Dr. Plunkett recalled his youth and feelings of Southern pride when his grandparents and elder neighbors told stories of the old South. One 105 year old lady, Mrs. Collier was born in 1865 and referred to her father and the men not as Rebels but as "Defenders" and the "War of Northern Aggression. She remembered from her childhood men who robbed graves, Freedmen Bureau government sanctioned vandals pilfering the graves to loot jewelry and valuables from the deceased. These stories inspired Dr. Plunkett with a love of history and to return to school following his retirement to study history.
Who are or what is a Southerner? In the South we are blessed with resources and a pleasant climate and most blessed with an appreciation, belief and allegiance in a higher power. The Bible Belt. Teddy Roosevelt said of Southerners that we are gracious, devoted and slow talking. We enjoy a breeze, magnolias and fried chicken.
Deo Vindice,, We Dare Defend our Rights is the state motto of Alabama. This deeply held belief in liberty and independence is a Southern thing. Honor, character and devotion to duty (as exemplified and espoused by men like Lee and Jackson) are tough to explain with words but Southerners cling to these ideals. Instead of expressing what can't be spoken, we can either betray or recreate the feelings of what it means to be a Southerner.
Dr. Plunkett's daughter was shocked when she left to attend college, shocked at the lack of manners, shocked at the coarse language. But while away at college, she met a man from Kentucky who exhibited old-fashioned Southern manners like standing when women entered the room, offering his seat to women. He swept her off her feet with his manners and respect. Dr. Plunkett recalled that once, at a young age, she had yelled at a band to play Dixie instead of the Yankee anthem Battle Hymn of the Republic.
There was boiling point reached in 1861. There had been too many compromises prior which eventually led to the secession of South Carolina and other Southern states. SC statesman John C. Calhoun did not desire secession but he and other's recognized you could push Southerners just so far. There were so many tariffs compromising the peoples livelihood. 87% of the money going into the federal treasury was paid by the seven seceding Southern states. They reached the point where, as Patrick Henry demanded, they desired either liberty or death,
Lincoln ran on a platform of increased tariffs and internal infrastructure improvements. South Carolina was paying the majority of the taxes amongst all the Southern states. Ft. Sumter was built expressly for the enforcement of the collection of port taxes, tariffs collected at the custom house. South Carolina's primary port was Charleston and while federal facilities at most all Southern states were closed with the states secession, Lincoln kept troops stationed in Charleston and attempted to reinforce and resupply Ft. Sumter. The South needed to sell their agricultural goods especially cotton to European markets but needed to remain open to European imports for equitable commerce.
Lincoln was responsible for the death of 600,000 soldiers in the War and 2 1/2 million non-combatants during and immediately following the War. Lincoln's War was mas manslaughter and carnage to save the federal treasury. Lincoln said he had no intention of freeing the slaves but he could not allow the secession of the states funding his coffers. All six of Dr. Plunkett's great grandfathers who were Confederate soldiers were 40 acre farmers, none were slave owners.
The Reconstruction period caused resentment, confiscation of property, disenfranchisement, of white Southern voters, government condoned violence against Southern whites. Dr. Plunkett's grandfather would spit on the ground when anyone would mention the names Sherman or Grant.
We should know our mission, our calling to ensure that future generations have and know this history of what really happened. Fight for your heritage.
|Dragoon Sam Reid with Dr. Plunkett|