On April 29 of this year, Governor Sonny Perdue signed a very important bill. But unless you are a viewer of Augusta TV, you probably are not aware of it. Because the rest of Georgia’s media ignored the event.
The legislation was designated as Senate Bill 27, designating “April” permanently — Confederate History and Heritage Month by Georgia state law. A press release from the Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans was sent to all of the state’s media, but if any other outlets carried the story, it did not show up on my search engine.
The state legislature was not acting in any sense of historical preservation in this act. They were, as always, looking for the money the bill might generate. They hope to take advantage of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the start of the war for Southern Independence, inaccurately called the “Civil War” in most U.S. textbooks.
History suggests that the first shots in that unfortunate conflict were fired in April 1861 at Ft. Sumter, South Carolina. Plans are underway for national recognition of this tragedy. Georgia was the site of many battles and other events during the four-year battle that cost 620,000 military lives along with 50,000 to 100,000 civilian casualties, many caused by General Sherman’s “March To The Sea.” It is the hope of Georgia officials that this anniversary will enhance the interest in Georgia as a tourist destination.
For many of us who are involved in the effort to correct the false history of this area, this is an opportunity to put forth a few truths about the era. For example, I am of the opinion that they have the dates wrong. To me, the first shot in that sad conflict was fired at Harper’s Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859 when radical abolitionist John Brown led an assault on the federal arsenal there. While his stated purpose was to lead a slave rebellion, slaves failed to rally to his cause as he expected. In fact, it was free black man fleeing down the street to raise the alarm who was the first to die. Although unarmed, he was shot in the back by Brown’s rag tag army.
The factors that led to that conflict are once again being heavily promoted by the Obama administration. They are heavy taxes and a power grab by the federal government at the expense of the states.
The legislation will achieve its purpose only if it is recognized and promoted by the state’s media and that does not appear to be happening. Therefore, it will be up to the Georgia Board of Tourism and Trade to find a way of publicizing the event. They may receive some assistance from the states battlefield protection organization and the Civil War Roundtable. But I suspect it will be up to the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans to drive publicity for the event, if they can find any members of the media who will even notice them.
The official recognition in Georgia of April as Confederate Heritage Month, and the upcoming sesquicentennial of the War for Southern Independence is a chance to recover the true history of the mid-1800s. I hope we don’t waste it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/