Thursday, November 25, 2010


Southerners had good reasons for not
taking to the Thanksgiving holiday
right away.
By Mike Jones
It wasn't until well until into the 20th Century that some places in the American South really got into the habit of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Why? In the beginning, Thanksgiving had two connections that many southerners found odious, Abraham Lincoln and New England. Many places claim Thanksgiving feasts that predated that of the Pilgrims of Massachusetts in 1621, including Texas, Florida and Virginia. But the modern Thanksgiving, which started in the mid-19th Century, is based on myths and legends that took shape from New England traditions.

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the Godey's Ladies Book, began a campaign in 1846 to have the last Thursday in November proclaimed a National patriotic holiday. She wrote every president asking him to proclaim the holiday. It wasn't until President Lincoln took up her plea and proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November 1863 to be Thanksgiving. The problem was, Lincoln at the time was busy sending his Northern armies, including many New Englanders, rampaging through the South, killing hundreds of thousands of Southerners, burning and devastating Southern cities, homes and farms throughout the Confederacy.

Gov. Oran Roberts of Texas
Since Lincoln, every other U.S. president has made an annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation. But the South would have none of it. Lincoln was widely despised in the South, as was New England. The South was beaten down, impoverished and a long way from "getting over it." In 1883, when Gov. Oran Roberts of Texas was asked to proclaim the holiday and said,  “It’s a damned Yankee institution anyway.” And that is exactly how many Southerners felt about it for decades after the war. Roberts had been the colonel of the 11th Texas Infantry in the War For Southern Independence.

An example of that Southern reluctance to celebrate the "Yankee institution" was Lake Charles, Louisiana. A survey of local newspapers there between 1899 and 1917 shows just how reluctant they were to embrace the holiday. Lake Charles had been raided by Yankees during the war, in 1862, its women and children held hostage while Yankee sailors extorted food from the town. Then 10 of their townsmen were made "human shields" on the raider's sloop, while it returned to its blockading ship in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, many of the town's young men had died in the war, either killed in action, died of disease and wounds, or in Yankee P.O.W. camps.

In most years after the war the local newspapers make no mention at all of the holiday. It was simply ignored. Business as usual was conducted. However early in the 20th Century, a few advertisements started popping up in newspapers featuring Thanksgiving holiday sales. Then every few years, the newspaper would mention that Thanksgiving would be generally observed, contrary to the usual custom of ignoring it. What was prompting the change in attitude? Apparently it was time, good old American advertising, football, and finally pressure tactics.

The Lake Charles Daily American wrote in its edition of Nov. 23, 1904, "Thanksgiving day will probably be more generally observed in Lake Charles than has been customary. Besides the banks and public offices, most of the manufacturies will be shut down and the stores closed in the afternoon."

Not much more was heard about the holiday until the Daily American ran an advertisement on Nov. 25, 1908, "Foot-Ball Game! Thanksgiving/ Lake Charles High School vs. Industrial Institute at Base Ball Park. Admission, Adults 50 cents, school children 25 cents. No extra charge for carriage space." In addition there was a game between the Second Ward Giants vs. the First Ward Tigers, at no extra charge. Now that was something Southerners could get excited about on Thanksgiving.

The next year, Nov. 24, 1909, once again football was the focus of Thanksgiving activities. although church services were also mentioned in the Daily American. The article stated, "Tomorrow is the day when every football lover goes out to the park to see Lake Charles beat Crowley and win championship honors." The writer went on to say, "Mr. Jenkins repudiates the wild statements going around that the players have been feeding on raw beef alone for the last few days, but promises a hot contest anyway. The management will not be responsible for people injured in the rush for tickets, but will transport to the sanitarium anyone overcome with excitement during the game."

But the Nov. 28, 1916 issue of the American Press showed just how reluctant the people of Lake Charles were to really embrace the "Yankee institution." The headline blared, "THURSDAY IS A TRIPLE HOLIDAY, Don't Try to Violate It, Because You Can't. Everybody Must Close Up. Thursday will be a holiday in Lake Charles in a triple sense this year. It will be a religious holiday, in obedience to the President's proclamation, with union services by the protestant pastors of the city at Simpson Methodist church at 10 o'clock, proper observance by the church of the Good Shepherd and high mass of thanksgiving at the church of the Immaculate Conception at 8 o'clock.

"Everybody in Lake Charles may as well prepare for the holiday, for they will be obliged to observe it. . . . It is hoped Lake Charles will enter into the spirit of the occasion, decorate their homes and places of business, and help show the visitors a good time." However there was no mention of a football game, so the day was probably a bust.

The next year, 1917, once again there was no mention in the newspaper of local observances of Thanksgiving. But as time passed, Thanksgiving finally caught on and in 1935, the newspaper notes there were Thanksgiving parties, dinners and celebrations in Lake Charles. In addition, local rice farmers were making big money raising and selling turkeys to the local population.

It had taken a long time, but Southerners finally found things they could get excited about Thanksgiving, namely feasting on turkey and watching football. Southerners have created their own Thanksgiving customs, rather than just accept those of the "Yankee institution." They have also added a Southern-Cajun flair with deep fried turkey, injected with flavorful spices, and invented such things as the "turducken" (a deboned chicken, stuffed in a deboned duck, stuffed in a deboned turkey). The South just seems to make things better and more fun. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


New Louisiana Flag Design
By Mike Jones

The redesigned Louisiana state flag was unveiled at the swearing in ceremony Monday, Nov. 22, for new Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. The basic design is the same, a pelican feeding her young on a blue field, with the motto, "Union, Justice, Confidence" on a white banner underneath. The difference is the pelican is much better drawn and there are three drops of blood coming off her breast. The redesign is a winner, in my opinion. The pelican on the old flag was downright cartoonish looking. It also didn't have the blood drops, which have important symbolic meaning.

The changes were mandated by the Legislature in 2006, at the insistence of a bright 8th grader who knew his history.

The symbolism of the pelican feeding her young is self-sacrifice, which is also a very ancient Christian symbol of Christ the Redeemer. The flag has been representing Louisiana since its territorial days from 1803 to 1812 when the state was first admitted to the Union. The symbol was also used on state militia buttons, belt plates and cartridge box plates, as well as on the official state seal. As deeply ingrained as it was in state culture, it wasn't until 1902 that the Legislature officially adopted it as the state flag.

When Louisiana seceded from the Union on Jan. 26, 1861, the Louisiana pelican flag was raised over the state capitol building. Although a unique red, white and blue striped flag, with gold star in the red canton, was adopted to represent the independence of Louisiana, the pelican flag was found flying over the state capitol by Northern invaders who captured Baton Rouge in May of 1862. In addition, many Louisiana military units used pelican flags at the beginning of the War For Southern Independence.

The Louisiana pelican flag continues to honorably symbolize the sovereign status of our state.


Beaufort, South Carolina
Thanksgiving Day


Thanksgiving Day is soon upon us. This day has become marked as a time for families and friends to come together and give thanks for the many blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us. Let us recount our blessings with all the grace that is the definition of a true Southron.

Unfortunately, on Thanksgiving Day we may hear of some credit given to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln for proclaiming the first Thanksgiving Day. Or, even more prominently, we see the first Thanksgiving Day associated with the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth Rock, in what is now Massachusetts.

So much of what we hear about American history, and the genesis of our American holidays, is often simply wrong.

The first Thanksgiving in this country was, in fact, celebrated at Jamestown, Virginia in December 1607. The Berkley Plantation's charter required that the day of the colonist's safe arrival, "...shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving...." The Pilgrims were still thirteen years into the future. (See: "The Real First Thanksgiving")

Of course, the politically correct love to point to the happy scene of the Pilgrims in their black garb, white collars and stiff hats, sitting at a grand banquet with the ruddy savages, all in all a scene of peace and ethnic tranquility. This joint celebration took place because the Pilgrims' socialistic economic practices (i.e., a common storehouse) had driven them to the brink of starvation, before the Indians took pity and rescued them.

It should be noted that there was an even earlier Thanksgiving. History records that the Spanish settlement at Saint Augustine celebrated a feast with the indigenous peoples in 1565: "After the Mass, Menendez de Aviles invited the Timucuans to join him for the first communal meal of Europeans and natives together," This was apparently the first communal act of thanksgiving in the first permanent European settlement of what is now the United States. (See: "In U.S. History, Florida beats New England professor says")

But, despite all the credit incorrectly given to the Pilgrims of New England, it is President Lincoln who is oft credited with the first Thanksgiving proclamation because it began an unbroken string of such acts occurring in late November.

But Lincoln was not even the first president to do so since George Washington had issued such a proclamation in 1789. More to the point for us, Confederate President Jefferson Davis declared Friday, November 15, 1861 as, "...a day of national humiliation and prayer...," - a full two years before Lincoln's more famous declaration.

Since that time, Thanksgiving Day has become a federal holiday and has lost almost all of its original meaning. Now, Thanksgiving is little more than the opening day of shopping season, followed by a day, christened with the most befitting nickname, "Black Friday." In 1861, however, it was a different story.

At the time he issued his proclamation, Pres. Davis understood the enormity of the danger the South was facing and his decision to call upon the, "...reverend clergy and the people of these Confederate States to repair on that day to their homes and usual places of public worship, and to implore blessing of Almighty God upon our people, that he may give us victory over our enemies, preserve our homes and altars from pollution, and secure to us the restoration of peace and prosperity" was more than just a platitude.

Now, in 2010 our country also faces many crises: economic crises, crises of faith; crises of the moral and political decay of society; our troops are at war in foreign fields; and our precious Southern heritage is under attack on many fronts.

During these hard times when all God's people are suffering, let us be thankful of the blessing that we have. We have the love of our brothers and sisters and we have our rich Southern heritage. But of all our blessings, nothing is sweeter than the promise of God's love and redemption.
During this Thanksgiving season, we should all remember the sacrifice of our noble Confederate forebears. We can learn much from their example made during their time of trial.
So, on this Thanksgiving Day, when we are giving thanks and enjoying the company of our family and friends, let's stand tall with the knowledge that together we are perpetuating the wishes of President, Jefferson Davis and sharing in a ritual that proclaims the superiority of God and keeps us mindful of our need for his mercies.
Confederately yours,
Michael Givens


Sons of Confederate Veterans

(931) 442-1831

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Confederate soldier
(Library of  Congress)
PINEVILLE, La. - Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site opened to the public, Thursday, Nov. 18, with a free day in the park and dedication ceremony. Following the ceremony, there were site tours and a live performance of War For Southern Independence-era music.

In an earlier press release, Lt. Gov. Schott Angelle said, "I am excited to announce the opening of Forts Randoph & Buhlow State Historic Site. This site represents an incredible piece of Louisiana's history and is an invaluable new tourism opportunity for Central Louisiana."

The $4.4 million project was funded by a combination of Capital Outlay funds and monies provided by the Red River Waterway Commission (RRWC), a spokesman said.

"Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site will be a wonderful addition to our system," said Dr. Stuart Johnson, Assistant Secretary for the Office of State Parks. "the Red River Waterway Commission and the City of Pineville are great partners, fully supporting this site and the Office of State Parks' mission to preserve and interpret our state's history."

Forts Randolph and Buhlow were built after the Red River Campaign during the War for Southern Independence. Johnson said that interpretation and programs at this site connect with Mansfield SHS and Port Hudson SHS on the whole Campaign and the subsequent events.

After the Battle of Mansfield, halting the Union advance to the West in Spring of 1864, Forts Randolph and Buhlow were constructed on the Red River at Alexandria by Confederates in order to repel future Union attacks through Northwest Louisiana. The earthen forts, constructed using local plantation slave labor, where fortified with cannon and troops, and never saw battle.

Fort Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site is located on Red River in downtown Pineville. It includes visitor center with War For Southern Independence exhibits, an elevated boardwalk around both fort sites, and an overlook near the southern portion of the Bailey's Dam site. The site has an open field for War For Southern Independence re-enactments. Admission to the site is $4 per person; children (12 and under) and senior citizens (62 and over) are admitted free. For more information about the site, click Fort Randolph & Buhlow SHS or call 1-888-677-7437 toll free or 484-2390 locally.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


A well armed  Confederate.
Pvt. William H. Rockwell,  Co. H. 18th North
Carolina State Troops. (Library of Congress)
[Excerpt from UT Tyler Digital Archives]

DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], November 28, 1860, p. 2, c. 1

Extensive Purchases of War Munitions for the South.—Those Republican editors, preachers and lecturers who think that the indignation of the south is best put down by ridicule, and who, therefore, lavish the resources of their buffoonery upon every reported attempt of a Southern State to arm her citizens for an impending conflict, will find in the following facts more evidence that the South is in earnest, and that the calamities of disunion, which they would laugh away with their ill-timed jests, are actually imminent.

Yesterday there arrived by the steamer City of Hartford, from Hartford, 180 cases of Sharp's patent carbines, containing 10 pieces each, making in all arms for 1,800 men, and 40 cases of conical balls, each containing 1,000 bullets, or 40,000 cartridges in the aggregate. These arms and ammunition were ordered by telegraph from the Governor of Georgia, and will be sent to Savannah by the next steamer. The same factory has also received orders from Alabama for 1,000 stands of the same death-dealing weapons.

Cooper & Pond, of this city, receive from twenty to fifty orders daily from South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia—and people who suppose that the South is not a paying customer may be astonished to know that their business transactions in this line are strictly on a cash basis. Cash within thirty days is their invariable rule. Most of the orders are for rifles and navy revolvers, though Cooper & Pond supply an immense number of flint-lock muskets. They lately sent twenty gun carriages to Georgia, and have done a brisk business in all kinds of small arms and ammunition with all the principal Southern States.

Another large house in this city has filled orders for about 5,000 stand of muskets of the United States pattern, and has sold large quantities of artillery swords and army pistols. Its orders come from all the Southern States, but mainly from those in which secession is regarded as the only remedy for Southern grievances. A third extensive establishment has supplied an immense number of Colt's revolvers and rifles to Georgia, principally to Columbus. All the wholesale houses and agencies in the city have been hard pressed to supply the orders for every imaginable species of weapon. To the above list may be added Aime's Manufacturing Company, which has furnished Georgia with cannon and with 300 artillery swords, and has done a large miscellaneous business with all the aggrieved States.

Pvt. Andrew Skidmore, Co. E, 17th Virginia Infantry
Mount Vernon Guard.
(Library of Congress)
The Southern States, living until recently in peace and happiness under the roof-tree of a common Union, have neglected the establishment of firearm factories within their own borders. During the past year, Virginia first recognized the necessity of starting a State armory, and appropriated $100,000 for the work. Some commencement has already been made on it, but it is certain that the armory will not be completed within one year, and in the meantime she must depend on the North. Various statements have been circulated about the present armament of Virginia. It is believed that she can, as asserted, bring 25,000 men into the field, but the tremendous batteries of rifled cannon which have been said to belong to her, do not exist. We understand, from good authority, that she has but one rifled cannon. Indeed, in the matter of heavy ordnance, all the Southern States appear to be far behind the North.

South Carolina is the only Southern State which has an armory of her own. It has been in operation some years, and turns out good work, though at a cost not less probably than that of the same class of arms in the North.—Journal of Commerce.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Louisiana Gov. Thomas Overton  Moore
who led the state out fo the Union.
(Mansfield State Historic Site)

[Excerpts from UT Tyler Digital Archives]

DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], November 7, 1860, p. 2, c. 1

A Quiet Election.—One of the quietest, most orderly and pleasant elections ever held in this country occurred at our polls on Tuesday. Not a harsh word passed between the sovereigns in our hearing throughout the day. No drunken rowdies blocked up the passageway to the ballot-box; no illegal votes were polled, nor none attempted to be polled when it was ascertained that they were illegal. Good humor and friendly intercourse characterized the proceedings of the day, and while the "working men" of the respective parties were unusually active to advance the interests of their favorites, not an incident occurred to mar the universal harmony and kindly feeling that prevailed.
DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], November 12, 1860, p. 2, c. 2
Revolution in South Carolina.

Immediate Secession Anticipated.

The Flag of Independence

A Red Star on a White Ground.

Convention Called.

Resignation of Senator Chesnut.

Great Excitement at Charleston.

Removal of Government Arms Attempted.
Special correspondence of the Delta.

Columbia, S. C., Nov. 10.—The bill calling a State Convention to meet on the 17th of December, for the purpose of taking measures to assert and maintain the independence of the State, has passed both Houses of the Legislature by a unanimous vote.

Senator Chesnut has resigned his seat in the United States Senate.

The flag of secession—a red star on a white ground—is waving in all the public places and from all public edifices. . .
DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], November 12, 1860, p. 2, c. 3-4
From the N. O. Delta.

A Large and Enthusiastic Meeting. . . .

The Blue Cockade and South

Carolina Indorsed. . . .
. . . A sample of the blue cockade was shown, and every person desirous of obtaining one, (and no person will presume to wear one unless he can, and is willing to sustain the cause, and be not ashamed of the badge,) can find the means of procuring them at the Armory Hall this day. . .
DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], November 13, 1860, p. 2, c. 6

The Charleston papers of the 8th come to us filled with accounts of the recent exciting proceedings in Charleston and Columbia. The Mercury has the following paragraphs:
The States Rights Flag Thrown to the Breeze.
. . . The most exciting incident was the unfurling of the State flag of South Carolina from an upper window of the Mercury office, which was greeted with vociferous cheers, proclaiming, in trumpet tones, that the "colors were to be nailed to the mast." . . .

At 12 o'clock was unfurled from our windows, and stretched across the street, a red flag with the Palmetto and the Lone Star. A shout from below, and twice three hearty cheers, greeted its appearance. . .

DAILY ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE, LA], November 13, 1860, p. 2, c. 4

The following dispatch, dated Galveston, November 12th, was received here last evening:

"Considerable excitement here about the election of Lincoln. Disunion poles are being raised, and Lone Star Flags are flying. Declarations of Independence are being signed and military companies raised."

ELECTION OF 1860 in Louisiana

Southern Militia Officer
(6th Plate Tintype, author's collection)
By Mike Jones

The election of 1860 in Louisiana was quiet, orderly and showed no unusual alarm. On the ballot were John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, who was the nominee of Southern Democrats; John Bell of Tennessee, nominee for the Constitutional Union Party, which was made up of old Whigs and Know-Nothings; and Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, who was the nominee of the  regular Democratic Party. Abraham Lincoln of the Republican Party did not appear on the ballot in the state.

Breckinridge won the state by a plurality of the vote with 22,680. Bell received 20,204 and Douglas 7,625. Louisianians, before the election, were clearly split on the question of secession from the Union. But the election of Lincoln rapidly drove them into the pro-secession camp.

A visitor to New Orleans at this time recorded his observation:
"The excitement about the result of the election seems to increase fast. 
The most talk I hear now [in New Orleans] is about the state of the
country. Some anxiety appears to be felt as to the result. The
Southern people think the result of the election is a sort of declaration
of hostility by the North. Nearly every day Lincoln's effigy is hanged
in the principal streets and squares. When it is run up it is saluted
with the firing of cannon & cheers. Secession is openly talked of,
apparently with increasing confidence in its success." (Charles Schultz, “New
Orleans in December 1860” Louisiana Historical Quarterly.)

Governor Thomas Overton Moore, a secessionist leader, called for a Secession Convention in January. Louisianians got to vote on the question when they  elected representatives to the convention. On January 7 voters went to the polls and elected 80 immediate secessionists and 50 cooperationists, meaning they wanted to cooperate with other Southern states before seceding individually.
Also in the period after the election Louisianians started organizing military companies to defend the state. The groups took on such names as the "Crescent Rifles," "Minute Men," "Home Guards," and "Defenders of
Southern Rights." Groups already organized, such as volunteer firemen, steamboatmen and others, formed their own military units. The Louisiana Legislature convened in December in special session to establish a military board headed by the governor and authorized it to appropriate $500 million to arm and equip companies.

Events followed with rapidity: the election of delegates to the secession convention were elected January 7, 1861;  the the U.S. Arsenal in Baton Rouge was seized by  Louisiana troops January 10, Forts Jackson and St. Philip January 11, and Fort Pike and the United States barracks near New Orleans on January 14. Fort Macomb on Chef Mentur Road, guarding the eastern water approaches, was taken January 28, 1861.
'Pellican' flags were flying in all directions, companies drilling. . ." the northern visitor observed at the time. Louisianians were deadly serious about defending their sovereign and independent rights.