Recently, I’ve come across a wonderful website on Southern history and culture called the Abbeville Institute. I heartily recommend this site for its unique vision of America. It acts as a corrective both to the very anti-Southern history we were taught and to the Progressive vision of America in general. One of the best things this organization does is to undercut so many of the assumptions Progressive philosophy has caused us to believe.
The Abbeville Institute highlights that the South’s tradition is so much more than poor race relations and slavery. After all, the South gave us George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Monroe, and so many other figures who shaped our nation. Without George Washington, the Revolutionary Army would have been ineffective and disbanded before Patriot victory. Many of the other Southern Founders were responsible for giving the Federal government a more federal character and less of one powerful central government–as men like Alexander Hamilton wished it to have. (I firmly believe that the Constitution benefited from both impulses, the central and the local, and we would live in a far different country without both political schools.) In many ways, much of the best in American heritage has its roots in the South.
I’d heartily recommend the following two articles on Nathan Bedford Forrest:
I first learned about Nathan Bedford Forrest by accident in high school. Browsing the shelves of the local library, I happened upon A Battle from the Start by Brian Steel Wills. The cover art drew me in even though I knew nothing about Forrest. I found a new hero in reading that book, and Forrest deserves to rank as one of America’s greatest heroes in addition to being our greatest natural-born genius at war and greatest cavalryman. Forrest’s greatest controversies, the Sacking of Ft. Pillow and becoming the Grand Wizard of the KKK (He did not found the organization, contrary to popular belief), do not seem nearly as bad as the war propaganda or the 1920’s reincarnation of the KKK makes them seem to be.
I am heartily grateful to the site and its podcasts for introducing me to Clyde Wilson, Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He’s the author of many books and essays. One collection of his essays which I read is The Yankee Problem: An American Dilemma. Wilson notes, quite rightly, that New England went from being the most problematic and queer section of the country before the War Between the States to holding a preeminent place in American culture following the war. (If you don’t think that New England is a queer place, just recall that nothing like the Salem Witchcraft trials happened elsewhere in our country.) The South and Mid-Atlantic states counted as the American mainstream.
To give an example of their aloofness, the representatives of New England threatened to secede on four or five occasions before the War of Secession. (I can only recall the years 1794–five years after Washington’s first inauguration!–1803, 1807, and 1814.) And, if New England had seceded, there would have been no war over this: the Founding Fathers, who believed in government by the consent of the governed, would not have gone to war to force union. At any rate, The Yankee Problem does an awesome job of divulging the dirty secrets about New Englanders and their descendants which they’d like to keep hidden.
As for the question of bias, yes, the writers on this site are biased in favor of the South–unlike the majority who are biased in favor of the North. Yet, the general bias in favor of the North has grown so great that these admit nothing good about the South and want to genocide its heritage. (Yes, that the Left is engaged in the cultural genocide of the South is absolutely true–especially if you apply the standards of the UN.) Anyone with an iota of intellectual honesty knows that there is something rotten in Denmark: Yankees are not angels and Southerners are not demons.
It’s a legitimate proposition that the Northern society, sans slavery in most of the unionist states, was better and that they held the moral right in the War of Secession. Yet, the proposition that the North engaged in a war of aggression in order to protect its economic interests is legitimate also. One must needs be suspicious of a government built upon consent of the governed denying this principle in regard to a government formed by its former citizens. At any rate, I can promise that the Abbeville Institute will constantly surprise you with the new angles and information it brings to bear on American history.