Why it is not an anachronism to call opponents of Black Suffrage "Conservatives"

Discussion in 'Reconstruction forum Discuss Reconstruction.' started by PatYoung, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. PatYoung

    PatYoung Active Member

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    One of the odder aspects of writing about Reconstruction is the reaction to my use of the word "conservative." I sometimes describe those white Southerners opposed to Reconstruction, and particularly the enfranchisement of blacks as "conservatives." When appropriate, I also use the term "Democrats" as well. It is the use of "conservative" that draws some folks ire on social media. They often accuse me of trying to smear modern conservatives by anachronistically referring to some opponents of Reconstruction with that word.

    I have seen thousands of newspaper articles from 1865 to 1868 in which the opponents of Reconstruction and some supporters of the Ku Klux Klan refer to themselves as "conservatives." I wrote this blog post which has a number of examples of this use by people during the early Reconstruction period.

    https://thereconstructionera.com/general-meade-outlaws-ku-klux-propaganda-april-1868/
     
  2. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Well-Known Member

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    If it's historically accurate, it shouldn't be a problem. Maybe it would be helpful to include a disclaimer from time to time along the lines of "historical usage of this term differs from modern usage" or something to that effect.
     
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  3. Kirk's Raider's

    Kirk's Raider's Well-Known Member

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    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that at least since modern conservatism as defined by Barry Goldwater circa 1964 the relationship between African Americans and the political conservative movement has been less then Kumbya. Not to argue African Americans are politically monolithic but still there has been a long time antagonism among the two groups.
    Kirk's Raider's
     
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  4. Wehrkraftzersetzer

    Wehrkraftzersetzer Hüter des Reinheitsgebotes

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    don't think so, I would prefer a huge banner on top of the side: saying: All terms are used in their historic meaning not in today's eroded meanings
     
  5. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Well-Known Member

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    It's just an evolution of language over time. It's hardly the only term which was used one way in the past and is used differently today.
     
  6. Wehrkraftzersetzer

    Wehrkraftzersetzer Hüter des Reinheitsgebotes

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    and therefore should be used historically correct

    I call it an Erosion when the use of fascism in Europe or communism in the USA comes to mind
     
  7. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    I would argue these people giving you shade do not know their history and are self conscious about their conservative views.
     
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  8. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Well-Known Member

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    Do "they" object when the term "Radical" Republican is used? ;)
     
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  9. PatYoung

    PatYoung Active Member

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    I also post articles in which the Democrats take positions opposed to black suffrage. I avoid the temptation to post a warning that the parties have changed places, as some readers have asked me to do. I will sometimes discuss with commenters, but I want people of the 1860s and 1870s to be taken on their own terms.

    I think of the term "Radical Republican." If that was applied to someone sitting in Congress today, we would assume he was on the far-right. Applied in the 1860s, it meant someone on the far-left.

    The term "Liberal" in the 1870s meant a Republican who had deprioritized Black civil rights.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
  10. Viper21

    Viper21 Well-Known Member

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    How often in your articles do you refer to them as Democrats..? Ever refer to the white supremacists/racists as Democrats..? It's pretty much common knowledge that when looking at the period, it's easy to see, the majority of folks opposed to reconstruction were Democrats. Pointing that out, usually has the effect on modern Democrats, that you are referring to with Conservatives.

    For people who follow your blog, or social media platforms, it would be easy to assume (<--key word), your use of conservative is intentional, & insinuates a jab at modern folks who identify as such. Why would they assume such..? Well, you are a pretty politically active kinda guy. You don't hide your political opinions. I think most people would identify you as a liberal activist. By putting your preference's out there, it becomes easy for folks to connect those dots so to speak. How would you take someone who is very politically active on the other side, in a similar situation..?

    I'm not judging your posts/actions. I'm simply giving an honest opinion on the subject, from someone who sees the world from a different perspective than you do.

    For the record, in my several years on period forums, I've never seen you be anything but a gentleman. When I make that trip to take my bride of 25yrs (yesterday) to NYC, I hope to share a cup of coffee, & some of the sites.
     
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  11. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations!*!*!
     
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  12. Wehrkraftzersetzer

    Wehrkraftzersetzer Hüter des Reinheitsgebotes

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    as honest as full frontal
     
  13. PatYoung

    PatYoung Active Member

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    Let me know when you are in town.

    On your question about democrat and conservative mentions:

    I have 55 articles that use the term democrat and 39 that use the term conservative, or a variation thereof (i.e. "Democrats, "Democratic Party"). Sometimes the same article uses both terms (i.e. "Democrats and other conservatives"). I have been blogging on Reconstruction since June 10, 2019, so figure I have posted about 150-175 blog posts.

    As for your question about whether the blog posts about Democrats place them in a negative light in terms of modern views of race, here are a few typical samples:

    New York Peace Democrats: Reasons for Opposing Recruiting Black Union Troops

    “Raise High the White Man’s Banner” Democratic Campaign Song August 1868

    Democrat Explains Why Southern Whites Resist “Black Rule” July 16, 1868

    “Seymour & Blair-A White Man’s Government” & “Useless Grant” Democratic Slogans of 1868


    As you can see just from the titles, there is no effort to sugar coat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  14. Viper21

    Viper21 Well-Known Member

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    I must be lost in the translation. I have no idea what you are saying.
     
  15. Viper21

    Viper21 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not suggesting you do. I was just trying to connect some dots, as to why some folks get their panties in a knot, over your use of the term conservative. I've read plenty of your blog posts, etc. I know what you are talking about, & such.

    Lots of people in today's, super tense, politically hot environment, are unable to even listen to someone on the other side of the aisle. Plenty of people today, discredit anything said by someone (true or not), simply based on their political, or ideological leanings. Truly a sad state of affairs for all of us.
     
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  16. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Well-Known Member

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  17. Joshism

    Joshism Active Member

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    "Liberal" or "Liberal Republican"?

    It's ironic that Liberal Republicans in the 1860s-1870s were the conservative branch of their party.
     
  18. Joshism

    Joshism Active Member

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    I don't think it's misleading to use "conservative" and "liberal" by the modern American definition to describe past parties so long as it's consistent and with the caveat of "for their time and relative to each other." Given that the US has always been a predominantly two-party system the terms are useful.

    Rebels/Patriots were liberals to the Tory/Loyalist conservatives (democracy vs monarchy).

    Federalists and Whigs were liberal in the sense that they supported a more powerful and active federal government, including public works. Anti-Federalists / Jeffersonian Republicans / Jacksonian Democrats were conservatives because they favored smaller, weaker federal government.

    In 1860, Republicans were liberal for opposing slavery and supporting government programs like the Homestead Act, Transcontinental Railroad, etc. The Democrats were conservative favouring slavery and state power over federal power, and opposing most federal programs.

    FDR Democrats were liberals with high government spending and programs, contrasting cost-cutting Republicans.
     
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