Renouncing United States Citizenship

I have often wondered why today’s Southern nationalists/separtists are not as good as their word when it comes to renouncing their United States citizenship. I would think this would be evidence of their commitment to their cause as well as their sincerity. So I ask of those folks who profess that position (I know you read and comment) . . . Have you renounced your United States citizenship? Would you share the reasoning for your decision?

The rest of you may weigh in as you choose.

May 22, 1863: Grant’s Second Assault at Vicksburg

On May 22, 1863, three days after his men assaulted the Confederate lines outside Vicksburg, Ulysses S. Grant made a second attempt to bring the siege of the Mississippi river citadel to an early end.

The attempt failed, and badly. There’s much debate about how much effort William T. Sherman put into his assault, and even more about John A. McClernand’s request for reinforcement so that he could secure the toehold he had reportedly gained.

Before long it settled down to this:

Sherman’s men had been far more visible in the May 19th assault, commemorated by the United States Army in this image:


Note the different ways in which combat is portrayed. Yet it is also telling to note that there are common themes, especially when it comes to representing the impact of shot, shell, sword, and bayonet upon the human body.

I’ve visited Vicksburg several times, and it is remarkable to see the ground which these men charged across. I highly recommend a visit.

May 22, 1856: Preston Brooks Assaults Charles Sumner

I’m sure many of you have seen this illustration, in which the featureless Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina, batters Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. The image, indeed, presents Brooks as whipping Sumner, much like a slaveholder or overseer whips a slave.

Some other contemporary images prove revealing in different ways.

Then there’s this … and the speech in print …with the cane itself (at the Old State House in Boston: somehow I’ve missed it):

And this:

as well as this:

Coming days after the sack of Lawrence, Kansas, the beating of Sumner (and the support Brooks received for his act) reminded white northerners of the violence with which some white southerners sought to resolve political differences.

It is well to remember that while nothing can excuse Brooks’s act, Sumner’s speech mocked Brooks’s kinsman, South Carolina senator Andrew Butler, and that Sumner had memorized his insults as he rehearsed the speech in front of a mirror. ┬áIndeed, although many people will speak glowingly of Sumner’s commitment to civil rights, he had a way about him that irritated others, notably Ulysses S. Grant. Once told that Sumner did not believe in the Bible, Grant replied: “That’s because he didn’t write it”; asked whether he had ever conversed with Sumner, Grant replied: “No, but I have heard him lecture.”

Indeed, Sumner could be as insufferable as he was committed to equality for all. It took Preston Brooks to make him a sympathetic figure.

Still, I know some folks who live in the world of Preston Brooks and keep his spirit of conflict resolution alive. For them I have these two images: