Can’t Judge the Past with Today’s Values

A letter to the Editor of Confederate Magazine, November/December 2016 issue:

To the Editor:

My great-great-grandfather and both his younger brothers fought for the CSA during the War. None of them owned slaves because they were too poor to afford them.Slavery had been an accepted institution in America for more than 200 years before the War. Many other uncles and cousins and in-laws also fought for the CSA because they believed it was their duty.

The idea that we of the 21st century would take it upon ourselves to dig up the graves of General Forrest and his wife to remove them to some other place due to the ever-changing judgement of the day is horrible, and an attempt to rewrite history. Memphis has already decided to remove his statue from  its place, so what’s next? Will someone want to dig up George Washington because he and Thomas Jefferson were slave holders? Ben Franklin was a slave holder at one time. Should his sins blot out all the good he did during the Revolution? Many of our founding fathers were slave holders and believed that black people were inferior beings. We know better 200 years later. Just a hundred years before the Constitution was signed, we were hanging witches.

We cannot judge the men of 1861 with our eyes of 2016. Maybe someone should stand in judgement of William T. Sherman, who made war on the civilian population of the South. Maybe we should judge the Union for setting the South back 100 years in economic development due to the almost total destruction of the Southern infrastructure. We treated the Nazi German state better than the North treated the South after the War. The dead have buried the dead, and that is the way it should be left alone.

John T. King

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