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Friday, April 16, 2010

This past Wednesday my father called me up and asked if I had some information on a certain side of our family that I normally don’t concentrate on. While I moved over a year ago, most of my genealogical stuff is still packed away – and I lost a hard drive that had 5 years of work on it – so I asked that he give me through the weekend and let me see what I might be able to find.

Thanks to the “Wayback machine”, a wonderful tool that has archived webpage in how they used to look – I was able to find my old genealogical site but it only showed one family member – and none of her relatives.

After some extensive digging, I was able to reconstruct the family and found a lot of information I didn’t have. It’s one of those days that researchers dream of – you just can’t stop finding stuff and you are overwhelmed with information.

Now, there was always a rumor that I had Confederate blood but I have never been able to confirm it. While looking, I found out that my Great-Great Grandfather’s brother was Lt Governor of Alabama in the early 1900’s and on the Alabama state website, there is a biography that states his father (my Great-Great-Great Grandfather – ZT Gray) was a soldier for Georgia. I dug pretty deep and couldn’t find the connection to the 2nd Georgia that it claims. The fact that it is not mentioned in ZT’s obituary makes me wonder if it is true but for now, there is a chance that yes, I have some Confederate blood in me. Even so, don’t expect to see any changes in my ProUnion stance.

As a matter of fact, the other day it was announced that the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum would not accept a monument to 150th anniversary to Succession. The sad thing on this was that the vote was incredibly close, a tie of 3-3.

Almost immediately after, the Mayor of North Charleston suggested that the monument be placed in the North Charleston Riverfront Park until the CSS Hunley Museum was finished, at which time it would be moved there. Surprisingly, at least to the mayor, there was a public outcry to this notion.

In a Post and Courier article about it,

One outraged resident was Michelle Hilton, who said the idea of celebrating secession is an affront to the blacks who make up nearly 49 percent of the city's population.

"It reminds me that we were shackled once," said Hilton, who added she could not understand why such a public venue would even be considered.

"That's a place where we want to feel comfortable with our families," she said. "I can't say I feel comfortable taking my family there knowing there is a monument reminding everyone that, as a race, they tried to keep us down."

While it was interesting to see the reaction within the article, the comments were quite juicy too. As usual, The Lost Cause showed its ugly head almost immediately, trying to put down anyone who would claim it was slavery that caused the war and asking everyone to please stop bringing up slavery, it’s over. While this was followed by the sensible folks reminding everyone of Jim Crow laws, one thing that came out was a beautiful comment that pulled up and put it so well I thought for sure it would bring the whole thing to a closure

I see that we have some eager historians here who are into primary sources. Allow me to recommend a document called the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union. You can find it at along with similar documents from Georgia and Mississippi.

Since I am most familiar with the SC document, I will give you a summary.

The document has a brief preamble and a conclusion. Aside from those, there are 25 paragraphs.

The first 13 support the idea that states have the right to secede if they feel mistreated.

The next 12 paragraphs describe in detail what has made SC feel mistreated. All 12 describe threats to slavery and encroachments upon the rights of slaveholders...helping slaves escape, refusing to return runaway slaves, and the election of a President who will limit slavery's expansion, limiting the capacity of slave states to protect the practice in Congress.

The word "TARIFF" does not appear ANYWHERE in the document. You will hear it much more frequently from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

This document was approved by the 170 brave souls under consideration for a place of honor in community.

To say that these men were not rallying in support of slavery is absurd.

To deny that the Confederacy was formed to defend slavery is to put oneself in the company of Holocaust deniers.

Sadly, I was wrong and people continued to fight that it wasn’t so. One of the strongest proponents replied

This is a monument to the Confederacy, not a monument to slavery

Too bad he doesn’t get that the Confederacy equals slavery and there is nothing that anyone can say to change it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In 1842, the doors to two military colleges were opened in South Carolina – The Arsenal in Columbia and The Citadel in Charleston. About 25 years later, one would be destroyed by fire as the visiting troops of General Sherman played tourist in Columbia and the other would become the headquarters of the Union Army as it occupied Charleston during reconstruction.

The original intent of both colleges was to implement the 1822 “Act to Establish a Competent Force to Act as a Municipal Guard for the Protection of the City of Charleston and its vicinity" which provided for a building be erected for the deposit of the arms of the State. While the buildings had been constructed in the 1820’s, Federal troops manned them at first. It wasn’t until later that they would house the two new colleges.

All would seem normal except for one small thing that also happened in 1822, a plot by a freed slave by the name of Denmark Vesey. There is a lot of questions that surround what exactly Denmark wanted to do but it boils down to a Slave Revolt, killing the slave masters and escape to Haiti. The questions do look towards what Denmark really wanted to do once the slaves were freed (ie kill the masters or not) but one thing that is not questioned, he has been demonized by citizens of Charleston over the last 188 years.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

One of my favorite memories as a dad is running on the grass, chasing my two sons, aged 5 and 3 (at the time), tackling them and rolling about the ground. The three of us would laugh, get up and do it again. This happened at Fort Moultrie, the older sister fort of Fort Sumter.

Unfortunately, in the tourist part of Charleston, Fort Sumter gets most of the press. Why unfortunate? Well, because quite frankly, Fort Sumter is quite the boring destination. While it is a beautiful boat ride, once there, you really do not need the full hour on the island that they give you until the boat takes you back. I can’t count the times I have been to Fort Moultrie and enjoyed the heck out of it, never bored and always willing to go back again.