Unless we have someone not afraid to state a different perspective to what the actual facts were during the founding of our country, the inflammatory rhetoric will continue to grow. I am almost 80 years old and lived through much of the history. I am also a genealogist with 30 years of experience in looking at actual wills, land grants, immigration records, census records and more that tell the story of the settlement of our country and more particularly in the South after the settlers migrated through the states to arrive here and press onward to settle the West. We have to stop this inward fighting and disrespect before it becomes worse.
I am not afraid to tell the truth because I don’t have a job or business to lose. Being held up to ridicule for daring to speak out doesn’t faze me. I will not apologize for all of the Confederate soldiers, but I can apologize for my great-great-grandfather. He did not have to fight in the war. He did not own any slaves. Paying the high taxes and tariffs that many in the rich, fertile South paid, which was up to 70 percent of the taxes paid to the United States, was not enough to die for.
He could have put a white flag of surrender at his door, taken his wife and five young children and hid in the swamps. The Union soldiers might have only taken his belongings, food and livestock, but they might not have burned his home. I guess, because his grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War when the 13 colonies seceded from Great Britain, he wanted to be brave, too, and fight when the Southern states wanted to secede from the United States.
The story of the slaves was a tragic one. How horrible to be sold by their slave owners or captured from other villages in their native land and sold to the slave ship owners. They were brought to these shores in the bowels of damp, dark boats, sick and afraid, only to be sold again. They could not speak the language of the new land and were not familiar with its civilization. I can only imagine how frightened, angry and homesick they must have felt. Heaven only knows how the slaves and the slave owners ever managed to arrive at a productive working relationship. Human nature being what it is, some must have been terrible relationships while others lasted long after the slaves were freed.
They were not brought for hire, but to be sold for profit. The settlers who were trying to conquer this virgin, savage land should not have given into temptation by buying them. This country was mostly settled by people searching for religious freedom. They must have known in their hearts that slavery was wrong, even though the Bible did not say so.
Instead of supporting a market for slaves, the ships should have been turned away from our shores. The slave runners could not return the slaves and have their money refunded, but could have taken them to South America where most slaves were sold. That would have been a loss to our present society, but we would not be experiencing what we are experiencing today.
I am sorry that the flag my great-great-grandfather fought under and that flew over the bodies of his kinsmen and neighbors has become a symbol of hate. The slave owners did not hate the slaves. It is a hate today toward the institution of slavery. No matter how we feel about a war, the bravery and valor of the soldiers who sacrificed should be honored.
Perhaps, if the sanctimonious and those who gain from the conflict continuing would realize the harm they are doing to all races, we could end this war forever.
Patricia S. Weiss is a resident of Macon.