Georgia On My Mind

I admit that I am not surprised that Bill Reilly of the Georgia Civil War Commission has yet to return to the comments section to answer the questions I posed to him. It’as safe to say, however, the at least some members of the commission are aware of what’s been said about their work over the past several days … including a decision by someone who administers the commission’s Facebook page to delete a link to Andy Hall’s fine discussion of Clark Lee, a person the commission features as a black Confederate soldier. With a little digging, you can find a link to Kevin Levin’s initial report of the commission’s activities.

The members of the commission are appointed by Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the Georgia house of representatives.  We’ve already highlighted their qualifications, and wondered about the absence of any historians from the state’s fine universities and other historical organizations.

Fortunately, there are other ways to make your voice heard. Here’s a link to the office of Georgia governor Nathan Deal. Here’s a link to contact the lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle. Want to sent a letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution? Sure.

I think the fine people of Georgia, their elected leaders, and the state’s most important newspaper deserve to hear what folks think of the performance of the Georgia Civil War Commission. People here say that it’s important what the public learns about American history. Here’s a chance to make good on that concern in a case where a commission established by the state discharges its responsibilities as it has.

18 thoughts on “Georgia On My Mind

  1. Tony June 16, 2013 / 8:30 am

    Some revisionism is tastier than others.

  2. Tony June 16, 2013 / 8:31 am

    Oops, wrong thread! Meant for Cuba Libre 🙂

  3. Andy Hall June 16, 2013 / 8:55 am

    I didn’t realize the commission’s Facebook had linked to what I wrote, even briefly. Either way, I haven’t heard from them.

    The whole thing is misleading. Both the marker and the Find-a-Grave text say, “in his old age he applied for, and received, a well-deserved Confederate Military Pension for the State of Tennessee (Pension No.107), enabling him to spend his final years in retirement.” This elides several things. First and foremost, pensions in Tennessee, like most states, were only available for men who nearly destitute and had no other means of supporting themselves. They were “means tested,” in modern terms, and the requirements were strict. The pensions for former servants, like Clark Lee, were (IIRC) $10/month, which was not a great deal of money in the 1920s. (Widows of former servants, unlike those of Confederate soldiers, got nothing.) I’m sure those pensions helped their recipients a great deal, and I’m glad they were available, but people today shouldn’t think they made for a comfortable-if-modest “retirement.” They were part of what we’d call the “social safety net” back in the day before Social Security and Medicare, and helped move the recipients from being destitute to being merely poor.

  4. Charles Lovejoy June 16, 2013 / 10:15 am

    >”wondered about the absence of any historians from the state’s fine universities and other historical organizations.”<< Truthfully? They have other more pressing things to do.

      • Charles Lovejoy June 16, 2013 / 2:34 pm

        And a lot of historians and others don’t want to get mixed up in the politics of these appointed commissions. You get it from both sides.

  5. Ken Noe June 16, 2013 / 11:10 am

    As of Sunday afternoon, they have a new Facebook cover photo of Hubbard Pryor of the 44th USCT. Perhaps that’s supposed to be an answer to your point 2. Or perhaps it’s a preemptive reaction to your call for letters. Or an acknowledgement that the last choice of cover photo backfired.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 16, 2013 / 11:37 am

      Let’s put it this way: there’s been two shifts in content following these posts. The first was an act of defiance: the second act (along with giving publicity to a Juneteenth celebration) suggests that publicity works. I can assure you that some members of the commission are well aware of what’s been posted here and elsewhere.

  6. John June 16, 2013 / 1:20 pm

    Why is it any of your business what goes on in the state of Georgia? I thought you would want to leave this business up to the residents of the state where this is taking place and not interfere since you are not a resident there. Just wondering.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 16, 2013 / 1:33 pm

      I could ask what business is it of yours what I consider to be my business, Mr. Bell. The fact remains that accurate history recognizes no state boundaries …. nor does the internet. Bad history is bad history, regardless of where it is practiced, although it appears that location means everything to you. Do you limit your interest in the Civil War to all things Texas? I’d say no, if Stonewall Jackson’s your favorite general. And didn’t you call someone in South Carolina an idiot on this very blog?

      Are the GCWC folks in Georgia practicing good history?

      Remind me of your interest in local control when people begin whining again about the Confederate flag in Lexington next spring. If you are a man of principle, you’ll attack those folks then. If not, well, so much for your principles.

      • Pat Young June 16, 2013 / 2:58 pm

        As a rule, I only accept criticism from New Yorkers.

      • Rob Baker June 16, 2013 / 9:32 pm

        As a Georgian myself Brooks; keep up the good work.

  7. rcocean June 17, 2013 / 7:41 am

    Can’t really understand why any from Georgia should care what a Arizona professor thinks about their internal affairs. But maybe they’re more sensitive than I believe. And its funny how Brooks switches arguments over time. If someone wants to pull down a 100 year-old confederate statue, we shouldn’t object – its none of our damn business. OTOH, when he dislikes some obscure CW state commission – well that’s different.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 17, 2013 / 8:05 am

      I’m not surprised you don’t understand. After all, you’re posting from California to express your opinion about what an Arizona professor says about something in Georgia, and you seem to care a great deal about what the professor in Arizona thinks (which is why you comment frequently). So, by your own actions, you do exactly what you say I shouldn’t do. You did it when you went after Eric Foner, who’s from New York.

      So much for your logic … and consistency. After all, you whined about the Dixie State statue controversy. “So the airbrushing of History continues. Increased sensitivity or Liberals with nothing to do? You make the call!” But it doesn’t matter to you when the “airbrushing of history” includes fabricating black Confederate soldiers. Increased insensitivity to reality or a cranky conservative with nothing to do? You make the call.

      And you must be talking about the Dixie State statue, which was put in place in the 1980s … not a hundred years ago. I’ve said absolutely nothing about the controversy at UNC, which involves a statue a century old. Can’t you get your facts straight? Or is the real problem for you that facts don’t matter when a good rant will suffice? Maybe you should join the GCWC.

      You may get to choose your statues or flags, but you don’t get to choose your facts.

      There’s a great deal of difference between how a locality chooses to govern itself and the sort of historical record a state-sanctioned commission leaves. I understand, however, that your commitment to states rights overwhelms your commitment to historical accuracy. We can thus expect that in the future you’ll restrict your comments to events in California and California-based scholars and other individuals, because it would be a terrible thing for you to expose yourself as a hypocrite.

      I don’t dislike the commission (although I question its composition) … I question its understanding of history. That issue knows no state or national boundaries. Apparently to you all history is local, and each locality can choose the history it wants to believe and claim that it is valid, regardless of what the evidence might suggest. Tell me how far you get with that argument.

      The folks at Dixie State made their own decision, and that’s how it should be. Same with the folks in Lexington. But you’re suggesting that every locality get to choose its own version of the historical record, regardless of how it accords with the facts. Get real. You’ve had no problem holding forth on scholarship about slavery, the founding, economic issues, and so on … 219 comments in all. By your own criteria, I should tell you to mind your own business.

  8. Charles Lovejoy June 17, 2013 / 6:38 pm

    IMEHO, I think a group like the Georgia Civil War Commission should be spending it’s time and efforts promoting Civil War sites in the state of Georgia and encouraging the public to visit them, Pickets Mill battlefield,Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Atlanta’s Cyclorama. a 360deg panorama of the Battle of Atlanta, Alexander Stephens and Robert Toombs houses, the Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia. ect ect. Leave the subject of black confederates alone. After all the Georgia Civil War Commission is a state Commission. That’s what I do if I were in charge.

    • Jefferson Moon June 18, 2013 / 9:21 am

      A neo-confederate theme doesn’t make me want to visit Georgia.I spent my money visiting Fort Summter in South Carolina.

  9. Charles Lovejoy June 18, 2013 / 3:18 pm

    It’s the Atlanta traffic that’s the problem 🙂

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