It was the slaves who suffered most

Published 9:46 am Saturday, September 3, 2011

by James D. ‘Archie’ Howell

Phillip Wood argued in a recent column, “In today’s history, they want you to believe he (a great-great-grandfather) suffered all of this and much more to perpetuate slavery.” (“Soldiers, family suffered during Civil War,” Aug. 21).

Nope, not in today’s history, but in the history at the time of the Civil War — written, widely published, and preserved for future generations. Nowhere in any document of the Civil War period that I have personally read, are the words “War of Northern Aggression.” That term is modern, displayed on a new, shiny plaque by the courthouse. It is not authentic.

It was the Civil War. It was called the Civil War then and it’s still the Civil War. If you fought for the Confederate states of America, you were fighting to preserve the economics and way of life that included the owning, buying, selling and trading of chattel human beings (slaves).

To not recognize that is to say that all the Articles of Secession, the Articles of Confederation and volumes of actual records (primary sources) from the time period are inaccurate. The same tools used to find ancestors are easily used to read the documents. The Civil War also had extensive photographic coverage.

Valor is to be honored, celebrated and remembered. It is very fitting for all who fight wars for their country, including Mr. Wood’s great-great-grandfather.

Several organizations stage re-enactments of Civil War battles or skirmishes. Perhaps participants who wish to have historical accuracy need to include realistic, authentic, exhibits.

May I suggest a slave market? It wouldn’t cost much. One would need only a small box or stage for the chattel human being (slave) to stand on. There is no authentic clothing; slaves were displayed and sold naked, male and female alike.

A potential buyer could check teeth, eyes, hair and other body parts. Whip marks on a back might indicate some rebelliousness. That might lower the price a little.

You might need some lard — easily obtained from a local grocery. Lard was used to make the dark skin shiny and smooth. I’m sure volunteers — male and female — would line up to be a part of authentic history and stand on the selling block. You might even charge a small fee to cover costs.

One may also consider a whipping post. It’s a post about 5 feet high, above the ground. Fastened to the top is a ring used for holding shackles to make sure the chattel human being (slave) doesn’t escape while a lashing is administered.

Or maybe the chattel human being (slave) is just tied with rope or rawhide. Any kind of strong bindings will do. This activity is not the chattel human being’s (slave’s) favorite recreation, so you may consider locating the post near a tree, so the chattel human being (slave) could be hanged, if necessary.

Don’t worry, all of these things can be done without the slightest fear of retribution from law enforcement or any other governmental entity (absolutely authentic in 1860).

You’ll probably have a long line of volunteers ready to try out these authentic activities. It’s definitely worth a small fee for spectators.

To distort history is to devalue the service of every person who has ever donned the uniform of their country, like Mr. Wood’s great-great-grandfather……and me.

There is neither valor nor honor in slavery.

JAMES D. “ARCHIE” HOWELL is a Southampton County native and 1955 graduate of Franklin High school. He can be reached at