Dixie Anthem Rests on the Cornerstone of Slavery
Letter to Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union Newspaper:
Tonya Weathersbee’s article unfortunately condemns Councilwoman Johnson for respecting diversity and honoring the ethnic heritage of her constituents. Nothing could better set a positive example for others to follow. It is important for us all to see history in perspective, and in the case of "Dixie" and the American Confederacy, we must see that time through the lens of the participants. It does us no good to apply the moral views of today to those who lived by different standards.
Many people point to Alexander Stephens so-called cornerstone speech delivered in Savannah in 1861 as proof of a Southern slavocracy, but they miss abolitionist Angelina Grimke in 1836 professing that slavery was “the cornerstone of our (United States) republic." Angelina castigated Northern merchants and manufacturers for making their fortunes out of the produce of slave labor, and Northerner Eli Whitney’s cotton gin greatly expanded the need for slave labor.
The American Confederacy of 1861 maintained the same slavery that the colonies of 1776 maintained when they seceded from England for the right to govern themselves. For Weathersbee to hold the Confederacy as villains, she must believe the same of the American colonists who inherited the nefarious institution from our British forefathers. Though the Northern slavetrading States eventually freed their slaves by the 1830’s, the large free-black population below Mason and Dixon’s Line was evidence that the same was occurring in the South. There was absolutely no need for a war that killed one million Americans, and if Weathersbee wants culprits for slavery, she need look no further than the African tribes who enslaved their own people, and sold them to waiting British and New England slavers who brought them here to work the English, and later American Southern plantations.
Bernhard Thuersam, Executive Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Post Office Box 328
Wilmington, NC 28402