H.K. Edgerton’s Speech To the Asheville, N.C. Torch Society/February 2, 2006
Southern Cultural Genocide
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. In any venue where the defense of the Confederate Battle Flag (The Christian Cross of St. Andrew ),and the honorable men and women who fought , lived and died under her glorious banner ; the economic institution of slavery inevitably surfaces as the topic of discussion , and more times than not , those who choose to bare a negative view of the South and her body politic; choose as their enlighten a parallel to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Fiction," Uncle Tom’s Cabin", where every Southern charitable sympathy is betrayed, every moral purpose twisted to wrong, every patriotic feeling insulted by the pernicious intrigues of sectional animosity and willful slander.
The routine act of human interests, of human duties, of human necessities, and even human ambitions in America and around the world during this epoch produced scenes , more terrible and agonies more poignant and heart rendering than any contributed to Southern Slavery. The Northern and European Cotton Mills transmitted more misery on the poor and suffering than all the incidents of servile misery recorded by either reputable or not, authors of that time. The average condition of the Southern Slave was infinitely superior, morally and materially, in all respects, to that of the laboring class in other circumstances in other parts of the world at that time. The community of the South was the policeman who protected the slave against injury against force, fraud , or outrage. Such habitual regard by the community for this subordinated class caused a generation of kindliness of feeling and deference of power among the slaveholder in general, which no severity could produce and no judgment maintain. It is this intercommunion of good offices and good will, of interests and obligations which renders the realities of slavery in the South so much more different from what was written by those who imagined and analogize it to Northern chattel slavery and had and have no intimate familiarity with its operation in the Southern body politic.
I speak this evening on behalf of the 2 and one half million Southern Bondsmen, Bondswomen, Freedmen and Freedwomen who from 1861 to 1865 loyally served and supported the Confederate cause, in however humble and noble a capacity.
When cotton was needed to finance a long war, it was Black hands that picked it and prepared it for export to Europe. When foodstuffs were needed to feed the embattled Southern Armies and a beleaguered Southern civilian population, it was Black hands working with White hands that tilled the soil to grow needed crops to fend off starvation. Slave and Freeman alike gave his last penny to support the Confederate cause. It was trusted Black hands left on the plantation to guard the Mistress and her children from the hand of the invader. It was skilled Black labor that worked in the new Southern factories making the implements of war that kept the southern armies in the field for four years. Across the South in every town, city, and plantation, a trained cadre of Black laborers and craftsman worked to keep the Southern armies supplied with all the implements of war. Without the untiring sweat of Black men , the Confederate Army would have quickly ground to a halt. Black men served as Teamsters, Cooks, Blacksmiths, Furriers, Laborers, Servants and in many cases as the Close Friend of the White Man he accompanied. Many of these Black Auxiliaries were to prove there worth in combat, even though by law, they could not be compelled to fight, and would not be allowed to enlist as soldiers until the last days of the War.
More importantly was the Bond of Love and Affection between Black and White that transcended the economic institution of Slavery, and is so incomprehensible to people up North. In cases too numerous to mention, boyhood friends, Black and White went off to war together, sharing together the hardships of camp life, the stress of campaigning, the excitement of battle, the agony of the hospital, and the painful separation of death. Stories abound of faithful Black friends and servants seeing to the comfort of their White friends last moments on earth, and with tearful countenance and broken hearts begin the sometimes difficult and arduous task of obtaining proper burial for his friend , and then bringing the painful news home.. Only love can explain such a bond., fear of the lash cannot explain it, and our Northern friends dismiss it as so many fairy tales. These Northerners miss a very important point. We are Southerners too. By 1861 we had worked with White southerners for two centuries. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Tennessee was our home. The average Black Confederate understood his duty as god gave him the light to perform it. He performed his duty without expectation of reward, or promise of freedom, but he knew that if he worked and struggled, and fought hard for the Confederate cause as a loyal subject, the white people of the South would do right by him.
When Sherman marched to the sea, he destroyed Black homes as well as White, stole foodstuffs that would keep Black children from starving as well as White, his soldiers raped and killed Black women, and forced loyal Black men to volunteer for their army at bayonet point, or more commonly to act as laborers so that White Yankees could sit on their backsides. Then came 1865 , the complete collapse of the Confederacy, so called freedom for the Slave, and the beginning of 135 years of deferred promises to African Americans under the Stars and Stripes.
The White South was ready to do right by their former Slaves. They accepted the fact of freedom, and were prepared to make provision for the new Freedman within the limits of an impoverished and devastated South, but even though the Southern armies had surrendered, the North had not finished their conquest. They began a deliberate policy of poisoning the minds of the former Slaves against their former Masters. The bonds of love and affection were severely tried and in many cases sundered. The North spread anarchy and hatred through their secret Black Societies called the Loyal or Union Leagues. By the misrule of the Carpetbag Governments, they spread corruption across the defeated South. They continued their deliberate economic boycott of the South until the mid 20th Century. There was no Marshall Plan for Dixie. This Northern policy of divide and conquer coupled with the economic strangulation of the South go a long towards explaining much of the rancor and hatred of Black/White relations in the south. As this Month begins what is supposed to be Black History Month, the people of this Nation will not hear the name of the Honorable Rev. Mack Lee( body servant and Cook of the Honorable Gen.Robert E. Lee, started perhaps the Nations first Credit Union in America in hopes of aiding his now free African Brother, and who started Churches in both the North and South, Holt Collier(famous trapper and first Black man to be acquitted for killing a White man in Mississippi who had killed his former Master; he would be responsible for Teddy Roosevelt’s coined nick name Teddy Bear), Levi Carnine(carried letters and money home hundreds of miles through hostile enemy territory where he could been captured as a traitor or run away) Napoleon Nelson(body Servant and body guard to the Honorable Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest) or even our own George Mills form Hendersonville, N.C. who like so many other Black Confederates brought the remains of their friend and master home through treacherous and hostile territory home to their family. No we will not hear their names or any of the other many names that I personally heard as I crossed the South in the Historic March Across Dixie. Time permitting , I shall read to you my letter which I not only submitted to the President of the United States , but also personally placed in his possession in a town Hall meeting in our capitol witness by our own Don Yelton and a host of other prominent citizens of this city. Dear Mr.. President……