Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Stephen Dill Lee Lectures Summary

2014 S D Lee Lectures Summary

D T Crowley and Sam Reid - 16 February 2014

The 2014 Stephen Dill Lee Lectures were held 7-8 February 2014 at the Hilton Doubletree Inn, 407 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Dragoons Sam Reid and Tyrone Crowley attended this very educational event, and offer the following report.
Speakers for the event--all excellent--were as follows:
·       John Ogden, Park Historian, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park - "Stephen Dill Lee and His Involvement in the Chickamauga National Park"
·       Kirkpatrick Sale - "Violating the Leiber Code:  The March to the Sea"
·       David Aiken - "Monsters of Virtuous Pretensions"
·       Muriel Joslyn - "The Effects of Total War on Prisoner Policy"
·       James Russell - "My Family History and the Devastation of Our South Carolina Plantation"
·       Donald Livingston - "Total War and the Creation of American Nationalism"
·       Marshall DeRosa - "Living in the Ruins:  The American Civil War and the Subversion of Christian Civilization"
·       Donald Kennedy - "Our Love of Liberty"
Some of the points made by this group of speakers were:
·       The Lieber Code changed the conduct of the War Between The States to "Total War", war against soldiers and civilians, to include murder, rape, and pillage of any and all property.  This was all done first in the name of "saving the Union" and later in the name of "Emancipation".
·       Most of us don't realize how awful Sherman's "March to the Sea" was.  It was 40 miles wide, and total devastation.  Troops were to take what they could carry, kill any livestock they couldn't use, and burn everything else, including churches, homes, barns, and towns--total destruction was the objective.  A comprehensive picture of what happened in one city can be found in William Gilmore Simms's A City Laid Waste: The Capture, Sack, and Destruction of the City of Columbia (1865).  All of this occurred after their Commander in Chief, Lincoln, had talked of "malice toward none, with charity for all..." in his Second Inaugural Address.
·       Abraham Lincoln suffered from mental illness, including depression that required drugs, and before he was president "only went to church to mock the preacher". As a national politician, however, he learned to use religious quotes to political advantage.
·       Emancipation and Reconstruction were both "hell" for blacks and whites.  Freed slaves, unaccustomed to any sort of self-regulation and without training for other than field work, were left on their own (as Lincoln said, they would have to "root hog or die").  Many starved, suffered, and died as a result, all across the South.  White males (women didn't vote) who had had any connection to the Confederacy (almost all of them) were disenfranchised--could not vote--and so were powerless to resist what was being done to them and their state government.  This powerlessness led to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan.
·       Why did the "Underground Railroad" end in Canada?  Because blacks, freemen as well as escaped slaves, could not legally remain in most northern states--the law forbade it.  In addition to the states of the Northeast, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin also had laws prohibiting the presence of blacks within their boundaries.  They were not so much concerned with freeing the slaves as in removing black people from the United States altogether. 
·       The American Colonization Society, of which Lincoln was a member, had as its objective the removal of all blacks to Africa or at least to Central or South America.  Lincoln called a group of black leaders to the White House in 1862 to ask their help in black removal, telling them “You and we are different races.  We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races.  ... It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.”
·       Southerners who want to teach in a Southern university are told "you'd better get a degree in the North" first.  This is seen as a requirement so they can be more "balanced" in their teaching.  This has resulted in the condition predicted by Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, whereby Southern children "...will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the War; will be impressed by all the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit subjects for derision."  Is this not indeed the situation we see today in our schools?
·       In Greek and Roman times, defeated soldiers were killed or made slaves of, along with their families.  Along with the Enlightenment came a more civilized form of war, limited strictly to struggle between men in uniform--non-military persons and property were spared.  However, beginning with the War of 1861-1865 this changed back to Total War, whereby all people and property became again the spoils of war.
·       George Washington, in his Farewell Address in 1796, stated that there was a question that the United States were too large to be a republic, since a republic cannot function if too large (this was part of the debate since the beginning, and was the reason Virginia gave up her western territories--she did not want to grow too large).  Washington suggested that we wait and see how the "experiment" would work out.  In 1861, when thirteen states wanted to leave the Union of 1789, this was proof that the experiment had not worked.  Several states, among them New York and Virginia, stated in their resolutions approving the Constitution, that they reserved the right to withdraw if they determined that the federal government were not operating in their best interests.
The Stephen Dill Lee Lectures are held each February and are excellent in terms of the education and fellowship they provide.  Compatriots Crowley and Reid recommend them wholeheartedly to the Camp and the Alabama Division.  

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