10 years ago
I have always been fascinated by the extent to which people willingly believe myths.
Courtesy of Right Wing News I found this interesting piece of history — history that you will never see in the textbooks (and NPR and Bill Moyer will never cover it).
From Issues & Views (a black owned and operated web site):
If you are unfamiliar with the history of blacks who fought for the Confederacy, here is an informative video. Enjoy engrossing presentations by two black scholars who share their vast knowledge of the South. Professor Edward C. Smith is Director of American Studies at American University in Washington, DC, and Nelson Winbush is a retired school teacher .
Cutting through what he calls the “mythology” that passes for history, Smith shares some little known facts about the pre-Civil War period. “Let us look at the total population of Washington, DC from 1800 until 1870. In 1800, when the city first became the nation’s capital, there were 746 blacks living in the city, of which 123 were free; 620 were slaves. The black population steadily increased, as well as the free black population. By 1830, a dramatic change had taken place. Now there are nearly 6,000 blacks, of which well over 3,000 are free. Remember, the Civil War was not to begin for another 31 years. By the time we get to 1860, there are almost 11,000 blacks living in Washington, more than 9,000 of them are free, and fewer than 2,000 are slaves. And this was happening all over the South. By the time the United States Census was taken in 1860, there were over 500,000 free blacks scattered throughout the South.
“The important thing to keep in mind is that slavery was dying out on its own. It would have died had there been no war at all. It would have taken a little longer, but the war simply speeded up a process that had already begun to take effect. Since there were over 500,000 free blacks throughout the South, this meant that every slave always saw free blacks around him, and knew that freedom was possible.”
Showing historical artifacts owned by his grandfather, Louis Nelson, who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, Nelson Winbush sets some records straight. A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Winbush tells about black and white soldiers who fought together in the War, not to preserve slavery, but to keep out invaders who were bent on destruction. On the home front, black and white family members protected one another from the brutality of invading Yankee soldiers. “When the Yanks came down South, the first thing they did was rape the black women. Then they raped the black missy girls. Then they went and got drunk and raped the white women. The black man’s wives and daughters were raped before the white women were raped. So, if you talk about bonding [between black and white southerners], there’s your cause for bonding.”
Says Winbush, “There are those who argue that blacks did not fight for the Confederacy. If this was the case, then why was my grandfather’s application for pension received, accepted and approved? He was Number 32 for the Colored Man’s Pension, State of Tennessee.”
To learn more about this side of Civil War history, purchase Black Southern Heritage, a two-hour video produced by Preserving Our Heritage. Contact Mike Crane: SPOFGA@yahoo.com
Allow me to give one more example; this one is completely unrelated by subject, but very much related by analogy. It is the myth that Galileo and the church were at ideological war with each other, the church having muzzled the exercise of science. Nothing could be further from the truth, inasmuch as Galileo’s true enemies were his scientific detractors who used the church as a way to silence him. Thomas Lessl has two great pieces on it here and here. Jonah Goldberg has an NRO article on it here.
As I said, it is unrelated to the issue of the Civil War and slavery, but it goes to show that the myth (that every school child is taught) about Galileo and the church is false, yet believed by so many people today that it is not likely ever to be expunged from the public consciousness.