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Or at least that's what some claim when defending the Southern Confederacy. But is this just another myth conception? Let's look at the record and see.

  wpe1.jpg (1074 bytes) The "heritage" of slavery.

The slave trade brought at least 10 million, and perhaps as many as 20 million African Americans to North and South America. The crowding on slave ships was so severe, the ventilation so bad, and the food so poor during the "Middle Passage" of between five weeks and three months that a loss of between 14% and 20% of the human cargo was considered the "price of doing business." At ports like Charleston, where upwards of 40% of all African Americans entered North America, ship captains would routinely dump the bodies overboard to dispose of the dead and dying. Charleston newspapers complained of the black corpses littering the area's marshes. Slave auctions were held on the streets of Charleston, along such major thoroughfares as Meeting, Exchange, or Queen streets. slave (South Caroliniana Library) (41030 bytes)

Blacks were forbidden to appear in daylight on city streets wearing fine clothes, smoking a cigar, playing a musical instrument, or carrying a walking stick. They were prohibited from owning or using, "drums, horns or other loud instruments." About dusk drums were beaten to signal all blacks within the city of the curfew -- none were allowed out after dark.

During the eighteenth century slave executions could be by burning and such public executions of African American slaves using fire took place in 1741, 1748, 1754, 1772, and even after the American Revolution!

The "Negro Seaman's Act of 1822" stipulated that any free black brought into a South Carolina must be jailed during his stay and, if that expense went unpaid, then the individual could be sold as a slave.  By 1820 South Carolina prohibited the emancipation of slaves within South Carolina's borders and in 1841 that law was further tightened, forbidding even sending a slave abroad to grant freedom.

wpe1.jpg (1074 bytes) The "heritage" of Reconstruction

After the Civil War, South Carolinians showed little remorse and began immediately to devise ways of curtailing black freedom. Edmund Rhett summed up the attitude of whites -- black freedoms must be "limited, controlled, and surrounded with such safeguards as will make the change as slight as possible. . . . The general interest of both the white man and the negro requires that he should be kept as near to his former condition as Law can keep him. That he should be kept as near to the condition of slavery as possible, as far from the condition of the white man as practicable." And so South Carolina -- like other Southern states -- developed the "Black Codes." hoeing cotton.jpg (13085 bytes)

In 1865 the South Carolina legislature passed three laws. The first recognized that slavery no longer existed, but placed stringent economic and social restrictions on former slaves. The second law prohibited black farmers from selling anything without "written permission of the employer or District judge." It prohibited the ownership of weapons, and it allowed any white person to arrest any "person of color" for any misdemeanor. The third law instituted a "sunrise to sunset" workday, placed restrictions on movement, and provided liberal justifications for employee dismissal. In addition, the law stipulated that blacks could only be farm laborers or hired servants, unless they purchased an expensive license from the district court. This in effect closed the door on black economic opportunity.

Farm laborers were docked pay for leaving the plantation without permission, damaging the owner's property, showing laziness, and even for being sick. Visitors were not allowed without permission, laborers had to work six days a week, and conversations were often not permitted during work. Workers' children could be removed to other plantations and African Americans could still be beaten for their supposed transgressions. In many parts of the state a pass system similar to slavery was again instituted. One planter remarked, "a system of passes, similar to those under the Slave Code, is in effect and a negro found off the plantation is liable to severe flogging." The Black Codes managed to place African Americans in something closely approximating slavery.

civrgtsc.jpg (22426 bytes)African Americans were no safer than they had been as slaves. A black, John Picksley, explained, "it is almost a daily occurrence for black men to be hunted down with dogs and shot like wild beasts." One individual remarked that, "since the negro has ceased to be property [they have no] pecuniary value [so] maiming and killing" went unnoticed.

By 1880 the South Carolina legislature had even further limited black economic opportunities, made oral contracts binding, favored white planters in all disputes, and made the breach of contract a criminal offense equivalent to fraud. Another law allowed plantation owners to hold laborers on the plantation who owed them money.

The "Red Shirt Campaign" by Wade Hampton in 1876 was designed to further erode the few freedoms still held by African Americans. The campaign document directs, in part: "In speeches to negroes you must remember that argument has no effect upon them: they can only be influenced by their fears, superstition and cupidity. Do not attempt to flatter and persuade them. . . . Treat them so as to show them you are the superior race, and that their natural position is that of subordination to the white man."

wpe1.jpg (1074 bytes) The "heritage" of the KKK

Southerners formed a variety of white supremacy groups to "control" African Americans -- in South Carolina it was Wade Hampton's Red Shirts. Elsewhere the groups had names like Pale Faces, the Sons of Midnight, and the Knights of the White Camellia. But perhaps the most notorious is the Ku Klux Klan.

The KKK was founded on December 24, 1865 by six Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee. In 1867, at its convention in Nashville, Tennessee, the Klan ordained their first Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire -- Nathan Bedford Forest. This was the "Fort Pillow Butcher" who was responsible for the massacre of African American troops who tried to surrender at Fort Pillow in April 1864. As even one member of the Confederate 20th Tennessee reported, "The slaughter was awful." Forest, however, was pleased with the outcome, remarking "The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for 200 yards. It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners."kkk.jpg (4294 bytes)

With this leadership the Klan moved to spread racist terror across the South. And by 1872 Klan activity was so prevalent that one observer remarked: "in my experience [South Carolina] has no parallel, either in wanton and brutal cruelties inflicted . . . or in the utter deadening of the moral sense in large parts of white communities reputed and believed to be far removed from the barbarism of savages."

"We must keep this a White Man's country. Only by doing this can we be faithful to the foundations laid by our forefathers. This Republic was established by White Men. It was established for White Men. Our forefathers never intended that it should fall into the hands of an inferior race. Every effort to wrest from White Men the management of its affairs in order to transfer it to the control of blacks or any other color, or to permit them to share in its control, is an invasion of our sacred Constitutional prerogatives and a violation of divinely established laws." -- Ideals, Ku Klux Klan

To learn more about the Klan and other hate groups -- some still right here in South Carolina -- visit the Southern Poverty Law Center web site. You can click on their "Hate Map" and see the location of hate groups across the United States. As of 2011 there were 36 such groups in South Carolina; most are neo-confederate, KKK, or white nationalists -- all part of the "heritage" of the Civil War. There are 37 groups in Georgia, 51 in Florida, 32 in Alabama, 25 in Mississippi, 66 in Texas, 37 in Tennessee, 29 in North Carolina, and 22 in Virginia. SPLC.gif (673 bytes)

wpe1.jpg (1074 bytes) The "heritage" of lynching

For years the popular explanation was that lynchings were a form of "social control." When the justice system broke down and crimes went unpunished, white citizens assumed control and ensured that justice was done. In fact, further research has revealed that this mob violence was directly tied to the economy of the region. Traditional cotton-growing areas, hit hard by the falling price of cotton and the increasing ravishings of the boll weevil, were hit especially hard by mob violence. In particular, when cotton prices fell, the number of lynchings increased.

From 1882 through 1968 there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States. Of these 3,446 -- or nearly 73% -- were of African Americans (the bulk of the non-black lynchings took place in the Southwest and there seems to be no political link).  Between the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the Great Depression there was, on average, one black person lynched every week in the South, with 94% of those victims dying at the hands of white mobs.Amy_Spain_Lynching (Darlington, SC).jpg (16455 bytes)

In South Carolina there were 4 whites and 156 blacks lynched. Although South Carolina ranks 9th in number of black lynchings, this figure would change if it were calculated on the basis of territory or population. Regardless, the point is that life was cheap if you were an African American in white society.

What lead to the decline of lynchings? Was it that the South suddenly had a change of conscience? Probably not.  The large number of African Americans who out migrated -- or left the South for better jobs and more safety in the North (over 700,000) -- began to deplete the workforce. White Southern industrialists began to pressure state governments to crack down on lynching and mob violence because it was not only bad PR, but it was driving away the cheap labor on which their factories depended. colored water fountain.jpg (14583 bytes)

 wpe1.jpg (1074 bytes) The "heritage" of Jim Crow

Jim Crow -- the term used to indicate laws used to enforce racial segregation and other forms of discrimination -- began during reconstruction, but flowered during the twentieth century. The term, itself derisive and jeering, came from a blackface minstrel show of the early 19th century. White men, painting their faces black, would mimic black song and dance.

With the Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, the South began its long Jim Crow career of "separate-but-equal" which perpetuated segregation and the notion that African Americans were second class citizens.   By the second decade of the 20th century Jim Crow was in full swing.

  • Schools had two sets of textbooks -- one for whites and one for blacks.

  • Courtrooms had "Jim Crow" Bibles to ensure that white hands were never sullied by touching a book used by a black man.

  • South Carolina law prohibited members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to teach in the public schools.

  • South Carolina banned from public schools and public libraries all books and magazines deemed "antagonistic to the traditions of South Carolina."

  • In 1957 the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that calling a white person a "Negro" was libelous per se and the affronted party did not have to prove damages.

  • Until recently it was illegal for whites and blacks to intermarry . . . or for a black family to adopt a white child.

  • South Carolina law provided that "persons having less than 1/8th Negro blood shall be entitled to full rights of full-blooded whites, provided however that full-blooded whites do not object. . . ."

  • In 1947 South Carolina, forced to either admit a black to the University of South Carolina School of Law or create "separate-but-equal" accommodations, created a one-room law school at South Carolina State in Orangeburg.

  • South Carolina Governor James F. Byrnes threatened to close South Carolina's public schools rather than comply with any Federal desegregation order.

  • In 1946 Strom Thurmond was elected governor of South Carolina (as a write in) on a campaign platform that promised to keep South Carolina schools lily-white.

  • A typical South Carolina labor law read: "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation engaged in the business of cotton textile manufacturing in this state to allow or permit operatives, help and labor of the different races to labor and work together within the same room, or use the same doors of entrance and exit at the same time, or to use and occupy the same pay ticket windows or doors for paying off its operatives and laborers at the same time, or to use the same stairway and windows at the same time, or to use at any time the same lavatories, toilets, drinking-water buckets, pails, cups, dippers, or glasses."

  • In 1944, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the practice of exclusively white Democratic primary elections, John D. Long promised, "As for the Negro voting in my primary, we'll fight him at the precinct meeting, we'll fight him at the county convention, we'll fight him at the enrollment books, and, by God, we'll fight him at the polls if I have to bite the dust as did my ancestors." This was the same John D. Long who sponsored resolutions that placed the Confederate flag over the House and Senate rostrums.

  • To discourage African Americans from registering as Democrats, the party in South Carolina made a "loyalty oath" of allegiance to white supremacy and racial segregation a requisite for participation in the primary.

Loyalty to our ancestors does not include loyalty to their mistakes.                      -- George Santayana


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