Southern Chivalry: A Serious Topic for Today
Recently I spoke with a former Yankee gentleman who told me he did not believe there was a Code of Southern Chivalry. His reasoning was that until 1865 every Southerner was a slave owning racist ‘ala Simon Legree, a fictional character in a propaganda novel commissioned for the singular purpose of creating antipathy, anger and hatred toward the South. It was, at the time of publication, advertised and promoted in the North and in Europe more than – FAR more than – than any other book written.
My friend’s “vision” of Southern Chivalry bore a curious resemblance to Colonel Sanders or Burl Ives in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” for the “multitude” of rich plantation owners, and the “average” Southerners as in-bred toothless hillbillies playing the banjo (when not whipping or lynching slaves) and raised on a diet of white lightenin’ and grits. [ed. note: I had my teeth capped, and I do like grits. I have them about once a decade. Never drank white lightenin’!]
Being a Southern gentleman (Lower case g for me – I have not yet achieved the Honor of the capital G. No, I’m not kidding), I respectfully agreed that we would disagree on that subject and move forward in the conversation. We did agree, however that slavery, anywhere, anytime and for any reason is an evil abomination. I wonder why it is still tolerated today in some countries? Or why it was tolerated in THE NORTH during 1861-1865?
One cannot discuss the South without dealing with the war that Lincoln claimed was started by Harriott Beecher Stowe. But if the only “version” of the war you’ve heard is “to free the slaves,” then prepare for what they left out of the textbooks.
History was written by the winners and “inaccuracies” are voluminous! In the video section below, you will find information pertinent to “The Civil War” (a perfect misnomer) history that you probably have never heard or seen, esp. not from Ken Burns’. (This is merely the tip of the tip of the iceberg.)
If you disagree, please go argue with the experts. These are the facts as I’ve learned them, through a great deal of study and research and having the “qualifications” (below) taught to me by parents and grandparents. ( I have no skill for debate, so I will just delete any message re: this topic.)
Let me offer in contrast to Col. Sanders and “Big Daddy” Burl Ives, two, no, three contrasting and “real” people who are the epitome of Southern Chivalry:
George Washington. Yes, he was a Southern Gentleman. (No explanation needed.)
And Robert E. Lee (Click):
“General Robert E. Lee was on his way to Richmond, and was seated in the extreme end of a railroad car, every seat of which was occupied. At one of the stations, an aged woman of humble appearance entered the car, carrying a large basket. She walked the length of the aisle and not a man offered her a seat. When she was opposite General Lee’s seat, he arose promptly and said, “Madam, take this seat.” Instantly a score of men were on their feet, and a chorus of voices said, “General, have my seat.” “No, gentlemen,” he replied, “if there was no seat for this old lady, there is no seat for me.” It was not long before the car was almost empty. It was too warm to be comfortable.“ From Success by Orison Swett Marden
Contrary to the character that Martin Sheen “mis-played” in “Gettysburg:”
“Never had mother a nobler son. In him the military genius of America was developed to a greater extent than ever before. In him all that was pure and lofty in mind and purpose found lodgment. Dignified without presumption, affable without familiarity, he united all those charms of manners which made him the idol of his friends and of his soldiers and won for him the respect and admiration of the world. Even as in the days of triumph, glory did not intoxicate, so, when the dark clouds swept over him, adversity did not depress.“
As to Jefferson Davis, the man MOST vilified and abused by the North, due specifically to the fact that he was an embarrassment to the North, for he would not relent nor apologize for his belief that freedom, liberty and self-determination, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, were true and just. Slavery was NOT the issue. Davis actually adopted a young black orphaned child and raised him as his own child with his other children. The slept in the same rooms, wore the same clothes, played, prayed and ate together. They were quite happy until after the war, when the Northerners took the child away from the family that loved him.
Davis also believed in bringing slavery to an end, but not by slaughtering 600,000 men, women and children. Davis believed that slaves should be educated and trained to live a this foreign land and be freed when they were ready and willing to become free. Had Davis’ humane concepts been accepted by the North, then no one would have died, slavery would have ended and and Free Black Americans would’ve been socially and financially equal to whites. The same can be said of American Indians, who were treated as poorly by the U.S. govt. as Blacks.
“The invidious comparisons made between Davis and Lincoln during and after the war by certain foreigners further embittered Northerners. For example, William Howard Russell’s published diary contained this unflattering contrast: “[ Davis] is certainly a very different looking man from Mr. Lincoln. He is like a gentleman.” Or consider the remarks of Percy Greg whose “Tribute to Confederate Heroes” appeared in 1882. He praised Davis as having more “moral and intellectual powers” than any twenty Federal statesmen, and a man vastly superior in every way to “the ‘rail-splitter’. . . whose term, had he died in his bed four or five years later, would have been remembered only as marking the nadir of American political decline; the culmination of vulgarity. Lincoln’s uncleanness of language and thought,” insisted Greg, “would hardly have been tolerated in a Southern ‘bar.'”
Perhaps even the contrast between the “gentlemanly” warfare advocated by Davis and the comprehensive destruction practiced by such terrorizers of civilians as Sherman and Sheridan embarrassed some Yankees. Davis believed that war should consist solely of combat between organized armies. He abhorred the killing of civilians and the destruction of private property during hostilities. Years after the war, when General Grant was dying of cancer, Davis wrote: “I have felt a human sympathy with him in his suffering, the more so because I think him so much better than the pillaging, house-burning, women persecuting Sherman and Sheridan.” Judah P. Benjamin recalled that “when it was urged upon Jefferson Davis, not only by friends but by members of his Cabinet, that it was his duty to the people and to the army to repress outrages by retaliation, he was immovable in his resistance to such counsels, insisting that it was repugnant to every sentiment of justice and humanity that the innocent should be made victims for the crimes of such monsters.” Davis proudly proclaimed after the war: “I am happy to remember that when our army invaded the enemy’s country, their property was safe.“
Chivalry: The Defining Element of Southern Culture
by D. Randolph Stoman
Lee’s Definition of a Gentleman… “The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman. The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly-the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.” — Robert Edward Lee
The roots of chivalry are easily traced to the middle ages wherein the qualifications of the ideal knight were defined. Those qualifications included
- respect for women
- protection for the weak
- magnanimity to enemies.
These same virtuous qualities were passed from generation to generation in the interest of conferring dignity upon one’s posterity. Southern patriots are well aware of the fact that these qualities of chivalry are the foundation upon which the ‘Southern culture’ rests.
An objective examination of the rationale behind the War for Southern Independence will reveal that a chivalrous Southern people reluctantly entered the war in defence of their individual and corporate honour. The Southern army was driven by the unyielding desire to bring honour to one’s God, family, and land. In contrast, the Union Army had no such motivation at the core.
One could make the argument that the chivalrous values and characteristics of the Southern forces, from Davis and Lee to the shoeless ‘butternut’, explained the stunning and persistent victories of an undermanned, underarmed, and undersupplied Southern army. A culture of chivalry, or the lack thereof, was the most distinguishing difference between the two peoples (armies). In essence, the Southern army was sustained not by material resources, but by its individual and collective honour.
The chivalrous characteristic of ‘magnanimity to enemies’ is intuitively obvious in the leadership exemplified by Robert E. Lee. When word reached the General that Union forces were destroying and ransacking nonmilitary property in the Southland, he issued a directive to all Southern forces that ‘we will not stoop to the malignancy of the enemy.’
Indeed, according to Shelby Foote, we see in the consummate Southern general his unusual disdain for John Pope, ‘the miscreant’. Lee knew John Pope to be a man devoid of any element of chivalrous character. Pope was described by Montgomery Blair as ‘a liar, a deceiver, a flatterer, and a trickster’. Of note is Lincoln’s defence of Pope, by protesting that ‘a liar might be brave and have skill as an officer’.
Our Southern culture has been diluted to a great extent simply because we compromise our chivalrous heritage and blame it on the Yankees. We, as Southerners, are in control of our individual honour regardless of how many ‘foreigners’ have relocated in our land. If we are to remain ‘unreconstructed’ and preserve our Southern culture, we can do no better than to exemplify the individual lements of chivalrous character. We must bring honour to God first, then to our families, and finally to our land. Let us uphold a keen sense of ethical conduct with respect and esteem shown to others. Though our ancestors were defeated, let us not be conquered.
Mr. Stroman is a Reformed Presbyterian, husband, homeschooling father, and personnel manager.
TRUTH–to speak the truth, to seek the truth in every situation before making judgments, to value the truth over personal agendas or the immediate benefits which falsehoods may offer.
HONOR–to keep your word, to know yourself, to uphold your beliefs, to act with keen moral judgment, to maintain high standards of conduct.
JUSTICE–to defend the helpless, to challenge evil whereever you encounter it, and to come to the aid of those who are so doing.
VALOR–to have not the lack of fear but the ability to set aside self-interest when faced with evil, to be willing to fight for what is right, regardless of what other people may say or do to you.
PROWESS–to have the discipline to train body, mind and spirit for the work of a knight and to aschew the self-destructive behaviors which tear down physical and spiritual health.
LOYALTY--to choose for yourself the Worthy One or Ones, whether they be your God, your loved ones, your country, your leader or your cause and to dedicate yourself to the protection and fulfilment of those Ones.
LARGESSE–to give freely of what you have without impoverishing yourself, to show generosity to friend and stranger alike, to be merciful and fair in all your dealings.
COURTESY–to be polite and mannerly in dress, speech and carriage, to treat all people as equals, to be kind to animals, and in war or competition to follow the rules, lose with grace and win with humbleness.
NOBLESSE–to be diligent in study, enhance your knowledge of the world, practice your skills, use your natural gifts to generate goodness, thereby enriching your life and the lives of those around you.
HUMILITY--to have all the above qualities without ever proclaiming them, to bear the heavy burden of Chivalry without so much as a breath of exertion, to be a silent strength which supports and sustains us all. Humility is the most difficult principle to master. Only the very best knights do.
Virginia Military Institute
Southerners have long looked to the old Cavalier state, Virginia, to set the standard for what might be done and what might not be done in terms of gentlemanly conduct. Mr. Jefferson’s school in Charlottesville has long been accustomed to refining the young males of the South. The same applies to Washington and Lee.
Virginia Military Institute still requires the male cadets to live by the “Code of the Gentleman.” “Without a strict observance of the fundamental Code of Honor, no man, no matter how polished,’ can be considered a gentleman. The honor of a gentleman demands the inviolability of his word, and the incorruptibility of his principles. He is the descendant of the knight, the crusader; he is the defender of the defenseless and the champion of justice . . . or he is not a Gentleman. A gentleman . . . Does not display his wealth, money or possessions. Does not put his manners on and off, whether in the club or in a ballroom. He treats people with courtesy, no matter what their social position may be. Does not slap strangers on the back nor so much as lay a finger on a lady.”
Hampden-Sidney College in Farmville, Virginia, continues to instruct its young men in the age-old art of gentlemanly deportment. One can easily spot a Hampden-Sidney man; he’s usually the one in charge.
The Citadel has been a name synonymous with the ideal of gentlemanly demeanor for over a 160 years, recent unfortunate events notwithstanding. A generation ago cadets went through hours of training in the social graces with Mrs. Dufour, the school’s hostess. Passing the Blue Book’s test of do’s and don’t’s was part of the plebe year rigors.
Let’s not allow our beloved South to lose its reputation for requiring its males to live up to the old-fashioned Code of the Gentleman.
As the VMI Code states, “A gentleman can become what he wills to be.”
Reconstruction – Another Name for Cultural Genocide
The ‘reconstruction’ of the South [actually deconstruction] after the War of Northern Aggression is, perhaps, one of the most depressing and shameful periods of this country’s history. Many revisionist ‘historians’ have sought to portray it as a glorious period of enlightenment, but in light of all that happened during that time you really have to ‘strain at a gnat and swallow a camel’ to do that.
We might wonder where the term ‘reconstruction’ came from. It is worth noting that, in 1865, when Karl Marx issued his praise of Abraham Lincoln, part of that praise was for Lincoln’s “…reconstruction of a social world.” Obviously Marx had no problem with the term when used in this fashion.
Professional South-hater Thaddeus Stevens made a speech in September, 1865 in which he said of the South: “But reformation must be effected; the foundation of their institutions – political, municipal and social – must be broken up and relaid or all our blood and treasure have been in vain. This can only be done by treating and holding them as a conquered people.” Note that both Marx and Stevens [kindred spirits] talk openly about changing the social institutions and foundations of the South. Since the South’s social institutions and culture have been based upon orthodox Reformation Christianity since around 1830, what these men are really talking about is the destruction of orthodox Christianity in the South.
Frank Conner, author of the excellent book The South Under Siege 1830-2000 has noted ‘reconstruction’ policies in the South that concur with what Marx and Stevens envisioned. Mr. Conner has written: “In 1865, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner created the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. Under its aegis they developed a long-range master plan for impoverishing, subjugating, dominating, and humiliating the Southerners, while destroying their culture and brainwashing them into third-rate copies of the Northerners.”
Mr. Conner has noted that a culture war, of which the War of Northern Aggression and the subsequent ‘reconstruction’ were a major part, has gone on against the South since the 1830s. He says: “Actually, this cultural war has raged unabated since the 1830s, when Northern liberals decided to supplant Christianity with secular humanism as the official religion, and they selected the religious South as their battleground…the present-day villification of the Confederacy is part of a long-term ideological war being waged against the conservative white South for the purpose of destroying the Southerners as a people and rendering them socially, politically, and economically impotent.”
Conner notes the main objectives of this ideological war. They are: “ to discredit white Southerners;  and thereby discredit Southern Christianity;  which would clear the way for them to discredit Christianity throughout the United States; and  replace it with their own religion of secular humanism as the official religion of the U.S.”
‘Reconstruction’ in the South after the war was intended to tax what little was left in the South, to put the South under Northern military rule and fill all the political offices with Northern carpetbaggers and their friends, to make sure the blacks got the vote and to make sure they all continued to vote Republican so the pillage could continue as long as possible, and to destroy the white Southern value system [based upon Christianity] and to enforce this destruction with a powerful central government in Washington.
Mr. Conner has noted some of the more degrading aspects of the ‘reconstruction.’ He writes: Although many ex-Confederates owned no clothes but the patched uniforms they had been wearing at the surrender, it was now unlawful for them to wear those clothes. They had to cut off all the buttons stamped ‘CSA’ and to fasten their clothes as best they could with pieces of string. Ex-Confederate parolees had to carry their paroles on their persons at all times, and display them to any U.S. soldier upon demand. Woe unto any Southerner who displayed – under any circumstances at all – a Confederate flag or any other symbol of the Confederacy; he would be arrested immediately.’ Does that sound familiar in light of the continuing cultural genocide going on in the South today?
What we have today, and have had since the 1830s, is an ideological [religious] war against Southern Christianity by apostate Northern liberals, be they Unitarians or of some other persuasion, but all united in their efforts to stamp out the Christian faith, first in the South and, if that is finally successful, in the rest of the country.
You can howl all you want about slavery or about ‘preserving the Union’ and all the rest of it, but ultimately, it comes down to the fact that the war and the ensuing ‘reconstruction’ were, in the final analysis, theological issues first and economic issues second.
This truth is something we need to begin to grapple with, otherwise we will never have a true understanding of what the war or ‘reconstruction’ were really all about.
Copyright ©, 2003 Al Benson Jr.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
P.O. Box 55
Sterlington, LA 71280
Al Benson, Jr. is also the Editor of the Copperhead Chronicle, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to discover – NOT conspiracy theories – FACTS that have been well-hidden until recently, thanks to numerous contingents of truth seeking scholars armed with The Freedom of Information Act, Internet access and many,many hours in the Library of Congress and elsewhere studying ORIGINAL SOURCE documents, then follow these videos onto Youtube.com.
As I said above, I will not engage in debate, as I have merely collected information from the works of scholars. Feel free to argue with them.
And, again. this has nothing to do with the red herring of “slavery.” Less than 5% of Southerners owned slaves, and a number of slave owners were FREE BLACK MEN. And the North still held slaves during the war.
Slavery, in any form, for any reason, is an abomination. But that was NOT what the war was about. It was merely a propaganda tool to dupe the masses.