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Alabama Taxes Citizens to Pay for Confederate Memorial Park

Alabama Taxes Citizens to Pay for Confederate Memorial Park


We’ve been hearing a lot about the dangers of big government recently, and how taxes will destroy the foundations on which this country was built.  But apparently there’s one giant caveat: taxes are okay, as long as they support the memory of the Confederate cause.  Yes, you read that right. According to the AP, the state of Alabama retains a property tax that was originally used to fund the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home.  Since the last Confederate veterans died decades ago, the home is closed, but its presence is commemorated by Confederate Memorial Park.  According to officials, the tax brings in approximately $400,000 annually for the park’s upkeep.

In the grand scheme of things, $400,000 may not seem like a lot of money.  After all, Alabama’s total operating budget is $1.8 billion, so this tax is quite miniscule.  But it allows Confederate Memorial Park to remain one of the most beautiful in the state, despite its troubling name and history.  Through the decades, this tax has been pared down and distributed among other veterans’ services.  Basic funding for the park, however, has never been threatened, in part because few people were aware that the tax existed.

This is not a good time for historical sites in Alabama: workers at Helen Keller’s home fear losing artifacts because of a lack of state funding.  Other state monuments, like historic Ft. Gaines, are also threatened by evaporating funds.  But when Gov. Robert Bentley eliminated state funding for historic funding, the Confederate park survived.  This is because of outcry from organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The AP reports that “tax experts say they know of no other state that still collects a tax so directly connected to the Civil War.”  It seems patently absurd that Republican legislators should be able to get away with funding a park that glorifies the history of slavery, especially in a time when other historic sites are struggling for survival.  But it certainly shows Alabama politicians’ willingness to use public money to preserve the memory of a racist past.

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Photo from divemasterking2000 via flickr.

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10:00AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Rose,I or no one else can stop you from considering yourself a historian if you insist on doing so,but I still don't consider you one. And my strong response to your revisionist history is due to my impatience with other "historians" such as Michele Bachmann,who get's it wrong every time she opens her mouth about slavery. The reasons it's historically inaccurate to say the war between the states was not a civil war is the fact that prior to the secession the USA and the CSA were one nation of United States,and because ,since there was no Constitutional authority for the secession as a legal entity the CSA wasn't really a country.The other reason I respond to this so strongly is we now have a probable,soon to be Presidential candidate who previously implied that the state he's Governor of could secede if angry enough at the current president. While I agree the Confederate soldiers themselves were heroic,I don't hold the same view of the politicions who secded,but consider them to have committed treason.

5:54AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

And actually, Frank, it just those small property owners and share croppers who lost everything I feel for yet today. They knew they would have nothing to gain even if the Confederacy won. They would no longer be a part of the new country just getting on its feet with room to spread in, but instead exist within a new system with even less to offer them. And they feared losing whichever side they joined and fought for.

The way I was taught history about the Civil War in school, the emphasis wasn't as much about slavery as must be supposed by Southerners posing here. Kansas was just about to gain statehood, and was being pressed using tactics quite vicious by Missouri volunteers to go with the Confederacy. We were taught that our country could only continue on the way to greatness by remaining intact; therefore our forefathers chose to fight to retain the country as it had been and should continue to be, not something failing and divided. Yes, we were told retaining slavery was motivation for the split, but that it was the secession that had to be halted. Kansas was being settled by farmers, not plantations owners requiring slaves, and expansion was already continuing beyond us to the west! We looked to the future for growth as Kansans along with the country!

4:57AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

What is most confusing about all this is the fact we are fighting over an important part of our countries history . Yes we had slavery inthe south but we also had it in the north . I dont ever see anything about Bond Servants being talked about . Probly because most were white and that wouldnt make us feel bad . We had sweatshops ( and still do but they are mostly in other countries and supported by our most famous citizens . You dont think Tommy Hilfiger makes those overpriced clothes do you ) where women and children were worked for up to 16 hours a day 7 days a week until they couldnt work anymore . Dont hear about that . Or mines where men and boys ( some as young as 5 my father being one of them ) worked in usafe conditions until the unions came in . But to get back to the Confererates . This is America and unfortunatly over the past few years we have forsaken our history and the teaching of it . Many of those who fought for the south (both balck and white ) didnt fight for slavery but to keep their property . I am not talking about the big plantation owners but the small share croppers . When the north came into the south they didnt say ,tis man didnt own slaves just let him be and go on . No they took everything of value that a person had . That is what most of those who fought for the south were fighting against . How would you take it ifsomeone came into your home and took everything you had ? For these people slavery wasnt an issue because they didnt own slaves . An

4:25AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Rose, actually the Confederacy just told itself it was its own entity before the hostilities were underway between the two armies. The war was the result of that mistaken belief and was fought to correct that vain error in judgment. The side that won proved a result some simply refuse to face today. The States were United for good reason and remain that way at the cost of far too many lives unnecessarily. Everyone regrets that, but facts can't be twisted to justify anything about such a shame for our country that proved little beyond our unity. We celebrate that in a unified way ever since, and most resist celebrating excess vanity of dissenters.

4:07AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

@ Rob L: "Enough all this reinvintation of history."

I believe the word you were looking for was "revisionist." And that is the kind of history you, unfortunately, have been reading and propagating. Not I. I have spent years researching the topic from all sides of the War Between the USA and the CSA. And don't bother asking me to provide my sources - it took me years. You do your own research.

And Rob, you wrote, "It dosn't matter that the Southern states seceded months before the first shots were fired,the war fits the dictionary definition of a civil war being "war fought between different factions of the same country."

The fact is, the Confederacy was its own entity by the time hostilities started, with the US Army invading the Confederate States of America after the shots fired at Ft. Sumter.

"Go ahead and call yourself a "historian" if you wish,Rose,just as long as you never try to teach what you call "Civil War history" to any of my great nephews and great neices,because it's my hope that they are learning genuine history."

I will call myself a historian as I have earned that right. And I do not need your permission to teach what I know to be factual. You do your great nephews and great nieces a disservice by not wanting them to know history, whether you personally like that history or not.

10:02AM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

@Rob K.; I am responding to your screwed up comments regarding what I call a very uncivil war that cost more American lives on both sides then it should have, I am a very proud Floridian who had a Confederate great=great=grandfather who fought for the great state of North Carolina and one from the state of Missouri, and I am proud of what both of them did in the war.

8:57AM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

Since it appears that no Federal taxes fund this park I'll leave it up to Alabamans to decide whether or not that's how their taxes should be spent.

8:54AM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

@ Rose:...."the war being dicussed wasn't a civil war"... Enough all this reinvintation of history. It dosn't matter that the Southern states seceded months before the first shots were fired,the war fits the dictionary definition of a civil war being "war fought between different factions of the same country." Go ahead and call yourself a "historian" if you wish,Rose,just as long as you never try to teach what you call "Civil War history" to any of my great nephews and great neices,because it's my hope that they are learning genuine history. I do like your profile photo,though.

7:45AM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

I cannot, nor will not, ditch my personal connection to my Confederate heritage no more than black Americans who feel a connection to their African heritage can ditch theirs, which you must admit had its own mix of barbarism, slavery & other not-so-honorable practices.

In the end, I wish the U.S. hadn't forced the issue. Over 600,000 Americans would not have died. Slavery would have ended without the bloodbath. There would have been no Rotten Reconstruction. And the pain & bitterness still prevalent today would not exist.

I say if taxpayer money can be used to aid countries around this world (many of them who hate us), fund grants to research why frogs jump, fund entitlement programs, educate illegal immigrants, fund Planned Parenthood, etc , etc, etc - then we can find a few tax dollars to remember & honor our ancestors – ALL of them, including the Confederates. Preserving history is a must. Preserving accurate and balanced history, that is!

7:44AM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

As a historian who specializes in Civil War history, I know that the Confederacy fought for much more than the institution of slavery. There were many Confederates, including General Lee himself, who were against slavery, but fought for their states & for their homeland, the CSA. They didn’t want the Federal govt running their lives. They felt they were being oppressed; and just like their great-grandparents did when they seceded from England, they seceded from the Federal govt (AKA the US). So, when the excrement hit the fan, the Confederates defended their turf. There were many who struggled with the decision to fight for their state in spite of hating the horrible institution of slavery. I read about a woman who was a Confederate nurse who was loyal to the cause except for one thing: she worked with the Underground Railroad!

As a proud descendant of a Confederate doctor (and a Union infantryman), it makes me sad to the core to witness the continual bashing of our ancestors. The 21st Century has forgotten the horrific deaths of over 600,000 Americans during the War Between the States (Union, Confederate & black). Their blood, which soaked the soil where slaves once toiled, settled it. And if not, what did they all die for?

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