Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Silas Chandler Coming to the Forefront

"he is pictured alone and out from behind the shadow of Andrew Chandler." - Kevin Levin

Coming to news stands near you is a new article about Silas Chandler. This new publication in the Civil War Times is co-authored by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory and Myra Chandler Simpson, a descendant of Silas.  I am looking forward to reading this article in the hopes of it shedding some light on the life and narrative of Silas and his involvement in the Civil War.

For those of you late to the game, Silas Chandler has been a figure of myth and legend so to speak for some time. He has appeared on many websites over the years under the guise of Black Confederate (Here, Here and Here).

Recently on an episode of Antique Roadshow, Silas took main stage again when a famous photo of him and one Andrew Chandler. Andrew's family owned Silas as a slave and Andrew took him to war.

This presentation thrust Silas back on to center stage and I am hopeful the recent attention and appeal will bring this new article by Levin and Simpson to a more diverse crowd.

I want to thank both Levin and Simpson for taking the time and putting in the work and man hours to make a publication such as this possible. I am looking forward to the read and analysis.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Confederate Naval Officer Blown Out of Proportion

Royal Diadem (Ann Dewitt) and the folks at the SHPG are at it again. In their never ending quest to unearth the great and elusive unicorn (Black Confederate);  they have brought up the story of Moses Dallas.

"Gary, we keep presenting facts," yes, but lets look at those facts. Upon making a deeper inquiry, Moses was a slave that was given the rank of Captain in order to drive the boat. This rank carried no authority with it as the rank of captain usually would. In this snippet of information that Royal presents, it appears as though Moses's salary is being increased. This is not the first instance that slaves would be paid for their work in Confederacy. In defense of Vicksburg Gen. Pemberton paid slaves to dig trenches. In most cases the pay was not given to the slave but to the slave's master. There were a few Confederate Naval Pilots that were slaves. This is mainly due to their previous work navigating rivers and coastlines. They were basically being used. In Moses's case, this seems to be exactly the issue. Using a research based narrative entitled  "Water Witch", which can be found on the Georgia Department of Transportation's website, we can see the entire quote: "I have also been compelled to increase the pay of Moses Dallas from $80 to $100 per month in order to retain him. He is a colored pilot and is considered the best inland pilot on the coast." This quote was taken from the Navy and Marine Living Historical  Society. From the quote we can tell that the pay increase was in order to "retain," Moses.  Pay special attention to that word, retain. Why was retention important in a time of war when conscription was already in place? That is because Moses lived as property of another. The Confederacy rose the pay in order to keep him. This means someone at that time moved to get Moses back and pay had to be increased. This makes me think that the pay was going to the master and not to Moses. I cannot assume that for certain as documentation is not provided.

A little more about Moses, he died in a raid in 1864. This was a raid performed by the Confederate Navy on a Union ship. Why Moses was there taking part is not known. He might have been brought by his master, forced to row one of the boats alongside the Union ship. The account given of  his death, doesn't even mention him actually fighting but rather just standing and watching. Until something else presents itself to further our knowledge of his death, it is stuck in limbo. There is an amazing story though about his death being faked and Moses becoming a Union Naval Pilot. This is a great Counterfactual but the story does not have enough proof to be valid in my opinion. Of course when dealing with the definition of proof the SHPG has, maybe there is enough after all. 

Leading the Black Confederate Narrative to the Promised Land

I sincerely hope this is not the best they can do in regards to proving the Black Confederate myth. Snippets from Primary Sources have been used by groups such as the SHPG for some time now to prove their position. It would seem that these 'amateur historians' need to read Marc Bloch or study some historiography. You cannot take random unique accounts and claim them as fact. Why? Because there is no validity in it. If  I wrote down that Russians attacked the United States today, and a hundred years from now someone uncovers that; does that mean it happened? Absolutely not! Find more sources proving the same thing. Cross reference and use cross examination to make sure your sources can stand on their own. I hope they make this effort. Of course, this is the same group that advocated the entire company of confederate cooks, so I won't hold my breath.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Does the Battle Flag Mean?

For weeks I carried on with an intriguing task of observing, engaging and debating points of view with certain people belonging to the Facebook group Southern Heritage Preservation Group (SHPG). One thing I learned is that this group is in actuality a Confederate Heritage group as they overlook the other two hundred plus years of Southern History (only counting since independence). Then one day, much to my displeasure, I found that I could no longer access their fine group. I had been blocked. Blocked by the very group that expresses rage and claims censorship when their comments are removed from certain sites. In simple  terms, as Historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot would say, I had been silenced. Thankfully and mainly because of the internet's usage as a playground, I worked my way back to a point of observation once more. Keep in mind that I cannot engage or debate anymore, I only have the ability to observe. Tonight is my first look at SHPG since my hiatus and I found some statements and materials right off the bat.

I would agree with Connie's statement. Not wholeheartedly of course. The flag does have a Confederate and American South history behind it. What that history is interpreted as is another matter.  I have seen the flag in photos across the globe. It is heavily recognized as more than just "A symbol of the Confederacy and the American South" but also  one of secession and disunion. This can be observed in Italy even today.  There is however much more to the flag. Something that Connie ignores in her own context and explains that this other outlook is merely rednecks and bigots taking over the flag and using it for personal gain. Nonetheless, this other interpretation exists and deserves to be studied and recognized as having a history with the Confederate Battle Flag.

It needs to be realized that the Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is also very much associated with the Ku Klux Klan. It can be, and has in the past been seen as a symbol of racism. I realize that might not have been the intent just as much as I realize the American flag can bee seen in that context. 

The Ku Klux Klan did use the American flag as their symbol for years until about 1940 when they began heavy use of the CBF.  Confederate Heritage advocates will also be the first to deflect the issue of slavery under the CBF by stating that slavery existed forever under the American flag. This is also true. No one denies or doubts this at all. So the real question is why does the American flag not carry the image of "racism" or the image of "slavery" in the manner that the CBF does.

Well, to take a shot as to why, my guess would be that the United States government under the American Flag at one point or another was proactive is doing away with these absurdities.

Emancipation Proclamation - Freed slaves in the South, allowed Blacks to fight for the Union

13th Amendment - Abolished Slavery

The Force Acts of 1870 - In this act, the government banned the use of terror, force or bribery to prevent people from voting because of their race 

Civil Rights Act 1964 - outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public ("public accommodations").

That's not the Confederate Guard

Now I will say, because I am sure that I will hear the argument or statement, that the United States has had its fair share of bigotry. With that bigotry though, came the responsibility to do right and right it did on several occasions. I think we can put the United States Flag argument to rest but I would like to turn back to the CBF for a moment. Though advocates will outright deny slavery's HUGE involvement in starting the Civil War, it is a fair argument that the CBF is less associated with that institution. It was the soldier's flag, not the Confederate Nation's flag. It was also certain groups that used the CBF to promote racism and not the Confederacy (Though the large portion of those groups resided in the former Confederacy). It is important to remember that symbols carry with them multiple meanings and the addition of more people can mean even more interpretations. 

His interpretation costs 20k CLICK HERE

So the question is why should they be ashamed? Well, you shouldn't be. If you are a particular person that has ancestry which does not include slavery but merely fighting for your home, there is no reason to be ashamed. Keep in mind however, that some find your symbol offensive.

As the above shows, the Nazis totally ripped off the Hindus. The difference is, you don't see many Hindus flying their symbol as 60ft banners near the interstate or putting them on t-shirts. It might have something to do with 6 million people dying but that's just a guess. Perhaps the key is consideration. Several hundred thousand people were in bondage, and perhaps view that flag as a chain holding them down. So many were hurt, killed, and not allowed freedoms in the 20th century; and most of them recognize the flag as a reminder of that. Consideration is the key word of the day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Falling Behind

I realize I am way behind on a post I was supposed to have up over a month ago. I can assure you the comments on the Jefferson Confederate Statue unveiling is on its way. I've got a stack of papers a mile high and an annotated bibliography due in Historiography so I am swamped for the moment. Until then, I invite you to look at this.

What kinds of questions does this raise?

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