United Daughters of the Confederacy & White Supremacy

Published:August 30, 2018 by Brendan Wolfe

Two days ago, Ginger R. Stephens, the president of the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, wrote a letter to her “ladies.” “It has been brought to my attention,” she told them, “that Encyclopedia Virginia has a negative article on the UDC.” She explained that she had talked to the encyclopedia’s staff—it was me—and “they don’t seem to be aware of how much harm that article is doing and how critical it is that it be corrected.”

The problem, she wrote, is this: “The majority of the article is about the UDC and Race. The UDC’s Objectives are not included, and there is no mention of any of the UDC’s work.”

Stephens then encouraged her members to write us and request a correction. And they did!

I am requesting a revision of this article to remove the negative information and remarks regarding the United Daughters of the Confederacy …

The article is very biased and paints a negative portrait of the organization. The section on the UDC and Race is longer than the rest of the article, giving that too much emphasis, while ignoring the work of the UDC …

It is truly amazing at all the crap you can read on line. The UDC has nothing in common with the KKK, Neo-Nazi or the white supremacists. Guess you need to go after the ladies now because nothing else has worked. Good old smear campaign!

We’re happy to receive feedback on our entries. We encourage readers to point out factual inaccuracies and we try to respond as quickly as we can. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve made corrections to entries on Cephas Davis, regarding the details of a state election; on John Carlyle, regarding where he is buried; and on J. D. Harris, regarding the date of his death. The latter two came as a result of reader emails.

What we have with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, however, is different. While they argue that we are being factually inaccurate, they are not actually able to identify any factual inaccuracies. Instead, their objections are philosophical, and at this point it would be more efficient to answer them here than to continue to write each complaining member individually.

At the crux of this philosophical disagreement, I think, is the phrase “white supremacy.” The UDC members object to any association of these words with their organization, past or present. To them it puts the UDC in league with the KKK and neo-Nazis, etc. (And sometimes it did!) But what the entry argues is that the traditional efforts of the UDC—raising funds for Confederate monuments, sponsoring Memorial Day parades, caring for indigent Confederate widows, sponsoring essay contests and fellowships for white southern students, and maintaining Confederate museums and relic collections—have been undertaken in the context of the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War.

What do we mean by the Lost Cause? Long the prevailing ideology of not only the UDC but of the United Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and much of the postwar elite white culture, it follows several basic precepts:

  • the Confederacy didn’t start the war;
  • slavery had nothing to do with it;
  • enslaved people were generally well-treated and faithful to their masters;
  • the United States only won because of its industry and manpower and a willingness to sacrifice the lives of its soldiers; and
  • Confederate soldiers were uniquely heroic and Confederate women uniquely honorable.

So what does this have to do with white supremacy? All of these things add up to a nostalgic elevation of a society the foundation of which was the violent enslavement of other human beings. And this “elevation” was not by accident. It came at precisely the moment when those formerly enslaved people were competing with their former enslavers for political power. By asserting that slavery was not that bad and that white people had always acted honorably and in the best interests of blacks, the Lost Cause became an argument for a society in which white people belonged at the top of the order and blacks at the bottom.

That’s white supremacy.

What does this look like in practice? A Virginia history textbook from around the time of UDC’s founding, written by a Virginia woman, described enslaved people this way: “Generally speaking, the negroes proved a harmless and affectionate race, easily governed, and happy in their condition.”

Fifty-some years later, another Virginia textbook, co-written by a woman, congratulates those black people who did not join John Brown at Harper’s Ferry: “It is a great tribute to the honor of the Negro race that he was unable to carry out his plot, for only a few Negroes joined him.”*

Another textbook, published in 1957 and used in Virginia schools for the next three decades, asserts, “A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.”**

When the UDC and other such organizations sponsored essay contests, this is the sort of history that was being promoted. It was not history that acknowledged the actual lives of actual African Americans. In fact, it actively erased them.

That’s white supremacy.

There’s more to it than textbooks, of course. There are memorials. You may have read about Silent Sam, the Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina that was recently torn down by protesters. It was a gift, in 1913, of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and one of the featured speakers at its unveiling was Julian Carr, a local industrialist and Confederate veteran. Here’s what he said at the event about the meaning of that occasion:

The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South—When “the bottom rail was on top” all over the Southern states, and to-day, as a consequence the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States—Praise God.

I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterwards slept with a double-barrel shot gun under my head.

When Carr says “the bottom rail was on top,” he means that black people had briefly achieved a modicum of social and political power after the Civil War. Then, using his own cruelty as an example, he suggests that violence is, and has always been, the preferred remedy. (After all, it had worked well in Virginia.) He even notes that the current generation might need a good reminder of that. Hence, this statue.***

That’s white supremacy.

So were efforts by veterans’ and memorial groups to censor textbooks that attempted to advance a different understanding of slavery. So was Birth of a Nation, a film that cast black legislators as corrupt, ignorant, and less than human. So was the violence of slavery brought into the post-slavery world: the lynching of John Henry James just outside of Charlottesville, for instance. A witness wrote her husband two days later that “it behooves the Virginia men to be on their guard at all times” for “black devils” like James, “whom we have been taxed to educate, & give the rights of a white man.” They are not fit for such freedom, she wrote; they will only rape your women.****

That’s white supremacy, but so is a refusal to engage this history. To understand it only as an attack on you or your organization rather than as an attempt to widen the narrative to include those who have otherwise been silenced by the textbooks, the monuments, and the ropes.

If you think the examples above are cherry-picked, then you ought to read more widely in the sources. These were mainstream, acceptable attitudes in their day, and an attempt to acknowledge and understand them is crucial for dealing with the issues of today. (See this and this.)

It is central to the mission of Virginia Humanities—of which Encyclopedia Virginia is but one program—to tell Virginia stories in a way that does justice to the full experience of all people. We do this not to divide but precisely the opposite: to share in a history that belongs to all of us. I have told Ms. Stephens and the United Daughters of the Confederacy that we would like to update the entry to include more information about her organization during the past several decades. In the meantime, if the UDC is interested in grappling with this difficult history and joining us in our effort to tell a broader story, we would welcome them as partners.

* We have a copy of A History of Virginia for Boys and Girls by John W. Wayland and Rose M. E. MacDonald here in the office. It’s the 1948 version, and this quotation is on page 277. You can read the 1920 edition here.

** This is from Virginia: History, Government, Geography by Francis Butler Simkins, Spotswood Hunnicutt Jones, and Sidman P. Poole. It was published in 1957 and used in Virginia schools as late as the 1980s. We also have a copy in the office. This quotation is from page 369.

*** Or the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, the unveiling of which was preceded by Klan marches.

**** Letter from Florence A. Bishop to Jonathan A. Bishop, July 14, 1898 (Beltrone & Company/University of Virginia Special Collections). We’ll have a transcription up on our site soon.

IMAGE: A Washington state chapter of the UDC, October 1925

Discussion

86 Comments on “United Daughters of the Confederacy & White Supremacy”

  1. Susan Coleman

    Courteous and well-written response. The story regarding the Silent Sam unveiling enlarged my understanding of that and other monuments.

    1. Elie Elis

      The segregation continues. I will not join a group who does little to educate the children of slaves. Turns a blind eye to the evil that slavery is. We got beautiful farms and housed. Economy from a slaves toil but giving nothing in return. Jails are full of undereducated slaves..
      Costing the taxpayer but racist people choose not to care. I’m disgusted with the ignorance of white supreamist people who say their not biased yet do anything to help educate.

      1. Robin Aristides

        You do know that slavery built the North. Northern ship merchants were running slaves to America as late as 1860 and to Bermuda until 1888. Northern industry was built on the backs of slaves. Rhode Island did not ratify the13th amendment outlawing slavery until 1901. Four slave states remained with the Union and WV was admitted as a slave state in 1863. None of those states gave up their slaves until they were forced to by the 13th. Northern banks made millions insuring slaves and the ships they came here on. No slave ship ever sailed from a southern port. The entire country owns the burden of slavery, not the south. The war was not fought over slavery. By 1860 only 6% of southerners owned slaves. Few wealthy southerners owned a lot of slaves, but many northerners owned a few slaves. You are apparently not privy to this information. Only part of the seceding states even mention slavery. I will accept responsibility for the south’s ownership of slavery but the north needs to recognize their part in it. You need to read the book Complicity…How the North Promoted, prolonged and profitted from slavery….this book was written by northerners who had no ancestry in the Confederacy, only in the Union..it would be a real eye opener for you.

        1. Ann Douglas

          Excellent response! Many northern colleges owe their beginnings as well as large endorsements to northern slave owners.

        2. kevin brown

          31% of families in the eleven Confederate states owned slaves. The entire culture of the South was based on white supremacy and African-American slavery. 31% of Confederate families owned slaves and a great many others aspired to slave ownership.

          Even for those who did not own or aspired to own slaves, they lived in a caste society where, by the very nature of their white skin, they enjoyed social superiority to 40% of the population.

          The vast majority of white people in the eleven Confederate states supported the institution of slavery and white supremacy. It was the basis for their entire culture and they saw it as normal and proper.

        3. Bernard

          A great many of the plantations and slaves in the South were heavily mortgaged to Northern capitalists. The greater part of the cotton produced in the South was shipped to Europe in Northern-owned ships and through Northern agencies, and many of the Southern planters were entirely in the hands of Northern capitalists. It was also said that many of the merchants in the South were heavily indebted to Northern houses of business. It was also held that the Northern States, having a majority in Congress, imposed tariffs, and so managed legislation as to cause the whole of the trade between the South and Europe to pass through Northern agencies, which secured from it heavy tariffs and commissions. It was also held out somewhat bitterly that, while the South did the hard work, took the responsibility or odium of being slaveholders, and produced the exports, and maintained the prosperity of the nation, the North derived the benefit, and pocketed the lion’s share of the profits.

          -William Watson
          Life in the Confederate Army

      2. Michael C. Lucas

        The Encyclopedia Virginia has an admittedly Politically Correct intent to assign blame to the past in order to make current Political agendas relevant. It’s mission is not based in recognizing historical facts accurately but in contextualizing the past to suit a narrative of their self interest rather than the truth for the greater good of mankind. The UDC has strived as many other Anglo Societies to honor their ancestors accurately and honorably, and have included remembrances and tributes to African Americans who were very much a symbiotic part of Antebellum and Confederate America. They the UDC were and are no less human in their certitude and pride to do so than any other human race or ethnicity that have their own ethnic legacy and are subject to their creation and the times they lived where others did no less.

        The Enclyclopedia Virginia, Brendan Wolfe particularly have erred and made an egregious response to the UDC and have chosen to incite bigotry rather than promote mutual respect and understanding for a more civil society.

        Racial Supremacy is an equal opportunity employer and the notion that White Supremacy has been the great evil or Americas Original Sin is preposterous. Racial Supremacy has existed in all nations and peoples of the earth and it remains to be based in simple preferences, as well as jealousies and conflicts of greed of all humankind. Let the race that has not aspired to some supremacy cast the first stone… but that cannot be found, because all humans are equally and supremely fallible.

        Shame on the Encyclopedia Virginia, Brendan Wolfe for embracing politically correct hate mongering and bigotry!

        1. John Rosenbaum

          The public library in my town, population 13,000, keeps the latest editions of the UDC on the magazine racks
          in the periodical room. I don’t know who pays for it. I have read articles in it from time to time. I picked up that the
          stance of the UDC, as expressed in at least one article, is that the Civil War was about states rights. No mention was
          made in that context of slavery. Confederate General James Longstreet was quoted as saying after that war:
          “I never heard of ‘states rights’ until after the war.

    2. Nicholas

      I’ve been trying to educate people on things like this for a few years now. I’m surprised at how many people don’t know about these groups. They have impacted our history so much in such negative ways that we still feel the sting or their misdeeds today-over YEARS later!

      1. Robin Aristides

        These groups like Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy are about the dead soldiers they are related to. Two years ago the president of the Daughters if the Confederacy was a black woman. Look up HK Edgerton and listen to a black descendants of the Confederacy has to say please.

      2. Ann Douglas

        Excuse me but what misdeeds are you talking about? I am a second generation UDC member and I deeply resent the slander.

    3. Karl Burkhalter

      Reading it made you more ignorant than you were previously. Union invaded for cotton and tariffs not to do Blacks any favors. Union General Nathaniel Banks contraband policy became the Jim Crow laws that mirrored Illinois antebellum Black Codes. North wanted to be free of Blacks not free for Blacks.
      Yale Yerkes Eugenics Programs inspired the first sterilization laws in Indiana and Connecticut in 1907, Springfield Illinois race riots of 1908 were more direct in eliminating Blacks. One million Freedman starved to death while Robber Barons aka Radical Republicans funded Transcontinental RR Transatlantic Cable and purchase of Alaska while stealing much of the contract money in the Credit Mobilier scandal. By 1914 Yerkes Eugenics Programs inspired Harrison Drug War which continues its mission with Mass Incarceration. By 1915 GAR Klan, centered in Midwest, was established by Monopolies to combat Labor Unions, unlike original it was racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. Jews who had their property confiscated by Union Army, Catholics like Beauregard, Cherokee under Stand Watie, Hispanics under Santos Benavides and Blacks like Louis Napoleon Nelson were in original Klan which was CSA Army preparing for part 2.

      Yale Yerkes Eugenics Programs inspired Hitler and because of his adherence to Yerkes, Yale affiliated Union Bank funded him in the 1920s. Now Yale History propagandist David Blight pushes Iconoclastic mania to hide the truth and the duplicity of his employer.
      North started war by sending a War fleet to threaten Charleston. North Banks holding $80 million in slave collateral refused to forgive loans to facilitate emancipation because they wanted the cotton Lands to supply their Mills which produced their number one cash export, textiles. So uncompensated emancipation meant foreclosure for most Plantations. Slaves taken in foreclosure were rented to RRs not freed. Europeans saw through the Yankee lies and did not need UDC to “mislead” them especially after Lincoln’s genocide policy against Native Americans at Mankato, Bear River, Sand Creek, Canyon de Chelly, Keysville, Bosque Redondo, Killdeer MT, Whitestone Hill, Tongue River, Snake War and murder of Magus Coloradas all happened during the Civil War. Death Camps like Devil’s Punchbowl were Union Reservations for Blacks.
      This whole article is slander and lies.

    4. Philip Gerard

      A brilliant and thoughtful rebuttal to the misinformation campaign waged by the UDC for the last century and a half. Kudos to Brendan Wolfe, and shame on those who try to justify a war waged to maintain a slave nation–see CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens’ speech of March 21, 1861, taking issue with the notion that “All men are created equal”:”Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery–subordination to the superior race–is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” The UDC statues and other propaganda in textbooks and elsewhere celebrates this great “truth,” which was foundational to the economy, culture, and religion of the South.

  2. Jim O'Hara

    In 1913, the same year that they got the monument erected at UNC-Chapel Hill, the UCD also unanimously endorsed and recommended for use in schools the book THE KU KLUX KLAN OR INVISIBLE EMPIRE BY Mrs. S. E. F. Rose, which described the KKK in glowing terms and praised it for its heroic work in defending “white supremacy” (the book uses that exact phrase). The book also attempts to explain rumors that the KKK was murdering “Negros.” In fact, when a Negro was misbehaving they would sometimes take him out to the woods for a well-deserved whipping. At times, the Negro would attack those were planning to whip him and they would be forced to kill him in “self-defense.” Not murder at all.

    The claim “The UDC has nothing in common with the KKK” is complete nonsense.

    The full book can be seen at https://archive.org/stream/cu31924083530117/cu31924083530117_djvu.txt

    1. Fred

      Thank you for adding your factual historical tidbit to this discussion. Like most southern institutions of that time, UDC was as complicit in the enslavement and Jim Crow subjugation of blacks as KKK and WCC. This pitiful attempt at denial and whitewashing their own documented white supremacist foundations is laughable!

        1. Steve Annie

          I have lost several friends due to their blind faith in Trump. There is an obvious parallel there.
          This is not a simplistic idea. It shows a divide in the country and that is strong.
          You should ask yourself, in the early 1940s, would have Trump got behind the strong man or the intellectual in Britian?

      1. Robin Aristides

        This only shows your ignorance of true history and what the war was about. The Daughters if the Confederacy has never been a race based organization. Statues were erected to coincide with anniversaries of the war by widows and children of dead soldiers. Nothing racist about it. I’ll be glad to give you some history books to read. Lincoln was the biggest white supremecist of all.

        Lincoln was the only presidential candidate in 1860 to run on NOT interfering with slavery. He was put into office by northern industrialists who profited from the slave trade. Northerners were still bringing slaves in from Africa in 1860.
        “ ..this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues with me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose either directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so and I have NO INCLINATION TO DO SO. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the black and white races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the SUPERIOR POSITION. I have NEVER SAID ANYTHING TO THE CONTRARY. I agree with Judge Douglas he (the black man) is not my equal in many respects -certainly not in color, perhaps not on moral or intellectual endowments” Lincoln…Sept 16 1858
        “Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska or other new territories is not a matter of exclusive concern to the people who may go there. The whole notion is interested that the best use shall be made of these territories. WE WANT THEM FOR HOMES IF FREE WHITE PEOPLE. This they cannot be , to any considerable extent IF SLAVERY SHALL BE OLANTED WITHIN THEM. Slave states are places for poor white peoples to remove from, not remove to. New free states are for poor white people to go to and better their condition. For this use the nation needs these territories”…Lincoln Oct 16, 1854
        So here Lincoln doesn’t want the expansion of slavery solely to keep NEW TERRITORIES WHITE.
        Four years later he says this…
        Now, irrespective of the moral aspect of this question as to whether there is right or wrong in enslaving the negro, I am still in favor of our honey territories being in such a condition that WHITE MEN many find a home – May find some spot where they can better their condition-where the can settle upon new soil and better their condition in life. I am in favor of this not merely (I must say it here as I have elsewhere) for OUR OWN PEOPLE (whites) who are born among us, but as an outlet for FREE WHITE PEOPLE everywhere, the world over- in which Hans and Baptist’s and Patrick and all other men from all the world, may find new homes and a better condition in life”
        And again….if Lincoln wanted to free slaves ….WHY DID HE NOT FREE THE SLAVES IN THE FOUR SLAVE STATES REMAINING IN THE UNION? Even the EP did not free slaves in the north. Why did Lincoln allow WEST VIRGINIA INTO THE UNION AS A SLAVE STATE in 1863 IF he wanted to free slaves.

        Lincoln’s EP killed 25% of the black population in the south. When asked what Lincoln planned to do about the starving masses of former slavery he said “root, hog or die”. He would send no aid. It was illegal to move to the state of Illinois if you were black. As it was in many northern states.

        Lincoln on slavery “Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been and reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you, I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them.”

        Before secession the US Congress passed to Corwin Amendment making slavery legal FOREVER. Lincoln asked only that the south agree not to secede before he signed it into law. South left anyway. See…the south could have kept slavery just as easy by staying in the Union.

    2. Michael Mathews

      This is technically impossible in 1913 as the book was published later in 1914. Also, the kkk was disbanded in 1869 by NB Forrest. A new kkk was formed in 1915.

      1. Michael Mathews

        If you actually read the book, you would see that the original kkk was about resisting carpetbaggers, scalawags and negroes that supported them.

        No connection to the white supremacy of the kkk that was formed in 1915

        1. Robin Aristides

          The second KKK you are talking about was not begun in the south either. Thank you for telling the truth.

    3. Karl Burkhalter

      From Louisiana CSA Governor Henry W Allen Jan 1865

      YANKEE TREATMENT OF SLAVES.

      “To the English philanthropist who professes to feel so much for the African slave, I would say, come and see the sad and cruel workings of your favorite scheme.–Come and see the negro as he is now in the hands of his Yankee liberators. See the utter degradation–the ragged want–the squalid poverty. These false, pretended friends who have taken him away from a kind master and comfortable home, now treat him with criminal neglect, and permit him to die without pity. I give you good Yankee authority–one William H. Wilder, a convict in the penitentiary at Baton Rouge, pardoned by the President of the United States, and made the agent for Yankee plantations. He says the negroes on these estates have died like sheep with the rot. On one in the Parish of Iberville, out of six hundred and ten slaves, three hundred and ten have perished. Tiger Island, at Berwicks Bay, is one solid grave yard. At New Orleans, Thibodaux, Donaldsonville, Plaquemine, Baton Rouge, Port Hudson, Morganza, Vidalia, Young’s Point and Goodrich’s Landing, the acres of the silent dead will ever be the monuments of Yankee cruelty to these unhappy wretches. Under published orders from General Banks, the greatest farce was perpetrated on the negroes. The laboring men on plantations were to be paid from six to eight dollars per month, and the women from two to four dollars. In these orders the poor creatures after being promised this miserable pittance, were bound by every catch and saving clause that a New England lawyer could invent. For every disobedience their wages were docked. For every short absence from labor they were again docked. In the hands of the shrewd grasping Yankee overseer, the oppressed slave, without a friend or guardian, has been forced to toil free of cost to his new master. I saw a half-starved slave who had escaped from one of the Yankee plantations. In his own language he said “that he had worked hard for the Yankees for six long months–that they had ‘dockered’ him all the time, and had never paid him one cent!” This is the sad history of them all. The negro has only changed masters, and very much for the worse! And now, without present reward or hope for the future, he is dying in misery and want. Look at this picture ye negro worshippers, and weep, if you have tears to shed over the poor down-trodden murdered children of Africa.”

    4. Karl Burkhalter

      You are delusional, 1915 Klan was funded by Monopolies to combat Labor Unions and was centered in Midwest and had no ties to the original. GAR wore Klan regalia at Gettysburg reunion in 1920.
      Dr King wrote in Chapter 28 of his Autobiography that racism in North was far worse than in the South in 1968. You hypocrites need to look at the Beam in your eye rather than the mite in your neighbors.

  3. Ginger Stephens

    I am a little confused regarding some of the information in your blog entry. I wrote to you about the UDC article on Encyclopedia Virginia and you did tell me that it was on a list of articles to be updated. However, when I offered assistance, I received no response. Now, I find that you chose a blog entry to state that you want to partner with the UDC, when all you needed to do was respond to my questions and let me know how our organization could help.

    I sent a write-up that included information which I thought might be a useful in expanding the scope to include a positive aspect of the UDC’s work. More could have been provided, but your response indicated that Encyclopedia Virginia does not work that way. So, I asked if we could help, and I received no response once you explained that your staff is small.

    The reason that our members were asked to contact you about the article is very simple. You stated in your initial response to my inquiry that only two people had commented that they felt that the article needed to be updated. I had several people complain to me about the article, and since you were not responding to offers of assistance, it seemed that the complaints should be directed to Encyclopedia Virginia so you would have a clearer understanding of the number of complaints about the UDC article.

    If you would sincerely like to partner with the UDC, please email me and let me know how that would work so we can discuss further.

    1. Brendan Wolfe Post author

      Thanks for your note, Ms. Stephens. I think the first step to working together would be for you to substantively respond to the history as we have presented it above and in the entry. If you believe your organization was not associated with the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War, please explain why. If you believe that issues of race and white supremacy ought not be associated with the UDC, please explain why. It’s not enough to call us “biased” or “negative.” The history is there to be engaged with, and if you are willing to do that, then we would respectfully join you in that discussion.

      1. Kathryn Fowler

        Ms. Wolfe, I am not defending any party here, but your post does indicate a willingness to have the UDC provide information on more recent work they are conducting. However, when a respondent offered to do so, you raise the bar and say that UDC must first admit culpability. In so doing, you damage the image of your publication as fair and complete in its coverage. Why not accept the information and expand the information? You can still attempt to engage the UDC in conversations about its past record.

        1. Brendan Wolfe Post author

          Thanks for your comment, Ms. Fowler. We have had numerous UDC members, publicly and privately, offer us information about what the UDC does in its work today. The purpose of this post was not to solicit more; it was to suggest that the UDC needs to grapple with its difficult history. When respondents have almost universally avoided the substantive arguments raised in the post, I’ve tried to nudge them back in that direction. I don’t think that’s “raising the bar,” as you say; rather, it was the entire point of the essay.

          One additional comment: There is an implicit assumption, by the UDC themselves and others, that the organization, whatever it may have been in the past, is today completely different. I’m not so sure. The UDC attacks any association of the organization to white supremacy without engaging the actual arguments that lead to such accusations. Simultaneously, its leadership and members (either in comments to this post or in letters such as this one: https://bit.ly/2wzYJH3) insist that significant numbers of African Americans voluntarily joined the Confederate cause during the Civil War. Such claims have not only been debunked by historians (https://bit.ly/2N5KjrO), they serve to erase the reality of slavery. The lived experience of African Americans and their descendants (see: https://bit.ly/2PtxJA9). That’s white supremacy. That’s the argument I made above and that’s the discussion that the UDC refuses to have.

          It is not asking them to “first admit culpability” in order to take this history seriously. They don’t have to agree with the arguments made above. They just have to sincerely engage them, rather than constantly changing the subject.

          Thanks again for your comment.

          1. Michael Mathews

            This is ridiculous. All you do is find something you don’t like in past and call it white supremacy. How about you read the 4th Lincoln/Douglas debate and address Lincoln describing the negro as inferior and to always be inferior?

            A historical organization is just that. An organization about history. To erase history because you think anything you disagree with is white supremacy is irresponsible. I’m not a member of any of these southern historical groups but it’s amazing how they are being attacked for their version of history.

            Is the Bible next?

        2. Leslie Ackel

          That is logical and fair Ms. Fowler. Very pertinent point. I can’t imagine this “Encyclopedia” being anything more than a student blog, really.

      2. Heather

        Ms. Stephens,

        Will your organization retract its previous endorsement of publications such as “The KKK or Invisible Empire” by Rose? Until your group retracts its support of earlier such writings, can accurately define “white supremacy”, and acknowledges slavery as central to the Civil War and today’s ongoing inequities, your group has earned its association with white supremacy.

      3. Dulcinea Calloway

        Ms Stephens is not obliged to respond to your article or your pompous request. YOU need to put your faulty implications aside and do some reading about US history in the 19th century. Your definition of the Lost Cause is ridiculous and calculated to boost bias and distrust. The Cause was the effort to secede. It was lost. That’s it!
        If you insist the South sponsored the cause of white supremacy, study the complicity of northern governments and northern businesses to maintain bondage. Do you know that 40 cents on every dollar made from slave trading and the profits of goods made by slaves was made in NYC? What state was the biggest importer or slaves? Rhode Island. Northern mills wanted Southern cotton to set up their textile industries. They didn’t care who grew it, picked it, baled it, or loaded it.
        After the war, the state of Illinois wrote a new law that forbid any person of color to enter the state of Illinois.
        The UDC honors those who gave their lives for their country. Very American, right?

        1. Heather Shields

          Please explain to me why the UDC erected a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma, AL the very year they elected their first black mayor? And, no, this was not during Jim Crow, this was the year 2000. It was recently stolen, then the UDC bought an acre in the middle of a cemetery and replaced the statue there, in 2014, complete with a plaque stating that NBF was a “true southern hero” and says nothing about his involvement in the slave trade nor his responsibility for thousands of murdered souls? I have pictures I can send you. Or Google it. The statement that the UDC has nothing in common with the KKK is far from the truth. They sponsor and maintain memorials to them in predominantly black neighborhoods.

          1. david daniel

            MS Shields, I would like to ask you how many relatives did you lose in the War of Northern Aggression. Listening to the stories of PTSD today these men we’re only protecting their culture. Forrest was a brilliant commander and cared for his men. My family lost twelve members in the conflict and earned our right to an opinion. Forrest didn’t burn houses to the ground or rape and kill like Sherman. Oh and where is all your outrage about the millions of native Americans that were killed.

        2. Michael Mathews

          Dulcinea, that’s too much historical complexity for a disciple of modern day political correctness to digest. The cold hard facts indicate most of the civil war was avoidable. The south left. After Lincoln refused to give up Ft Sumpter in SOUTH CAROLINA, four more states voluntarily joined the Confederacy, Virginia included. Then Lincoln had to break laws to keep four more states from joining. Had Maryland joined, Washington DC would have been surrounded. This was far more than a north south battle. It was a people vs a tyrannical government battle and Lincoln was the tyrant.

      4. Karl Burkhalter

        You might start with researching “Wave the Bloody Shirt” propaganda of GOP while it was murdering Blacks at Contraband Camps like Devil’s Punchbowl.From Louisiana CSA Governor Henry W Allen Jan 1865

        YANKEE TREATMENT OF SLAVES.

        “To the English philanthropist who professes to feel so much for the African slave, I would say, come and see the sad and cruel workings of your favorite scheme.–Come and see the negro as he is now in the hands of his Yankee liberators. See the utter degradation–the ragged want–the squalid poverty. These false, pretended friends who have taken him away from a kind master and comfortable home, now treat him with criminal neglect, and permit him to die without pity. I give you good Yankee authority–one William H. Wilder, a convict in the penitentiary at Baton Rouge, pardoned by the President of the United States, and made the agent for Yankee plantations. He says the negroes on these estates have died like sheep with the rot. On one in the Parish of Iberville, out of six hundred and ten slaves, three hundred and ten have perished. Tiger Island, at Berwicks Bay, is one solid grave yard. At New Orleans, Thibodaux, Donaldsonville, Plaquemine, Baton Rouge, Port Hudson, Morganza, Vidalia, Young’s Point and Goodrich’s Landing, the acres of the silent dead will ever be the monuments of Yankee cruelty to these unhappy wretches. Under published orders from General Banks, the greatest farce was perpetrated on the negroes. The laboring men on plantations were to be paid from six to eight dollars per month, and the women from two to four dollars. In these orders the poor creatures after being promised this miserable pittance, were bound by every catch and saving clause that a New England lawyer could invent. For every disobedience their wages were docked. For every short absence from labor they were again docked. In the hands of the shrewd grasping Yankee overseer, the oppressed slave, without a friend or guardian, has been forced to toil free of cost to his new master. I saw a half-starved slave who had escaped from one of the Yankee plantations. In his own language he said “that he had worked hard for the Yankees for six long months–that they had ‘dockered’ him all the time, and had never paid him one cent!” This is the sad history of them all. The negro has only changed masters, and very much for the worse! And now, without present reward or hope for the future, he is dying in misery and want. Look at this picture ye negro worshippers, and weep, if you have tears to shed over the poor down-trodden murdered children of Africa.”

    2. JIm O'Hara

      Does anyone care if the UDC was also doing some “positive” things while they were promoting white supremacy and dangerous false versions of history? That’s like serving someone a manure sandwich and saying “but the bread is very fresh.”

  4. Helen B Webster

    Just as our countries attitudes about race, religion, sexuality, war, women’s rights, etc. have evolved over the generations, so has UDC. There is no discrimination as to color, religion, sexuality, socio-economics in this organization. We, gasp!!, have Ladies of color, Ladies who are Lesbian, Ladies who Bisexual, Ladies who mixed race, Ladies who are old, young, middle aged. Ladies who are Rich and those who are poor. In other words, if you go to a Division wide meeting you will find a Rainbow of women. All Chapters have a Charter that requires them to do certain things. Our Chapter contributes 10 months a year to our local food bank. We contribute personal care items to our local Day Care homeless shelter. We collect metal can pull tabs for our local Ronald McDonald House. We collect stamps for a Veterans long term out of state Rehabilitation Center. We collect and donate books and magazines to our local Veteran’s reading room and Library. We contribute funds to Scholarships available to young people in need. If you hear from other Chapters you will find them also supporting charitable works/needs in their communities. We do not allow racists comments or accept women who are racists. We do not discuss politics or Religion in our meetings. What we do require is that anyone wishing to join trace their “roots” back to either a CSA member or an individual – male or female- that was employed by the CSA or Confederate Government. Perhaps you should acknowledge that their were a large number of Free African Americans who choose to fight for or work for the same. These facts or supported by Roster Cards and payments to those individuals. In Virginia in 1860 there were 69,000 free people of color. The American Civil War was a horrible thing that did not have to occur. Wealthy and Powerful men in the North and the South could had prevented this tragedy by working together to phase out slavery in the whole country. I did not know my Ancestors. I cannot judge them. I will acknowledge their loss of life and the impact that had for all the generations that followed. Of Interest, several local women of color indicated a desire to join UDC but were intimidated by the extremes in their “community”. Perhaps we should all move away from extreme polarization, move to the center where all can be respected and allowed to exist without demonization based on non factual social media. Want to come to a UDC meeting??? Contact me. We had a delightful program last year on doing laundry in the Civil War Era and how todays laundry products still contain many of the same ingredients. You would have been bored. We were delighted!!!

    1. Brendan Wolfe Post author

      Thanks for your reply, Ms. Webster. I don’t doubt any of the things you write, and the entry in Encyclopedia Virginia doesn’t contradict this. The issue here is not polarization but history. And that history does not include “a large number of Free African Americans who [chose] to fight for or work for” the Confederacy. It simply didn’t happen but rather reflects exactly the Lost Cause interpretations I wrote about. I despair of how we can find common ground for discussion if you cannot sincerely and honestly engage that difficult history.

    2. Louis Albert

      Mrs. Webster,
      If you cannot see how patronizing your comments are, well, there is little hope of you ever seeing the light. Your claim that you allow “gasp!!, Ladies of color, Ladies who are Lesbian, Ladies who Bisexual, Ladies who mixed race, Ladies who are old, young, middle aged. Ladies who are Rich and those who are poor” is so condescending that it’s laughable. At least it would be laughable if you weren’t serious. How could anyone look at it any other way? Especially when it’s shortly followed by your claims about membership eligibility. Pray tell, Mrs Webster, exactly how many women of color are in your organization who can “trace their ‘roots’ back to either a CSA member or an individual – male or female- that was employed by the CSA or Confederate Government?” I’m very curious to learn. People of color in the confederacy had about the same rights as livestock, so it’s hard for me to imagine there were many employed by the CSA or its government. Unless, of course, by employed you mean held against their will and forced through violence to perform tasks. If that’s the case, I bet your membership rolls are over flowing with women of color.
      Also, you seem to believe that the good deeds your organization absolves you all of the history and the damage your organization has done over the decades. You actively support and have supported a cause that called for the enslavement of human beings. Think about that. The enslavement of human beings. Women and children and men who were slaughtered and treated worse than animals simply so your vaunted ancestors could save a few dollars on the cost of labor. And then, to make matters worse, for decades your organization pushed for a whitewashing of history and even more violence against the people you’d already treated so abhorrently. Dear Mrs Webster, is what you believe in? Because, all platitudes aside, that’s what the confederacy and UDC is all about, what it was built on, why the war was fought and why you all continue fighting it 150 years later. You can lie to yourself about these basic facts, dear Mrs Webster, you can lie to each other about them and, hell, you can even lie to God, but that doesn’t change reality. And by defending your organization, you are no better than the men who wore the hoods or brandished the whips.
      One final point/rebuttal: Your argument that there were “Free African Americans” that fought for the Confederacy and that both the North and South were at fault for the war because they couldn’t come to an agreement to “phase out” slavery (Phase out human slavery? do you hear yourself talking?) is tantamount to Nazis arguing that Hitler wasn’t so bad because he built roads, got the economy going and saved his one Jewish friend (Ernst Hess) from the ovens. Sorry lady, a couple of meetings about Civil War-era laundry and volunteering at the food bank does not absolve one of supporting a cause that was driven by evil solely for financial gain.
      Dear Mrs. Webster: I don’t expect anything I’ve written here to change your mind. After all, you are the same person who had the audacity to write the following sentence: Of Interest, several local women of color indicated a desire to join UDC but were intimidated by the extremes in their “community”. Your words, dear Mrs. Webster, speak much louder than your actions.
      So, while your preposterous effort to explain away the evil the confederacy and its supporters let loose on this world must be commended, I must close with a good old-fashioned Southern maxim we all know the true meaning of: Bless your heart, dear Mrs. Webster. Bless your heart.

      1. Tina Cavitt

        I’m 4% african and joining the UDC. Very proud of my heritage this article could not be even more wrong. UDC does great work and is more than just Democrats and snowflake crybabies crying over RACE! That’s not what the civil war was about anyone. Suggestion to the snowflakes go get an education.

        1. Dee C.

          You don’t even count at 4% African descent! Who are you trying to fool? In this country if you have 18% of African descent you are considered Black – so the government even says that you don’t even count! I would not even tell anyone about the 4 % because I guarantee you that you and everyone around you still see as white because you are! Don’t spend anymore money on those cheap DNA tests because they can be deceiving!

          1. Geoff

            We have elected representatives claiming 1/1027 percentage justifies geoup identification. I think worrying over 4% is a tad much.

      2. Leslie Ackel

        Blog author,
        In order to be more comfortable with the relevance of your employer, and the encyclopedia’s publishing of facts about any subject, I must inquire specifically,
        From whom did you get your facts on the rules of eligibility you state a student must have in applying for a UDC scholarship? I’d like to hear more of your fact based history lessons toward that end. As all editors would ask of their reporters, — state your sources. I feel your ethical journalism waning here. And certainly after this childish ranting against Mrs. Webster, dear boy.
        If I am to read more of your argument or take you seriously in the slightest, I, as your audience and reader, need to know that you write from factual knowledge, spoken to more than one source on the issue and that your statements can be firmly trusted. Please be specific on this issue to seriously and honestly as you say, engage in the difficult history.

        1. Brendan Wolfe Post author

          Ms. Ackel, I’m happy to provide sources, but neither my blog post nor any of my comments references scholarships. If you’re referring instead to our entry, could you be more specific and provide a quotation? That will help me respond accordingly. Many thanks.

    3. Heather Shields

      Please explain to me why the UDC erected a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma, AL the very year they elected their first black mayor? And, no, this was not during Jim Crow, this was the year 2000. It was recently stolen, then the UDC bought an acre in the middle of a cemetery and replaced the statue there, in 2014, complete with a plaque stating that NBF was a “true southern hero” and says nothing about his involvement in the slave trade nor his responsibility for thousands of murdered souls? I have pictures I can send you. Or Google it. The statement that the UDC has nothing in common with the KKK is far from the truth. They sponsor and maintain memorials to them in predominantly black neighborhoods.

      1. Robin Aristides

        Tell me why the first black congressmen were all elected in the south, the first in 1870 and not the north if we were so racist down here.

  5. John Gergely

    Mr. Wolfe asked for “identification of factual” inaccuracies in his blog. Let’s start with the statement that the UDC sponsors “essay contests and fellowships for white southern students”.

    True, the UDC does offer this help to enterprising students. But, they are not limited to “white southern students”. The student help is available to students who are descendants of Confederate veterans. This includes descendants of the thousands of free and enslaved black veterans of the Confederacy, including children of the many black members of the UDC.

    Interestingly, the many “white southern students” who are not descendants of Confederate veterans are excluded from participation. I know this for a fact. My children, who certainly were “white southern students”, were not eligible for the UDC scholarships because neither their mother nor I had any Confederate veteran ancestry.

    Therefore, since certain African-American students are eligible, and many “white southern students” are not eligible, eligibility does not depend upon one’s race as Mr. Wolfe purports.

    1. Monica Martinez

      I would love it if this organization can list ANY black student that has received any of these scholarships.

      1. Leslie Ackel

        Yers, Monica four of the six senior recipients of UDC scholarships from Pontchtoula High and Hammond High Schools in Tangiphahoa Parish are black student leaders during the 2016- 2018 award years.

    2. Alec Whispers

      Not surprisingly, an online search revealed no UDC women of color. The pictures of UDC members were pretty indistinguishable, a group of 10 to 20 white older women dressed like even older women. I never get an answer so perhaps since you possess knowedge of all things confederate you can give me one. If there were “thousands of free and enslaved black veterans of the Confederacy,” could you tell me where their statues are? What streets or schools were named after them? Could you name 5? Out of thousands surely a few acted in a way worthy of recognition.

      1. Geoff

        The statues currently up honor non-white Confederate veterans, as well. At least, that’s how I view it, and I support those monuments staying up. Monuments’ meanings can change with the time– I’m sure the tourists who feel pride at Plymouth Rock don’t believe all Catholics are going to Hell like the Puritans did. The Puritan belief in the damnation of Catholics was no less fervent than any Southern idea about race, yet we don’t feel the need to put an extra plaque with “context” at Plymouth Rock. That’s because semiotics aren’t fixed– they can change and adapt. That’s why memorials and monuments are primarily visual– that makes them flexible enough to change with the times. I would argue the same is true of Confederate memorials.

        There are a few problems with your first point, re: not finding any “women of color” in the UDC. First, I dont think a quick online search constitutes legitimate research. Have you called a branch of the UDC to ask them about demographics? That would at least demonstrate your willingness to speak to those who don’t share your interpretation.
        Second, lumping those few women you did find together (“a group of 10 to 20 older white women”) is reductionistic and unfair to them. Unless you know each of those people in the pic you referenced, you’re making an unfair generalization about them.

        Third, the way you’ve phrased your response (“knowledge of all things Confederate”) demonstrates why groups like the UDC exist in the first place. If those of us with Confederate heritage are going to be stereotyped, of course we’re going to be defensive about it, and look for sympathy. What perpetuates the sort of flame war you see in these comments, more than anything, I’d argue, is that those of us whose ancestors fought for the South are used to being treated as a punchline at best, and a public enemy at worst. As long as we’re treated as scapegoats, and misrepresented, you’ll have a lot more people defending their ancestors, and a lot more acrimony.

    3. Leslie Ackel

      Simply put and correctly stated, Mr. Gergely – straight out of the UDC Bylaws on scholarships correct! From where did the writer employed by this “encyclopedia” find his sources when he states with certainty, the criteria for awarding a UDC scholarship?

  6. Helen B Webster

    Monica, would you want your name or your child’s name put out there?? I think not. Brendan, Are you saying that the 1850 and 1860 census records are fake??? That the National Archives Records of “captured Rebel roster cards, payment cards, hospitals etc. are fake??? Are the State Records of Pensions given to Black soldiers and those employed by the CSA fake?? This country has treated EVERY new ethnic group badly. We don’t seem to learn. We cannot undo the past. We have history to guide us to a better place. We need that history around us daily. We need to add to it. We need to tell the truth about it. Please base that truth on facts. In my rather large UDC circle I know of no woman who mourns the “Lost Cause” or long for the “Old Days” or sees Blacks as ” lesser people. Today’s UDC is an inclusive welcoming organization.

    1. Brendan Wolfe Post author

      Ms. Webster,

      As long as we personalize this discussion and make it about whether you or other people you know “sees Blacks as lesser people,” we’ll get nowhere. This isn’t about whether you or anyone else is racist. It’s about acknowledging and trying to better understand the history. Toward that end, no, I’m sure those records aren’t fake. But those records do not indicate that any significant number of African Americans “chose” to work for or fight for the Confederacy. Many were impressed into service involuntarily. Some accompanied their enslavers to camp and in a few instances into battle. To argue otherwise not only ignores the evidence as gathered and interpreted by historians (see our entry: https://bit.ly/2N5KjrO), it also advances the very Lost Cause arguments I wrote about above. It dismisses the violent reality of slavery in favor of a world in which blacks and whites were somehow on the same side in the South. It erases the lives of the overwhelming majority of people who, quite naturally, wanted nothing to do with the men and women who kept them in bondage. And it does so in order that we might be more comfortable with our history. Is that really worth it?

    2. Heather

      The fact that your organization still supports confederate monuments in public spaces—spaces where no one should walk through and see tributes to lost cause propaganda and white supremacy — shows that your group has no concept of its role in maintaining white supremacy.

      When you wrote “Perhaps you should acknowledge that their were a large number of Free African Americans who choose to fight for or work for the same”, you just proved the point of this blog post. The narrative you’ve learned about the history of the south and the Civil War is loaded with racist innuendos and themes. Please consider what “white supremacy” means, as it doesn’t refer merely to those marching with tiki torches or white hoods. The fact that you will make no concessions in regards to the historical inaccuracies your organization has promoted, that your organization has not changed a bit since its founding, and that you’re still defending monuments because they reflect “your” heritage, is textbook white supremacy.

  7. Helen B Webster

    Those same cards clearly indicate which Black and White men were impressed. When you do not look at the whole picture of History you do not learn from it. As this country moved past the Civil War many wrong things were done to blacks and whites. And to women. When you get into the 1900’s you see the violence pointed at Blacks who prospered in their own communities and the Whites who acknowledged them and lived side by side with out racism. Black men defended the USA in Revolutionary War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam. They came home to an ungrateful Country. After WWI they found themselves and low income whites on the streets, riding box cars, depending on soup kitchens. Viet Nam draft excluded college men( so mostly blacks and low income whites were sacrificed). I do not care for the extremes. Tell the whole story. Your refusal to even contemplate that UDC has progressed into a new day is curious. You will continue to argue we are a racist organization because that is your mantra. Your attention getter. I have read about our history – information put to hard copy by Black, White, Tan, Male and Female authors. You hit the nail on the head when you talk about Historians “interpretation” of our history. It is interesting that there are Black authors who do not see things the same way. I find it interesting that you are unwilling to admit that “things” have changed for a lot of people. You and I could agree that mean, vengeful, hateful, violent people come in all colors, sizes, sexes and in my opinion, act out of frustration and fear. “We can’t change history. It is our choice to not repeat it.” The History of slavery in the South is being told. White people are going to Montgomery and to D.C. There needs to be more attention placed on the brutality of man kind against man kind. Why does it continue. Still think you should come to my UDC Chapter meeting.

  8. Anne Mitchell Whisnant

    This is an outstanding piece of courageous, responsible public history. Excited to share it, and the discussion that ensued above with my public history students at Chapel Hill in the coming weeks.

  9. Kyle Hickman

    Ms. Webster, your post on August 31st perfectly demonstrates the point of the blog post and many of the comments by Mr. Wolfe and others. Your comment states that “Black men defended the USA in Revolutionary War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam.” While you not only leave out several conflicts your glaring omission is of course leaving out the Civil War, which based on the history of the UDC is right in line with one of that organizations core purposes since it was founded. Namely, to perpetuate the Lost Cause narrative that was begun by white southerners after Reconstruction to help reestablish white supremacy in the South. Black men fought and died in the Civil War to end slavery and preserve the USA. By the war’s end blacks made up around 10% of Union forces. Without their contributions the end of slavery and the preservation of the USA would not have been achieved. This is another part of the the historical record you must acknowledge and engage in.

  10. Geoff Hoppe

    I’m glad to see people are having this argument, but I think we’re all missing something.

    We’re treating the phrase “white supremacy” as if its meaning has remained, unchanged, for the past few centuries. For all the historical thinking above, we need to also think in linguistic terms. Words, and phrases, have connotations. Those connotations change over time. “White supremacy” in 1910 had radically different connotations than “white supremacy” does today. Or even twenty to thirty years ago.

    I don’t see anyone here accounting for the fact that the phrase “white supremacy,” at least in the 1990s, commonly referred to neo-nazi groups who committed felonies, rather than normal people interested in their heritage. Certainly, the phrase “white supremacy” as it’s used today has radically different connotations than it did in the 90s. The mainstream press now uses “white supremacy” as only the looniest of progressives used it in the 1990s.

    Thus, to throw the term “white supremacy” around as if it’s some unchanging, Platonic ideal is intellectually irresponsible. The term itself, though, is also pretty sloppy. Somehow, the same term that applies to Ed Norton’s character in “American History X” today describes Ms. Stephens, or her great-grandmother, or me.

    Nowadays, when you see “white supremacy” used in mainstream media sources, it seems to have a vague, negative meaning. “White supremacy” seems to be a hazy term used to imply anything that isn’t “progressive,” or an example of “racial justice,” or “economic justice.” I’d argue those last two ideas are far more potent in their hateful divisiveness than any others in the intellectual stew of 2018.

    In other words, “white supremacy”– in 2018– is less a semantic marker than a pragmatic club. It’s a rhetorical weapon used to scare people into silence, by associating them with actual felons. That is, until people like Ms. Stephens have the temerity to insist on unpleasant realities, like the fact that her “white supremacist” group is actually a charitable organization. If there’s anything scary in the above comments, it’s the fact that so many people seem determined to deny the reality of moral complexity. Yes, the people you disagree with may do good things, too. If you can’t accept that, then the pluralistic society that survived a Civil War where people actually, physically bayonetted each other, might not be doing so well in a decade.

    I’d argue that any responsible history needs to account for the way the phrase “white supremacy” has changed. Lumping in anyone proud of their heritage with the KKK or the Unite the Right idiots– which, like it or not, happens when you use the phrase “white supremacy” as you did– is unfair and ridiculous. I’d argue it also prevents the sort of dialogue that needs to take place. To those of you so determined to pin “white supremacy” on us: all you accomplish is alienation. Case in point, the comments section above is loaded with defensiveness, insults, and finger-pointing. I’ve spent over an hour on this response because I’m sick of people mislabeling me and my family. If what I’m writing makes you mad, and you want to face your enemy, go look in the mirror. Want to fight hate? Start with the plank in your eye. Start by extending charity to your opponent. Start by not name-calling.

    Brendan, I know you are a careful, sensitive writer from reading your work here, and elsewhere. I believe you have the ability to be both sensitive with language, and engaged with history. But I don’t think the above post capitalizes on those talents. Your insistence on branding people as “white supremacists” is what seems to take precedence in this post. The rhetoric of your phrase “that’s white supremacy,” repeated as its own paragraph, makes that painfully clear. For God’s sakes, I am not your enemy, and those of us who are proud of our Confederate ancestors are not your enemies. Moreover, the sort of thing you’ve written above isn’t going to change our minds.

    The Encyclopedia Virginia has the potential to be something very great, if it stays objective. I think we need that more than anything else right now.

    1. Raymond Turner

      Very well expressed Mr. Hoppe. Also, today’s generation would not survive thirty days living in the conditions that existed during the 1800’s and early 1900’s. It is also easy for a Nation of people who live in luxury, compared to the times before electricity, to criticize and judge the generations before them that endured everyday hardships such as very basic housing ( 3 rooms ), no running water, no sanitation, lack of decent food, lack of decent clothing and widespread illness’s with very crude medical treatment…if any. Their average lifespan was 45 years. If the United Daughter’s of the Confederacy want to honor their ancestors, they have every right to.

      1. Sharon

        Sure if people want to honor their ancestors they have that right. But that doesn’t mean the confederate statues and monuments belong in public places. They can go in Civil War museums or cemeteries – not in locations for all to see and many feel hurt and offended.

    2. Sharon

      Let’s take a few steps back and breathe. Keep it simple…The very name “United Daughters of the Confederacy” is racist. Anything that glorifies the confederacy is racist. People who fought for and supported slavery
      were racists. People who continue to in any way promote the confederacy are racists. I don’t care how many times this is denied or minimized. As far as the UDC raising money for confederate monuments and statues, that is blatantly racist. It’s no different than statues or monuments of Nazis in Germany. The UDC could be spending its time instead reaching out to descendants of slaves and asking what can we all do to heal from this painful past.

      1. Robin Aristides

        How was the Confederacy itself racist? The states seceded over taxes and tariffs. Not all secession papers list slavery. Why dont the four slave states that remained with the Union and WV added to the Union as a slave state n 1863, two years into the war make the Union racist? The head of the Confederate Army was an abolitionist. They head of the Union Army was a slave holder.

        Here is another truth that you will not find in our history books. John Sergeant Wise, Confederate Veteran and post- war lawyer, recorded his memoirs. In the following passage he speaks of the South’s plan for the gradual emancipation of their slaves.

        “Little effort has been made to record the fact, yet it is nevertheless true, that many Southern men were working earnestly and loyally towards the adoption of some plan of gradual emancipation which, while it would free the slave, would not destroy the labor system of the South or leave the slave-owner impoverished. The abolitionist did not believe this. He was uncharitable in his judgment of the humanity of the slave-owner; and his demand that a difficult problem, requiring time for its solution, should be disposed of at once and in his way – per fas aut nefas – was strongly provoking.”

        Source: THE END OF AN ERA by JOHN SERGEANT WISE, 1899
        Link to E-book: http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/wise/wise.html#wise113
        Photo: Virginia Congressman/Author John Sergeant Wise,

        Lincoln on why the war was fought

        Aug 22 1862
        “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is nor either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any Soave, I would do it and if I could save it by freeing all the shaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save the Union and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help the Union.

        Sept 22 1862
        I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter and heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the a United States and each of the states and the people thereof, in which States that relation is, or may be suspended or disturbed

        “I will say, then, that I am not, nor have I ever been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, not qualifying them to hold office, nor intermarry with white peoples, and I will sayin addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races. I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race”….Lincoln
        “Such separation if effected at all, must be effected by colonization. What colonization most needs is a hearty will. Let us be brought to believe that it is morally right and at the same time favorable to our interests to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be. ….Lincoln

        Why is the passage of the Corwin Amendment by Congress making slavery legal forever make only the south racist?

  11. Monica

    If I had any confederate ancestors in my family that would not be a cause for celebration. Quite frankly I would be embarrassed to say the least. To Ms Webster. I truly do understand why a black parent who allowed their son or daughter to write an essay about confederate history in a POSITIVE light in order to obtain a few pieces of silver by way of a scholarship. If I were one of those parents ( just a note I wouldn’t be). Quite frankly I would never be that hard up for money.

  12. Dixie Lee

    Our NC district UDC out performs any other civic organization group for helping veterans. This was the main focus for starting the UDC. To help our veterans , their widows and their children. We have continued this legacy with grace and honor throughout the years. Many veterans across the board have received our care packages, gift bags, gift cards, hand written Christmas cards and words of encouragement for continuing to take the charge and serve.

  13. Robin Aristides

    A sample of the north’s attitude toward blacks

    Ohio Republican Senator John Sherman, (brother of William T. Sherman): “We do not like the Negroes. We do not disguise our dislike…..The whole people of the Northwestern states are opposed to having many Negroes among them and that principle or prejudice has been engraved in the legislation for nearly all of the Northwestern states.”

    Lyman Trumbull, Senator from Illinois stated that, “we, the Republican Party, are the white man’s party. We are for the free white man and for making white labor acceptable and honorable, which it can never be, when the Negro slave labor is brought into competition with it.”

  14. Robin Aristides

    By a two-to-one popular majority, Illinois in 1862 adopted a new constitution which forbade black people to enter the State. Lincoln’s friend and supporter Senator Trumbull remarked: “There is a very great aversion . . . against having free negroes come among us. Our people want nothing to do with the negro.” Shortly after, Secretary of War Stanton took note of the large number of ex-slaves who had gathered around the army at Cairo, Illinois, who were in a very sick and impoverished condition. He ordered them dispersed through Illinois, and in fact some rich Chicagoans had requested that choice blacks be sent to them as servants. Public meetings of protest were held all over Illinois and leaders, both Republican and Democrat, criticised the move. Defenders of the government assured the people that it was only temporary and after the war the blacks would be shipped back South. Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, abolitionist, member of Lincoln’s Cabinet, and later Chief Justice, expected that with emancipation “the blacks of the North will slide southward and leave no question to quarrel about.”

  15. Michael C. Lucas

    Mr. Wolfe says: “What do we mean by the Lost Cause? Long the prevailing ideology of not only the UDC but of the United Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and much of the postwar elite white culture, it follows several basic precepts:”

    #1. the Confederacy didn’t start the war; Who? Where? When? isn’t that dependent upon ones perception of inception? The South did not seek a war but when threatened prepared and defended themselves when war was brought upon them. The South did not invade the North but in retaliation and to force the Union to retreat and an end to the conflict. Secession a peaceful means to settle the division between the sections, but peace was not availed by Republicans and Lincoln’s actions and objectives.
    #2. slavery had nothing to do with it; This is a blatant false generalization myth of Confederate views Slavery was undoubtedly an issue and factor, however it was not the central or only factor. But I doubt you will include how the Homogeneous North sought it’s own sociopolitical supremacy over the nation and territorial expansion. Let alone Northern White racial Supremacy opposed to African Americans freedom to move North and share in the spoils of manifest destiny.
    #3. enslaved people were generally well-treated and faithful to their masters; — It’s interesting that Slave narratives often include noted many actions of benevolence of their Masters, as well as by other whites treatment to them and yet the Politically Correct trend is to deny that any Masters or Whites ever treated them with any sense of benevolence and/or humanity. Rather generalizing that all Southern Masters and Whites were racist tyrants who tortured beat and raped slaves… Why is that?
    #4. the United States only won because of its industry and manpower and a willingness to sacrifice the lives of its soldiers; — Well did it not? How can this be disputed?

    and
    Confederate soldiers were uniquely heroic and Confederate women uniquely honorable. Were they not as any other as noted by the victors histories no less? As recognized the World over? So much so that Confederate Soldiers remain to be examples of esprit de corps and textbook studies, as inspiration for future Military Officers and millions of young enlisted men and women to this day.

  16. Michael C. Lucas

    Examples of Brendan Wolfe Cherry Picking….
    “By asserting that slavery was not that bad and that white people had always acted honorably and in the best interests of blacks, the Lost Cause became an argument for a society in which white people belonged at the top of the order and blacks at the bottom. That’s white supremacy.” What’s wrong with you? Let’s consider the following:

    “What does this look like in practice? A Virginia history textbook from around the time of UDC’s founding, written by a Virginia woman, described enslaved people this way: “Generally speaking, the negroes proved a harmless and affectionate race, easily governed, and happy in their condition.” Brendan I will agree that the latter is certainly a broad generalization but as that may be there were many Slaves, African -Americans who tactfully enabled that perception as well, and that is documented by their own leaders, writings. and actions.

    “Fifty-some years later, another Virginia textbook, co-written by a woman, congratulates those black people who did not join John Brown at Harper’s Ferry: “It is a great tribute to the honor of the Negro race that he was unable to carry out his plot, for only a few Negroes joined him.”* Brendan can you dispute this as a fact? Did the Slaves revolt and join Brown? Is Ken Burns wrong OMG!

    “Another textbook, published in 1957 and used in Virginia schools for the next three decades, asserts, “A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.”** Brendan there is ample documented evidence that feelings of strong affection existed between masters and slaves. One only has to research them and post truthfully, even Solomon Northup shared such sentiments for William Ford. Jefferson Davis’s slaves held him in the highest regard proven by their letters and communications post war. Their were an estimated 4 million Slaves and of those millions remained in the South on the very farms and plantations they had been enslaved on with no less care and mutual affection for their Masters. It was far more complex than it is taught.

    “When the UDC and other such organizations sponsored essay contests, this is the sort of history that was being promoted. It was not history that acknowledged the actual lives of actual African Americans. In fact, it actively erased them.
    That’s white supremacy.” No Brendan that’s your bigoted racial generalization of an entire society and you are no less a hypocrite for enabling national bigotry and very bad history.

    1. Patty

      I have to agree with you. I think Brendan Wolfe and way too many others are just as ignorant and disrespectful when they talk like ALL white people turn a blind eye to the horror of slavery and support it to preserve white domination.

      We only hear about all the terrible, horrible atrocities blacks suffered by their white owners, which I don’t deny one single bit. But there were slaves who were treated very kind and loving just like family, too. THAT part of history gets left out as well.

      I’m sick and tired of people like Brendan Wolfe and others accusing ALL white people of slavery, mistreatment of black people, land stealing, hate, racism, supremacy, etc. Practically ALL of human history there has been hate, slavery, land stealing and invasions, atrocities, wars, killings, rapes, one country or religion wanting all the power over all others in the world, etc.

      Since numbers and percentages are so important, I wonder how many white people in the past and today were/are 100% against slavery, and knew how rotten and extremely wrong it is and helped black people instead? I bet it’s a much greater number than we’ll ever be led to really think or know. Another part of history left out.

  17. Sue Hall

    Good discussion. I will add that the UDC in Virginia is presently promoting another Confederate Monument in the guise of a Women’s Monument. The monument features two former slave holders, one a Confederate named Sally Louise Tompkins. She was a War nurse who used her slaves in her hospital work. The UDC also claims that she was commissioned a captain in the CSA. This is not supported by archival evidence from the Civil War Richmond National Archives where the records from 1861-1865 show she was never addressed as captain by the CSA men in charge of her hospital. Also there were no reports of commissioning in recollections by friends or acquaintances from the 1861-1865 period. The so called commissioning letter was found at a later date when the commissioning stories also began around 1896, thirty years after the war. This continuation of the glorification of slave-holding confederates is a continuation of the philosophy of the “Lost Cause” a white supremacy philosophy that has been debunked by historian since its inception in the 1890’s. The UDC is continuing its original mission to support this “Lost Cause ” and its own website states this. The Website still contains the “Confederate Catechisms” that were to teach children the “true history of the south”, a very biased account. I hope people will send letters of complaint to the Virginia Governor about this Women’s Monument and confederate statue that is to be erected in 2020.

  18. kevin brown

    So the UDC wants everyone to conveniently forget that they spent most of their existence being perhaps the biggest cheerleader for the Ku Klux Klan?

    Here is a link to a history of the KKK (basically a love letter) written by the UDC official historian and unanimously endorsed by the UDC in Convention.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=1YMfAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Ku+Klux+Klan%3A+or+Invisible+empire+By+Laura+Martin+Rose&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjv5uml-5nKAhUBGh4KHZprB0oQ6AEIHDAA&fref=gc&dti=132886196814944#v=onepage&q=The%20Ku%20Klux%20Klan%3A%20or%20Invisible%20empire%20By%20Laura%20Martin%20Rose&f=false

    1. Bernard

      Well who hates blacks ? In July 1862 The Army of the Potomac reported casualties of about 1,734 killed, 8,062 wounded, and 6,053 captured or missing in the Peninsula Campaign that had just concluded. The notion of a short War began to fade in Washington, but Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredricksburg had not yet drained the Northern manpower pool sufficiently for the US Congress to consider employing Black Soldiers.

      Received from Carson Foard; Are you aware of the “Report of the Select Committee on Colonization”? Here’s a link.

      37th Congess. ( Report
      ‘Id Session. \ ) No. 148. REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON EMANCIPATION AND COLONIZATION,In the House of Resentatives, July 16, 1862.
      Resolved, That ten thousand copies of the bill entitled “An act giving the aid of the United States to certain States upon the adoption by them of a system of emancipation, and to provide for the colonization of free negroes,” together with the report of the select committee, be printed in pamphlet form for the use of the House.

      “It is useless, now, to enter upon any philosophical inquiry whether nature has or has not made the negro inferior to the Caucasian. The belief is indelibly fixed upon the public mind that such inequality does exist. There are irreconcilable differences between the two races which separate them,
      as with a wall of fire. The home for the African must not be
      within the limits of the present territory of the Union. The Anglo- American looks upon every acre of our present domain as intended for him, and not for the negro. A home, therefore, must be sought for the African beyond our own limits and in those warmer regions to which his constitution is better adapted than to our own climate,and which doubtless the Almighty intended the colored races should inhabit and cultivate.Much of the objection to emancipation arises from the opposition of a large portion of our people to the intermixture of the races, and from the association of white and black labor. The committee would do nothing to favor such a policy; apart from the antipathy which nature has ordained, the presence of a race among us who cannot, and ought not to, be admitted to our social and political privileges, will be a perpetual source of injury and inquietude to both. This is a question of color, and is unaffected by the relation of master and slave.

      The introduction of the negro, whether bond or free, into the same field of labor with the white man, is the opprobrium of the latter,and we cannot believe that the thousands of non-slave holding citizens in the rebellious States…are fighting to continue the negro within our limits even in a state of vassalage, but more probably from a vague apprehension that he is to become their competitor in his own right. We wish to disabuse our laboring countrymen, and the whole Caucasian race who may seek a home here, of this error. We are satisfied that the labor of. our cotton fields may be performed by the white man, and we would offer to these sons of labor the emoluments of both. There is no sounder maxim in political economy than that the cultivators of the soil should be the owners of the soil. The committee conclude that the highest interests of the white race, whether Anglo-Saxon, Celt, or Scandinavian, require that the whole country should be held and occupied by those races alone.

      July 1 President Lincoln signs the Pacific Railway Act, incorporating the Union Pacific Railroad and subsidizing it with federal funds

      July 12 Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act, or The Confiscation Act of 1862. This allows for confiscation of property from people who participate in the war

      July 17 Abraham Lincoln writes a letter to the Congressmen from the border states, warning them of his upcoming Emancipation Proclaimation. In it he states, “I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually.”

      Nazis were impressed with Northern Victory and concepts of purity of race.

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