27
   

The Statue Wars Begin

 
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Aug, 2017 04:41 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
Slavery did not enrich the United States, and actually enriched precious few slave owners.


Are you really claiming that the institution of slavery did not have an economic value to Colonial North America as a whole? I have heard this, I don't think I buy it.

I make no claims of being a historian, but it is easy to find articles from Historians that suggest the opposite. It seems logical that having a workforce with no rights that can housed and fed at minimal cost is an economic value, particularly in an agricultural economy.

I am interested in historical evidence for this.
0 Replies
 
centrox
 
  2  
Reply Sat 19 Aug, 2017 04:51 am
I don't know if an Atlantic article entitled "Slavery Made America" counts... the author mentions David Blight's course at Yale, The Civil War and Reconstruction. :

Quote:
by 1860, there were more millionaires (slaveholders all) living in the lower Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the United States. In the same year, the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined. So, of course, the war was rooted in these two expanding and competing economies—but competing over what? What eventually tore asunder America's political culture was slavery's expansion into the Western territories.

I must say this is nothing that I haven't been hearing since the 1960s.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/slavery-made-america/373288/

This is interesting - same Atlantic author on Blight's take on why why so many Northerners, whatever their feelings about black people, came to oppose slavery, in another article titled "What Cotton Hath Wrought":

Quote:
Joe Farmer and Jack Farmer have the same plot of land, and the same burning desire to succeed. If Joe Farmer moves into, say, Missouri with 100 slaves, and Jack Farmer moves in with no slaves, obviously Joe Farmer has some advantages. Moreover if Joe Farmer comes from a state where slavery is still legal, and Jack Farmer doesn't, Joe Farmer likely has some advantages in terms of securing a supply of "good slaves." Jack Farmer, even if he wanted to have slaves, doesn't come from a social circle where there are a lot of slave owners. He doesn't know much about slave labor, and doesn't know many people who know much about. He lacks cultural capitol, no?

If Jack Farmer were from Mississippi, he would likely be held in sway by anything from kinship ties (my uncle owns slaves), economic ties (my cotton is processed on plantation where slaves work), to social ties (I enjoy the closed fraternity of white men.) It is in this last instance where one can accurately speak of white privilege. In the South, it didn't matter whether you owned slaves or not--all black people constituted a social class a rung below all white people. Jack Farmer in New England had no such ties and thus had little incentive to promote an economic order where wealth was held in the hands of a few, and competition was depressed.


https://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2010/07/what-cotton-hath-wrought/60666/

InfraBlue
 
  3  
Reply Sat 19 Aug, 2017 08:42 pm
Duke Takes Down Lee Statue

Quote:
Duke University on Saturday announced that it had removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from the entrance to the university chapel. And Bowdoin College said that it would take down a plaque honoring Jefferson Davis and college alumni who fought for the Confederacy.

"I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university," said a statement issued Saturday morning by Vincent E. Price, Duke's president. "The removal also presents an opportunity for us to learn and heal. The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future."


more...
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Aug, 2017 04:30 am
@centrox,
I will take this opportunity to make some observations relevant to my statement that the United States became economically prosperous despite slavery and not because of it. Note that the article cited by Centrox says: " . . . by 1860 . . ." This is significant in regard to my statement. In 1788, when the first Washington administration began, cotton was not yet king. Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin in 1794, and it did not yet make cotton king. Tobacco continued to be the most valuable export crop from the United States, but that did not assure prosperity for the United States. That is because it did not generate foreign exchange which circulated in the economy. Southern planters, from long before the revolution, had a pernicious relationship with their London factors (agents). The factors sold the tobacco crops, and routinely lied about how much they had received. They then shipped goods to the American south that were either shoddy, or grossly over-priced. Precious little foreign exchange circulated in the economy as a result. George Washington, in the same year that he married Martha Dandridge Custis, ended his relationship with his London factor, whose house had served his half-brother Lawrence, and their father Augustus. He spent fifteen years paying off his debt to the London house, finally discharging the debt in 1774, just before the First Continental Congress was seated. He diversified his crops, growing wheat, rye, barley and oats, and running sheep and cattle on his land. He encouraged colonial industries, and began an early "buy American" movement.

(Washington did not own most of slaves on the estates he now managed. When he married Martha, he became the manager of the estates of her children--John Parke Custis, "Jacky," and Martha Parke Custis, "Patsy." He would not sell slaves, because it broke up families, although the law entitled him to do so as manager of his atep-children's estates. He was anxious not to create a situation in which Martha's life would be endangered upon his death, and so prepared a system whereby the slaves would all be provided housing, provender and clothing on the traditional basis. Those willing to work, and who worked well, were paid a small salary in addition. After his death, Martha manumitted the remaining slaves at Mount Vernon, but was not entitled to manumit the slaves from the Custis estates. Washington's estate paid pensions to former slaves until the 1830s. The only descendant of Martha and Daniel Parke Custis was George Washington Parke Custis, the son of Jacky. His daughter Mary married Robert Lee, and it was by that means that Lee, otherwise an almost impoverished engineer officer, acquired estates and slaves. Washington and his relationship to the London factors, as well as his efforts to deal with a very large slave population are well documented in the two great biographies, by Douglas Southall Freeman and James Thomas Flexner.)

In the early United States, foreign exchange which circulated in the economy derived chiefly from the grain and timber sold to European buyers, and produced largely in the northeast and in the mid-Atlantic states. There was another pernicious effect of slavery in the south. Small holders and small craftsmen had only local populations to sell to or to work for. Planters had slaves trained as blacksmiths, carpenters and joiners, and all the other myriad skills necessary to run estates. If you were a white man and a blacksmith, and you did not live in a city, you could limp along in poverty, or you could get out. Much of the migration from southern states was a product of small holders and small craftsmen looking for a better life. Additionally, of course, there were large areas in the American south where there were few slaves and few slave owners. This was why the northwestern counties of Virginia seceded from the commonwealth in 1861 and why the eastern counties of Tennessee attempted to do the same.

Another effect of the parasitic relationship between London and other European factors and American planters was the several, usually minor, political crises over the tariff. European ships could tie up at wharves on the extensive southern coastline, or run up the many rivers which flowed from the mountains to the sea. Southern planters were already getting screwed in the system whereby shps loaded their crops and delivered the goods ordered the previous year, and they didn't want to pay a tariff in addition to that, or to do the paperwork. The nullification crisis in Andrew Jackson's second term derived directly from the refusal of South Carolina to apply and collect the tariff. After Whitney's cotton gin, and especially after the War of 1812, cotton did become king. Small holding families, like that of Jefferson Davis, could now acquire cheap land in the "Deep South," and start up slave-driven cotton operations. It was from those operations that the millionaires mentioned in the work cited by Centrox acquired their fortunes. As cotton became king, the tariff and nullification faded from the American political landscape as important issues, but the acquisition of new land, and the spread of the slave culture took center stage. The political elites of the south were enraged when the new territories acquired during the Mexican war did not become slave states as per the Missouri compromise. Because of the three-fifths compromise, southern political elites wielded an inordinate power, out of proportion to the electorate in their congressional districts. When slavery did not spread to the New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and California territories, they became alarmed. This was why John Floyd of Virginia, the Secretary of War, began shipping arms to southern armories in 1859, long before Lincoln became the Republican candidate in the 1860 election. The political elites of the south were spoiling for a fight. They started that fight, they got their collective military ass kicked, and they have been whining and lying about it ever since.

I stand by my statement that American economic prosperity was not founded on slavery, and that the United States became prosperous despite slavery, and not because of it. Slavery only became economically important from the 1840s onward, and only became a critical political issue after the Mexican War. People here will not accept simple-minded, intuitive statements about science, but they will swallow historical bullshit whole.

Of course, no personal reflection on Centrox is intended.
centrox
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Aug, 2017 04:40 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Slavery only became economically important from the 1840s onward, and only became a critical political issue after the Mexican War. People here will not accept simple-minded, intuitive statements about science, but they will swallow historical bullshit whole.

Of course, no personal reflection on Centrox is intended.

And none is perceived. I think we are in agreement about this.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 20 Aug, 2017 07:08 pm
@centrox,
centrox wrote:

There are limits to so-called "free speech" in any societies, even those where it is fetishised. In Austria, Germany, Spain, etc, they have been removing memorials to Hitler and Franco (both dictators). Many people see Confederate monuments, the flag, etc, in a similar light (slavery, ever heard of that?) - not just historically but as a rallying point for murderous domestic terrorism. The "free speech" rights (if there are any) of the pro-statue or monument people have to be balanced against those of the victims, and the benefits to society. This is the type of decision that is frequently made in democratic societies.


And of course the US is not Austria, Germany or Spain, and our free speech fetish is something we have taken very seriously for over 200 years; otherwise there would not be such a vigorous debate about it going on in our country right now.

Confederate statues may be many things but they have not, historically, been rallying points for murderous domestic terrorism, and the white supremacists chose Charlottesville for their rally site not because the statute of Lee was there but because it was being taken down. My point here is that these statues do not have a long history of being the sites of or inspiration for white supremacist activity. This is an attribute that has been thrust upon them only very recently and because of the highly politicized tragedy in Charlottesville. That they honor rebels who fought to preserve the enslavement and brutal treatment of millions of men, woman and children, and rightfully offend a significant segment of our fellow citizens is all the reasons we need to make the case for their removal; there is no need to manufacture one.

Whether the statues remain in place or are removed is not an issue of free speech. The ones subject to legitimate discussion are situated on public grounds and have either been erected by or with the permission and endorsement of the State. As such, there is no reason why citizens do not have a right to call for their removal, and should the State acquiesce, it will not be suppressing free speech, it will either be abiding by the will of the citizenry (should a referendum be involved) or the interpretation of that will by elected representatives of the citizenry. The State prohibiting someone from erecting such a monument or flying a Confederate flag on private property is another matter entirely.

Free speech is most imperiled when the State decides it must, for any reason, be limited. Removing a State sponsored statue from State land does not limit free speech. Preventing people from demonstrating and expressing their views at the site of one of these statutes does.

If the demonstrators in Charlottesville had all brought miniature Robert E. Lee figures with them which were confiscated by the State through the exercise of their policing authority, free speech would have been limited just as it is when police are instructed to arrest demonstrators who burn an American flag. There are people engaged in this debate who would consider the confiscation of Robert E. Lee figures or, more likely to happen, Nazi flags to be a reasonable intrusion upon our 1st Amendment right, done to either minimize the potential for violence or shield some citizens from perceived emotional harm. Unfortunately many of them do not view the burning of the American flag in the same light as waving a Nazi flag.

This is largely due a biased worldview rather than any substantive difference between the two acts. Both are, at the very least, obnoxious, both are almost always accompanied by expressions of hatred, and both are most often attempts to provoke emotional responses; usually anger. There is as good a chance that violence will be triggered by the burning of an American flag as the waving of a Nazi one, and while the people to whom I have referred either disdain or don't understand it, a great many people experience emotional distress when a protester ill treats and then burns our nation's symbol. This is not a blanket criticism of any one side of the political spectrum. There are people who react very negatively to the burning of the American flag who feel like waving a Confederate flag in front of an African-American church or Jewish Synagogue is quite different and should be protected speech.

This is why it is best that we allow the judiciary (and if necessary, the Supreme Court) to set forth the exceptions to protected speech and that it must be done with precision, without ambiguity and very, very sparingly.

Speech can be powerfully used as a tool or as a weapon. Given the asymmetry of force between the government and the governed, speech is probably the most effective weapon the governed have to prevent and protect against a government abusing it's overwhelming advantage in terms of physical force. As a result, the suppression of free speech is the
weapon virtually every corrupt and authoritarian government reaches for first when it feels threatened or wishes to extend or consolidate its power. People who seek laws to suppress speech which they cannot abide (like flag burning or KKK parades) are providing the government with greater power that it should have, and it is by no means certain that their motivations are pure; in fact it's more likely that they are not.

The Founding Fathers constructed a system of government with very deliberate mechanisms to restrain its power. They didn't seek to do this out of a fear and loathing of government as an independent, living entity. They weren't trying to chain a dragon. They did it because they understood human nature and the corrupting influence of power. Government doesn't exist without people and the further apart from the governed those who govern feel, the more dangerous government becomes. People outside of the government working with those within it are far less likely to mitigate the corrupting influence of power than to be infected by it.

Throughout our history we have struggled with this issue, but fortunately we always seem to recognize the importance not only of free speech, but the necessity of extending that right to even those who misuse it to voice loathsome of ideas. They need to be protected not because we have no right to judge them or because it is somehow only fair that everyone gets a chance to say their piece, but because to not do so weakens our best defense against an abusive government, and a tyrant controlling the vast power of the State is a much greater threat than a group of private hate mongers or a defiler of the flag. This argument has been made so often by so many people that it almost seems a cliche, but based on recent events in this nation it certainly bears repeating... yet again.
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 05:10 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Free speech is a keystone of our nation so long as someones free speech does not surpress anothers. I think that most of these statues will fit in various regional Civil War museums where they can be displayed in context. The context is (in almost ALL cases) that various cities commissioned and installed these statues during the culmination yars of the RECONSTRUCTION and community leaders were the ones who agreed and foisted these commemorations onto the citizenry.Many good arguments exist that state that statues to Confederacy leaders and war heros were commissioned to further cement Jim Crow laws .

The proper space for most of these statues is in a local Civil War history museum . or is the battleground park nearest to the statue (assuming that the nearest battle was the reason that the statue was first commissione). Places like Antietam or Gettysburg are covered with these guys. I dont think centers of govt or city offices are the place because it gives a sort of "offiicial sanction" to a memorial that is a reminder of a way of life in which a large part of our citizens were officially celebrated as sub human appliances.
I know I would not want to be prt of that community if that was their way to make me feel welcome.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 05:28 am
Some of my remarks here have not been historically accurate, but the general gist has been correct.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 05:28 am
@farmerman,
Basically , I guess, the overall context for the display of these types of statues i that they fit within the story of the development of this country and its maturity wrt civil rights.
There are several statues that were actually pretty good works of art but most are kind of full of trite "statuary messages" . (horse foot symbolism etc). I dont know what to think about that statue by the Borglums or Saint Gaudens.

I wonder about those Union Statues in the Boton Common?? Do they inflame defeat in our Southern friendes?


0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  4  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 05:35 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
You make the standard big L "liberal" defense of freedom of speech as seen by the Founding Fathers but I really wonder how relevant this political philosophy from the Age of Enlightenment is today. Our country is completely different from what it was 225 years ago. The electorate is no longer made up exclusively of educated white male property-owners for one thing. The notion of what even constitutes "speech" has been expanded to cover newly-arising conditions. Certainly the volume of information (and misinformation), the size (and demographic makeup) of the intended audience, and the speed at which it can be disseminated, and the effect all these changes have had, could never have been envisioned by the founders or the thinkers who inspired them.

I'm not arguing with you here. I'm just curious as to the efficacy of trying to fit our 21st century society into an 18th century grid, especially in light of the "originalism" which seems to be the judicial vogue these days. At what point does our museum-quality Constitution morph into something else, something less organic and more like some artifice imposed on the present by the past?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 05:56 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
My point here is that these statues do not have a long history of being the sites of or inspiration for white supremacist activity. This is an attribute that has been thrust upon them only very recently and because of the highly politicized tragedy in Charlottesville. That they honor rebels who fought to preserve the enslavement and brutal treatment of millions of men, woman and children, and rightfully offend a significant segment of our fellow citizens is all the reasons we need to make the case for their removal; there is no need to manufacture one.


I don't believe that this is true Finn.

The argument being made is that These monuments were erected specifically for the purpose of promoting White Supremacy. I think that this is a good argument. It is a fact that these monuments were erected quickly in times when White Supremacy was being threatened (reconstruction, and the civil rights movement) and were funded by groups that opposed civil rights.

To "honor rebels" was not the point. The monuments were erected to send a message that any attempt to get rights for African-Americans (or change the status quo) wasn't going to happen.

I think you and I agree about Free Speech for individuals. Public monuments are a completely separate issue.
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 08:16 am
@maxdancona,
what Finn misunderstands is that most "statuary committees " of Reconstruction didnt give a **** that these "CSA heroes" statues DID NOT represent our collective history. Quite the contrqry
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 10:15 am
@farmerman,
Freedom of speech is supposed to protect the weak and vulnerable from the excesses of the rich and powerful. Finn doesn't like that, he wants freedom of speech to do the exact opposite. Looking glass thinking.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 10:25 am
@izzythepush,
We had these types of discussions about CSA statues in the public spaces (besides those in Civil War battlefield parks that are run by the DOI) when I was just beginning my career. I hd a project down near San Antonio and there were severl statues of CSA "heroes". discussions arose that concluded that sometime in the future we would come to a point of decision about such commemoration (such as we are sorta going through now)

"You can count on the Americans to do the right thing after first exhausting all other options" I wish Winnie woulda sed that. It was probably Yogi Berra
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 12:34 pm
@farmerman,
For the full article:
https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/11/exhaust-alternatives/

The question is whether there is any reason to believe that such a new era may yet come to pass. If I am sanguine on this point, it is because of a conviction that men and nations do behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives. Surely the other alternatives of war and belligerency have now been exhausted.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

The first instance located by QI that referred to “Americans” instead of “nations” appeared in the transcript of a U.S. Congressional Hearing in 1970. The remark was ascribed to an unidentified “Irishman” and not to Winston Churchill: 4

And indeed, we often know how to do things by the philosophy that was expounded by another Irishman I know. He said that you can depend on Americans to do the right thing when they have exhausted every other possibility.
Eban continued to employ the saying in the talks he delivered in later years. In 1979 he spoke before a World Trade Club in Cincinnati and included a version of the remark: 5

But Mr. Eban finished with hope in his thoughts, however slim he may believe it to be. “My experience teaches me this,” he said, “Men and nations do act wisely when they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”
By July 1980 the remark was being ascribed to the prominent statesman Winston Churchill. A journal based in London called “Mine and Quarry” of the Minerals Engineering Society reported on a speech given by a U.S. Governor at the “International Coal Show” in Chicago: 6

In his keynote address Governor James R. Thompson of Illinois quoted with evident approval Sir Winston Churchill as saying, “You can depend upon the Americans to do the right thing. But only after they have exhausted every other possibility.”
Also in July 1980 a version of the saying was assigned to Winston Churchill in the pages of the Harvard Business School Bulletin. The Bulletin reported on the 1980 International Dinner of the Harvard Business School Club of Greater New York which included an award ceremony for the annual “Business Statesman”: 7

In accepting the award Mr. Garvin quoted Winston Churchill, who once remarked: “The United States can always be relied upon to do the right thing — having first exhausted all possible alternatives.” Expanding on that thought, Mr. Garvin said: “As a generalization about this country, that is too harsh, but applied to our current energy situation. I think it has merit.”
In 1985 a variant of the remark was used during a U.S. Senate Hearing by the Secretary of Agriculture. The subphrase “tried everything else” was used instead of “exhausted every other possibility” or “exhausted all possible alternatives”. The words were attributed to Churchill: 8

Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.” [Laughter.]
The important reference work “The Yale Book of Quotations” credited a version of this quotation to Abba Eban with a 1967 citation. The words were not attached to Winston Churchill. 9

Historian and top Churchill quotation expert Richard Langworth explored this saying and was unable to find any instances of the phrase in Churchill’s writings or in the memoirs of his colleagues as noted in “Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations”. 10 Langworth also indicated, however, that he thought the words were compatible with the sentiments that Churchill sometimes felt.

In conclusion, based on current evidence the variant of this saying referring to nations in general should be ascribed to Abba Eban. The version referring to Americans specifically apparently evolved from the general remark, and its authorship is unknown. Churchill died in 1965, and the evidence connecting him to the saying is late and very weak.

(In Memoriam: Special thanks to my brother Stephen who asked about this saying because a friend of his included it in an email.)

(Also, thanks to Professor Jonathan Lighter who sent a query about this quote to a mailing list and expressed skepticism about the Churchill attribution. Great thanks to Professor Charles Doyle and the University of Georgia library system for help verifying citations on paper.)
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 01:43 pm
Dumb ...
The feds just arrested a Houston man who was allegedly trying to plant explosives by a Confederate statue
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 01:53 pm
@hightor,
In aid of honesty, I voted down your post. I almost never do that. Congratulations, you have now put yourself in the ranks of those, like President Plump, who complain about an antiquated constitution. Your attitude is the greatest danger to free speech in this country, which has survived and adapted quite well for over two hundred years.
hightor
 
  4  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 02:51 pm
@Setanta,
You can vote me down anytime.

But I wasn't really complaining about an antiquated constitution. I was raising questions because the country seems so divided and the government so dysfunctional. I don't believe that "originalism" is a constructive approach to 21st century problems and it looks as if we'll have originalists on the bench for quite some time.

For instance, there's a new law in Florida which basically lets parents decide what will be taught in school and what books will be allowed in the library.

Quote:
Your attitude is the greatest danger to free speech in this country...


I reject that charge in its entirety.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 03:01 pm
This is the entire text of the first amendment to the constitution to be ratified:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Perhaps you can explain which parts are antiquated, and which cannot be remedied through amendment or judicial review. Perhaps you could explain how a principle of "originalism" makes the application of the provisions of that amendment unworkable.

Of course, I can vote down anyone's post without anyone's permission. You can reject whatever you wish to reject--calls for abandoning the constitution, or otherwise changing its provisions and their application, other than through amendment and judicial review are the greatest danger to freedom of speech.
farmerman
 
  4  
Reply Mon 21 Aug, 2017 04:10 pm
@hightor,
Quote:
For instance, there's a new law in Florida which basically lets parents decide what will be taught in school and what books will be allowed in the library. [/quote You understand that, ever since the repeal of the "Butler Laws" in Tennessee, a number of USSC and US Fed Court Decisions regarding whether Creation SCience or ID are real sciences have determined that teaching of Creation SCience as science is covered under the "Congress shall make no laws, establishing..." clause. Teaching Creationism is a religion not a science. Id hate to have all this BS wake up and start a new bunch of decades that favor the snake handlers.
0 Replies
 
 

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