Monday, February 26, 2007

Virginia’s Slavery: Which side of the Fence Post Do You Sit Virginia?

Throughout much of the 19th century Virginia (pictured at left with slave population concentrations) became a line of separation between the North and the South and the free and slave states. It also bordered Washington, D.C. in one of the most unsettled time in American history. Virginia once again stands at the edge of issues that appear as if they were plucked for the heads lines of those years of the War Between the States. In recent news Virginia has been on both sides of commemorating slavery and those involved in dismantlement of the institution. As stated in the February 21st posting What Goes Around..., on the blog A. Lincoln Blog presented by an Associate Professor of history at Anderson University, Virginia recently decided that it would not celebrate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln coming in 2009. What makes this decision so shocking is because not only is the state refusing to acknowledge President Lincoln and wheat he helped to accomplish, but they made the decision only shortly before they decided to apologize for slavery in Virginia. Larry O’Dell attempts to relay, in his February 25th post Virgina Apologizes for Role in Slavery on the Capitol Hill Blue blog, how progressive Virginia believes itself to be by apologizing for its part in the history of slavery in the United States. These interesting legislative decisions made by Virginia that could be described as opposite decisions prompted me to explore other blogs within the internet and to leave my opinions with others.

A. Lincoln Blog Comment

I find the fact that you presented Virginia’s recent decision to not to celebrate “the Lincoln bicentennial” as you labeled it, due to the overwhelming influence of Sons of Confederate Veterans extremely an thought provoking event and it encouraged me to look into the topic for myself. Upon reading an article presented, on George Mason University’s History News Network cite about the issue; it further discussed the influence of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It quoted Robert Lamb saying that when Lincoln sent armies into Virginia they “laid waste to the land” (pictured at right is the "waste" when Lincoln entered Richmond, Virginia) it appeared as though Lamb was attempting to bring about the issue of states rights. The fact still remains, as you point out in your post, that it is President Lincoln’s bicentennial and he was an extremely influential President of the United States worthy of celebration. Virginia is once again a part of the United States and the Sons of Confederate Veterans need to acknowledge the fact, they do not have to accept it, but must at least recognize it. A very thought provoking post.

Capitol Hill Blue Comment

Though long over due, the fact that Virginia is now apologizing for its role in slavery is a strong step to overcoming strong racial stigmas of the South (to the right is pictured 80 year-old Republican representative Frank D. Hargrove addressing the measure). It appears that despite the fact that the measure is apologizing for the establishment and fostering of inhumane and degrading labor system and the resulting horrific segregated society, the document is nothing more then an apology note. Will this request for forgiveness truly help Virginia in “overcoming its segregationist past” or is it really just that: a document? What I find most intriguing, and would like to call attention to, is that fact that this apology comes on the heels of another decision that was made by the Virginia State legislature in which they decided not to celebrate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln in 2009. There appears to be strides in reconciling the racial history of Virginia, but celebrating a man who was instrumental in laying the ground work for that shift in history look to be contradictory acts. The post was extremely informative and induced a deliberation of ideas.

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