Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Southern Love Affair with the Confederate States of America

Siege Guns at Vicksburg
Most of the rest of the nation needs to understand how ingrained the Civil War is in popular Southern culture.  With every new Southern generation, there is a renewed interest in this past event.  In some cases, an obsession, especially if you had a past relative that fought or died in the war.  In a lot of ways, the South is a rare example of how the losers of a war got to write the history.

I have always wondered why there is a different intense enthusiasm and historical reflection up North.  The groups, the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, are alive and well south of the Mason-Dixie line.   Although the groups the Sons and Daughters of the Union exist, they do not have the same level of devotion.  This almost religious devotion to the South reveals the complexity of the Southern culture that continues to perplex me even to this day.

For many reasons, new monuments, named bridges, and historical reenactments honor this heritage.    This Southern heritage is ingrained in them to believe it was a war for state rights.  The fight for the preservation of Slavery is never discussed or mentioned.   It is an ignored issue when white Southerners remember the war; it doesn't matter that without Slavery, the war would have never been fought.  
The civil war was written into our constitution.  It was predetermined to happen with our creation.

Slavery had a huge contribution to the creation of the United States.  Without Slavery, our history would have resembled that of Canada or Australia.  Sure, we are taught in school the start of the Revolution was a matter of taxation without representation.  Sure, that might have started it in the North, but it was Slavery that drove the Southern colonies to finish it.

Key Facts and contemporary issues in Briton that led slave owners in America to be fearful of remaining part of the British Empire.

Sumner County Court House
"Some of the first freedom suits, court cases in Britain to challenge the legality of Slavery, took place in Scotland in 1755 and 1769.  The cases were Montgomery v. Sheddan (1755) and Spens v. Dalrymple (1769)."

1772: "Somerset v Stewart (1772), a famous judgment of the English Court of King's Bench in 1772, which held that chattel Slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales, although the position elsewhere in the British Empire was left ambiguous.  Lord Mansfield decided that:  The state of Slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law [statute], which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory.  It is so odious that nothing but positive law can be suffered to support it.  Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; therefore, the black must be discharged."

The handwriting was on the wall; American plantation owners could no longer travel to Briton with their slaves for fear of them being freed upon arrival.  The Slave Trade was outlawed in the British Empire in 1807.  Then Slavery was completely done away with in 1833.  These actions created anxiety for all the slave owners in the Americas.  Blacks in England continued to progress in social standing in the 18th century.  All the while, this was being observed by the American plantation owners.

Confederate Monument 
Almost all the major players in the Revolution were rich plantation slave owners.  Big Plantations were the corporations of the day.  During this time, there was a movement throughout the British Empire to outlaw Slavery.   This was an immense motivation for the southern planters to aid the Boston Revolutionaries and dissolve the ties with the British Empire.

Although Slavery was an abomination that stains American history.  There were positive unintentional consequences.  I have asked my black friends if they would change their social position in America, for example, in Africa, as if there was never any slave trade.  They always respond with I love America and would never leave.

The black population has brought great cultural diversity to America and has strengthened the nation.  We have elected a black president; there is now nothing off-limits to blacks in America.  Sure, there is still a form of white privilege throughout America that should not be downplayed, but with continued cultural awareness, this will fall by the wayside.

Living in the South is an exciting time.  Less than 2 generations removed from legal segregation, you can feel the South changing for the better.  The South has again become the economic center of the nation.  The recent problems in the news are nothing more than growing pains that will improve things.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tobacco a Big Part of the South

Tobacco, the word too many represents death and sickness.  It represents companies taking advantage of children.  This all may be true, but there is a different side to the story of Tobacco in America.  I never started smoking cigarettes, but I do enjoy a good cigar every so often, so I have a foot on both sides of this issue.

Years earlier I first encountered this mysterious plant growing in the sandhills of North Carolina. While driving you would pass a field every so often.  Here in Tennessee and Kentucky Tobacco surrounds us, whether people like it or not it is a big part of life in the south.

Having lived in the south for more than 35 years the agricultural side of Tobacco has never been very far from my everyday life.  I currently live less than a mile from a Tobacco field, passing them to work both here in Tennessee and years ago in North Carolina.  In Tennessee and Kentucky in the fall the sweet smell of fire-cured tobacco fills the air, as tobacco smokes in large barns as part of the curing process.

Tobacco is an economic engine a cash crop, that has provided a good living for southern farmers.  Local car dealers still stock up on inventory before the fall tobacco auctions.  Many a new truck is purchased after the crop comes in and is sold.   1 acre of fired curred Tobacco can bring between $3,000 to $5,000.  A 50-acre field up to $250,000.  This is some major cash.

The two major types of Tobacco grown for the market.  US Burley tobacco is an air-cured tobacco used primarily for cigarette and cigar production. Fire-cured tobacco, smoked in tobacco barns is used in some chewing tobacco, moist snuff, some cigarettes, and as a condiment in pipe tobacco blends.  It is a fall ritual smelling this smoke throughout the county on a crisp fall morning.

On a recent trip out to the country to take some pictures of Tobacco fields, I met a farmer who has grown this leafy product for more than 50 years.  He told me, farmers grow things that have a market, in other words, what people will pay for.  It is part of there heritage and a big part of southern history.  Sure big tobacco companies have mispresented and deceived Americans about tobacco for a lot of years.  This is not the fault of the farmer.  Now we all know the dangers and can use this product in moderation.  Heck, you can die from eating too much bacon.

In the past under the tobacco allotment system, the US Government controlled tobacco production.  It decided which farmers and how much tobacco could be grown. Which in turn controlled the price.  This system was ended in 2005 when farmers who held allotments were paid.  After this many tobacco farmers stop growing tobacco even though there were no restrictions on the amount of tobacco each farmer could grow.   Tobacco is still a lucrative crop for any farmer in the south, some say the market is stronger now than under the allotment system.

Since the end of the tobacco allotment system, many large farms now rely on Corn, Soybeans, and winter wheat.   Still, the small family farmer can make a living on tobacco and continue this part of the heritage of this great nation.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wisconsin Chili

When I was a kid growing up in Washington State my Grandmother Anderson used to visit us from Wisconsin she always made what was called Wisconsin Chili, which to me is a cross between minestrone soup and chili.  You put it over spaghetti noodles like Cincinnati Chili.  It’s very mild but people that want it spicier just add hot sauce.  It really is good, but different than what most people consider chili.



1lb-Hamburger 93% lean
1-Bell Pepper Diced
1-Onion Diced
2-stalks of Celery Diced
1-Can 14.5oz of Crushes Tomato’s
1-Can 14.5oz can of Dark Red Kidney Beans
2-Cups of Water
1 Tablespoon of Chili Powder to Taste
1 teaspoon of salt to taste
1 teaspoon of pepper to taste
1lb Package of spaghetti noodles


Brown hamburger, add diced Bell Pepper, Celery, and Onion. Add chili powder, salt, and pepper. Continue to brown until the vegetables are soft about 5 minutes.  Add Crushed Tomato’s, Dark Red Kidney Beans and Water to desired consistency. Cook on medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes.  

Prepare Spaghetti Noodles according to instructions with the following exception.  Break noodles into 3rds while placing in the water.  Place the desired amount of Spaghetti noodles in individual bowls.  Serve Wisconsin Chili over the noodles. Add Salt, Pepper, and use hot sauce if desired to individual taste.