Out of SHAPE: Another Confederate Heritage Lie

In the last few days, several Confederate heritage sites have been passing around a post from our good friend George Purvis, the head of his one man band known as Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education … SHAPE, in other words. Here’s what Mr. Purvis has found:

Displaying the research skill that is characteristic of certain Confederate heritage groups, Mr. Purvis tells us that the 1860 census reveals that Abraham Lincoln owned a slave in Springfield, an 18-year-old woman named M. Johnson.

The usual suspects picked this up immediately.

Just a little research would have revealed that the woman in question is 18-year-old Mary Johnson, who some claim was Irish (the census says born in Illinois, however). The census page clearly indicates that it is a record of “free inhabitants” and states (see the bottom) that of the forty people on this page, twenty-six were white men and fourteen were white women. In short, most of the evidence was right in front of these folks’ faces. As for Mary’s first name and a mention of her Irish roots, go here.

Just another day to remind us that it’s not history, but heritage, and, as Connie Chastain so sweetly reminded us recently, it’s a heritage warped to promote present-day political beliefs and perspectives.

UPDATE: Mr. Purvis defends his research, suggesting that Mary Johnson may have been a white slave. Really.

Purvis prevaricates

People have brough facts to Mr. Purvis’s attention before, but he has problems accepting facts that contradict his speculations. This this comment from him made me smile:

purvis prevaricates 2

Mr. Purvis has offered no facts, just speculation, on whether Mary Johnson was a slave. He has declined to consider the facts that say otherwise.

The Confederate heritage groups who reposted Purvis’s post have not dared to challenge his assertion. Nor has Connie Chastain, who adores him as a commenter (give George credit … at least he offers his real name, unlike Connie’s favorite supporter).

It’s another chapter in that endless tale of Confederate heritage follies.


25 thoughts on “Out of SHAPE: Another Confederate Heritage Lie

  1. Eric A. Jacobson July 16, 2014 / 1:51 pm

    No one can possibly be this stupid. This is just an example if outright lying. Or who knows, maybe he is that stupid? I guess he also forgot that slavery was illegal in Illinois in 1860. Oh yeah, and the fact that the person is question is white is also just another sign of the truth.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 16, 2014 / 1:53 pm

      All too often certain Confederate heritage advocates must make a difficult choice: were they stupid or were they lying? Or both? All too often they do everything they can to avoid making such difficult choices, leaving the rest of us to decide.

      As for being this stupid, recall that regiment of black Confederate cooks.

      • OhioGuy July 16, 2014 / 3:07 pm

        Yes my son-in-law’s g3grandfather was one of them. Still trying to get the family to put up a disclaimer maker saying he was a slave!

    • Al Mackey July 16, 2014 / 2:03 pm

      George Perv is really that stupid, Eric. The guy is an utter idiot.

        • Jimmy Dick July 16, 2014 / 4:32 pm

          I’ll third the statement!

    • C. Meyer July 16, 2014 / 4:59 pm

      This ranks right up there with a “Brigade of Cooks”…which was actually Cook’s Brigade.

  2. Jeffry Burden July 16, 2014 / 2:09 pm

    It’s at times like this I feel bad for honest, intelligent Southrons. I really do.

    • OhioGuy July 16, 2014 / 4:25 pm

      Fortunately, there are many, many more of these than there are neo-Confederate Lost Cause apologists. It is a shrinking group of southern citizenry, but unfortunately a loud and boisterous one. What really infuriates me is when some of my Yankee friends swallow this nonsense. One example: A statement made a few years ago by a woman who was an archaeologist for a national forest in Ohio. She had spent many years doing extensive research on the UGRR in this part of Ohio and had dug up the remnants of African American villages in the forest. She had also worked to clear the brush away from several African American graveyards that had been taken over by the forest. In these cemeteries were the graves of a number of USCI veterans, with appropriate federal markers in some cases. This was all very professional and laudable work. Imagine my utter shock when she made a presentation to my Civil War Round Table and after talking about colored infantry graves, made an off-handed statement that, of course, there were also thousand of African Americans that had fought for the Confederacy. At that point I jumped out of my seat and tried, inartfully, to correct her statement. I’m sure I came off as too strident — but repeating Lost Cause mythology in my presence is one thing that really makes my blood boil. But this was mild compared to my outbursts on tours of Georgian cities when a tour guide starts into obligatory “Sherman bashing” that is based on total fabrication.

      • Jeffry Burden July 16, 2014 / 7:08 pm

        “Fortunately, there are many, many more of these than there are neo-Confederate Lost Cause apologists.” Based on my experience here in Virginia, I’d agree.

        “But this was mild compared to my outbursts on tours of Georgian cities…” I bet they luuuuuuv you on those tours. 🙂

        • OhioGuy July 16, 2014 / 9:02 pm

          Yes, and my wife finds my behavior thoroughly embarrassing too! 😐

  3. OhioGuy July 16, 2014 / 2:10 pm

    Well, an Irish paid servant is certainly little different from an African American slave. Did these folks graduate from elementary school? Do they know the meaning of actual English words? And, as you point out, they could have looked at the bottom of the census sheet and found that all recorded on the page were white. As a person with Irish on both sides of the family tree, this type of shoddy scholarship gets my Irish up! (Sorry, I sometimes can’t resist bad humor.)

  4. Ken Noe July 16, 2014 / 2:21 pm

    Honest to Pete, that’s just sad. “Schedule I: Free Inhabitants.”

    • Ken Noe July 16, 2014 / 2:37 pm

      I also see that he doesn’t understand why no slaves are listed for Jefferson Davis on his 1860 Schedule I. This does not inspire confidence in his other research.

  5. Bob Nelson July 16, 2014 / 2:49 pm

    There is nothing shameful or illegal about being an indentured servant. Large numbers of Irish and German immigrants paid for their passage to America by agreeing to work as indentured servants for an employer. About half of the white immigrants to America in the 17th and 18th centuries came here as indentured servants and the practice continued well in the 19th century, particularly after the German revolution of 1848 and the great potato famine in Ireland. While doing genealogical research on my family, I found several German ancestors who landed in New Orleans and then travelled up the Mississippi River to Wisconsin where they worked as “servants” for a number of years before they could get their own farms. It was not a “bad” thing. Shame on those who want to equate being an indentured servant with slavery. Not only do these crackpots push white supremacy but they also, it would seem, want to denigrate anyone who came to America and actually had to work for their passage.

    • Jimmy Dick July 16, 2014 / 8:55 pm

      The odds are very high that most people whose ancestors came to America from 1609 to 1700 did so as indentured servants. That damn history, always getting in the way of fantasy!

  6. Jimmy Dick July 16, 2014 / 4:33 pm

    Pretty sad that he doesn’t realize that there was a separate schedule for slaves in the 1860 census.

    • Reader July 16, 2014 / 6:25 pm

      . . . and it’s all on microfilm.

  7. Michael Lynch July 16, 2014 / 6:10 pm

    That. Is. HILARIOUS.

    Instead of SHAPE, he should call it Bald-faced Lying Loons Stupidly Humiliating Themselves (BLLSHT).

  8. Pat Young July 17, 2014 / 10:34 am

    I note that the NPS refers to Mary Johnson as of Irish “descent”. Another servant is described as Irish born.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 17, 2014 / 11:20 am

      Mary Lincoln had complained about previous servants, specifically mentioning that they were “wild Irish.” In Mary Johnson’s case, I have no additional data and I do not know how the NPS reached the conclusion it did.

      • M.D. Blough July 17, 2014 / 1:54 pm

        The widespread prejudice against Irish-Americans was not restricted to immigrants, as Joseph P. Kennedy could have attested. I suspect that the distinction between Irish-born and Irish-descent was between the immigrant and subsequent generations born in the US. The prejudice against them was both ethnic and religious.

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