"If I thought this war was to abolish slavery,
I would resign my commission and offer my sword
to the other side."
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
THE CAMPAIGN was dismissed, at first, as "those
Charleston Crazies at it again," but it grew legs and took off and now
was the talk of the country. It appeared Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's days
on the fifty-dollar bill were, indeed, numbered.
It was Saturday, April 4th, 2020, and Marion Square was
jam packed with TV cameras and reporters as the debate was about to
begin. A huge stage was set up on the north side of Marion Square
close to Embassy Suites. A huge TV screen was set up on the south side
at the back of John C. Calhounís statue.
The Cooper River Bridge Run, with 75,000 runners, now
the largest 10K in the world across the longest cable-stayed bridge in
North America, had ended on Marion Square the weekend before. The
place had been swarming with people, but this crowd was twice, maybe
three times as large, and was getting boisterous.
"May I have your attention please," blared out a deep
male voice that sounded like Trace Adkins. "Welcome to democracy and
freedom of speech in ACTION!"
At that, the crowd erupted and everybody cheered loudly
interspersed with shrill whistling and Rebel Yells.
"I'm John G. Gailliard of the Political Science
Department of Charleston College, your moderator, and we are
sponsoring this nationally broadcast event!"
There was another round of hooting, hollering,
whistling and clapping as Fox News Network, CNN and others panned the
"As most of you know, negotiators for the three parties
debating today have hammered out the rules, and the congressional
delegations of every Southern state have agreed to introduce
legislation in Congress supporting the position of the winner of this
debate . . ." he paused then yelled right into the microphone, "and
it's WINNER TAKE ALL!"
The crowd erupted again!
Earlier, the Post and Courier had published an
entire section on the debate spelling out the positions of each of the
First, there was the genealogical group that had
started the whole thing, the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate
South, who were descended from Confederate soldiers. They were
demanding that Ulysses S. Grant's picture be removed from the
fifty-dollar bill and replaced with Gen. Robert E. Lee's, since Grant
was a slaveowner throughout the War Between the States and Lee was
not. Lee had freed his slaves and did not believe in slavery, unlike
Grant, who just about had to have his slaves forcibly removed after
At first, the public was skeptical about claims that
the greatest Confederate general was not a slaveowner during the war,
while the Yankee general, supposedly fighting to free the slaves, had
sworn he'd join the Confederacy before he'd let his slaves go. Did
Ulysses S. Grant actually own slaves during the War Between the
States? It just didn't make sense to a lot of people, especially those
who rely on public education and CNN for their information.
The second position was taken by Yankees who have felt
so good about themselves for supposedly ending slavery that they were
willing to overlook the fact that Grant was definitely a slaveowner,
that Sherman had no problem with slavery, that five slave states
fought for the North, and that Lincoln himself, before the fighting,
supported the first 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which
would have protected slavery forever and placed it even beyond the
reach of Congress.
This second group called itself, Brothers United to
Limit Lee, or B.U.L.L. They were feeling so God-awful good, they never
even thought about the million casualties in the War Between the
States out of a total population of 33 million. They did not care that
old Honest Abe Lincoln was so racist heíd make a Ku Klux Klansman
blush, nor did they care that Lincoln, his whole life, favored sending
blacks back to Africa. This second group just didnít care about any of
this stuff because they won and could walk around feeling good about
The third position, put forth by Scholars for Justice,
had come about in sort of a logical way. These folks reasoned that
Grant was not the only slaveowner on American money. Washington,
Jefferson, all of them had been white men who owned slaves, so what we
really needed to do was put a black man who owned slaves on the
fifty-dollar bill. That would make things fair. Then we wouldn't have
to disturb any of the other slaveowning presidents on our money, which
would happen if we put the non-slaveowning Robert E. Lee on the
fifty-dollar bill. With a black slaveowning man on American money,
everybody would be represented except Hispanics, but they were not
significant players in the War Between the States, and the Indians
were all Confederates, thus theyíd be covered by Gen. Lee.
William Ellison, the famous cotton gin maker from
Sumter, immediately came up because he was one of the largest
slaveowners in South Carolina, and he was black. The Sons and
Daughters of the Confederate South supported this position on a
secondary basis because it only seemed fair. BULL was flat-out against
The concept that blacks willingly fought for the
Confederacy -- because to Southern blacks, the South was home -- is
another concept that people who rely on public education and CNN have
a hard time believing, though these same people will sometimes believe
that blacks fought in the American Revolution for America and back
then every American colony was slaveholding. The reason they believe
blacks fought in the Revolution for America is because they know
stories like Crispus Attucks, a black man and great American patriot,
who was the first man killed by the British in the Boston Massacre in
1770, God rest his soul.
The night before, a fight had broken out in the
courtyard of the Blind Tiger on Broad Street between one of the Sons
and Daughters, and a member of BULL. There was a table full of members
of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South drinking and
talking and having a good time in their gray Confederate coats, next
to a table full of BULL drinking and talking and having a good time in
their blue Yankee coats, next to a table full of Scholars for Justice
drinking and talking and having a good time in their stylish black
coats that looked sort of like tuxedo coats but had brown elbow pads
on the sleeves.
Things started out with civility and fun, but the War
Between the States was only 159 years ago, and that might as well have
been yesterday, so itís understandable that emotions are always high.
"Why would you people glorify the side that wanted to
destroy America?" said a member of BULL in jest, his chest poking out
"We donít. We just wanted to be left alone to govern
ourselves, like the Colonies in 1776 wanted Great Britain to leave
them alone so they could govern themselves," said a Confederate Son.
"Thatís hardly the same thing," said the BULL member.
"Oh yea, your Horace Greeley said it was exactly the
same thing. If it was OK in 1776 for three million colonists to secede
from Great Britain, it was certainly OK in 1861 for nine million
Southrons to secede from the federal Union. Thatís what your Greeley
himself wrote in his New York Tribune before the war."
"But that was treason. They had no right," said the
member of BULL.
"Au contraire, they most certainly had the right. The
right of secession was never questioned by the Founding Fathers. In
the beginning, even Yankees didnít question it. You ever hear of the
Hartford Convention of New England during the War of 1812?"
"Yea, but they didnít actually secede."
"True, but they sure as hell wanted to. They talked
about seceding for weeks, non-stop, then sent delegates to Washington
and the ONLY reason they didn't secede was because the Southerners in
New Orleans whipped the British and the War of 1812 ended."
The member of BULL had picked the wrong Son to argue
with, but he grabbed his mug of beer and continued on. "Donít you
think we are a great nation today? Why would you people want to
"We would have been two great nations, even greater.
Eight hundred thousand people didnít have to die to prove it. We would
have been friends, North and South, and all fought Hitler together and
traded together and things would have been fine."
"Including your black slaves, huh."
"Well, you Yankees brought them all here and made huge
fortunes in the process. You built the entire infrastructure of the
Old North on profits from the slave trade."
"Yea, but if there had not been a market for slaves in
the South, we never would have done that."
"True, but there were slaves in the North until massive
white immigration from Europe made it cheaper to hire a white man than
buy a black. Only then did Northern states phase out slavery."
"At least we did phase it out."
"Let me ask you this. Every Northern state used
gradual, compensated emancipation. There were still slaves in the
North when the war started. Many Northerners waited until just before
a slave was due to be emancipated, like just before his 21st birthday,
then sold him back into slavery in the South. Not a pretty
record." . . .