In response to two recent letters written by Marie Schulz (“Go back where you came from, racists,” July 29) and Diana Belles (“You shouldn’t have printed that letter,” Aug. 5): Both authors could benefit from a more thorough understanding of history.
Soldiers of the Southern states fought heroically for their belief in states’ rights. They weren’t going to trade the tyranny of Great Britain for the tyranny of a government dominated by the populous North. The North strongly believed that only a nation united by a federal government could prevent domination by the great powers of Europe. They weren’t going to let the South divide the country.
These had been issues since the Revolutionary War.
All American citizens enjoyed the same rights.
The South was prosperous and most Southerners benefited from that prosperity. Southern prosperity derived from agriculture and the large plantations which could economically produce cotton and tobacco, which were in high demand in Europe. Productivity in the South was dependent on one American right which Northern states did not need and which Southern state governments staunchly protected.
It was a right the North would soon abolish; the right to own slaves. Knowingly or not, these brave Southern soldiers fought for slavery, a cause which should not be honored or celebrated.
There were Southern traitors (even if they would not admit it, even to themselves); those who would sacrifice the Union for their personal power and wealth. Many of these individuals re-established their wealth and power by taking advantage of the extreme poverty caused by the war-devastated economy of the South, aggravated by emancipation. They replaced the cheap labor provided by slavery with the odious practice of sharecropping.
I am afraid that this part of our American history created a bitterness which lasts unto this day.
Charles Lee Kirby