-confederate terminology and symbols, there wouldn't be a problem. People love Southern food, Southern hospitality, Southern manners, Southern college sports teams, the South's hugely important contributions to the US military for wars other than the Civil War, etc. etc. etc.

There's a reason why it's 'confederate history month' and the confederate flag... it's about creating an 'us' vs. 'them' dynamic, it's about creating animosity and resentment because that plays into the hands of politicians that are pushing it. I'd like to think Southerners deserve better, but we all seem to end up with the politicians we deserve, don't we.
posted by Davenhill at 3:17 AM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


And I'd be happier about the sanctimony if North America didn't celebrate either Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. Two history rewriting celebrations which appear to wholly gloss over a genocide which still appears to be going on.

Well technically, Thanksgiving was more of a regional holiday until Abraham Lincoln decided to declare a national day of Thanksgiving. It'd been done before, but after Lincoln it really caught on. At that time, it also really had nothing to do with Indians and the Pilgrims. It was simply about being thankful for any number of things.
posted by Atreides at 7:15 AM on April 10, 2010


No Davenhill, I come from poorer people and lived in Georgia all my life. And I heard most or all of that from older people, and of course some of it trickled down and was heard from peers in grade school, but now, among people who grew up without segregation, I just don't hear it. I just hear all the "you lost get over it" and NASCAR jokes all the time, even in frigging kid movies with Ben Stiller. It gets really old.

You are right about the flag. I do not understand why people want that flag so bad. It may have more to do with honoring their dead ancestors than people think, at least that's the impression I always got. Exactly what makes Southern culture distinctive, that's a mystery if there ever was one. Among people who insist they can define it, the only commonality is an accent, which is not even common from state to state.
posted by rahnefan at 7:54 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, the famous Southern charm... or at least what's becoming the new stereotype of it: angry and insulting.

Did your wife or anyone ever spend way too many words telling you to calm down, when you were not upset? In the same way that enough of that will piss you off fast, this stuff gets under the skin of Southerners who are not racist and do not care anything about the rebel flag. Dude was being an asshole and probably knows it.
posted by rahnefan at 7:59 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


waxing nostalgic for the ante bellum South (and lots of glossing over the horrors of slavery, e.g. which has been Disney-fied at some of the more prominent plantation tours)

So has every other historical period, for the most part. Most (white) people, particularly of Southern extraction, see themselves in the sanitized role of rich plantation owner, without thinking much of slaves, just like most of those people think if they'd been born in the middle ages, they'd've been born a great lord or lady and not in the much more likely position of hardscrabble hand-to-mouth farmer who lived in a muddy one-room hut with the rest of the family and some of the critters. One of the differences about doing this for the antebellum South, as with the Nazis, is that there's a significant group memory of what it's like to be on the terrible underside of the aristocracy: despised, considered subhuman, bought and sold like object in the case of slaves, and in the case of the Nazi extermination policies, the subject of a concerted attempt at genocide.

Sanitizing history isn't a particularly Southern sin. Everybody does it about every period of history. The real problem with Southern history and romanticizing it is that it's so strongly tied to current politics for reasons that don't always have to do with what today's Southerners think (see: the Southern strategy that was conceived and was put into practice 50 years ago, before the majority of us on Metafilter were even born, much less able to vote), and that's not something we can fix other than by all sides letting the symbolism go.

People in the South aren't slave owners and/or slaves. People in the North aren't all Union generals either. I'm glad the Civil War was fought and won but I sure wish that after 150 years we had come closer to building a union whose foundation wasn't constantly undermined by the war's causes: slavery with its attendant racism, and otherwise.
posted by immlass at 8:41 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what really should be remembered about Appomattox Court House is that Union soldiers saluted Confederate soldiers and Confederate soldiers saluted Union soldiers. They were ready for the war to end, they were ready for reconciliation, they were ready to be countrymen again. For decades after the war veterans from both sides met on the battlefields for reunion, not to refight old battles but because their former enemies were the only ones who understood the horrors of the war. Appomattox Day should recognize that survivors of the war recognized one another's dignity and the fact that we are all one people. Why people today can't remember that I don't understand.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 8:57 AM on April 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


> They were ready for the war to end, they were ready for reconciliation, they were ready to be countrymen again...

...they were ready to go back to oppressing black people together.

> Appomattox Day should recognize that survivors of the war recognized one another's dignity and the fact that we are all one people.

Well, except for the black folks. Reenactment for some, miniature American flags poverty and imprisonment for others!
posted by languagehat at 10:05 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Out here in the middle part of the country, there's sort of a friendly tension about The Border War, a sort of pre-Civil War Civil War. We learned about it pretty much every year in school, and since I live on the Kansas side, we learned a great deal about William Quantrill's raid on slavery abolitionists in Lawrence.

It's still in our heraldry- The Lawrence city crest (my favorite city crest ever) is a phoenix rising from the ruins of a burning city, so you remember the raid every time you see a police car. The University of Kansas keeps the Jayhawk as it's mascot, taking the name from the general term for anti-slavery terrorists. It's also brought up every time there's a KU vs MU sports event; Quantrill and his pro-slavery terrorists came from MU's home, Columbia, presumably by way of I-70, to break all the printing presses in Lawrence.

But despite all this, the rancor is nowhere near what those easterners experience. There's some friendly jibing about how people from Missouri are dirty slave owners, and how Kansans are crazy as John Brown, but there's no anger behind it. I'm guessing it's because our casualties on both sides measures in the low hundreds and not the hundreds of thousands- but (as always), easterners have quite a bit to learn from their midwestern betters.
posted by maus at 10:14 AM on April 10, 2010


languagehat -- ...they were ready to go back to oppressing black people together.

That's one way to refer to a dozen more years of Reconstruction. Not particularly accurate, but interesting.
posted by NortonDC at 11:17 AM on April 10, 2010


@maus - I think it depends upon which side of the state line you are on.

I'm a native Missourian and a public historian who currently lives in Columbia. One of my colleagues is a native Kansan. From listening to her, it seems like the Kansas educational system places great emphasizes the Border War. I can understand the emphasis that Lawrence places on Quantrill's Raid.

When I was growing up, the Missouri educational system focused very little, if at all, on the Border War between Missouri Pukes and Kansas Jayhawkers. I suspect that little, if nothing, has changed. Quite frankly, the Border War and the ensuing guerrilla conflict in Kansas/Missouri has received very little attention until recently, i.e. Michael Fellman's Inside War and Daniel Sutherland's A Savage Conflict because until now the Border Wars/guerrilla warfare/western Trans-Mississippi theater were not as sexy as the Eastern theater.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 12:11 PM on April 10, 2010





Lets just take a trip back in time. Pre Civil War South: No Rock and Roll, Jazz, Blues, Country and Western. No RC Cola, Moon Pies, and no AC. No car hops, porky shakes, no Mempish BBQ, no Elvis, no peanuts in your Coke, and no driving your 1970 Monte Carlo down back roads.


On the plus side: Blackbeard!
posted by thivaia at 12:34 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


> That's one way to refer to a dozen more years of Reconstruction.

I wasn't particularly referring to those years, but to the much longer period implied in "For decades after the war veterans from both sides met on the battlefields for reunion, not to refight old battles but because their former enemies were the only ones who understood the horrors of the war." Take a look at photos of those touching reunions and tell me what you see in the way of racial diversity. Then read up on the history of the KKK and the rollback of black emancipation. But thanks for playing.
posted by languagehat at 2:39 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I wasn't particularly referring to those years," you know the ones that show that you're wrong.

Reconstruction is what they, the American people of that Appomattox surrender era, were "ready" to do for the next dozen years until the Compromise of 1877.

The post, and the comment you snarked at, are both about that moment of surrender in 1865, so, no, jointly oppressing the blacks was not in fact what they were then "ready" to do just then. But thanks for playing.
posted by NortonDC at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2010


Just because the reunion of America as one nation at the end of the Civil War was imperfect in the rights granted to all, doesn't make it an irrelevant moment in the nation's history, nor one that should be snarked at when someone attempts to speak highly of it. Might as well blast the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the passage of the Bill of Rights.
posted by Atreides at 4:23 PM on April 10, 2010


My great grandfather fought for the Union with Company K of the 77th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was at Shiloh and the terrible battle of Chickamauga, among many many battles. My father remembers his grandfather telling stories about the war to him when he was small. Stories that have stuck in my mind include the time they were so hungry that they killed some mules, and not only ate the mules but also ate the half digested corn in the stomachs of the mules. Great grandfather was mustered out in Texas, some months after the official end of the war (having served 4 years). It took him a very long time to get back to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. By the time he got home it was 1866, and all the celebrations and parades were long over. He told my father that by the time he got home his uniform was dirty and ragged, and he walked down the street of his town and the welcome he got consisted of being barked at by a dog, and having a little boy walk up to him, notice the state of his uniform, and look up at him and say "You ain't no soldier."

My point in telling this is to say he had a long hard war, and yet, as Rarebit Fiend talks about, my great grandfather was one of the Union veterans who was serious about reconciliation with the South. He did well for himself with his own business after the war, and had 4 daughters. He was so serious about reconciliation that he sent at least 2 of his daughters (including my grandmother) to college south of the Mason-Dixon line. My father has a booklet from the 50th reunion of Chickamauga, that my great grandfather attended. The booklet consists of pressed flowers from the various significant places of the battle, which always struck me as an interesting way to commemorate such a bloody event.
posted by gudrun at 6:46 PM on April 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


rahnefan: And I don't know where toodleoodle lives

Rural North Florida.

but yes we DO call it the Civil War down here. Anyone who says "War of Northern Agression" is either a whack job or being deliberately anachronistic. Or really, really old. I've heard of Confederate Memorial Day or Month but have no idea when it is and never celebrated it. Dad said they did when he was a kid; he is in his sixties now.

the South is big and you don't say exactly where you're from, but Georgia covers a lot of ground (Especially on I-75, god).

Here in this part of the South, and many others, we (that's the other people who live here who aren't me) have frequent Southern/Confederate/Antebellum Heritage remembrance celebrations. Laying of flowers on Confederate tombs with local politicians (the majority who aren't black) in attendance. Speechifying about "heritage." Youngsters (as well as oldsters) in pickup trucks with Confederate flag bumper stickers, window clings, paint jobs and big-ass battle flags affixed to the toolbox.

Every day in most of the rural South (I travel a lot for work) is Confederate Memorial Day or Month, as you dismiss it. I'm happy for you that it (the constant "celebration" and the equally constant collateral racial hostility) hasn't been part of your experience, but to simplify such displays as "whack job" or "deliberately anachronistic" is, to say the least, a fantasy.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:41 PM on April 11, 2010


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