The Confederate Veterans’ Reunion 100 Years Ago
May 23, 2011
It is rare to see anything penetrating or remotely honest by the corporate media on government scams like Pearl Harbor, the Apollo moon landings or 9/11. So I was heartened when my local newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, recently ran an extensive story with 14 historic photos about the reunion of the Confederate Veterans held a century ago in Little Rock.
The event was held May 16-18, 1911, 50 years after the war began and drew an estimated 140,000 visitors to Little Rock, a city of 46,000 back then, when only 50,000 were expected. Some 106,800 arrived by train alone. Little Rock proudly fed the veterans twice a day for free in two large dining tents at so-called Camp Shaver at City Park, named for Robert G. “Fighting Bob” Shaver, 81, who led the Confederacy’s 7th Arkansas Infantry. Governor George W. Donaghey welcomed the vets to Little Rock, “where are now gathered more soldiers of the Confederacy than will ever again be assembled in this world.”
It is said that most historians are camp followers of the winning army, so we live with Ivy League Lies like the so-called Civil War was another “good war,” necessary to abolish the “peculiar institution” called slavery and Abraham Lincoln was our greatest president, a saint if not a deity. This statist nonsense is challenged by the front-page accounts of the 1911 Confederate Reunion filed by The News and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, and reprinted in the Democrat-Gazette. The Charleston newspaper reported the remarks of numerous speakers at the time, including these highlights:
R.C. Cave of St. Louis delivered the annual oration and said he accepted the “the changed conditions brought about by the War Between the Sections.” But, he declared, “the war, with all the blood and treasure that it cost, and all the desolation and ruin that it wrought, justly rests upon Abraham Lincoln and his advisers…I don’t think the men of the South should be asked or expected to sacrifice the truth of history and go down to posterity as rebels and traitors.”
He further asserted, “The South stood for the Constitution against the North.” Slavery he declared to be “but an incident in the controversy preceding Lincoln’s sending of warships forcibly to enter Charleston harbor, which caused the bombardment of Sumter and precipitated the war. Lincoln again exceeded his authority under the Constitution,” declared the speaker, “when he called for 75,000 men to invade the South, and but for his unlawful procedure, it is safe to say there would have been no war.”
By contrast with this essentially correct analysis, President Taft sent a message which was read when the first session convened: “The men of the Confederate army fought for a principle…As we recognize their heroic services, so they and their descendants must honor the services rendered by the gallant sons of the North in the struggle for the preservation of the Union. The forces of nearly half a century ago have given place to a united North and South, and to an enduring Union, in whose responsibilities and glorious destiny we equally and gratefully participate.”
Ah yes, the Union, the sacred Union, the almighty Union is Lincoln’s legacy, who transformed these United States from a commercial, constitutional federal republic with a modest central government into an Empire held together by force. President Lincoln overturned the well-accepted proposition that the States established the federal government, not vice versa, and each State had the right to peaceably withdraw (secede) from the federal Republic when it found it to its advantage. This principle constituted a superb disciplinary device to limit abuses by the central government. It established who was really in charge. Lincoln’s constitutional revolution was completed in 1913 when the central government acquired the right to directly tax corporate and personal incomes, provide an “elastic supply of money and credit” via its Federal Reserve Bank, and substitute direct election of U.S. Senators for appointment by State Legislatures. Thus was State sovereignty doomed and a monster-size central state without fiscal or constitutional discipline assured.
While there is an immense literature on the Civil War, over 50,000 books strong, if you want to read more in this contrarian vein, check out these two books:
Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War, 1996
DiLorenzo, Thomas, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda and an Unnecessary War, 2002.
And here is one I ought to read but haven’t:
Kennedy, James Ronald and Walter Donald Kennedy, The South Was Right!, 1991.