The South Rose Again, and Our Leaders Let it Happen: An Analysis of “Contemporary Impact of the Fates of Confederate Officials”

Although the Civil War happened over a century and a half ago, its cultural influence has yet to leave the news feed of today. Gillian Crawford analyzes these effects in her essay “Contemporary Impact of the Fates of Confederate Officials,” using searing diction, and controversial ethos and logos. After beginning her essay with the explanation of Henry Wirz, a Confederate prison warden, who was the only Confederate hanged for his war crimes, Crawford jumps into discussing what America’s response was to the most prominent Confederate rebels.

President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 was leading a deeply divided country, and in an attempt to display his forgiveness and rebuild a united nation, Crawford reports that Lincoln let them walk free. The two Confederates specifically mentioned in the essay are the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and military leader, Robert E. Lee. The celebration of these Confederates has very commonly come in the form of statues that memorialize these figures. It is these statues that are a huge central link to the white nationalist movement that is sweeping America in the twenty-first century.

A technique Crawford uses in her writing to shed light on the harrowing effects of leniency towards these Confederates is using very damning diction. One example of this is when Crawford wrote: “By giving amnesty to those who openly committed treason against the United States, the South was able to memorialize those who were disloyal to the country…” By using words with very harsh and negative connotations like “treason” and “disloyal”, the author more clearly cast a negative light upon the Confederates and how their crimes were detrimental to  America then and now.

The essay overall was quite good, however the author’s purpose was to prove that the leniency towards the Confederates by American leaders lead to racial tension and the continuation of white nationalism in modern-day America. The author does do this for the most part, but she does not put enough focus on this connection, instead providing a large amount of historical context about  Jefferson Davis and Robert Lee, and the arguments that ensue about the statues of those men. Both of these things are very important, but to strengthen her point, Crawford should have included more about the white nationalist movement and its roots, as well as more on the harm these supremacists have done recently. 

Virginia State Troopers stand under a statue of Robert E. Lee before a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTS1BI7E

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