Today, June 5, 2023, the state of Alabama celebrates Jefferson Davis Day.
State offices are closed in honor of the former president of the southern states, which participated in a treasonous secession and fought against the United States of America. Davis, the leader of that rebel army – an army formed to protect the rights of southerners to own other human beings – did not like living in Alabama, wasn’t from Alabama and couldn’t wait to get the capital of the South moved elsewhere.
So, naturally, we’re honoring the man with his own holiday.
Because the “true history” of the South is important here. It’s necessary to keep up our “Southern pride.” And it’s important to pass along these history lessons to our younger generations, so they’ll understand the “real story” of the Civil War.
And so, that’s what I’ll do today. In honor of the former president of the Southern States, let’s spread a little history and some facts. After all, our Yankee brethren would have you believe that the South was filled with mouth-breathing racists during the Civil War, all of them wanting to own slaves and beat Black people.
But we know better. Right?
The truth is, as any good, partially indoctrinated Southerner will tell you, very few of the men who fought for the South were slave owners.
And that is absolutely true.
In fact, the majority of them didn’t want to fight at all. And another sizable chunk did so only because they were being paid handsomely by rich men to fight in their place.
This might not be the “Southern pride” story you were expecting, so brace yourself.
The fact of the matter is, in order to get enough men to fight during the Civil War, the South implemented the first draft in this country. There were actually three of them between 1862 and 1864. They were called the Confederate Conscription Acts, and they would eventually require all able-bodied men between the ages of 17 and 50 – FIFTY! – to provide three years of service in the war.
(I’d just like to point out here how one key figure that illustrates the desperation of the South. According to National Institutes of Health, the life expectancy for an American male didn’t reach 50 until 1904. For much of the 1860s, it was below 40, even prior to the start of the Civil War.)
Also included in the first act were a number of exemptions and a provision that allowed any eligible man to pay for a substitute to fight in his place. There was also what was known as the “20 negro rule,” which stipulated that any plantation owner overseeing more than 20 slaves was exempt from service.
The original conscription act was approved and signed by Jefferson Davis, which is probably why Alabama’s politicians want to continue honoring him – he set the precedent for manipulating gullible working folks into doing the bidding of the wealthy by using racism.
He’d probably be proud to know that the tradition continues today.
But what none of us should be proud of is a tradition of continuing to be duped by con men and shysters, of continuing to allow deception and racism to overrule our common sense and our decency.
At the absolute best, Jefferson Davis led a traitorous rebellion against the United States over money. Money that was, of course, tied to slavery and the abuses of people based solely on the color of their skin.
No matter how much you shine that piece of feces, that’s the truth of the matter.
Utilizing an army of poor men forced to fight, Davis engaged in a war in which hundreds of thousands of those men died in order to protect his rights – and the rights of other wealthy landowners – to continue treating other humans as property and force them into free labor.
And for that, in Alabama, 160 years later, we’re honoring him.