Open Thread - "Bitter Ender"
originally posted 2008-02-25 09:36:51 - bumped
Whilst cruising the news regarding the recent "60 minutes" broadcast on Don Siegelman I stumbled upon this story..the 200 birthday of Jefferson Davis...you'all remember the Civil War. Take a moment and follow me....see if this travel into history doesn't remind you of our current president's attitude!
Celebration of Jefferson Davis bicentennial muted
Last week, President Bush himself helped kick off a two-year celebration of the Great Emancipator's Feb. 12, 2009, bicentennial that will include dozens of events in Kentucky, Illinois, Washington and beyond.
It's that other tall, log cabin-born Kentuckian, Jefferson Davis, whose 200th has turned out to be something of a lost cause.
Not being a Southerner, and trying hard to understand for many years what the hell the deal is regarding Yankee and Rebels that exist even today I find this article fascinating. Maybe I'm not alone. I know I am not going to say this right but here's part of the deal.
The Davis family thinks it's a shame that all most people know about him was that he fought to preserve slavery.
"It's as if he created the entire institution and was solely responsible for it," says Hayes-Davis, a 59-year-old banker from Colorado Springs, Colo. "And we struggle with that."
Most people don't know that Davis was a West Point graduate who fought in the Mexican War under Zachary Taylor and married the future president's daughter, Hayes-Davis says. As a U.S. senator from Mississippi, he had a hand in building the Smithsonian Institution. He bolstered the nation's defenses as secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce.
Historian James M. McPherson concedes that Davis' antebellum career was "very illustrious." But he says his achievements as a soldier, senator and secretary of war were "largely eclipsed" by his role in setting the stage for and then waging the bloodiest war in this nation's history.
Here's where the "bitter ender" part comes in. Seems it's okay to not be a Southern gentlemen all of the time!
Davis, who disparagingly referred to his fellow Kentuckian as "His Majesty Abraham the First," was what McPherson calls a "bitter-ender." When Lincoln allowed a journalist and a minister through Union lines in July 1864 under a flag of truce to offer peace and amnesty to Davis, the Confederate president was outraged.
"Amnesty, Sir, applies to criminals," he told the envoys. "We have committed no crime. At your door lies all the misery and crime of this war ... We are fighting for Independence -- and that, or extermination, we will have ... You may emancipate every Negro in the Confederacy, but we will be free. We will govern ourselves ... if we have to see every Southern plantation sacked, and every Southern city in flames."
I wonder how one can afford to be so stubborn, so hell bent on staying the course even when the course nearly destroyed a nation. How much venom can one man pass on?
Davis comes across, McPherson says, as an "unreconstructed rebel who never really accepted with anything like good grace the defeat of the Confederacy and continued for the rest of his life to write and speak in a way that basically said, 'We were right. We lost this war, not because we were wrong, but because the enemy was more powerful and more ruthless.'"
- snip -
"In asserting the right of secession," Davis wrote, "it has not been my wish to incite to its exercise: I recognize the fact that the war showed it to be impracticable, but this did not prove it to be wrong; and, now that it may not be again attempted, and that the Union may promote the general welfare, it is needful that the truth, the whole truth, should be known, so that crimination and recrimination may for ever cease, and then, on the basis of fraternity and faithful regard for the rights of the States, there may be written on the arch of the Union, Esto perpetua."
Translation: "May it persevere."
So what do you think?