Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Revisionist Blues


WARNING: THIS IS FAKE! If I find out that anybody painted an historical marker because of this JOKE, I will verbally abuse you until you bleed from the ears!

Well, where do I start? This is generally about politics. I know.. EVERYTHING is about politics. When you come right down to it, politics is best described as a power struggle over the sandbox. Educated and uneducated alike dwell in this netherworld of emotion... depending on reason ONLY when it will benefit you somehow. Our country's educational system has always been plagued by this anathema towards reality.

Yes, I'm jaded. lol

Recently, I wrote a paper that retells the genesis of Wilmington, North Carolina as a product of political changes in English politics. Earlier stories going back over a hundred years or more tell the story as though there were essentially walls up around our state. We've protected anything North Carolinian because, frankly, we've had little to protect... especially in the beginning of the colony and well into the eighteenth century.

This is what created our unique beliefs and political system which Rob Christensen, a former News & Observer reporter, wrote about in his book, The Paradox of Tarheel Politics. If you haven't read this book and you want to understand why we are the way we are, get it!

That paper I wrote? It retells the history of the Lower Cape Fear in a way that no one has ever told before. It explains the references in the Colonial Records so much better than anything written in the past (in my opinion) because it allows England to be the leader of colonial America... and it was! This is not a popular opinion. In walks the dark and menacing politics! The Revolution may be long over but, the attitudes that were cultured by that conflict still affect our beliefs, ideals, and even our current decisions... especially in North Carolina, who struggled after the Revolution to be one of the "big boys" in colonial politics. We were always attached at the hip to South Carolina, more highly favored by the British administration and still favored by the early United States as well. It stuck!

Our history has been the greatest casualty in that war. Romantic historians abused the truth everywhere in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and even more so here. For example, I will illustrate this with my favorite guy to pick on... Edward Moseley (my wife gets real tired of his name). This is what George Davis had to say about the man:

“Of all the men who watched and guided the tottering footsteps of our infant State, there was not one who in intellectual ability, in solid and polite learning, in scholarly cultivation and refinement, in courage and endurance, in high Christian morality, in generous consideration for the welfare of others, in all true merit in fine, which makes a man among men, who could equal Edward Moseley.”
---- Hon. George Davis

I have recently studied this war-profiteer and I can tell you that this Davis quote is NOT the real Edward Moseley by any means! Still, historians have put the guy on a pedestal because he was one of our state's first examples of a prominent "revolutionary." He may have died in 1749, but he was still a great symbol of fighting the government (in 1776, the "oppressive" and hated ENGLISH government). Understand this: George Davis was a secessionist during the Civil War (still fairly well regarded down here), a slave owner, AND a politician. It's politics that made Moseley the hero you will find on the Highway marker down Highway 117 in Pender County. You can tell by the photo attached to this article that I've had my fun with "Eddie." Davis and dozens of other historians and politicians undoubtedly helped Moseley get on that marker. Still, North Carolina historian, Samuel Ashe (great-nephew to Edward Moseley) rarely talked about his uncle when he wrote about 100 historical figures in North Carolina. He talked a lot about the Moore family though, three generations of them! Moseley was their partner in the Lower Cape Fear adventures of 1726-1733. Still, his own kin didn't acknowledge his contributions and no definitive work has yet come out to detail Edward Moseley's life. Could it be that no one wants to hear the truth? Yep!

The revisionist atmosphere in history today may finally expose Edward Moseley for the fraud he was. I'm trying hard... lol (and taking some flack). Likewise, the story of Wilmington, as opposed to the first town on the Cape Fear river, Brunswick Town, has been suppressed as well. England made Wilmington. Still, historians are guilty of succumbing to a fear that undoubtedly kept them focused away from England and away from the entire country of America in favor of telling North Carolina's "valuable" history.

Now, I'm North Carolinian and proud of it. But, I want to know exactly what I'm proud of... the truth. There's lots to be proud of... but, people like Edward Moseley (even his kin, the early Moores of Cape Fear) are seldom the kind of neighbors you want over for supper. The only coup ever recorded in American history occurred in Wilmington in 1898 and you'll never guess who the coup's leader, Alfred Moore Waddell's grandpa was. Waddell was quoted as saying that he would keep blacks out of Wilmington government even if he has to "choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses." Maurice Moore's grandsons were still causing trouble the old-fashioned, good-ol'-boy way. Oh, yeah, Waddell was a politician, too. Then, there's Jesse Helms but let's let Rob Christensen tell that story.

What got my gourd lately was when I tried to publish this piece on Wilmington. You submit a paper, then have it reviewed by your peers, then they make a recommendation to the publishers about whether or not to publish the article. Well, I had every reasonable hope that my Brunswick-Wilmington story would make it. My university had endorsed my work by crowning it with "Honors Thesis of the Year," as well as sending me to Montana to present the work nationally. Many have told me privately that they really like my writing style as well. What's to worry about? Politics. That's what. lol

My article was rejected by the reviewer... even the publisher was trying to understand why. It's seems that the article is just the sort of history the publishers want to publish. But, the reviewer had problems with my "style" and said that it wasn't publishable quality. I admit, my style is a little different but, apparently just the shot in the arm that revisionists feel is needed. The big problem was politics... the unpopularity of the truth in social circles. So, I'm back to rewrites, trying to preserve something that will be enjoyable to read while trying to educate my fellow North Carolinians on their history. Tell me... you've just read this blog... what do you think of my style?

7 comments:

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pop said...

B.C.

My g-grandfather was David R. Brooks, son of James and Sarah, son of James and Nancy, son of John (your John Brooks III.) I've been able to revise my records to show your John II and John I thanks to your blog.

I'd like to hear from you

Carlin Brooks
carlinbrooks@yahoo.com

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