As one the oldest and most powerful neo-Confederate organizations, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) has a long history of opposition to the values of a multiracial democratic United States of America.[i] In the UDC’s early years it promoted the Ku Klux Klan as being the heroic accomplishments of Confederate heroes. The Tennessee Division UDC did this in its book “The South in American Life and History,” declaring, “The Ku-Klux Klan’s great achievements were: The inevitability of Anglo-Saxon supremacy; the virtue of the courage and patriotism of the Confederate soldier; and that at last, ‘truth will prevail.’” [ii] Susan Lawrence’s book, “Authentic History of the Ku Klux Klan,” was praised at a UDC convention as a book every Southerner should read.[iii] S.E.F. Rose wrote the book “The Ku Klux Klan or Invisible Empire,” which was “unanimously endorsed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, in convention,” in 1913, with a dedication which says:
This book is dedicated by the author to the Youth of the Southland, hoping that perusal of its pages will inspire them with respect and admiration for the Confederate soldiers, who were the real Ku Klux, and whose deeds of courage and valor, have never been surpassed, and rarely equalled in the annals of history.
In the 1930s in the UDC’s Southern Magazine they published a lengthy defense and justification of the Ku Klux Klan by Walter Henry Cook.[iv]
Mildred Rutherford, a great hero of the UDC and their historically most prominent Historian General in a speech to the UDC convention in 1913, said:
The Ku Klux Klan was an absolute necessity in the South at this time. This Order was not composed of the “riff raff” as has been represented in history, but of the very flower of Southern manhood. The chivalry of the South demanded protection for the women and children of the South.[v]
When the modern civil rights movement started in the United States, the UDC in its magazine campaigned strenuously against integration and civil rights. In a typical article, “Jefferson Davis – The Man America Needs Today,” by Bruce Dunstan, he informs the reader that the principals of Jefferson Davis are needed to oppose civil rights and oppose:
… forced shameful race-mixing, that causes lowered educational standards, immorality, and finally a mongrelized people, will bring about the downfall of America, as integration of races doomed the once cultured, and prosperous cities and nations of Carthage, Athens, Rome, and Sparta.[vi]
In another issue of UDC Magazine in the Civil Rights Era, the speech of rabid segregationist Gen. Sumter Lowry, notorious candidate for Florida governor is reprinted, evidently meeting the UDCs approval. Lowry tells the UDC:
Now there immediately occurred a violent and bitter reaction against the idea of forcing white and colored children to associate together in public schools and institutions - there have been millions of words written and every conceivable reason given why the people of the South so violently oppose the integration of the races. But when you get right down to the underlying cause, it leads to just one place, that is the definite and certain knowledge that if you mix male and female together in intimate, social relationship from childhood to maturity, it will bring on intermarriage-it will do this regardless of race or color.
Now the conspirators who wish to destroy our nation well know if you mix people of different color in marriage and if you infuse the blood of fourteen million negroes into the blood stream of the white American, you will breed a mongrel race, neither white nor black, and the history of the world shows that when a nation becomes mongrelized, it dies.[vii]
Other articles from the UDC Magazine attacking civil rights in the 1950s can be found at the website http://www.confederatepastpresent.org/. [Note to reader this website will have the material put online in time for the mailing of the letter May 1, 2010, however, it planned to have the material online during February.]
In modern times, the UDC promotes the neo-Confederate Southern Partisan magazine and the books it published, and other neo-Confederate books. Clara Erath first mentions Southern Partisan in 1989 in discussion of an article in it about a speech by M.E. Bradford, in her regular column, “Confederate Notes, in UDC Magazine.
In a 1995 article UDC Magazine columnist Clara Erath recommended to her readers the book, “So Good a Cause: A Decade of Southern Partisan” and which had an essay by Richard M. Weaver referring to urban Chicago as a “evil flower.” Erath, in reference to the essay, concludes, “At a time when this kind of ‘evil flower’ seems to have spread over the nation, membership in the UDC reinforces our knowledge of who we are and from whence we came, and it gives us a sense of community with those who share our heritage.”[viii]
Similarly, in 1999 Erath discussed an issue of Southern Partisan devoted to providing a extensive list of books for Southerners to read and recommends some specific racist works from that list including: “Remembering Who We Are,” by M.E. Bradford; “The Southern Tradition at Bay,” by Richard Weaver; and “I’ll Take My Stand,” by Twelve Southerners, the Southern Agrarians.[ix] Southern Partisan also advertised in the UDC Magazine in the 1980s.
The UDC helped launch the book publishing career of neo-Confederate Michael Andrew Grissom by the inclusion of a section of his shortly to be published work, “Southern By the Grace of God,” with ordering information in the UDC Magazine, in 1988. This is a volume that has sections defending the Ku Klux Klan, holding up lynching as a heroic civic virtue, and recommends the books of Thomas Dixon, such as “The Clansmen.”[x] It was one of the two books founding the modern radical neo-Confederate movement.
Clara Erath enthusiastically recommended Richard M. Weaver’s “The Southern Tradition At Bay” to her readers, a book originally published in 1968 by Arlington House and republished by Regnery Gateway in 1989.[xi] Erath effusively praises it gushing:
The Old South may indeed be a hall hung with splendid tapestries in which no one would care to live; but from them we can learn something of how to live.
This book was key in the origins of the modern neo-Confederate movement advancing many of its core ideas and concepts. Since it was either promoted or quoted in the UDC Magazine repeatedly it would be instructive to examine it.
The book was originally Weaver’s dissertation, “The Confederate South, 1865-1910: A Study in the Survival of a Mind and a Culture,” at Louisiana State University for his doctorate in English in 1943. Weaver died in 1963, and in 1968 it was posthumously published with two editors, George Core and M.E. Bradford, the latter a campaigner for George Wallace. The Forward was written by segregationist and Southern Agrarian Donald Davidson. It was critical to founding the modern neo-Confederate ideology by claiming that Southern traditions and ways had failed to be developed into a philosophy but that it could be done and should be done which he does so in his book.[xii]
Weaver sees the southern culture as being anti-modern, anti-democratic, hierarchal, religiously pre-modern, and feudal in origins. Weaver advocates the restoration of this culture as a solution for what he sees as the problems of modern society. In his book he paints slavery and large plantations as idyllic, for example.
The feeling of being bound to a locality, which has been almost wholly lost by the deracinated population of the modern metropolis, was a part of the plantation dweller’s daily consciousness and an important factor in his self-respect. In the midst of traffic in human beings there was, paradoxically, less evidence of the cash nexus than in the marts of free labor, and even the humble could have the deep human satisfaction that comes of being cherished for what one is. Between the expression “our people,” euphemistic though it may have been, and the modern abstraction “manpower” lies a measure of our decline in humanity.[xiii]
Another defense for slavery and expression of his racism is as follows:
The Northern public has generally displayed a strange credulity with respects to stories of abuses emanating from the South, and when these are multiplied tenfold, as they were in Reconstruction days, it is little wonder that many Northerners of good will, whom a visit to the South would have undeceived, went on believing that slave holders had subjected their Negroes to deliberate and systematic brutalizing. Somewhere between two opinions distorted by passion lay a truth: on the one hand, Southerners had done less than they might have toward civilizing the blacks, and on the other hand, Northerners, accepting the dogma that the Negro had the white man’s nature and capacities, had conceived an imperfect notion of the problem.[xiv]
Emancipation is seen as a problem for African Americans, Weaver writing:
That the presence of the African had been the chief source of Southern misfortunes was a common admission; yet his very childlikeness, his extraordinary exhibitions of loyalty, and his pathetic attempts to find his place in the complicated white man’s civilization rather had the effect of endearing him to his former owners.[xv]
Curious for a book advocated by a women’s organization, in Weaver’s epilogue he advocates the revocation of suffrage for women arguing;
Distinctions of many kinds will have to be restored, and I would mention especially one whose loss has added immeasurably to the malaise of our civilization – fruitful distinction between the sexes, with the recognition of respective spheres of influence. … Southerners were adamant, and even today, with our power of discrimination at its lowest point in history, there arises a feeling that the roles of the sexes must again be made explicit. … and I think that women would have more influence actually if they did not vote, but, according to the advice of Augusta Evans Wilson, made their firesides seats of Delphic wisdom.[xvi]
The UDC attitude towards the Middle Passage of the slave trade is revealed by an appalling speech by Dr. Walter W. Lee III on the transatlantic slave trade presented at the convention of the New York Division of the UDC in 1988 and reprinted in the UDC Magazine in 1989. The speech seeks to correct what Lee feels are “misconceptions” about the Middle Passage. Starting out with biting sarcasm attacking the movie “Roots,” Lee argues that most of the slaves transported were already slaves living in terrible conditions, so the Middle Passage wasn’t that much worse. The slave trade was blamed on local African rulers who sold Africans into slavery rather than the slave traders and plantation owners. The death rate of the Middle Passage is alleged not due to the terrible conditions that the slaves endured, but as Lee explained, “… due to the immense psychological shock of being ripped from surroundings that, if brutal, were at least familiar …”
Further Lee explains:
Much is made of the horrors of the Middle Passage, and it was in truth horrific. But it may be commented that the sixteen inches of deck space allotted each slave is not all that much smaller that the eighteen inches that the Royal Navy allowed for each sailor’s hammock and the slaves rapidly had more room due to the much higher death rate.
Lee argues that the efforts by the British to stop the slave trade were harmful. He also feels that the sailors on the slave ships were treated worse than the slaves. Lee concludes his speech by saying:
I have said and will say little about the morality of the trade. Like it or not, before machines, there was no replacement for forced labor, and of its various forms slavery was the easiest to use. I will say this: condemnation is easy and there is always enough blame to go around. … ‘judge not lest we also be judged.’[xvii]
More recent and note worthy promotion of neo-Confederacy by the UDC is the promotion of the Abbeville Institute (http://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/) by Clara Erath[xviii] and the UDC awarding its director Donald Livingston, leading neo-Confederate intellectual, the Jefferson Davis Gold Medal.[xix] Donald Livingston was formerly the head of the League of the South Institute until he broke away and formed the Abbeville Institute. The new institute is largely the same people who were formerly in the League of the South Institute and comprises the who’s who of neo-Confederate professors. He is also a contributor to the racist website “Stalking the Wild Taboo.”[xx]
Another prominent UDC Magazine columnist named Retta D. Tindall recommended Michael Andrew Grissom’s book, “Southern By the Grace of God,” in a 2007 column titled “Confederate Classics: For Research, Reference, or Refresher.” According to Tindall, “If you have a child or a grandchild or a UDC friend or family member who loves Confederate history, these books are sure to become treasures, too.”
In reviewing Grissom’s writing and making it clear what she considers “heritage,” Tindall states:
Mr. Grissom wrote this book for four reasons: to offer a firm understanding of our heritage, to instill pride in being Southern, to pursue the elements that characterize the South, and to rally Southerners to defend and preserve their heritage.
It is clear that even in 2007 the UDC continues to define “Southern heritage” as white nationalism.
[i] The online publication, Black Commentator, has an article about the UDC’s racist history at (http://www.blackcommentator.com/274/274_clinton_udc.html).
[ii] Fannie Selph, The South in American Life and History, Nashville Chapters of United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1928, pp. 372-374.
[iii] ---, “Memorial Fund to Honor Wilson Boosted by U.D.C,” Atlanta Constitution, 11/22/1924.
[iv] Walter Henry Cook, “Secret Political Societies in the South During The Period of Reconstruction,” The Southern Magazine, pages 3-5, 42-43, Vol. III No. 1, July 1936, News Publishing Company, Wytheville, Virginia.
[v] Mildred Rutherford, an address, “The Thirteen Periods of United States History,” delivered as UDC Historian General to the UDC convention, November 13, 1913, from a section titled, “The Humiliated South of The Reconstruction Period.”
[vi] Bruce Dunstan, Jefferson Davis – The Man America Needs Today,” UDC Magazine, June 1958, pp. 19, 23, 26, 27, quote on page 23.
[vii] Gen. Sumter Lowry, UDC Magazine, serialized over two issues, February 1959 pp. 32, March 1959, pp. 15, 22, 24, a speech at a UDC convention. The complete text can be read in “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The ‘Great Truth’ about the ‘Lost Cause,” University Press of Mississippi, Jacksonk, 2010.
[viii] Erath, Clara, “Confederate Notes,” page 11, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 58 No. 7, August, 1995.
[ix] Erath, Clara, “Confederate Notes,” page 9, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 62 No. 11, December 1999.
[x] Grissom, Mike, “The Mystery of John Hunt Cole,” pages 27-29, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 51 No. 9, September 1988.
[xi] Erath, Clara, “Confederate Notes,” page 9, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 53 No. 10, October 1990.
[xii] Weaver, Richard, “The Southern Tradition At Bay,” pages 388-389, published by Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1968.
[xiii] Weaver, Richard, “The Southern Tradition At Bay,” page 52, published by Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1968.
[xiv] Weaver, Richard, “The Southern Tradition At Bay,” page 168, published by Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1968.
[xv] Weaver, Richard, “The Southern Tradition At Bay,” page 169, published by Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1968.
[xvi] Weaver, Richard, “The Southern Tradition At Bay,” page 394, published by Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1968.
[xvii] Lee, Dr. Walter W., III, “The African Slave Trade,” pages 18-19, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 52 No. 4, April 1989.
[xviii] Erath, Clara, “Confederate Notes: The Value of Southern Tradition,” page 17, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 68 No. 7, August 2005.
[xix] Erath, Clara, “Confederate Notes: Abbeville Institute Co-Founder & President Honored,” page 18, United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, Vol. 68 No. 10, November 2005.
[xx] Livingston, Donald, “Secession and the Modern State,” http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/taboos/dwliv01.html, printed 1/29/11. The white supremacist ideology of this website and be read at this main page, http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/index.html.
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