October, 2007

Boy, politics truly do make for strange bedfellows. Have a look at this article, which appeared on Yahoo today:

Secessionists meeting in Tennessee By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 3, 3:15 AM ET

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – In an unlikely marriage of desire to secede from the United States, two advocacy groups from opposite political traditions — New England and the South — are sitting down to talk.

Tired of foreign wars and what they consider right-wing courts, the Middlebury Institute wants liberal states like Vermont to be able to secede peacefully.

That sounds just fine to the League of the South, a conservative group that refuses to give up on Southern independence.

“We believe that an independent South, or Hawaii, Alaska, or Vermont would be better able to serve the interest of everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Michael Hill of Killen, Ala., president of the League of the South.

Separated by hundreds of miles and divergent political philosophies, the Middlebury Institute and the League of the South are hosting a two-day Secessionist Convention starting Wednesday in Chattanooga.

They expect to attract supporters from California, Alaska and Hawaii, inviting anyone who wants to dissolve the Union so states can save themselves from an overbearing federal government.

If allowed to go their own way, New Englanders “probably would allow abortion and have gun control,” Hill said, while Southerners “would probably crack down on illegal immigration harder than it is being now.”

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit secession, but few people think it is politically viable.

Vermont, one of the nation’s most liberal states, has become a hotbed for liberal secessionists, a fringe movement that gained new traction because of the Iraq war, rising oil prices and the formation of several pro-secession groups.

Thomas Naylor, the founder of one of those groups, the Second Vermont Republic, said the friendly relationship with the League of the South doesn’t mean everyone shares all the same beliefs.

But Naylor, a retired Duke University professor, said the League of the South shares his group’s opposition to the federal government and the need to pursue secession.

“It doesn’t matter if our next president is Condoleeza (Rice) or Hillary (Clinton), it is going to be grim,” said Naylor, adding that there are secessionist movements in more than 25 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas.

The Middlebury Institute, based in Cold Spring, N.Y., was started in 2005. Its followers, disillusioned by the Iraq war and federal imperialism, share the idea of states becoming independent republics. They contend their movement is growing.

The first North American Separatist Convention was held last fall in Vermont, which, unlike most Southern states, supports civil unions. Voters there elected a socialist to the U.S. Senate.

Middlebury director Kirpatrick Sale said Hill offered to sponsor the second secessionist convention, but the co-sponsor arrangement was intended to show that “the folks up north regard you as legitimate colleagues.”

“It bothers me that people have wrongly declared them to be racists,” Sale said.

The League of the South says it is not racist, but proudly displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner.

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which monitors hate groups, said the League of the South “has been on our list close to a decade.”

“What is remarkable and really astounding about this situation is we see people and institutions who are supposedly on the progressive left rubbing shoulders with bona fide white supremacists,” Potok said.

Sale said the League of the South “has not done or said anything racist in its 14 years of existence,” and that the Southern Poverty Law Center is not credible.

“They call everybody racists,” Sale said. “There are, no doubt, racists in the League of the South, and there are, no doubt, racists everywhere.”

Harry Watson, director of the Center For the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it was a surprise to see The Middlebury Institute conferring with the League of the South, “an organization that’s associated with a cause that many of us associate with the preservation of slavery.”

He said the unlikely partnering “represents the far left and far right of American politics coming together.”

Who says that the Civil War ended in 1865?

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On October 10, 2005, I made one of my first posts on this blog. It shows up as p. 23 on the blog. By comparison, this is p. 579. That post dealt with all of the reasons why I’m no fan of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

What amazes me about it is that people continue to post comments to this particular post two years later. I had a new comment posted there tonight. A number of them have contained nasty personal attacks on me just because I don’t buy into their hero worship of Forrest. Each of those has been deleted because I don’t allow personal attacks on me on my own blog.

To give the latest poster credit, he was courteous and rational in his discussion. Thank you for your civility.

Let me just say a couple of things about this…

1. NOTHING that any of you say is going to change my mind about this issue. I appreciate the effort. I really do. However, I’ve spent years pondering it, and I’m quite set in my opinion. There’s not much point in trying to convince me–you’re going to fail and you’re going to waste your breath in the process.

2. That a two-year old post continues to generate comments is proof positive that Forrest is an extremely controversial figure that continues to polarize opinions. I don’t ever see that particular trend changing.

3. The ferocity of the Forrest supporters is really amazing. I can’t think of another Civil War figure who generates such ferocious responses as does Nathan Bedford Forrest. Why is that?

As I said, this whole thing just flabbergasts me. I can only hope that this ends sooner or later…However, I don’t have any reason to expect that it will…..

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2 Oct 2007, by

It’s Finished!

I just finished spending the vast majority of my last couple of months rewriting the retreat manuscript. We did a tremendous amount of additional research–our bibliography went from 17 pages to 38 in the process. We took what started out as a general but reasonably thorough tactical study of the fighting during the retreat and turned it into a full-blown scholarly study along the lines of Plenty of Blame to Go Around. In the process, we’ve literally used hundreds of sources. I counted, and there are 807 entries in the bibliography, all of which were legitimately consulted, and hundreds of which were actually cited. I’m really proud of it.

There are lots of things that are different from Kent Brown’s book. Brown’s book is primarily oriented toward a study of the logistics of the retreat, and really focuses on the Confederate viewpoint. While it certainly does contain some tactical detail, that’s not the book’s primary function.

Our work is extremely tactical–that’s its primary focus. We’ve written the most tactically detailed interpretations of the fighting during the retreat ever attempted. Our other primary focus is on the decisions made by the Union high command during the retreat and how they impacted the eventual outcome of events. Consequently, our book is complementary to, but at the same time, very, very different from Kent’s.

I’ve sent it to J. D. and Mike for their final passes at it, and then it’s off to Ted Savas to be put into production.

It will be out by the anniversary of the battle next year, and I can only hope that it’s as well received as Plenty of Blame to Go Around has been. I likewise hope that those of you who indulge my rantings here enjoy the book as much as I did putting it together.

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