Revisionist History, Pride and Judgment Day

“History is written by the winners” is a trite statement, and not true. I know it’s making a point, but alas, it’s not true.

The South lost the American Civil War. They lost big time.

Not only were a generation of men cut down, their entire economic existence was eliminated with the abolishing of slavery.

The South was stuck with 1) a huge loss to explain and 2) an odd position of defending the fact that they fought to enslave other humans.

The South, during the War, was fine calling themselves “Rebels” or “Rebs.” But after the war, they felt a need to rewrite history.

“Was your father a Rebel and a Traitor? Did he fight in the service of the Confederacy for the purpose of defeating the Union, or was he a Patriot, fighting for the liberties granted him under the Constitution in defense of his native land, and for a cause he knew to be right?”

That reads much better than: we fought for the right to enslave others.

“Keeping to this revisionist tendency, rather than propagate undignified titles like “the late war” (too vague), the “Civil War” (too revolutionary), and “the War of Rebellion” (far too revolutionary), in the late 1880’s [Confederate Veterans societies] approved resolutions encouraging the conflict’s official designation as “the War Between the States.” Successive generations of Southern schoolchildren would learn it as such.” (Quotes from here, page 264)

I have even heard it referenced as such. It wasn’t called that til 20 years after the fact.

Losers rewrite history too. In fact, Losers might have more of a reason to influence our memories–they have reputations to re-inflate.

Winners tend to gloat and exaggerate their awesome; losers tend to downplay their losses. Both are primarily interested in looking better.

What are you embarrassed about in your life? Do you feel a need to rewrite your history, to exaggerate your wins or downplay your losses? Do you feel a need to rip others apart to make yourself look better?

All of these things are symptoms of pride. Pride must be killed in you. Changing facts to suit your arrogant needs may work in history, but it does not work before God.

Be real with reality. Deal with it. Take care of it. One day it will be too late and God isn’t interested in your revisionist history.

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5 thoughts on “Revisionist History, Pride and Judgment Day”

  1. Jeff, having lived in both the north (where I was born and live now) AND the South, I can assure you that most Americans have no idea what was at stake when the War of Northern Aggression started forming in the hearts of all of our fellow countrymen.

    I would encourage you to go to the museum in Gettysburg and see for yourself. The interesting thing about Gettysburg is that, while in the north, a Union victory, and the linchpin in the war, there are items of historical significance that demonstrate that the South may have been right.

    Regardless, on to your point. Our prideful nature will always have us defending ourselves. Or hiding.

  2. I can appreciate your opinion and, in all honesty, fighting over opinions of the Civil War is very far down my list of life concern’s, but I disagree with you.

    I’ve been to Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Richmond, Springfield, and numerous other battlefields, including a couple in the Shenandoah Valley where my Great, Great Grandpa Lt. Clnl. Jacob Weddle fought, and lost incidentally. I’ve read all of Shelby Foote, Bruce Catton and numerous volumes of Civil War history. I’m fairly well versed in the subject.

    The war was over slavery. Period. States do have rights, and that played a role, but the right to enslave other humans was a right the North was willing to fight over. If there were no slavery there would have been no Civil War. To believe otherwise is to merely admit you’ve bought into revisionist history.

  3. Personally, I’m through fighting the war. My last fistfight was over this topic, years ago, when I beat the tar out of a seminary classmate from Michigan who asked me why Southerners care so much about “Dixie,” then merely laughed at my earnest answers and, strangely, physically prevented me from walking away after I warned him I was becoming violently angry. That young man really had it coming, but I made a point right then never to fight another battle in a long-dead war. Nevertheless I feel compelled to point out that your in-print gloating over a real sore spot for me and many of my people is no more godly than the pride you condemn.

    Calling it the “War of Northern Aggression” is just as politically charged, inaccurate and unfair as “CIvil War.” England had a civil war; the United States had a sectional war. Post-facto or not, “War Between the States” is about as fair and neutral a term as you’ll find for that conflict.

    Jeff, I’m disappointed by your dogmatism in this case. Of course slavery was a central issue in the war. But if the North were simply fighting to undo slavery, as your comment above at least strongly implies, then how do you account for the several slave states in the Union during the war? In another bit of revisionist history, textbooks and encyclopedias always referred to Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware as “border states” rather than the more straightforward “slave states,” when I was growing up, at least.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    Very interesting article. A few years ago I was listening to sermons by a pastor in Texas who was always ready to defend his native Texas and state that it was the Yankees who, through their ignorance, brought that war about. Since I seem to have quite a few members of my family who wore blue in that conflict so I decided to do some research. To make a long story short I found a web page that has the Southern [url=http://www.civil-war.net/pages/ordinances_secession.asp]Ordinances of Succession[/url]. When I read the [url=http://www.civil-war.net/pages/texas_declaration.asp]Texas Declaration of Secession[/url] (the state Declarations links appear next to the state names) I [u]almost[/u] e-mailed it to the pastor asking him to defend it. But then my better judgment kicked in and I let it go.

    When it was all said and done I decided that my ancestors were right to fight for the Union.

    Glenn

  5. Jeff,

    Ah, the work of a pastor…to preach against pride, and then have your people pridefully defend their right to be proud!

    I remember one of our ministers once preaching about righteousness by faith as it applies to health, and then being disappointed when he heard people arguing after the sermon whether a tomato was a fruit or a vegetable.

    One of the sure marks of the gospel is that it restores honesty in us, and takes away that “rewriting of history” that minimizes our sins. David’s confession in Psalm 51 is a good example. Paul also has a few references to his past history which are utterly honest. Here’s one of them:

    1 Timothy 1
    12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
    13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
    14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

    To Christ he accounts faith, love, enablement, grace, generosity, choosing, mercy.
    But he accounts himself: blasphemer, persecutor, injurious, ignorant, unbeliever.

    God is glorified…no need to rewrite history.

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