Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More than Slavery

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I wrote a guest column for The Battalion, Texas A&M's campus newspaper today. That is, I sent one in today, no promises they'll publish it. Even though they should. Anywho, I wrote this column in response to an Editor's column they ran today. The article is titled "Confederate On Campus" and is about the history of L. Sullivan Ross.
The statue is at the heart of the A&M campus

The piece is written by a math major, which should set off some red flags in your head right off. That's beside the point, though. The article is here, I highly suggest you read it. If they publish it in the next few days, it will be available to you at www.thebatt.com but just in case they don't, I'm putting the full text of my response here for your reading pleasure. If this kind of reading gives you pleasure. If not, suck it up and read my response, you might learn something.

More than Slavery
The Civil War is a dark time in the history of this great nation. I think we can all agree on that point. What we often forget, or never learn, is that it was about far more than slavery. It is hard for us, looking back upon the actions of our forefathers, to put aside our modern biases and see through their eyes. If we are to understand the War Between the States though, that is exactly what we must do.
 Mr. Carpenter wrote an excellent column yesterday about the legacy of L. Sullivan Ross. I understand his point, but I cannot accept it. Just because a person commanded troops against the Union Army does not make him a pro-slavery bigot and a traitor to his country. We must remember that, before Lincoln’s time, the states thought of themselves as semi-autonomous entities, voluntarily unified under a very weak central government, much like the European Union is today. The allegiance of the people was largely to the state, not the country. At the beginning of the war, the Army of the Potomac, the Army protecting Washington D.C., was made up only of volunteers from the states. There was no standing Federal Army. There was no obligation on behalf of the Northern States to send their young men to fight and die to protect other states. And it was the same in the south. General Lee’s forces, The Army of Virginia, were almost entirely Virginia boys, fighting for their state. Other states had their own armies. It is in this climate that General Lee made the fateful decision, despite being personally opposed to Slavery, to turn down Lincoln’s offer to lead the Union forces and to fight for the state he loved. Slavery may have been the underlying cause beneath the tensions of the time, but it was not the only cause of the Civil War. There was also the belief that the states had the right to govern themselves. We love to glorify the men and boys who laid down their lives to fight for the Union, but we make a grave mistake in vilifying those on the opposing side who did the same for their state and family. General Grant, the hero of the Union, was a drunk and a bully. General Lee, on the other hand, was a true Southern Gentleman. After the war, he accepted defeat, found a new home at what would become Washington and Lee University, where he became the President (since his Arlington estate had been made into a Cemetery) and lived out the rest of his life in peace. Let me ask you this, who is the more admirable man? The drunkard or the Gentleman who fought for his state?
                It is the same with Sul Ross. He fought for what he believed was the right of his state to secede from the union. It was a different time, and they saw things differently. We honor and remember Sul Ross not because of who he fought for, but because he was willing to fight. Let us not forget also that he saved this University from being made into a mental institution, was a governor of our great state, and President of our University. If he is not worthy of being called a hero and given a statue, I do not know who is. Thank you, and God Bless.

                                Patrick Hoelscher, Class of ’14, History major. 

Let me know what ya think.

UPDATE: So I goofed up. There's actually a button that says "join this site" that's the one you've gotta push. Sorry for the mix-up!


  1. History would've been way more fun in college if you had pulled a Doogie Howser and been a college prof at the age of 16.

  2. Maybe. I probably would have been much more socially inept. But I think I'd make a helluva prof