Confederate re-enactors stand on the ramparts of Fort Moultrie are silhouetted in the rising sun to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War on April 12, 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina. The first shot that began the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter April 12, 1861 in Charleston harbor.

President Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly ignited a controversy with his recent remarks about the American Civil War made during an interview with Fox News. Kelly said “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War” and called Robert E. Lee an “honorable man.” Civil war historians have refuted Kelly’s account, with one Columbia University professor calling it “the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War.” In this hour Forum discusses the cause of the civil war, how it is taught in schools and why it remains such a polarizing topic.

Guests:

Edna Greene Medford, history professor, Howard University; editor of “The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War, Vols. I & II”
Stephanie Arduini, director of education and programs, American Civil War Museum
James Oakes, history professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York; author of “The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War”

Mythbusting the American Civil War 2 November,2017Michael Krasny

  • Another Mike

    I don’t know why people are beating on General Kelly. Let’s look at the facts.

    1. The US was built on slavery. Slavery was a normal part of every day life throughout the new country: Ten of the first fifteen presidents were slaveowners: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, and Taylor. The first census, in 1790, showed slaves were in every state but Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
    https://userpages.umbc.edu/~bouton/History407/SlaveStats.htm

    2. But Northerners gradually ended slavery in their states, while slavery seemed vital to the plantation economy in the South. A series of compromises extended slavery to certain new territories and states while denying it to other new territories and states.

    3. The situation came to a head in 1860 when the pro-abolition party, the Republicans, took both a majority in the House and captured the White House. Further compromises did not seem in the cards.

    4. Eleven states, which had come into the union as slave states, withdrew from the union. Five states did not: Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, and Nebraska, although the Confederacy claimed Kentucky and Missouri as theirs.
    http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html

    5. Just as soldiers from the rest of the North did, soldiers from these five slaveowning Union states fought to preserve the union, not to end the institution of slavery. Abolition was a byproduct of the Civil War, and not its goal. The Emancipation Proclamation issued during the war purportedly freed slaves only in the secessionist states, and not in the five Union slaveowning states. The abolition of slavery had to wait for the 13th Amendment after the war.

    Let us look at Robert E. Lee for a moment. Lee was an officer’s officer, having risen as high as colonel when the Army expanded during the Mexican War, and having served as commandant of West Point. He was asked to be a general in the Union Army, but chose to serve as the head of the Army of Northern Virginia where he lived. And slaves worked his plantation, Arlington, which later became the National Cemetery.

    • Noelle

      I think it’s simplistic to say it was only about slavery.

      Yet all these years later, we keep talking about this. The Civil War is not really over.

    • Livre DeVisage

      Well argued, but ultimately circular. Without the abolitionist vs. slaver issue, the South would not have seceded. To say that preserving the Union was the motivation for the war ignores the fact that there would have been no need to fight to preserve it without the conflict over slavery.

    • Whamadoodle

      Kelly was desperate to change the subject from the indictments of several Trump staff for many felonies, and the fact that one of them pled guilty already, and the fact that there are probably more indictments to come. Racial insensitivity and mentioning slavery issues are Change the Subject 101 at the moment.

      Britain had ended slavery DECADES before, so the South was fighting for an anachronistic system and trying to ensure that it survived instead of perishing, which it should have done.

      The North may not have entered the war to abolish slavery, but the South’s secession documents make it very clear that PRESERVING slavery was their number one reason for fighting and seceding. People are uncomfortable with being honest about it, so they lie about it a lot these days; but the South’s secession statements are very clear, in black and white.

      • Another Mike

        Actually, the US had been ahead of Britain in abolishing slavery. The 1787 Constitution contained a sunset clause for importing slaves (1800, pushed out to 1808) while the the British Empire did not act to oppose the slave trade until 1807. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833, but the people who owned slaves had very little to say in the matter.

        • Whamadoodle

          In fact, the people who owned slaves in Britain were compensated for their “property.” This remains controversial to this day, as this very year, headlines in Britain discussed the fact that powerful families who remain wealthy today were given payouts when slavery ended there. (And of course because the slaves themselves were given nothing for their labor.)

          Since slavery was abolished in the British Empire decades before we abolished it here (and since the South actually went to war, killing six figures’ worth of people, in order to preserve slavery even longer), it seems very clear that one part of the country was “ahead of Britain in abolishing slavery,” and the other, the South, was not only way behind, but was moving in the wrong direction.

      • Noelle

        Yep, appealing to the Trump base.

      • Another Mike

        I finally found a video of the Ingraham-Kelly interview. She broached the subject of the Alexandria church that proposed to remove plaques mentioning George Washington and Robert E. Lee in a bid to be more welcoming. At that point Kelly said he thought it was a mistake to take our current notions of morality and apply them back centuries, and said that Robert E. Lee was a good man. One question that came from their discussion was to whether to strip the Washington Monument of the name of the slaveowner it honored, and rename it perhaps for Andy Warhol.

        • Whamadoodle

          That’s as thoughtful and logical as I’ve come to expect Laura Ingraham and the Trump administration to be, but the facts are that Washington–however incompletely yet–INCREASED the political enfranchisement and the amount of personal liberty our people enjoyed, whereas the South’s generals all fought to KEEP people enslaved, and they did so because they feared a hypothetical ban on slavery, which might have been enacted in the future, and which would have been not only moral but also legal.

          That’s a big difference, which they ignore out of dishonesty.

          Anyway, though, it’s clear that the South’s fighting to preserve slavery was both evil and lawless. Are you, Ingraham, and Kelly arguing that it wasn’t?

          • Livre DeVisage

            Also, Lee was a moderately distinguished military man none of us would have heard of but for the Civil War. Washington was a giant — THE giant of the American Revolution and the formative years of the USA. Remembering Lee is remembering treason in the service of slavery. Remembering Washington is remembering the MASSIVE, POSITIVE accomplishments of a man who was nevertheless flawed when it comes to the issue of slavery.

          • Another Mike

            Many American generals had made their name during the Mexican War, and Lee was one of them. He was also an academic, later running a college as he had West Point.We would have heard of him as we have heard of other Mexican War officers.

          • Another Mike

            You asserted that Kelly was eager to change the subject from blah-blah-blah to the Civil War

            But actually it was Laura Ingraham who first broached the subject. Are you now saying that Kelly and Ingraham had a prearrangement to bring up the topic? Is this fake news, or do you have evidence supporting this new thesis?

          • Whamadoodle

            Funny that you duck the question. Seems like a very easy one to answer (if you can’t answer for Ingraham or Kelly, at least you could answer for yourself, so I’ll amend the question):

            It’s clear that the South’s fighting to preserve slavery was both evil and lawless. Are you arguing that it wasn’t?

          • Another Mike

            So you admit you were wrong when you asserted that Kelly spoke about the Civil War to distract attention from “the indictments of several Trump staff for many felonies, and the fact
            that one of them pled guilty already, and the fact that there are
            probably more indictments to come.”

            If you agree, then we can move on to any new topic you want to discuss.

            Speaking of “Change the Subject 101.”

          • Whamadoodle

            Uh… seems to me that I asked the question you ducked before you created your straw man and asked a further question.

            Well? Seems a very easy one to answer; third time asking: do you agree that the South’s fighting to preserve slavery was both evil and lawless? Or not?

            You’ve now taken two posts to duck that very simple question, and asked two other questions to distract from the fact that you ducked it. Why do you do that?

    • William – SF

      Chief of Staff Kelly got it wrong. Less a beat upon than a teachable moment. Kelly’s high and mighty attitude as a military officer looking down upon those who haven’t lost someone to military service (can’t us the word ‘war’ because we don’t have one, oy!) and borrowing his words, “And now we have high ranking military officers unaware of the history of our nation while acting like only military officers deserve respect.”

    • Sar Wash

      Nebraska was not a state at the time of the War. It was admitted in 1867.

      • Another Mike

        Ah, it was listed in the state column of the reference I used.

    • Sar Wash

      Good points. Until 1850, only a decade before secession, the majority of states still had slavery (as all originally had).

  • Bill_Woods

    As a chief of staff, Kelly probably should have kept his mouth shut, but what he said wasn’t wrong. Slavery was the great divisive issue of the early 18th century in America. The possibility of conflict over it arose repeatedly, but each time both sides opted to compromise, kicking the can down the road for another decade or two. … Until 1860, when Southerners seceded from the Democratic Party because Stephen Douglas wasn’t at least passively pro-slavery. From there, although Lincoln made clear his own willingness to compromise, yet again, the intransigence of the slaveholders pushed the situation into open warfare.

    As for Lee, it seems fair to say he was a good man who chose to serve a bad cause.

  • James R

    I had hoped this news item ended but KQED choose to give it further ado. To be fair Forum, ask seven distinguished Civil War historians their anonymous opinion of John Kelly’s Civil War opinion. Anonymous to prevent political correctness backlash.

  • Noelle

    Kelly doesn’t remember the Missouri Compromise?

    • Another Mike

      The Missouri Compromise passed in 1820 but was effectively repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which let the citizens of each proposed state decide whether it should be slave or free.

      • Noelle

        thanks

  • Russell Blank

    The “rights” that are not mentioned when people use the phrase “states rights” is the “right” for states to sanction the enslavement of black people in those states.

  • Mark SF

    Are people that espouse views like Kelly on the Civil War racist?

    • Whamadoodle

      Actually, they’re people whose administration’s staff have just been indicted, one of whom has pled guilty, and are desperate to distract the public by a change of subject.

    • Sar Wash

      No.

      • Mark SF

        I say yes they are racists. Having grown up in the south, I have never met anyone that espoused the view that the Civil War was not about slavery who was not racists and trying to rewrite history.

  • Jake BM

    Please have your guests discuss the Cornerstone Speech given by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in Savannah in 1861. He laid it out plain and simple, it was about slavery and white supremecy.

    • Jake BM

      From that speech-

      “Our new government is founded upon exactly [this] idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone 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.”

    • Sar Wash

      Pleases point out that Lincoln promised to never free the slaves, only limit the expansion of slavey into the West. Also, please note that Lincoln supported a constitutional amendment to permanently protect slavery in the South and wished to deport all African-Americans to alien Africa.

  • jay

    It’s appalling that the Confederacy, it’s soldiers and state rights have not been demonized. Confederacy=Slavery=Evil. Just like Hitler=Nazi=Evil. The losing side deserves no honor, only disgust. We move forward together as a nation learning from the evils of slavery.

    • Noelle

      Maybe part of the reason that many Southerners keep this “noble cause” narrative was due to the failure of Reconstruction and then Northerners continuing to look down upon Southerners even today. I’m not really defending racism. I read Paul Theroux’s travel book I think it’s called Deep South and he talked to all kinds of Southerners and these divisions are very alive today.

      • Whamadoodle

        I really think it’s just an inability to face squarely that “yes, our ancestors did something really shameful.” It’s uncomfortable for some people, for some reason. I have never understood this; my own ancestors behaved shamefully to those they colonized, and I’ve never understood what the problem is–just say, “they did something shameful, which they shouldn’t have done.” But the apologists for the South are uncomfortable with doing so.

        • Noelle

          You have an excellent point here.

          • Whamadoodle

            Thanks!

      • Ehkzu

        Reconstruction failed in the same way that the Affordable Care Act is failing: sabotage. In the case of Reconstruction, John Wilkes Booth kneecapped it when he killed Lincoln, whose vice president was a southern sympathizer and didn’t support it; the coup de grace was the election of 1877, in which Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican, secured the presidency–which he had lost in the vote count–by agreeing to end Reconstruction in exchange for the Democrats of the day letting him be President.

        • Noelle

          Yep, another Electoral College fail.

        • Another Mike

          It’s interesting to note that Obama was the first black male Senator since Reconstruction., a century and a half earlier.

      • Sar Wash

        The root of the problem was the extreme severity of radical Reconstruction, which punished and alienated white Southerners rather than bringing reconciliation. Had Lincoln lived and the radical Republicans in Congress not succeeded in the punishing the South, the nation would have been reunited much earlier.

    • Sar Wash

      It is appalling that anyone would demonize their fellow Americans without looking at their own sins.

  • Livre DeVisage

    Kelly is a liar (La David Johnson phone call), a racist fool, and completely politically tone deaf. Trump, who is criminal and incompetent himself, has exacerbated the problem by surrounding himself with the most criminal and incompetent gang of advisers, Cabinet Secretaries, and Administrators in the history of the USA.

    • Ehkzu

      For someone to be a liar he has to be conscious of the fact that he’s lying. Thus the nut case who believes he’s Napolean and could pass a lie detector test isn’t lying–he’s delusional. I suspect Kelly is delusional, only in this case it’s a delusion shared by many right wing American whites.

      Just as his memory of the awful things the Southern black legislator said/did was also delusional. I bet that’s how he honestly remembers it, because he’s a racist and the legislator is culturally very black–speaks in richly accented Black English, wears flamboyant hats in the tradition of Southern black women–so my guess is that his racist core was appalled by someone as physically and culturally black as her could be a legislator, but of course he can’t admit this, so his mind manufactured the delusion of her bad actions to cover up the reality of Kelly’s bad racism. This isn’t exactly the same as projection, but it’s a related phenomenon.

      • Livre DeVisage

        I called him a liar because he explicitly lied about what was said in the La David Johnson condolence call. I agree that his Civil War comments simply represent his (racist) beliefs about the issue.

        • Ehkzu

          What I’m suggesting about his mindset is even worse. Liars are at least in touch with reality. But delusional people can’t be “fixed.” Delusional people rewrite their memories to suit their fears and prejudices. When I was a college freshman taking Psych 101 the prof conducted an experiment on the class. He selected half a dozens students at random and had them leave the room. Then he showed the rest of us a slide showing a drawing of a scene inside a trolley car, in which, among other things, a tall white man with a knife in his hand is threatening a shorter black man. Then the prof turned off the slide projector, had one of the half dozen students come out, and had one student who had seen the slide describe it in as much detail as he could recall (there were over a dozen people depicted in the drawing). Then he had another of the 6 come out and had the first of the six pass along the description he’d heard, again in as much detail as he could muster.

          When this experiment is conducted with a white class at least, the result is always the same: by the time the description reaches the last student, the talk menacing person with the knife becomes the black and the shorter, theatened person becomes white.

          No one is lying. It’s just how bias rewrites memory.

          Let me make it clear that I”m not excusing Kelly. Someone who is so clearly racist, to the degree that he remanufacturs his own memories subconsciously to blame blacks, should not be in a position of power in this country.

          • Livre DeVisage

            Yes, and I don’t agree that Kelly has lost all touch with reality. The La David Johnson incident was simply lying as ordered. I don’t think he was “deluded” about events that occurred in the recent past. His racist views and his beliefs that those who have served in the military are better than those who have not are closer to delusional thinking, but even then, far short of “clinical” delusion, I think. Keep in mind the ~35% who still strongly support Trump. They are clearly either incapable or unwilling to accept evidence, but I see it more as the sort of rationalization of which we are all capable than delusion of the character and magnitude you are suggesting.

        • Another Mike

          I sure can’t find any account of Kelly lying about what was said in the La David Johnson conference call. Do you have a source for that?

          • Livre DeVisage

            Not directly. Network news reported that he contradicted the Congresswoman’s AND THE WIDOW’s account that Trump repeatedly stumbled over La David’s name, and in his Press Conference, he at the very least glossed over Trump’s awful “he knew what he was getting into” gaffe. He also lied in that statement about past statements of the Congresswoman. He is not a truthful or respectable man, nor does he work for one.

          • Another Mike

            I myself would stumble over the name La David, because La is a feminine article and/or personal pronoun in every Romance language, and has such been imported into English. (Christopher Hitchens “La Kirkpatrick” Atlantic magazine 2011)

          • Livre DeVisage

            Well, the issue here is not the stumbling but the fact that Kelly was on the call, heard it happen, and then said it did not (if indeed he did; I cannot find a second reference to support the news broadcast, which i believe was on NBC).

            That being said, I have gone to great pains in the past to be sure to pronounce peoples’ names correctly in situations FAR less emotionally-charged than Trump’s (non)condolence call. When possible, i often called peoples’ office phones at times I knew they would not be there to answer, just so I could hear THEM pronounce their names on their voice-mail message. To ask the President to do as much for a call such as this, I think, is not unreasonable, except of course for THIS President.

            FWIW, the “La” common in African American names for males and females alike apparently arises from black culture in New Orleans, probably influenced by “Cajun” French which, as a French speaker myself, seems to be at best vaguely connected to the modern French Language. 🙂

          • Another Mike

            As seen on GMA, Mrs. Johnson’s complaint was that Trump had to read her husband’s name off a piece of paper instead of from memory.

          • Livre DeVisage

            Right. Kelly represented Trump’s decision to make the call as fraught with consideration, discussion, and planning. After all that, the man had to read the ONE name that was the subject of the call off a piece of paper, and could not even then do it without stumbling? To me, that makes Kelly’s remarks about the degree of care and preparation Trump put into the call suspect.

            Or, it’s simply additional evidence of Trump’s dementia. His speech and vocabulary have declined measurably from a decade or two ago, and his recent unscripted remarks have been analyzed at ~4th-grade level.

  • Ehkzu

    Many traitors see themselves–and are seen by their supporters–as honorable people. The fact that General Robert E. Lee betrayed his country–and was responsible for the deaths of many good men–in the service of a cause (in this case, the right of whites to enslave blacks)–doesn’t make him any less of a traitor than someone who betrays his country for money or spite. The act of betrayal is what makes someone a traitor, not his motivations.

    General Kelly accurately portrays the nouveau slaver mindset of the Party of the South, otherwise known as the GOP. It comes as no suprise that a Trump official would perpetrate the White South’s endless attempt to avoid its shameful past and also shameful present.

    • Sar Wash

      It was Grant and Sherman who slaughtered and raped innocents. Lee was just protected his homeland from Northern aggression.

  • geraldfnord

    I would say rather that the Late Civil War Rebellion of Northern Aggression Between the States Unpleasantness came about due to the impossibility of further compromise due to fundamentally incompatible issues’ having come to the fore. The Dred Scott decision, both by requiring anti-slavery states’ actions in its support and by threatening the citizenship of anyone with a drop of traceable African blood in their veins, set in direct opposition and at all levels government’s rĂ´les as guarantor of property rights and as guarantor of all rights. That is, the Union did not just set state against state, but had set its free states’ governments against themselves.

    Of course, someone will likely chime-in with the fact that the Union troops evidently marched forward yelling ‘Keep Tariffs High!’ and ‘Death to Christian Civilisation!!’.

    • William – SF

      …and yelling “Lower Taxes for Corporations and the Wealthy.”

  • marte48

    Today, the same people who defend “states rights” deny California’s right to ignore federal immigration laws.

    • Ehkzu

      “States rights” is, was, and always will be, a fig leaf.

      • Whamadoodle

        Well and succinctly said.

    • Livre DeVisage

      People who defend States’ Rights most vehemently tend to have a very specific set of rights in mind, often connected with guns or institutionalization of Christianity. States’ Rights is simply a smokescreen for unreconstructed racists.

      FWIW, I do NOT support California’s so-called “right” to ignore Federal immigration Law. The Federal Government is WELL within its rights to control immigration and to round up and deport illegal immigrants. California has no responsibility actually to enforce those laws, but it should be compelled to assist in reasonable ways, such as determining the citizenship status of people who are arrested, and informing Federal authorities when an illegal immigrant is in State custody.

  • aaydogan

    The underlying flaw in the country is that it institutionalized slavery at its foundation. A group of male, white, European extremists who were misfits in their own countries came together and organized a country where much of the economic prosperity was built on the back of people of one color who were considered less than human. Even with constitutional reforms abolishing the legal institution of slavery, this county is unlikely to ever escape the legacy of one group of people being treated differently based solely on their color or another group of people maintaining hegemony based on their color.

    • marte48

      Washington’s family was actually here for 4 generations.

    • Sar Wash

      Slavery was virtually universal throughout history. It was the basis of most society’s, not just ours.

      • aaydogan

        The issue is that the US, especially today, has made claims to some from of exceptionalism and spouted ideals of freedom and justice. Therefore, saying that slavery has been a universal is not a defense of its adoption in the foundations of this country.

  • marte48

    Perhaps one of your guests could explain to those who may not know that the “Party of Lincoln” is no longer that.

    • Curious

      Lincoln did not oppose slavery.

      • Livre DeVisage

        Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on…

  • Gene K.

    What’s with the revisionist history? The Civil War was about slavery. PERIOD.

  • marte48

    How much did England and France influence the dissolution of slavery in the US?

    • Curious

      Britain introduced slavery to America. Jamestown – needed to work tobacco.

      • Livre DeVisage

        Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on………

    • Another Mike

      Slavery was legal in Quebec until 1833. Slavery was abolished by the first French Republic, but reinstated by Napoleon. The French finally prohibited slavery in 1848.

  • jay

    Why can’t the Confederacy, Flags, Soldiers, etc. be demonized similar to Germany where everything associated with Nazis has been demonized?

    • Curious

      Because no one was rounding up and killing slaves by the millions to exterminate an entire race. Apples and oranges.

      • Livre DeVisage

        Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on..

    • Sar Wash

      Southerners have suffered for 150 years. If some people try to even attack their valiant ancestors’ sacrifices, then the country will be divided again. The ONLY way to have reconciliation in this country is to recognize the views of both sides, not to demonize one side.

    • Another Mike

      Even the tiniest village in Germany has a memorial to its war dead. The cause in which they died is no obstacle.

  • Curious

    What about the thousands of freed slaves – blacks – who themselves owned slaves?

    • Livre DeVisage

      Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on.

    • Ehkzu

      Many if not most of the slaves brought to the New World from Africa had been enslaved by blacks in Africa. So?

      These constant efforts to exculpate the malignant slaver culture perpetrated by the White Right in America are transparent. It’s like trying to deny the racism of today’s GOP by pointing to the handful of blacks who are Republicans, when the reality is that the GOP is 87% non-Hispanic white and supports a broad specture of laws and practices designed to keep blacks “in their place” under the false flags of the War on Drugs, War on Crims, War on Voter Fraud, States’ Rights, and all the other fig leaves the Party of White Men struts around wearing.

      • Livre DeVisage

        If you engage with trolls like “Curious,” you give them victory. All he wants is to disrupt intelligent discussion, and to that end, he will post whatever he feels is necessary to accomplish them. The best solution is to ignore everything he posts, no matter how hateful and obviously wrong it may be. Consider it blank space in the dialog.

      • Curious

        I am talking about former slaves in America owning slaves. Got any opinion?

        • Livre DeVisage

          Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on…..

        • Mark SF

          Slavery is bad period. Slave owners never see their slaves as human.

          • Livre DeVisage

            I beg you not to engage “Curious” at all. He only wants to disrupt intelligent discussion, and any reply at all simply accomplishes what he has come here to do.

          • Mark SF

            No worries, I have engaged with curious before in the past. He can make respectful arguments if he wants to but I agree most of the time he mainly interested in poking with a stick. Trolls only win if they get under your skin.

          • Livre DeVisage

            As have I. There are people here with whom I disagree very strongly, but they are here for a discussion, and at least generally agree to stipulate to actual facts where possible. “Curious” goes beyond disagreeable viewpoints to outright lies and non-sequiturs clearly offered to divert and disrupt. As a long-time and loyal Forum listener, I support the right of “Curious” to speak, but I also support and actively encourage the rest of us to exercise our right to ignore him.

          • Mark SF

            And my right to engage him if I wish. Look I have been on these boards a long time, though I do not post often. Curious knows me. I know curious and have had discussions with him. He also does what you say.

          • Livre DeVisage

            Don’t mean to imply that it is not your right to engage if you choose. But I also will repeat that if you encourage his behavior, he will simply persist and in so doing pollute these discussions with his nonsense. Enabling and encouraging a troll is not far removed from trolling itself.

  • Hal Kruth

    Why do we pussy-foot around with the basic fact that Lee and other senior leadership of the Confederacy were traitors. They were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousand of loyal United States soldiers. If they were pardoned they could have been tried and hung for treason. For the South to wrap themselves in the Constitution on so many other issues and ignore the treason of their ancestors is appalling

    • Noelle

      This may have been due in part to Reconstruction. The country wanted to move on from the divisions and perhaps they believed it was not a good idea to demonize these people.

    • Another Mike

      Those states had entered the union — as the vast majority of states had, back when the Constitution was ratified — as slave states. And soon slavery was going to be prohibited. They were not treasonous — the federal government was soon to breach the understanding on which these states had affiliated themselves.

      • Whamadoodle

        Wait–if slavery was going to be prohibited by law, then that framework of law was what the South had agreed to also. Whether it’s technically treason is a different question, but you’re not going to claim that the South was working within the law in that case.

        They were advancing a lawless cause, and doing so in order to preserve an immoral, violent, explicitly bigoted system that the British had gotten rid of DECADES earlier. They have no case.

        • Another Mike

          These states had yielded part of their sovereignty in exchange for being able to maintain slavery, which was written into the Constitution. Every one of the original 13 had been slave states except Massachusetts and New Hampshire. They did not want to dismantle their economies because some other states had given up slavery.

          • Whamadoodle

            Nonetheless, they agreed to abide by the laws of the land, and by the constitutional amendment process. They never got the North to agree “there shall be no constitutional amendment outlawing slavery,” or anything remotely like it. Therefore, if abolitionists in the North and South had made slavery illegal, then tough–that’s the legal system the South had voted to adopt.

            Therefore, the South was behaving lawlessly, against the very same framework of law they agreed to. Just as I said. They had neither a moral nor a legal case for maintaining their immoral, violent, explicitly bigoted system. Still less for attacking the North at Fort Sumter and beginning a war against them.

  • Ehkzu

    The book “11 nations” describes how America was founded and settled by different groups in different parts of our country. All came from Europe except for one: the slaver culture of Barbados, which founded Charleston in South Carolina and spread the brutal plantation system of that island across the parts of the south whose climate and terrain lent themselves to plantation agriculture. That culture fought with those from Europe for dominance of America from then to now. One sign today is the states with “stand your ground” laws.

    Barbadian slaver culture shaped the slavers’ minds just as much as it affected the slaves. It made the slavers’ haughty, incapable of compromise, quick to take offense and swift to exact retribution. There were far more duels in the slaver states than in the free ones.

  • Curious

    What about slavery still existing in Islamic countries?

    • Livre DeVisage

      Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on….

    • Ehkzu

      Ah, “what about”-ing. One of the favorite tools of propagandists and apologists.

      • Curious

        Got nothing, huh? Got it.

        • Livre DeVisage

          Our serial troll is back. Best simply to ignore all he posts and move on…….

        • pastramiboy

          We aren’t talking about Islamic countries here Curious, we are talking about the Civil War. So leave it for another program.

  • marte48

    Can your guest confirm the fact that the wealth of the South generated by slavery was greater than the industrial wealth of the North?

    • Livre DeVisage

      It’s hard to decouple. Northern mills used Southern cotton, and there were multiple other resource / industry links. But the wealth of the South was built on the backs of workers who did not have to be paid wages, and who did not have the freedom to move on to other work if they so desired.

    • Bill_Woods

      It wasn’t. The economy of the North was far larger than that of the South.

      • Livre DeVisage

        This is correct in simple, absolute terms. But much of the wealth of the North could not have been built / sustained without raw materials from the South. The economy of the United States required both the industry of the North and the fields and forests of the South. A successful secession would have allowed the South to impose tariffs on resource exports to at least partially level the playing field. There is some evidence that resistance to secession was explicitly based on this fear of lost resources.

        • Bill_Woods

          Enh. The North had plenty of fields and forests. And railroads to move stuff around.
          The South had cotton, but as the British discovered, there were other sources of that.

          • Livre DeVisage

            No, it did not. Check the facts! Northern forests were severely depleted by 1860, Northern coal fields were only beginning to take up the slack, and with modern fertilizer technology still >50 years in the future, Northern agriculture was less than adequate to sustain the fast-growing population. The U.S. NEEDED the South economically to sustain the rate of growth, and even more importantly, it could not lose new Western States to a separate South. Essentially everyone in the U.S. States from the Revolution to the Civil War benefited from Southern slavery in some way and to some extent.

          • Another Mike

            The lumber boom in Maine lasted till 1880, while the Michigan lumber boom extended from 1870 to 1890, long after the Civil War began.

          • Livre DeVisage

            That SUPPORTS my point. Maine and Michigan, very much on the fringe of the industrial North at that time, could only boom once PA, NY, and the rest of New England had been logged off. And boom or not, they could not by themselves supply the North and the expanding agriculture in the Western (and in many places, nearly tree-less) Plains. Forests in Virginia and North Carolina were important contributors and in many cases logistically more favorable than Maine or Michigan. Beyond that, Maine and Michigan did not produce much in the way of cotton, food, or animal feed products, all of which the North needed to maintain its industrial economy and the growth thereof.

            Check out the first map at: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2015/01/09/history_of_american_forests_tree_maps_made_for_1884_census.html

            Only a tiny, remote part of Maine, much of the Adirondacks, and one small slice of Pennsylvania match the forest density of ENORMOUS swaths of the South, in which the area of highest forest density, at a glance, looks to exceed the combined TOTAL area of PA, NY, and all of New England other than Maine. And in addition to all of that forest, the Coastal Plain / Piedmont of the South represent a roughly equal area of lower-density forests where much of the land was devoted to cotton and other agriculture. That’s from 1884, but likely not dramatically different from the situation at the beginning of the Civil War.

            The U.S. Northeast could have been successful as a Nation all by itself, I don’t dispute that. But it was MUCH more successful because it could draw on a variety of raw materials from the South.

          • Another Mike

            The enormous swaths of the South to which you refer are hardwood forests, not the pine turned into lumber for framing homes.

          • Another Mike

            Barring cotton, states like New Jersey were as productive as Mississippi in growing crops. Further, Southern states grew scant wheat and hay, and almost no garden vegetables.

            https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1864/dec/1860b.html

    • Sar Wash

      Yes, it was. Indeed Southern exports were much greater than those of the North. Not to mention, by far the largest industry in the North was processing of Southern slave-produced cotton textiles. Northern cities were also built on slavery, not just the manufacture of slave-produced goods, but slave trading, which built, in particular, Providence, Newport, and New York.

  • reich.jonathan

    Thank you for this excellent program.

    The caller absolving the common confederate soldier in the south for any real responsibility misses the point.
    The same could be said about common soldiers in the Wehrmacht.
    The point is that the leaders in the south seceded and forced the war in order to preserve slavery.
    And even though there were and always have been racists and southern sympathizers in the north,
    the leaders in the north fought the war to end slavery and preserve the union.
    The problem we face now is our current leaders in power.

    The mainstream fell into the “inside-the-beltway-simplistic-assumption” (blinded by the uniform) that Kelly is some kind of unassailable military man with integrity and will safeguard America from Trump’s finger on the twitter or nuclear button.
    He’s not. Don’t be fooled by the uniform. Review his military record.
    He’s more Buck Turgidson, Jack D. Ripper, or Nathan Jessup than he is Ulysses S. Grant or Dwight Eisenhower.
    His statements suggesting that military service people are more equal than civilians is both ridiculous and dangerous.

    Read more about Kelly – with a grain of salt yes – but these are disturbing allegations.
    https://theintercept.com/2017/10/21/it-didnt-just-start-now-john-kelly-has-always-been-a-hard-right-bully/
    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/22/black-caucus-wilson-john-kelly-244045
    https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/john-kelly-and-the-language-of-the-military-coup
    https://newrepublic.com/article/145407/real-john-kelly
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-john-kelly-exposed-himself-as-steve-bannon-lite_us_59eb7f47e4b00f08619f2adf

    • Noelle

      Yay Dr. Strangelove reference!

    • Another Mike

      Over 2000 Americans died in Iraq and Afghanistan during Obama’s presidency. Did Obama call the families of each and every one of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country?

      • Whamadoodle

        How on earth does that question pertain to anything the poster said? Or did you accidentally post this answer to the wrong post? Your reply doesn’t seem to pertain to any sentence in the post you’re replying to.

        • Another Mike

          While I don’t blame you for not clicking on any of those links, each and every one discussed Trump’s phone call to the Gold Star widow, that Representative Frederica Wilson listened into.

          But even if you hadn’t, realize that Jonathan Reich invited us to read about Kelly, and the difference between military service people and civilians, an obvious reference to Kelly’s response to the La David Johnson phone call controversy.I

          • Whamadoodle

            I’m struggling to find the place in all those links where anyone ever said the point of them was that Obama “[called] the families of each and every one” of the thousands of Americans who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Carol Garvey

    The last caller believed that most Southerners were complicit with the institution of slavery stating that even if they didn’t own slaves they may one day be able to afford a slave and therefore they supported slavery. I heard this idea too from a history professor 25 years ago citing documents from the National Archives which document poor white dirt farmers, barely a step up from slaves, supporting slavery because one day they too would be able to own a slave which would pull them out of poverty.

    I see this same mindset in those lower income Americans who constantly vote against their own self interest when voting for Conservatives whose main goal is to cut taxes for the rich. “Some day” they too may be rich and then they’ll get to keep all of their dough and screw the little guy. They forget that they are the little guy and will most likely never be rich enough to screw their fellow citizens.

    • Noelle

      Yes, I agree with that insight.

    • Ehkzu

      It’s a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, isn’t it?

      A sad parallel is the House Negroes in Southern antebellum plantations. They got to dress nicely and eat better than the field slaves, and some? many? would take on airs as if they were more like Massa than the field slaves. During the early years of the black liberation movment in the 1920s, blacks advocating moderate positions were contemptuously referred to as “House Negroes” when they weren’t being called “Uncle Toms.”

    • Another Mike

      A slave might just as well have put him into poverty. Compare a plow horse, which must be fed the year round rather than just during the plowing season. Slaves needed to be fed, clothed, and housed. They needed medical care. Slaves were luxuries if you couldn’t put them to work the year around.

      On the other hand, if you as small entrepreneur temporarily needed extra help, you might want to hire someone else’s slave for a few days or weeks.

      • pastramiboy

        You’re saying this is good or an ok way to run a small business?

        • Another Mike

          I’m saying few small businessmen would have aspired to own slaves, because they represented a constant economic burden. Compare free workers, who could be laid off in slack times.

    • Sar Wash

      Do not forget that most white Southerners simply fought to protect their homeland from the invading Yankees, not for some other purpose.

      • pastramiboy

        A homeland founded on the institution of slavery, and unable to function without it.

  • Noelle

    It’s nice for us former history majors to dust off our critical thinking skills from when we were in college. 🙂

  • MikeCassady

    Whether by choice or not, retired General Kelly fell into line with the Trump-Bannon language in support of Trump’s white supremecy and white nationalist argumentation. Instead of standing clear of this divisive issue and maintaining a more neutral stance within the White House, Kelly elected to lend credence to a mean spirited, reactionary, anti-liberal program to take down the post World War II consensus regarding the legitimate role of the USA in the postwar world that was the centerpiece of national policy since the time of the war. The postwar consensus was the way the USA won support from Western nations in ruins, facing recovery from failed governance to actively advocate against a spiral into chaos and knee-jerk urges to settle old accounts and rewrite history; the USA got that support because we showed we were acting as the best among equals as effectively the only nation still standing and that world domination was not our goal, nor our motive, as was our reason for opposing Hitler’s ambition to impose German rule for a thousand years. The postwar consensus tacitly accepts that the nations of the world, by the fact and meaning of the ruinous World War, and as a “community of concern”, have become geographical states in an extra-national reality. Nuclear materials, global resource use, human rights issues no longer kept from general public knowledge due to the media, the unacceptable continuation of extra-national policies by states likely to perpetuate cycles of wars of domnation, and, eventually, control of climate change and the urgency of winning the favor of sustainability thinking in the consensus process of public opinion creation: these factors beyon the competence of national governance made the global domain the operational level of a community of concern for all the world’s people.

    The USA today is a country fundamentally changed by the war into a national and global community. Constituencies formed at the national level for people of color, for women, for LGBT Queer people, and for youthful political activists seeking a say on questions about Vietnam and Civil Rights. The present seriously retrograde campaign by hyperactive endgame Boomers like Bannon directly attacks these national constituencies by denying their legitimacy and their right to exist. A return to iron-fisted local control by town fathers imposing their will by rule of the personality is not going to happen, is a deeply misguided initiative to undo the postwar consensus forged by the generations who suffered the social and spiritual upheavals of the war. An understanding of history is an active engagement in a work in progress. At some point the mob made to proxy for this intellectual glass-bead game of Bannon and his acolytes (including Trump) will discover their friends are those of us who live a future now that looks ahead of us on the road that began with the Enlightenment. Resist the temporizing “chaos carriers” of the Trump wave, not with sticks and stones, but with good information and developed critical intelligence.

    • Another Mike

      The world order frozen in time in 1946 is worth taking a look at. Remember the alliance with the Soviet Union did not survive the war. The cost of keeping the peace — with the US spending as much on defence as what? the next 27 spenders combined — is prohibitive, especially as income in real dollars for the lowest three quintiles of Americans has remained constant since the 1960s, even as the rich have gotten substantially richer.

      https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2017/09/19/u-s-household-incomes-a-50-year-perspective

  • Sar Wash

    The victors always get to write history. So, it is not surprising that the Yankees have tried to rewrite history so that Southerners are completely wrong and Yankeess are perfect. This is not the case. Let’s never forget that Lincoln repeatedly promised to never free the slaves, only to limit the expansion of new western slave states. Also, Lincoln wanted to send all black Americans to Africa. Do not forget that it was the North that invaded the Confederate States of America, not the other way around. I am a black woman and the descendant of slaves, but I recognize that Robert E. Lee and the other Southern heroes were great heroes, although far from perfect (like all Union leaders).

    • pastramiboy

      Whoa, stockholm syndrome?
      The southerners you refer to so blithely as heroes were, in fact, traitors. If not for the union invading the South-after the provocation at Fort Sumter-you might still be enslaved and unable to write the the spurious sentiments above.

      • Another Mike

        Traitors?

        The Southern states had entered the union — surrendering part of their sovereignty in the process — as slave states. Slavery was written into the Constitution. But in 1860 the pro-abolition party had won a majority in the House, and put one of their own in the White House. The conversion of territories to states was already putting slavers in the minority. The handwriting was on the wall.

        • Whamadoodle

          The handwriting was on the wall for…

          …for the majority to enact a constitutional amendment that would eventually render slavery obsolete? Which is precisely the legal framework that the South had agreed to abide by?

          Therefore, the South was behaving lawlessly by attacking the North at Fort Sumter and starting the war, not lawfully.

          • Another Mike

            The Constitution had been continuously understood to enumerate the powers of the federal government. Not limit the rights of the voting population of the United States. Not to have their valuable property stripped away.

          • Whamadoodle

            What on earth does that babbling mean? “limit the rights of the voting population of the United States”? Constitutional amendments are PROVIDED FOR IN THE CONSTITUTION. And they’re enacted precisely by the representatives that “voting population of the United States” chooses, or not, to vote for.

            The South agreed to abide by that legal framework, and that constitutional-amendment process in the first place. And you know it. And everyone reading this knows you know it, despite your transparent, dishonest tapdancing.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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