May 29, 1865: Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction Proclamations

We’ve heard a lot of talk about Reconstruction and public memory recently. Today offers a chance to measure what people might do about that public memory, or if it’s more talk than action. After all, we’ve marked the sesquicentennial of other documents, and yet the two documents issued under the president’s name this day 150 years ago fundamentally shaped what happened for the next dozen years.

Having accepted the existence of the Lincoln Reconstruction governments in several former Confederate states, Johnson outlined his own policies concerning the restoration of civil government in the remaining states, starting with North Carolina. He named provisional governors who would oversee the process of erecting new state constitutions and governments. The process excluded blacks from voting: the electorate was defined as those would have been eligible to vote in 1860.

Johnson’s second proclamation outlined his pardon policy. Excluded were several classes¬†of individuals, including high-ranking Confederate officials, and those who claimed over $20,000 in taxable property, a Johnson twist designed to make the large landowners seek pardons from him. However, the granting of a pardon restored all of one’s property except for slaves … which would challenge efforts to engage in widespread confiscation and redistribution of property.

I await the usual insightful commentary on causes and consequences. Let’s see what the Reconstruction sesquicentennial will bring us.

May 24, 1980: 35 Years Ago Today


Here’s the Islanders’ radio call of the goal:

The usual play-by-play call that accompanies this video¬†is the Canadian TV broadcast, but Dan Kelly, the long-time voice of the St. Louis Blues, called the game for American viewers, who saw the game on CBS. Here’s that call:

There are moments that happen in sports that you know you’ll never forget even as they happen before your eyes (whether live or on TV). For me, this continues to top the list.

Silence from SCV Headquarters on the VMFA and the War Memorial Chapel?

Today I was reading a post from Nick Sacco on a recent controversy in St. Louis involving a Confederate monument. Apparently some people are uneasy about the monument and want to discuss whether it should be removed. What intrigued me was that our friend Ben Jones, the chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, chimed in on the issue.

As I’ve said before, I find Ben a likeable guy, but I am puzzled by something. Has he written a similar essay concerning the debate over the display of the Confederate flag at Richmond’s War Memorial Chapel? After all, we have been told that the 2010 decision of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to rescind the display of the Confederate flag on the portico of the chapel (a practice that had been going on all of seventeen years, judging by the failure of Confederate heritage groups to offer an image of such a display prior to 1993) sparked the creation of what someone has called “the most powerful and influential southern heritage organization in existence”¬†today. In 2015 the VMFA ceased leasing the War Memorial Chapel altogether.

It’s reasonable to ask why we’ve seen nothing from Ben Jones or the SCV about this issue. Yes, we were treated to (then) SCV commander-in-chief Michael Givens taking a guest turn as a Flagger …

Givens and Hathaway

… but that’s been it.

Can anyone explain the silence of Ben Jones and the SCV’s national organization concerning this controversy? If I’ve overlooked evidence of a public declaration, would someone provide it? Thanks.

Defining What’s a “Real Southerner”

Some people asked what I meant by “real southerner.” I’m simply pointing out that there are people out there who are very interested in defining who is and who is not a southerner for reasons sometimes connected with issues of heritage.¬† Sometimes I’ve been told that I need to understand what a “real southerner” is.

So I turn to all of you: how do you define “southerner”? Does the term “real southerner” have any utility?

You tell me.

Research Exercise: What Percentage of Southerners Supported the Confederacy?

Here’s a research exercise that should engage some people (including a certain mathematician who reads this blog frequently):

What percentage of southerners supported the Confederacy?

For purposes of this exercise, we hold to the following definitions:

1. ¬†“The South” is defined as the fifteen slave states of the 1860 census. We are not including New Jersey or points west (that would make this too easy to define the Confederacy as a minority movement). Nor will we count the Indian Territory later known as Oklahoma.

2. ¬†All people counted in the 1860 census–free and enslaved–regardless of race or color, are defined as southerners. Recall that the three major categories are whites, free blacks, and enslaved people.

Left to you is to offer an estimation (complete with justification) of the number of southern whites who stayed loyal to the Union.

Show your work so that we may follow your reasoning. Let’s allow until next Monday as the deadline for solutions.