Terrorism, Chivalry, and “The Great Compromise” | Abbeville Institute

The ongoing purge from the South of Confederate symbols also reflects the triumph of Brown’s totalitarian utopianism over novelist-historian Shelby Foote’s “Great Compromise.”

Source: Terrorism, Chivalry, and “The Great Compromise” | Abbeville Institute

I have used, on a number of occasions and in a number of fora, the term “Great Compromise” or “Great Truce” to describe the situation that existed between the South and the rest of the United States from approximately the time of the Spanish-American War until fairly recently – certainly until the 1960s, and arguably (in somewhat more attenuated form) until 2015, when the current age of persecution of all things traditionally Southern and Confederate began.

But if I ever knew it had been originated by author and historian Shelby Foote, I had long forgotten it. In any case, an excellent article on the subject, and on our current distressing state of affairs, by the Abbeville Institute!

“For those unfamiliar with Foote’s expression, the term Great Compromise here refers to an unspoken understanding which supplemented the formal peace treaty signed by the opposing generals at Appomattox.

“The idea was that Southerners would accept the reality of their defeat and render dutiful service to the Union, especially in the military, even as Northerners agreed to honor Southern heroes and admitted that Southern culture and principles had made valuable contributions to America’s development.

“As a result, former Confederate general Joseph Wheeler served in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War, while the Kansas-born President Eisenhower generously praised Robert E. Lee as a man ‘selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God.'”

That we seem to have lost that sense is one of the great tragedies of the contemporary era. As this essay points out,

“A case can be made that American society is becoming increasingly coarse, sordid, and perverse precisely because America’s leaders have in recent years decided to define the South as ‘the Other.’

“The result of defining America in opposition to the South has been the rejection of Southern values like honor, Biblical tradition, forms and courtesy, and deference toward the female sex and its unique role in sustaining civilization.

“Likewise, the large-scale rejection of Southern political ideals – states’ rights and decentralization, rurally-rooted republicanism, modest and constitutionally-restrained government – has played no small part in transforming American politics into what could be best described as a cold civil war.”

Read the whole essay. It’s worth it!

Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

Image may contain: plant, tree and outdoor
Gunston Hall, with its gardens, and boxwoods lining the walk down to the River. (From the linked article.)

The years when these boxwood sent their roots into the Virginia soil were the years the American republic took root on these shores.

Source: Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

“George Mason, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, was happiest at home, either in the fields and woods, with a good book by the hearth, or entertaining neighbors and family. Living close to the soil, time was measured by the rhythms of nature. The flow of the seasons brought different activities: planting and harvesting, fishing and hunting, visiting neighbors in winter, and strolling through the gardens in summer. There was time for church, social gatherings, dances and parties, especially during the Christmas season. All took place in the community and around the home… Traditions ran deep, with kith and kin close by and entertainments mostly homemade.”

This would be my ideal life! I cannot conceive of a better. True, today we have advances like indoor plumbing, air conditioning (!), and advanced medicine (although the way it is organized, distributed, and administered has plenty of room for improvement); but was it really necessary to give up graciousness, in exchange for these benefits? I wonder, I truly do…

In any case:

“… for George Mason, home was Gunston Hall in Fairfax County, Virginia. … Mason and many of his contemporaries loved to experiment with plants and took pride in their gardens. Gunston Hall was noted for the beautiful English boxwood that lined the walk from the house to a beautiful view of the Potomac River…

“Visitors such as Washington, Jefferson, and other patriots, neighbors and family, walked down the garden paths, and guided by the boxwood, took in the vista of the distant Potomac River, the artery of trade in this region. As children played, talk of domestic concerns and the nature of American rights and liberties was heard on these grounds…

“Now the boxwood have fallen on hard times and the decision has been made to dig them up. Experts believe that at 230 years old, the plants may be at the end of their natural life. The boxwood was planted amidst such hope, as the Colonies won their independence, and went about the process of protecting their hard won liberties. Perhaps the boxwood just does not understand how a country with so much promise could go so far astray. Nor would George Mason.”

This is barely to scratch the surface of this excellent essay, which uses the boxwood of Gunston Hall as the backdrop for a tale of the rise and fall of the America our Founders intended: – ’tis a mere appetizer, to entice one to the feast. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! But this I will say, if the above is not sufficient enticement: might the imminent demise of Gunston Hall’s boxwood, beautiful as they have been for more than two centuries, be an emblem of the demise of other things, just as old – but things of much deeper import…? Again, I wonder!

Spoiled leisure – from “I’ll Take My Stand”

Related image

Here’s a thought to “cheer” your Saturday:

“It is common knowledge that, wherever it can be said to exist at all, the kind of leisure provided by industrialism is a dubious benefit. It helps nobody but merchants and manufacturers, who have taught us to use it in industriously consuming the products they make in great excess over the demand.

“Moreover, it is spoiled, as leisure, by the kind of work that industrialism compels. The furious pace of our working hours is carried over into our leisure hours, which are feverish and energetic. We live by the clock. Our days are a muddle of ‘activities,’ strenuously pursued. We do not have the free mind and easy temper that should characterize true leisure.

“Nor does the separation of our lives into two distinct parts, of which one is all labor – too often mechanical [whether literally or figuratively] and deadening – and the other all play, undertaken as a nervous relief, seem to be conducive to a harmonious life. The arts will not easily survive a condition under which we work and play at cross-purposes. We cannot separate our being into contradictory halves without a certain amount of spiritual damage.

“The leisure thus offered is really no leisure at all; either it is pure sloth, under which the arts take on the character of mere entertainment, purchased in boredom and enjoyed in utter passivity, or it is another kind of labor, taken up out of a sense of duty, pursed as a kind of fashionable enterprise in which one’s courage must be continually whipped up by reminders of one’s obligation to culture.”

— Davidson, Donald: “A Mirror for Artists,” I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930).