Fables of the Reconstruction / Rich Man's War

Posted in the Columbus Forum

“The undiscovered country... ”

Since: Dec 08

Columbus, GA

#1 Apr 6, 2013

Every now and then this Confederate stuff comes up, and so I refer, again and again, to a history book available at the Bradley Library that nails the situation in terms that for some reason nobody much wants to discuss. In fact it won't be surprising if this post is ignored... again. The book is "Rich Man's War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley" By David Williams. And, yes, it wasn't so much "white or black" in the South back then, it was whether you were "rich or poor". Now why is that just not surprising to me, ever? This is running long but click the link and see the way the plantation owners manipulated the situation, and I'll see if I can excerpt some key bit, time & interest permitting. This is some fascinating, heavy reading.

“The undiscovered country... ”

Since: Dec 08

Columbus, GA

#3 Apr 11, 2013
I reckon at this point it may just be best to try and let all memory of that part of our Chattahoochee Valley's past fade into oblivion, given the ever-heated image the "oral tradition" has passed down..?

Maybe... but I find discovering the truth fascinating and inspiring, so here's more on David William's studies and book:


"...David Williams’s Rich Man’s War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley offers a close examination of the role of class within the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Williams scrutinizes issues of class within the lower Chattahoochee Valley running through Georgia and Alabama. This particular region elicits socioeconomic analysis due to the combination of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation industries defining the area. Serving as a highly productive cotton region, an important port, as well as a congested railroad hub, the lower Chattahoochee Valley quickly became a crucial economic center throughout the nineteenth century. As such, the area was populated by very wealthy planters, successful manufacturers and merchants, factory workers, yeomanry farmers (both slaveholders and non-slaveholders), poor whites, and an abundance of slaves [...] the perceived threat of abolitionists toward the destruction of the institution of slavery overwhelmingly swayed the planter elite to advocate secession, beginning as early as 1850. The desire and decision to secede, subsequent to Lincoln’s election in 1860, directly opposed the will of the majority of those living in the South, according to the author. Conscious of the authoritarian position of the planter elite, and the inability to improve one’s social status, the remaining classes viewed the idea of secession ambivalently, with little to gain personally, and a military conflict to follow likely. In the end, the planter elite paid scant attention to the concerns of the other classes and voted for secession in defiance of the majority of the region’s inhabitants [...] Not simply the enactment of a draft by the Confederate Congress in 1862, but rather the implementation of a policy allowing substitutes, engendered the ire of the lower classes. The practice of substitutes directly favored the wealthy elites and insulated them from the dangers of combat. Even more contentious was the “twenty-slave law” allowing those individuals owning twenty or more slaves to be exempt from the draft. Such practices highlighted the disparity in socioeconomic status and privilege that characterized the Confederate South..."

Anyway, it just boils down in the end on where your head is at in these modern times and where your own perceptions take you. What seems obvious, and typical of these types to me will look different from your own culture and history.

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