Yesterday I saw this tweet repeating a comment reported by the LA Times that Roy Moore made at a campaign rally last September when one of his supporters asked him when he thought the last time America was "great:"
"I think it was great at the time when families were united—even though we had slavery—they cared for one another…Our families were strong, our country had a direction." (Taken from Roy Moore: Last Time America was 'Great" was During 'Slavery'; Newsweek, 12.7.2017)I realize this is being presented out of context and sensationalized, but really, folks, what on earth was Roy Moore thinking when he said it? Regardless of how foolish making such a comment is during a public campaign event for a national office, it's just plain wrong.
My father's family is from the south - we can trace our ancestry back to the War for Independence with our family patriarch Capt. John Somers possibly serving under George Washington at Valley Forge, being taken as a prisoner of war and after his release somehow obtaining an 8000 acre plantation in North Carolina. After his death, his oldest sons, John and James, took their inheritance of 4000 acres in Tennessee and settled there. You might think this sounds idyllic if you're a neo-Confederate, but it wasn't all brandy and cigars. Capt. John died at a young age leaving a grieving widow and at least one young daughter still at home fatherless with great debts ordered by the court to be paid, (I've read the estate probate records). Thankfully, his young widow, Catherine, remarried and all turned out well for her, but one can only imagine the heartbreak she felt knowing that the courts did not automatically recognize her legal guardianship of their young daughter and that she was at the mercy of others for their well-being. Catherine had no legal rights - not even over her own children.
Not only can I sympathize with the lack of legal rights for women like my 4th Great Grandmother and other women of her time period, I'm also appalled at the lack of basic human compassion shown to others of different skin color. During my research into the Somers probate records I found where at least one "negro" woman had been purchased and referred to as "mother." No name - just someone's mother. Friends, if this doesn't break your heart, then you are ice cold! That woman and thousands more were legally treated as cattle - seen only as another man's property. How terrible! How inhumane! How unchristian!
During my genealogy research for the Somers family, I discovered that most of my ancestors lost almost all they had worked for during and after the War Between the States. Families were divided and my third Great Grandfather George Washington Wright was "ran out" of Tennessee for fighting for the Union.
Some of you know that I was heavily involved in Christian Reconstruction and communicated with Pastor Raymond Joseph, editor of the Christian Statesman and pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America before his death in 2006. Pastor Joseph wrote a movie review for Gods and Generals when it first premiered. His insight into the War Between the States is right on spot, in my opinion. Here is an excerpt from his review:
"...I am more convinced than ever--as we viewed the Civil War battles realistically simulated by the enactors, and heard the remarks and felt the reproduced emotions--that this horrible war was the judgment of Almighty God upon a nation which had compromised with the Enlightenment and Scottish Rationalism when it came to crafting its Constitution. We were--and are still--a Christ-rejecting nation, yet at the time of the Articles of Confederation prior to 1787 we were a nation in the process of being born, which was inhabited by enough professing Christians to have insisted on acknowledging the King of kings. Yet we didn't, and still haven't." (Gods and Generals: A Review; The Christian Statesman, 2.06.2005)Pastor Joseph was right. America has much to repent of in it's young history as a nation. No, Mr. Moore, America was not a great nation when it treated women and people of color as property. That is our shame and I pray to God we repent of it and stop perpetuating the myth that the Antebellum South was a pure, holy, great time for America, because once you look past the rose-colored veneer you see the ugliness of the selfish heart of men who exploited others for their personal financial gain.
|George Washington Wright - Civil War Veteran and a true hero.|