Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Jackson Free Press" reviews "Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader"

The online review of the book is here:

From the review:

"Mississippi’s is quite clear: “In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course. Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery, the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

Loewen and Sebesta also include a number of speeches made before, during and immediately after the war. They all embody a single theme: the need to protect the institution of slavery. On April 29, 1861, Jefferson Davis delivered one of the most important speeches of the time, when he urged the Confederate Congress to adopt the proposed Confederate Constitution. The speech was a long one, though clearly Davis felt the need to lay out in great detail the historical events that led to secession. The entire speech was about slavery.

In this excerpt, Davis took great pains to defend the practice: “Under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the well-being and comfort of the laboring classes, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000 at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact to upward of 4,000,000.

“In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed ...”

What comes across after reading the documents Loewen and Sebesta have compiled is the clear sense that southern leaders were proud of what they had accomplished on the backs of millions of slaves. They had convinced themselves that white was superior to black, even ordained and blessed by God.

In the review, the reviewer makes reference to the Mississippi controversy over its flag. Jackson is the capitol of Mississippi, and the Jackson Free Press is the cities alternative weekly. Intelligent and educated people in that city will come to know of the book and its contents and realize that they have the material to support a challenge to the Mississippi state flag. As this book becomes known about in Mississippi, there will be a realization that the present Mississippi state flag is intolerable.

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