Daughters of the Confederacy?
As a rule, we grab opportunities that give us a chance to have frank conversations with our children. This trip is plentiful with 'teachable moments', and the most frequented topic is the history of 'our' America.
[Cue Daughters of the Confederacy in Charleston, SC]
We were excited about touring Charleston, you can tell it's rich in history and culture by way of it's pastel houses, gas lamps, cobblestone streets and horse drawn carriages. The people are so pleasant - the city is rated as having some the nicest locals around.
We had many questions about "The South" and when our Olive asked about a Daughter's of the Confederacy sign she spotted, we added it to the list. What is a daughter of the confederacy anyways? We assumed it's someone who literally was a relative of a confederate soldier, their purpose, not sure. Turns out, The United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded in 1894 and is an association of the female descendants of the Confederate veterans. It's role in the first half of the 20th century was to preserve and uphold the memory of the Confederate veterans, especially those who died in the Civil War. Now you know, and so do we.
In our search for Charleston facts, we discovered it was founded in 1670, originally called Charles Town—honoring King Charles II of England. Of course "founded" should be used lightly, the Indian population in South Carolina greatly declined after the arrival of Europeans. Tribes were weakened by European diseases, [smallpox]. Epidemics killed vast numbers of Indians, reducing some southeastern tribes by as much as two-thirds.
Traveling to Fort Sumter, we learned that the Civil War shaped the United States as we know today. Nevertheless, to us, the war remains a misunderstood event. Why in the heck did it start? Was it because of slavery? (Mom thinks so) Was it because of States Rights? (Dad thinks so) Was it because Abraham Lincoln won the presidency? (Angelo thinks so). Oh let's not forget: The Missouri Compromise, The Dred Scott Case, The Abolitionist Movement, The Underground Railroad, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Secessionism!
It was important for us to read all there was to read so we could come to a conclusion as to why??? We never got a straight answer and in all honesty, we focused on how awesome Abraham Lincoln was...including him, here are some Civil War points that stood out to us:
Angelo: The Civil War was between the North (Yankees) and the South (Confederates) states from 1861-1865.
Gigi: The Civil War, was also called “The War Between the States,”
Olive: Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States during the Civil War.
Gigi: Abraham Lincoln lived in a log cabin in Kentucky. He was a shopkeeper and a lawyer before becoming Mr. Cool President. (My mom says he is Mr. Cool President)
Angelo: The southern states did not like Lincoln's anti-slavery position, so they seceded after he was elected president.
Olive: Lincoln said he would do everything to keep the United States one country.
Gigi: The south says it fought for states rights, and was not about to get bullied by the North or the government.
Angelo: Lincoln would not recognize the southern states as an independent nation and so the Civil War started.
Mom: Many historians say the Battle of Gettysburg was the “turning point” in the Civil War - when the South began to lose. President Lincoln then delivered the Gettysburg Address, which spoke of preserving the Union.
Angelo: The North won the civil war.
Gigi: Lincoln freed slaves.
Olive: Lincoln created the "E to the P" [Emancipation Proclamation], which freed the slaves in the southern states and across the country.
Angelo: Lincoln won re-election in 1864, but the next year was shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth, while at the theatre.
Dad: After the war was over, the Constitution was amended (the 13th, 14th and 15th) to free the slaves, to assure “equal protection under the law” for American citizens, and to grant black men the right to vote.
We took a moment to think about all the lives lost in this war, over 600,000. We are lucky there has not been a civil war in our country since. Unfortunately we are still very confused, this country wasn't even ours for the taking; the africans shipped over as slaves were kings and queens in their country and why do some people still fly the confederate flag????
...We'll keep searching for the truth, the best we can.