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Potential Texas school books: Was Jefferson Davis that bad a guy?

Davis Producing the next generation of Reagan worshipers is one thing, but the Texas Board of Education may go a giant leap further: Social studies textbooks may cast Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis (a traitor to the republic who nevertheless has his own statue in the Capitol) as moral equivalents. You can't make this stuff up:

Even as a panel of educators laid out a vision Wednesday for national standards for public schools, the Texas school board was going in a different direction, holding hearings on changes to its social studies curriculum that would portray conservatives in a more positive light, emphasize the role of Christianity in American history and include Republican political philosophies in textbooks.

The hearings are the latest round in a long-running cultural battle on the 15-member State Board of Education, a battle that could have profound consequences for the rest of the country, since Texas is one of the largest buyers of textbooks.

The board is expected to take a preliminary vote this week on a raft of changes to the state’s social studies curriculum proposed by the seven conservative Republicans on the board. A final vote will come in May.

Conservatives argue that the proposed curriculum, written by a panel of teachers, emphasizes the accomplishments of liberal politicians -- like the New Deal and the Great Society -- and gives less importance to efforts by conservatives like President Ronald Reagan to limit the size of government.

This seems like garden-variety conservatism -- a challenge to the educational orthodoxy, not the historical record. But the New York Times' article gets more interesting as it nears its end. Close to the bottom of the story is this, the money item:

References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln’s speeches.

Why stop with Stonewall and Davis? Confederate propaganda makes for great history lessons; plus, much of it is a lot more honest about the South's true cause -- slavery -- than the states-rights inaugural address by Davis, whose birthday is still celebrated in parts of the country by neo-Confederate revisionists. The Texas education board ought to consider including each of the Confederate states' secession statements; here are excerpts from the Lone Star State's, adopted Feb. 2, 1861, to remind schoolchildren what the Civil War was really all about:

[Texas] was received into the Confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal Constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery -- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits -- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.

In all the non-slave-holding states, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those states, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern states and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color -- a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind and in violation of the plainest revelations of divine law.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo: Confederate President Jefferson Davis

Credit: Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (22)

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The LA times has sunk to new lows allowing garbage like this to be printed. It's little wonder the liberal state of california is going under. I say give it back to Mexico and good riddance.


Hey Thornton, nice touch quoting a portion of Texas'secession staement. Only problem with you referencing this is that it is you, Mr. Thoirnton, that discusses this statement. The Texas Schoolboard is referencing states rights with Davis speech, not slavery, and is not indicating that the secession statement was appropriate or acceptable. You somehow get the two mixed up. Stonewall was a very good general and was an affectiove leader. Your screed is propoganda. You are disgusting.


Knowing the ideology of both sides of a conflict helps students to understand its history.

It is not so hard to look up the date of the Emancipation Proclamation to see it was made in the middle of the war when the Union feared it might lose the war and not before or near the beginning of the war.

That is how history has to be read, by dates and actions.
The war started over free trade of cotton and blocking ports.
That is what the dates and actions state.

Obviously you can make stuff up since you did, at length, and very poor propaganda it is.

Jon Healey

@Silk -- You're not suggesting that slavery was a non-issue in the secessions, are you? That would truly be revisionist history.



No, the Texas school board has sunk to a new low by allowing these idiotic anti-American texts to be forced on students just for the purpose of pushing a pro-GOP agenda. Why do you hate free speech?

The reason the "liberal" state of California is going under is because of the Republican Govenator. The reason that Tex-ass has the highest high school dropout and teen pregnancy rates in the US is because of their idiotic "education" system (or lack thereof).

I would say give Tex-ass back to Mexico and good riddance (you practically have to speak Spanish to live there anyway), but sadly I live in Texas for the time being. Actually, keep Austin and just annex the rest to Mexico and let the Republican and evangeli-culists continue to degenerate it with their amoral garbage.

andrew nelson

Actually, I think shots were fired over the Federal Government's attempt to extract commerce taxes from South Carolina after it succeeded from the Union.

Ft Sumter was a Federal Tax Collection Station.

Kinda like the Health Care Debate going on, now... A tax by urban areas, on the provinces, to fund free health care for the unemployed.

Larry Linn

What did our Founding Fathers think?
“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.” Thomas Paine
"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies." - Thomas Jefferson
“Lighthouses are more helpful than Churches”, Benjamin Franklin

thomas adjani

Liberal California going under?

My state is going under because of a minority of right wingers ie tax evaders in the legislature blocking any attempt to put funds into the budget through fair taxes on the rich. Do your homework before you vomit Fox nonsense...


This piece is typical anti-Southern hate propaganda.
Jefferson Davis was an honorable man and a patriot-a U.S. army veteran, senator, and secretary of war-that hoped to preserve the old union if at all possible with sovereign states' rights intact as constitutionally-guaranteed.
He was no "traitor". He was loyal first to his own state when it exercised the right of secession in the face of Northern sectional hostility and dominance of the U.S. government.
Pres. Davis' views of the American republic and constitutionalism were much like those of the founding fathers, quite unlike Lincoln's policies of "Big Government" centralized coercion, his criminal trampling of the constitution.
Good for the Lone Star State in remembering the Confederate part of their proud history without apology and totally caving to the one-sided bigotry of modern politically-correct "history".
I'm a Kentuckian proud to say I live just a few miles from the birthplace of a noteworthy Southerner and American: President Jefferson Davis.

God Bless Texas and the South!

Michael Funk

Today, I wrote a brief article on the topic of American history textbooks and other history books that is quite relevant to the Texus State Board of Education proceedings. I point out Howard Zinn's opinions and contributions on the topic of American history curricula. If you like, you may read it at:
Enjoy. Mike

thoma Williams

Its sad to watch people gloss over the role of black slavery in the cultural and political history of the south and then refer to the leaders of it as honorable men.

It was a wretched time of our history and more resembled a feudal state than a Democracy. The pro-Confederacy propagandists have been very effective, and there was a time in our history when the white north shared their point of view. But that time is gone and we should have progressed. Some of us haven't.

andrew nelson

thomas adjani wrote:

"Liberal California going under?

My state is going under because of a minority of right wingers ie tax evaders in the legislature blocking any attempt to put funds into the budget through fair taxes on the rich. Do your homework before you vomit Fox nonsense..."

What part of 'fair taxes' on the rich do you think is fair? So I guess it's also fair to start taxing the 50% of California residents that don't pay any taxes at all?

Or would it be fair to ask the Unions to take a 15% salary and benefit cut in order to be equal to the private sector workers that pay for their jobs? Would that be fair?

Would it be fair to ask the 2 million illegal aliens to go home at give the 20% unemployed in 8 counties in California those jobs instead? Would that be fair?

Is it fair that the Largest Employer in Los Angeles and in San Francisco, is the city government?

Is it fair that 14,000 small businesses, in California, went bankrupt the year ending in September, and yet Los Angeles can't find the political will to fire 4000 privileged Union Government workers? Is that fair?

Socialism is great, until you run out of other people's money. Wake up. You're way past that point. No more money dude.

And those 'rich' taxpayers? They're leaving the state, 3000 a month, to other states that don't tax them to death...

Like Texas.


The question Texas was facing was not the straw man you present that Jeff Davis was a good man but whether he existed at all. The idea was to remove a lot of "dead white guys" and replace them with people who are more politically correct.


Orwell wrote,"He who controls the past controls the future." How true! What the Texas Board of Education has done by "revising" history, de-emphasizing long-standing truth and fact and inserting a polemic agenda is nothing short of what the NSDAP did during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Nazis_Education.htm
Education became much more ideologically driven during the Nazi years than in the past. Essays became not much more than a rewriting of propaganda handouts e.g. the theme of an essay set for school leavers , The educational value of the Reich Labour Service. The overall emphasis was on Nazi racial doctrines and physical education with far less emphasis on intellectual pursuits. This had a dramatic effect on standards. There was a combination of a severe reduction of opportunities for girls, the distraction of the Hitler Youth, a shortage of trained teachers and the radical removal of standard educational practices that were replaced by coloured political views of the world. All this reduced education in Nazi Germany to an elementary level. http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/modern_history/national_studies/germany/2429/page64.htm#anchor713448
I fear this is just a foretaste of the right-wing take-over that is to come.

andrew nelson

@ Allen, Allen, Allen... What a load of propaganda! Nice touch, trying to bring in the Nazi's. Shock Education. Naomi Klein would be proud of you.

So, since you brought up the subject, let's talk what exactly went on in Texas. It'll help others to think about it some more...

Actually, What the Texas Board of Education has done by correcting "revision" history, is correct the record which frustrated the liberal progressive wing of the modern anti-globalization movement.

This movement has it's roots in the traditional Communist movement prior to 1956, and is critical of the globalization of capitalism. The movement is also commonly referred to as the global justice movement, alter-globalization movement, anti-corporate globalization movement, or movement against neoliberal globalization.

Corresponding terms in other languages are mouvement antimondialiste (French), globalisierungskritische Bewegung (German), Movimento no-global (Italian), or Movimento anti-globalização (Portuguese).

Participants base their criticisms on a number of related ideas. What is shared is that participants stand in opposition to the unregulated political power of large, multi-national corporations and to the powers exercised through trade agreements and deregulated financial markets.

Specifically, corporations are accused of seeking to maximize profit at the expense of sabotaging work safety conditions and standards, labor hiring and compensation standards, environmental conservation principles, and the integrity of national legislative authority, independence and sovereignty. Recent developments, seen as unprecedented changes in the global economy, have been characterized as "turbo-capitalism" (Edward Luttwak), "market fundamentalism" (George Soros), "casino capitalism" (Susan Strange), "cancer-stage capitalism" (John McMurtry), and as "McWorld" (Benjamin Barber).

Many anti-globalization activists generally call for forms of global integration that better provide democratic representation, advancement of human rights and more egalitarian states.

What is necessary for a population to accept this style of Obama led socialism, is the destruction of the historical record in regard to individual achievement; the destruction of the historical record of in regard to the individual centered philosophy of western civilization; the destruction of the record of the evolution of the body of law, in western civilization, that protects the individual from the tyranny of the state; the destruction of the record of the enlightenment and it's great thinkers; the destruction of the record of the successful revolution to democracy and economic empowerment of the individual; and culminating in the destruction of the record of the success of United States and why it is unique in the history of the world.

Here's the real problem. You get a group of middle school and high school teachers, flirting with leftist movements in college during the 60's and 70's, failing to get PhD's, with no skills to do anything else, becoming middle school and high school teachers. They have nothing better to do than get together at night, smoke a little weed, think about the glory of old times and what they thought there we going to do when they grew up, and then decide to make one last romantic push to change the world, while striking out against a world they couldn't compete in.

The Texas Board of Education had to step in and bring the system back to what it's supposed to do: Teach history, to provide students with an understanding of their world, grounded in reality, to prepare them for the reality they need to face in their real lives.


I have many problems with these reactionary changes to the curricula in Texas, but this isn't one of them. Valid issues around states' rights and even an honest debate about Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus are healthy issues for students to study and debate. The fact is that the South was wrong concerning slavery, but had a point about their larger rights to self determination. I don't mean that states have that right today (Lincoln changed all that), but given the traditions of the time (and the very arguments made in the Declaration of Independence), their arguments had considerable merit. They ought to be considered in their historical milieu, not simply with a 21st century mindset.


Was the Civil War "about" slavery? No! It was cotton shipment blockades and taxes on South Carolina...it was purely economic and political (i.e. Northern Aggression). Jefferson Davis? An american hero! Of course, if you question this nonsense you get the standard knee-jerk responses: this is "anti-Southern" propaganda...or we're just CORRECTING the liberal/Commie influenced teachings that has DOMINATED the curriculum for so long, or why don't you live in/take a look at your failed SOCIALIST system (because obviously that is your preferred political system!).

Yeah, let's discuss Jefferson Davis...and the NUANCES of slavery. Great idea!

Steve M.

Let's let it all hang out?

Did you know that:

Blacks owned blacks?

Blacks in New Jersey had a slave community, in which the balcks who owned black slaves, were turned into "Apprentices for life," after New Jersey outlawed slavery?

That during the war, Union Generals kept their slaves, while Gen. Robert E. Lee and others, manumitted their slaves at the onset of the War Between the States?

That slavery continued in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and other border states, even after the "Emancipation Proclamation."

Pres. Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina, adopted a black child as their son?

Pres. Jefferson Davis was a former Secretary of War?

Isn't it amazing what is left out of history-themed school books?

Will Curtis

There are several points to be made about this. Currently a large portion of history follows a formula that is described by this quote "The history that you read, is history as written by the winners." The problem with history today is that one side of history is ever addressed. This is more necessary in early childhood education, but once in high school, it is imperative that both sides of stories be taught. For example: The United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but what many books don't teach is that there we NO military targets in the region, and a tremendous majority of those killed were civilians.

By increasing teaching of religion's influence in this nation's founding, it is equally important that they also state that the founding fathers were NOT christian and founded this nation as a Constitutional Republic and not as a Theocracy similar to what was in Britain at the time of the Puritan's departure.

Slavery was an issue in the South's secession, but a larger majority of the reasoning for secession was based on states rights, smaller federal government, free economy, etc.

And my biggest problem with the revision of the text books is their mentioning of Reagan. Yes he was a president who took over from an ineffective Carter, he was able to get Gorbachev to tear down there Berlin wall, but in his "attempts" to make our government smaller, Reagan tripled its size, lowered all taxes for the wealthy, which caused them to pay 28% as comparable to the 33% the rest of America was paying. These are important points.

I do not have a problem with the teaching of conservative political philosophy but they cannot leave out liberal political philosophy either. But when I say conservative and liberal, I do not mean Republican or Democrat, I mean the teaching of Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Marx, Smith, Machiavelli, the basic founders of political thought, not the rhetoric that it spoken by Obama, Beck, Pelosi, Reid, Hannity, O'Rilley, Palin, Olbermann, or Maddow .

Tom Degan


I need a drink.


Tom Degan

Tom Degan

Just what is it about those naughty Liberals? Why do they always slant American history for their own selfish purposes? Or do they? Could it possibly be that history naturally ends up being viewed from the progressive angle? After all - what is history? It is the story of human progress! "Progressive" and "Progress". (You see where I'm going with this, don't you?) Conservative causes may look fine and dandy when viewed through a contemporary prism. But they always - without exception - look foolish, even totalitarian, when viewed through the objective lens of 20/20 historical hindsight. If you don't believe me, look up every Conservative cause in American history - starting with slavery!

Think about it: Who championed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? It was the Liberals. Who was it that fought vehemently to destroy those programs? It was the Conservatives. In 1919 Woodrow Wilson literally fought to the death to include America in the League of Nations. It was the right wing fringe of American politics (Republican and Democrat) that destroyed any chance of the League succeeding. Had it come into being, it is very possible the carnage of the second world war might have been avoided. Thanks to the Conservatives we'll never know.

And lets not forget those damned, bleeding heart abolitionists. Although the complexities of America's sociology have changed much since the nineteenth century, by the standards of today they were Liberals all. The south went to war against the United States government for no other reason than to conserve the "peculiar institution" of slavery. These aren't mere political opinions on my part. These are inarguable historical facts, boys and girls. A group ideologues cannot represent fantasy as fact in order to serve their own weird political agenda. The Nazis tried that seventy years ago. It didn't work then. It's not going to work now.


Tom Degan
Goshen NY


Paul Thornton, you left something very important out of this. You mention the word Republican in the beginning of the article so readers are fooled and believe Republicans are behind this. You're lying-either that, or you're an uneducated fool. The roots of the Republican party come from the anti-slavery Union north. It is the roots of the DEMOCRAT PARTY THAT COME FROM THE CONFEDERATE PRO-SLAVERY SOUTH.



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