In history the winners write the textbooks, the songs, the morals, the everything, while everyone else gets smothered under it all. Smothered watching everything they believe in unravel, smothered by the fact that losing means being wrong, smothered every time one looks at a newspaper or hear a bugle sound in the distance.
Well here’s the side you’d rather not hear: the loser’s side.
Go ahead, close your eyes, block your ears, sing “lalala, I can’t hear you.”
Be naive and foolish.
Not everyone thinks as you do, and as wrong as you may find my beliefs to be, just remember that’s what I think of yours.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I grew up on a cotton plantation in South Carolina. We were always pretty well off and owned quite a few slaves. The plantation had been in our family for a long time, and so had the slaves. Sometimes we bought a few and sold a few. Sometimes when a slave needed to be punished, they would be whipped to be taught a lesson. Slaves were like cattle, an investment. Property. And they had been property for a long time. They had always been property.
I was proud to be making history; I was proud to be a South Carolinian. I was proud to be a part of showing the rest of the world that our way of life was right, and that we would secede from the Union if we had to uphold it. I was proud of our secession and of our Confederacy. I was proud to don the cap and the suit of a soldier and fight for the way of life that we had been living for so many years. I was proud, and now, without any pride or self worth, what am I reduced to?
The war started out with the odds being in our favor; home territory, strong generals and soldiers, and king cotton. Everything was going smoothly. At the Battle of Bull Run we watched the blue boys run cowardly away with their tails between their legs. Their general, George McClellan was so timid in pursuing us that we sang “Tardy George” as we marched on. Our leader, Jackson, was a militaristic genius. His strategies crushed general after general, and we felt invincible. We were defending our land, our rights, and our property.
The years dragged on. Home was a distant memory. Battle after battle raged, and after losing a large chunk of men at Gettysburg, many of them being friends, we were getting desperate. The invincible Jackson was gone, and suddenly Lee got in a corner that he couldn’t back out of. Then just like that, it was over. Everything that we had fought for was lost. All those years.
So now the war is over, are you happy? When I returned home there was nothing left. The fields were weedy, the main house looted and burned, the slaves gone, everything gone. Although the war hadn’t taken my life, it took everything else. What was I supposed to do with the plantation in ruins? All my life had been fields of the snowy crop; I knew nothing else. I was lost and confused with nowhere to turn. Everywhere I looked there were judging glares towards Southerners. We were pushed down and kicked by society. We were ostracized. We are all social rejects with nowhere to go, simply because we wanted to be able to live our own way of life. So now you have your economic troubles, your emancipation, and your Union back in one piece. You also have your losers: us. Sorry, we didn’t mean to taint your perfect historical records. We just wanted to hold our lifestyles. You took everything from us. We’re broke while the North flourishes. How are you going to unite your Union back together when we’re all so different? How are we supposed to look over our differences and become a united country? How are the winners and losers supposed to get along? How?
Derived from: http://www.archives.gov/research/american-cities/
Barnard, George N. “The Ruins of Mills House and Nearby Buildings…” Photograph. The Archive. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. 12 December 2013.
The American Pageant, 11th Edition.