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July 16, 2012


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Daniel S. Goldberg

Fascinating post, Al. I don't disagree with your fundamental point, but I do want to note the historical shame engendered by the unwillingness -- however understandable -- of the Federal government to sponsor pensions for Confederate veterans in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The shame wasn't so much that the government had no interest in sponsoring pensions for the Confederate veterans, but that taxes collected and enforced from the Confederacy sponsored the large and perennially increasing pensions paid out to Union veterans.

Thus, not only could the South not provide for its own veterans and their families, but a portion of what little they had went to pensions for Union veterans.

(I am not suggesting this is necessarily inappropriate, merely that it is critical to understanding Reconstruction and the fraught relationships between Northern and Southern dead and disabled, as well as the rise of the New South. And of course the current debate over what the federal government should or should not do to mark Confederate dead . . . .)

Alfred Brophy

Really important point, Daniel -- and one that was made often in the era of pensions and more recently as well.

Without wading into this territory any further at this point, I would recall the tragic fact that the burdens of war often fall hardest on those least able to bear them -- the people left without husbands, fathers, or children, and the people whose farms and homes were destroyed, for instance.

Daniel S. Goldberg

Or the freedpeople . . . (can you tell I'm reading Jim Downs's new book?)

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