Religious right broadcaster Kevin Swanson agreed with one of his guests that Abraham Lincoln imposed socialism on the United States during the “war against the South” – more commonly known as the Civil War.
Swanson hosted neo-Confederate author Walter Kennedy last month on his radio program, reported Right Wing Watch, where the pair argued the Republican Party had been founded by “radical socialists and communists.”
“The Democrats, both Northern and Southerners, believed in limited government, and the Marxists hated that concept,” Kennedy said. “They wanted to do away with states’ rights and limited government so that they’d have one big all-powerful indivisible government that could force its will upon the American people.”
The broadcaster – who has argued the Disney hit movie “Frozen” was a satanic tool for indoctrinating girls to become lesbians — agreed with his guest, saying Lincoln and Mark Twain helped ruin the U.S. by replacing Southern slavery with socialist slavery.…
The author told Swanson that Lincoln had given a “big boost” to communism by winning the Civil War and then created a federal government that began an “incessant attack on religious values in America.”
“What Marxist dictator could ask for less?” Kennedy said. “All of these communists that have wormed their way into power, into powerful positions, they began to influence other people to pursue this objective of a big, indivisible government, and government supplants God as being sovereign.”
Category Archives: History and Memory
I’m obliged to Gordon Belt for passing this along. In North Carolina there’s a new play in the works about the Battle of King’s Mountain and the men who fought there. Here’s how the play’s author describes the backcountry settlers:
“They had a bone to pick with the British government even when they lived there,” he said “They lived a hard life under landlords that were very hard to deal with. They had famine and drought, and they were seeking a new life in the New World where they could make a living, raise their families and worship as they please.”
The settlers came to the backcountry of North and South Carolina and quickly adapted to the frontier area.
“They had to be rugged, independent people. They endured hardships, they had to fight Indians. They persevered,” Inman said.
When the war began, the backcountry patriots just wanted the British to leave them alone.
“The British said, ‘You have to support the crown.’ They said, ‘No, that’s not the way we operate.’ And so, they took up arms against the British and won,” Inman said.
The backcountry settlers who fought in the Southern Campaign have been the subject of dramatic works before, especially in the 1950s, when Pat Alderman‘s outdoor drama The Overmountain Men premiered in Erwin, TN. It told the settlers’ story from the genesis of the settlements west of the mountains through the Battle of King’s Mountain.
Alderman eventually turned his research into a book, and if you compare the description of the settlers in its pages to the news item quoted above, you’ll see that the characterization of the backwoodsmen hasn’t changed much over the decades:
These frontiersmen were sons of frontiersmen, accustomed to the rugged life of the new country.…This unhampered wilderness freedom, far removed from royal rulers and their taxes, was to their liking. These bold, resolute men were self-reliant. They were independent, individualistic, and not always inclined to respect or observe the niceties of the soft life. Living on the outskirts of civilization, their law was to have and to hold.
In fact, you could quote lengthy passages from books on the backwoodsmen written in the late 1800s and find many of the same sentiments. It’s fascinating to see how popular notions about the eighteenth-century frontiersmen have remained so steady.
For more information about Revolutionary-era settlers on the stage, check out Gordon’s book on John Sevier in myth and memory. (Sevier was the subject of his own biographical play about sixty years ago.) And if you’d like to see an outdoor drama about the eighteenth-century settlers for yourself, Sycamore Shoals hosts a very popular and long-running show every year.
If you’re in the Knoxville area, come out to Marble Springs State Historic Site this Saturday at 1:00 P.M. Fellow history blogger Gordon Belt will talk about his new book John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero, an examination of the ways we’ve remembered, misremembered, and failed to remember the man who probably did more than anyone else to create the Volunteer State.
The cool thing about this book is that it offers an accessible introduction to Sevier’s life as well as a thoroughly researched examination of his place in tradition and memory. It traces the development of the Sevier legend across the three major phases of his life as a pioneer, a soldier, and a statesman, stopping along the way to address some of the more popular stories about him, such as the dramatic rescue of his future wife at Ft. Watauga, his involvement in the Franklin movement, and his public feud with Andrew Jackson.
I eagerly awaited the publication of Gordon’s book, not just because it fits my personal research interests to a T but also because I think it will help address a troubling bit of historical amnesia we have here in Tennessee.
I think I first realized the extent of the problem the day I went to UT’s library to borrow a book about Sevier. It was Carl Driver’s 1932 biography, and I needed it for my master’s thesis on memory and the Battle of King’s Mountain. The guy behind the counter looked at the title and said, “Oh, the highway guy.”
The highway guy? And then it hit me: Gov. John Sevier Highway loops around the southern and eastern sides of Knoxville.
He was the state’s first governor, a member of Congress, a state senator, the only governor of the Lost State of Franklin, an officer in one of the Revolutionary War’s pivotal battles, commander of the state militia, defender of the frontier and the scourge of the Cherokees. If we don’t remember his stellar résumé, we should at least remember his name, because it’s all over East Tennessee: Sevierville, Sevier County, Gov. John Sevier Animal Clinic, John Sevier Combined Cycle Plant, John Sevier Elementary School. Along with his nemesis Old Hickory, he’s one of two Tennessee heroes in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Even his wife has an elementary school named in her honor.
But to the kid behind the library desk, he was “the highway guy.”
The notion that a Tennessean of any era would be unfamiliar with the exploits of “Nolichucky Jack” would have come as quite a shock to his contemporaries. From the time of the American Revolution until his death in 1815, Sevier was one of the most popular men in his corner of the world.
But by the late 1800s, there was already a sense among antiquarians, regional authors, and amateur historians that Sevier and the other heroes of the old frontier had not received their historical due. These men were determined to rectify the problem, but they overcompensated. In the work of writers like James Gilmore and Francis M. Turner, Sevier became a frontier demigod. The hero-worshipping writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries obscured the flesh-and-blood man behind a haze of tradition and sentimental prose.
There were other, later attempts to understand and commemorate Sevier and his times in the twentieth century. Some of the most interesting were on the stage, as the early settlement of Tennessee became the subject of outdoor dramas. On the printed page, regional historians like Samuel Cole Williams and Pat Alderman picked up where the antiquarians of the 1800s had left off. But separating the man from the myth remained a problem. Although Driver’s biography is the most thorough cradle-to-grave treatment of Sevier, it dates back to the Great Depression.
Gordon’s book is just the sort of fresh take we need to kickstart another revival of interest in one of the frontier’s most important figures. Visit Marble Springs this weekend to hear him discuss it.
I can understand why the folks at Glenn Beck’s news outlet would get a kick out of Hillary’s Lincoln mistake. But the admonition against removing a speck from your neighbor‘s eye seems awfully appropriate here.
Hillary Clinton was speaking in Chicago yesterday, and this happened:
A senator from Illinois named Lincoln? There might’ve been, if a guy named Stephen Douglas hadn’t gotten in the way. Lincoln served a term in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.
I never know how much to make of it when politicians trip over history like this. When it’s something said in passing, it’s hard to tell if the person just misspoke, or if it’s really a case where an eminent public figure genuinely has no idea what they’re talking about.
To me, the really interesting thing here isn’t the flub about Lincoln, but the way Clinton has assimilated the whole Team of Rivals thing into her personal history, with herself cast in Seward’s role as the frontrunner who becomes a member of the victor’s cabinet. It shows you how deeply Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book has penetrated into the way American political leaders remember and make use of history.
Lately we’ve looked at how film, TV, and fiction about the RevWar tend to portray the British as arrogant dipwads. (That’s a technical social science term, is what that is.)
I think there’s a corollary to this stereotypical view of the men who led Britain’s armies in America, and it applies to the Continentals.
Think of the American officers who come across the worst in popular historiography, film, TV, and so on. The list would probably include Benedict Arnold, Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, and maybe Thomas Conway. Arnold’s place on the list is obvious. The others share something in common: all were foreign-born. Gates and Lee were both natives of England, while Conway was a French-educated Irishman.
Would we have such prominent collective memories of these men as haughty but ineffectual snots if they had been born in America?
It certainly wouldn’t have cancelled out the stigma of Gates’s performance at Camden, Lee’s ignominious capture and unseemly ambition, and Conway’s backbiting. In other words, they were probably bound to end up on the wrong side of historical memory. But I wonder if the fact that they were professional veterans of European armies helped the process along.
A few weeks ago, as you might recall, I expressed some frustration with the way AMC’s Turn indulges in some common stereotypes about British officers in the Revolutionary War.
Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy’s book The Men Who Lost America has won the George Washington Book Prize, and speakers at the ceremony noted this tendency to remember the British commanders as either villains or fools:
In a statement praising the winner, Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, said: “Countless popular books and Hollywood films have portrayed the redcoats and their leaders as blundering nincompoops at best, sneering sadists at worst. O’Shaughnessy’s work ought to kill these stereotypes once and for all — and, in the process, give Americans a richer and more nuanced understanding of our nation’s origins.”
…Publishers in the U.K. told O’Shaughnessy that “no one wants to read about wars we lost.” But he had long been troubled by what he called “a tendency to parody the British commanders as aristocratic buffoons, which was even more pronounced in Britain than in the U.S. It is a thesis that is perpetuated in movie caricatures, popular history and even college text books.”
These stereotypes about the British serve as a foil to what we Americans would like to believe about our own ancestors. If the British were “sneering sadists,” then the Patriots’ virtue looks that much more sterling by comparison, even though Whigs could be extremely brutal to Tories in American-controlled territory. And if the British were “blundering nincompoops,” it makes sense to believe that the Americans could defeat them with nothing but pluck and good old Yankee ingenuity, even though American commanders like Washington and Greene knew that the only way to defeat the British regulars was to create an army with the same discipline, hierarchy, and professionalism.