Again I read, with great interest, Mr. Welton Watson's letter in the 2, September issue of the News. I was not aware, until I read Larry Sanderson's letter last week that Mr. Watson is a preacher. I certainly had no intention of disparaging his honesty or character in any way, but I felt that his point of view, although no doubt sincerely held, was missing the point of the issue.
The issue, as I see it, is not that I disagree with him about the problems associated with the immoderate consumption of alcohol. As I explicitly stated in my first letter, "I agree with him about the negative effects alcohol has in the areas of accidents, crime, suicide, and family violence. These thinks are not disputable."
The issue is whether or not I, or Mr. Watson, or the community as a whole, have any business enforcing our personal beliefs and values upon other people, who may have entirely different beliefs and values. The persons and organizations who preached prohibition in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and who actually achieved it in the form of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919 were good people. There is no doubt of that. They were absolutely right in their beliefs about the problems caused in many people's lives by the misuse of alcohol. There is no doubt of that either.
But their "solution," Prohibition, was a textbook example of the problem of unintended consequences. The minute alcohol became illegal, bootleggers and smugglers and other criminals began to flourish providing it. Gangsters grew rich organizing the business and wars between gangsters raged. Corruption in public and private behaviors became an absolute scandal, and today, the era of prohibition is remembered as a social experiment gone wrong with disastrous consequences that extend into modern times.
No, I don't disagree with Mr. Watson on the dangers posed by the misuse of alcohol; far from it. But I believe that to attempt to regulate personal behavior through the power of government is just as dangerous and can have even more far-reaching consequences.
Finally, in closing, allow me to say, to Mr. Watson and to the community, that I had no intention whatever of giving the impression in my previous letter that I believed him to be in any way dishonest or insincere. If I did so, however unintentionally, I most emphatically and sincerely apologize and ask his forgiveness.
San Saba TX
I am writing in response to the letter written by Jeff Cheek of Medord, Oregon and his disgust at the First National Flag of the Confederacy. I would like to address each issue he raised one by one.
#4. European countries abandoned slavery and did not want to recognize the Confederate States of America.
As mentioned in my first response there was plenty of European support for the Confederacy. In simple economic terms slavery was fast becoming an antiquated institution. Many leaders of the CSA, including Jefferson Davis, wanted to end the institution, but America had inherited a way of life that was forced upon them from the very beginning by its colonial masters.
When the framers drafted the constitution the could have taken slavery out of the picture, but they did not. Why? Because both North and South were locked economically and financially into a system they inherited when they became one independent country. The founding fathers were mortgaged to the hilt with their own slaves as collateral. Also, the industrial economy of the North needed cotton and the agrarian economy of the South needed slave labor. Even Lincoln had his chance to free the slaves but he did not.
You must of course remember that Lincoln was a lawyer and a successful one at that. In fact, he became financially quite well off from his work representing the railroads. He had a great gift to spin and use words and as a result, he became the most famous trial lawyer in his section of the country.
In fact, slavery only became a constitutional issue after the war had begun. In his 1861 inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln said, "Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican administration their property [is] to be endangered... I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists... I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
In 1860, the 3, 185 slaves in the District of Columbia were owned by just two percent of the District's residents. In April 1862, Lincoln arranged to have a bill introduced in Congress that would compensate District slave-holders an average of $300 for each slave. An additional $100,000 was appropriated to be expended under the direction of the President of the United States, to aid in the colonization and settlement of such free persons of African descent residing in the District. These were encouraged to leave and emigrate to the Republic of Haiti or Liberia, or such other country beyond the limits of the United States as the President may determine.
When he signed the bill into law on April 16, Lincoln stated: "I am gratified that the two principles of compensation, and colonization, are both recognized, and practically applied in the act." Simply put Lincoln did not want to free slaves but rather have them removed from America altogether.
The Lincoln myths are many but the facts and historical accounts speak for themselves, if you look outside of our modern history books. Yes, there was slavery under the Confederate flag, but it was protected and defended for many years under the stars and stripes before the southern states seceded. Next week I will address the issue of our Confederate heritage.
San Saba, TX