Изображения страниц


Commander and Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The work assigned to your History Committee has been done according to our ability. The various histories and geographies authorized to be used in the schools of the State were assigned to the several members for examination. At a called meeting, held in Richmond on the 5th of June, the different reports were read and discussed. They are herewith respectfully submitted. They are marked by ability and conscientious work, and should have a place in your transactions. I read the list, as follows:

Freye's Elements of Geography; Freye's Complete Geography--John J. Williams.

Cooper, Estill, and Lemon's "Our Country "-Rev. S. Taylor Martin.

Fiske's History of the United States-Rev. Beverly Tucker and Captain Carter R. Bishop.

Lee's Primary History of the United States-R. S. B. Smith. Lee's Brief History of the United States-Captain M. W. Hazlewood.

Lee's Advanced History of the United States-Dr. R. A. Brock.
Jones' School History of the United States-James Mann.
Montgomery's Beginners' American History-T. H. Edwards.
Judson's Young American (civics)-W. H. Hurkamp.
Morris' Advanced History of the United States-John H. Hume.
Myer's General History-M. W. Hazlewood.


In preparing the committee's report, I have felt at liberty to use any or all of the individual papers. The committee appointed by the general citizens' and soldiers' meeting, held in Richmond, October 17, 1898, made a second report confirming and explaining the report of 1897. That also is herewith submitted. One member

of that committee, Mr. John P. McGuire, made a special report on the whole subject, which has been incorporated in this paper.

It was supposed some eighteen months ago that the History Committee of the Grand Camp of Virginia, successful in the efforts of that period, had finished its labors and had no further cause for action nor reason for existence. We imagined that books hostile to the truth and dishonoring to the dead and living of the South, had been driven from our State, and that with them would go opinions derived from them and of like effect, and therefore debasing to those who held them.

The actual situation is such that we consider it wise to begin this report with a brief description of our position at home and of the forces arrayed against us. It should serve to guide and concentrate our own action. It ought to secure the vigorous co-operation of all the Confederate camps in the South.


We were in error in supposing our work done. We are not altogether rid of false teachings, whatever may be said of the purposes of our teachers. Because of newly-aroused thought, the opinions alluded to are less prevalent than they were at the time we speak of, but they are still heard from young men who, during the last thirty years, have been misled as to the characteristics of our people and the causes of the "war between the sections," for some who, looking to the future," as they phrase it, foolishly ignore the lessons of the past, and from others who, thinking themselves impoverished by the war and being greedy of gain, have neither thought nor care for anything nobler. There are a few older men who think that the abandonment of all the principles and convictions of the past is necessary to prove their loyalty to the present. There are some who dare to tell us that "the old days are gone by and are not to be remembered;" that "it is a weakness to recall them with tender emotions." To these we reply, " Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Young or old, these men are few, but they are ours, and their children inherit their errors.


Those not already aware of it, will be surprised to learn that there are teachers in the South-high in position-but, as we think, very ignorant of our history-who accept the Northern theory that "slavery was the cause of the war," and must accept the dishonoring consequence that its preservation was our sole object in that struggle the favorite position of the Northern advocates and the last support of their cause. This position they take in spite of the fact that the quarrel between the North and the South began when slavery existed in all the States. That writers or readers should ignore the proofs of this is surprising. We cite, for instance, Washington's stern order issued to the army before Boston in 1775, promising summary punishment to any man who should say or do anything to aggravate what he calls "the existing sectional feeling.” For that feeling in that day we cannot find cause in slavery, for the good people of New England shared our Southern guiltiness. Nor is it to be explained except as springing from the old jealousy of Puritan and Cavalier, and the resentment of the Virginians against the New Englanders for failing to help them in the Indian war; whence, according to some authorities, the epithet, "Yankee" sprang.

At a later day (in 1786) Mr. Jay recommended to Congress that in exchange for a favorable commercial treaty with Spain we should yield to her condition that "no American vessel should navigate the Mississippi below the mouth of the Yazoo," New England— caring nothing for the distant Mississippi-supported this narrow and selfish policy; exciting, say contemporary writers, "the fierce indignation of the South, and especially of Virginia, to which State Kentucky then belonged." We quote in substance from Mr. Fiske's "Critical Period of American History." He recites the fact, but sees no connection between the incident and sectional



So of New England's pursuit of separate interests in 1812, the tariff iniquity of 1828, and the nullification struggle; all of which

intensified the general bad feeling. These are matters of commonest knowledge and of the gravest import. They are, nevertheless, ignored by many Northern writers as causes of the war. One prominent writer-Mr. Fiske-very briefly mentions the Hartford Convention of 1814. Even our old enemy, Mr. Barnes, gives the list in a fine print note. The fact is, these matters do not serve the purpose, as none of them could be depended upon to enlist the sentimental sympathy of the world against the South. Slavery and Southern action thereupon must be, for these historians, the cause of the war. There are people at home who, with these men, ignore all this history and accept and support their view. We are glad they are few, but they exist; and, therefore, Virginians do not feel as they did when, at the touch of hostile spear, the shield of the State rang true; when at the call of honor, the State of Virginia stepped to the front, to stay to the end of the war. For all of us there is cause to fear that our success in suppressing the more flagrant evils has lessened our watchfulness against subtler forms which may prove harder to expel; reason to apprehend that our people of Virginia and other Southern States may sink down into blind content with a situation which is still full of danger. If you will look over the lists of books allowed in some of our States you will be amazed. The artifices and corruption that secured their adoption would furnish a curious subject for a student of human nature.


Here in Virginia our hope is in this Grand Camp, with its allies among the scholars in the State, and in the men upon whom the law has laid the heavy responsibility belonging to our State Board of Education. We are glad to know that these are good men and true; that they have on the whole given the public schools of Virginia by far the best set of books they have ever had. So we are glad to acknowledge the good work they have done for the State, however strongly we may dissent from and protest against some of their conclusions. With respect to the situation abroad, it describes it not unfairly if we say that the reasons for the existence of our History Committee are, in a modified form, the same that

in 1861 brought into existence and moved to action the armies of the South.

"In the Sectional War" (not the "Civil War," for that title accords with the extreme national conception and admits that we were not separate States) we were called upon to resist an invasion of soldiers, armed and sent into our country by the concurrent purposes of several fairly distinct parties then and now existing in the North. They came seeking our injury and their own profit. A new invasion, with like double purpose, is being prosecuted by the lineal successors of some of these parties. Two of them chiefly concern us and our work. The one came- or sent representatives to the war-bent upon the destruction of our Southern civilization, the eradication of the personal characteristics, opinions, thought, and mode of life which made our men different, antagonists, and hateful to them. The other preferred war to the loss of material prosperity, which they apprehended in case the South should attain a position beyond the reach of Northern law-makers and Northern tax-collectors. Mr. Lincoln represented the latter, when, in reply to Mr. John Baldwin and Mr. A. H. H. Stuart, who, as representatives of the Virginia Convention, then in session, urged him to delay the action that opened the war, he asked, “What is to become of my revenue in New York if there is a 10 per cent. tariff at Charleston?" The following incident points to the former: About the year 1850 a distinguished Northern statesman said to a party of Southern congressmen, "You gentlemen will have to go home and beat your plow-shares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears, for the Northern school-mistresses are training a generation to fight the South."


No longer concerning ourselves with the sentimental unionists and honest abolitionists-whose work seems to be over-we still struggle against the two parties we have described. These exist in their successors to-day-their successors who strive to control the opinions of our people, and those who seek to make gain by their association with us.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »