Louisiana State University (LSU) took root in 1853 in Pineville Louisiana under the name Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. It was a very disciplined military institution. When the Civil War started to spread across the South, the school was not immune to the turmoil tearing the United States apart. Cadets from the school began enlisting in the Confederate Army in large numbers, and the school was later captured by Union forces.
The current location of LSU sits on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River which has a rich history before and after the Civil War. The river exists somewhat as a metaphor for the people of all nationalities and cultures that have navigated it. The Louisiana culture is made up of people of French, Spanish, German, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Jewish, Dutch, Greek, Polish, and even Croatian descent.
Many of the cultures that arrived on Louisiana’s shores were escaping revolution and religious persecution. Some were brought as captive slaves. The Irish were a part of this group fleeing British persecution at the end of the 1700s, often traveling on cotton ships from Liverpool. The wharves and docks where these migrants arrived became a place of employment during a time when the opportunities were limited. Conditions were poor on the wharves and docks and jobs were scarce.
Fighting to survive, some of the Irish men joined German men and other natives New Orleanians to fight alongside Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheetknown for his filibuster missions in Nicaragua. Their battalion, which was said to have consisted of up to 500 men, were recognized as part of the lower social strata and participated in the First Battle of Bull Run in Virginia.
These men were said by a local businessman to be “the lowest scum of the lower Mississippi, adventurous wharf rats, thieves, and outcasts and bad characters generally.” The battalion was visually distinguishable by their Zouave uniforms, a uniform reminiscent of French Army regiments and their well sought-after rifle, the Tiger.
The Louisiana Tigers were fiercely anti-Lincoln with some of the fighters fashioning provocative slogans on their hat bands saying “A Tiger Forever,” “Lincoln’s Life or a Tiger’s Death,” and even “Tiger in Search of a Black Republican.” The Tigers were known as fiercely unpredictable or even wildly undisciplined. P.G.T Beauregard was even hesitant on using the Tigers. Among the regiment where the Tigers served was a many named David French Boyd, who became the first head of Louisiana State University. He would also serve as President of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama now known as Auburn University.
If you have ever attended LSU or visited for an LSU Tigers football game, you may have passed Thomas Boyd dormitory named after David Boyd’s younger brother. You may have also passed the Kirby Smith dormitory named after Confederate Officer Edmund Kirby Smith who served under the last slaveholding President, Zachary Taylor. President Taylor was remembered as a fierce war hero after defeating the Mexicans in the Mexican-American War. Abraham Lincoln gave the eulogy at the President’s funeral where here said,
“The conqueror at last is conquered. The fruits of his labor, his name, his memory and example, are all that is left us---his example, verifying the great truth, that ``he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted'' teaching, that to serve one's country with a singleness of purpose, gives assurance of that country's gratitude, secures its best honors, and makes ``a dying bed, soft as downy pillows are.''
LSU's history is a rich one that was not immune to the Confederate South.
The Jesuits arrived in New Orleans with French colonialist Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville that was also responsible for bringing Mardi Gras to the shores of Louisiana in the 1600’s. The Jesuits were largely responsible for bringing sugar plants from the island of Santo Domingo during and after the Haitian Revolution there. Cane was planted where the current Jesuit Church currently stands on Baronne Street and was refined in a mill built by the house of Bourbon loyalist Claude-Joseph Dubreuil de Villars from the Faubourg Marigny. De Villars was also known for erecting the first cotton gin in the colony.
The sugar industry thrived in the south despite some of the agricultural challenges experienced due to the hot southern climate with winter frost spells. De Villars process for creating granulated sugar was far from perfect as he led the sugar industry with the help of the Jesuits. Eventually, the process to refine sugar improved. The refining process received its biggest benefit from a free man of color by the name of Norbert Rillieux who developed the first triple-effect evaporator in 1834 which is still a part of the sugar refining process today.
Labor was always a challenge and slavery provided much of the sugar plantation labor. Up to 300,000 slaves were used on sugar plantations in the New Orleans region prior to 1860. Reportedly 272 of those slaves came from Georgetown University in 1838. After the Civil War, the industry was forced to adapt not without the reduction of sugar plantations from 1200 in 24 parishes to 175 in 16 parishes by 194.
Your skeletons are being yanked out the closet
If there was any time the eulogy to Southern Louisiana’s rich history is written, it might as well be written right now. The social conscience is being provoked by political activists who are digging up the old bones of slavery and trying to apply current societal ills as a product of southern black oppression.
There is an effort that is gaining traction all over the country led by political activists attempting to remove any vestige of what they call “white supremacy” from public display in order to show social progress. It has become a rallying opportunity for Democrats who have been struggling electorally over the last eight years, thanks largely to similar more subtle provocations made by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Democrats like New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who have been listed by the media and political establishment as promising politicians for national public office, have taken on the cause to remove Confederate monuments as a token to the leaders of left-wing activist groups like Take Em Down, Black Lives Matter and The New Orleans Workers Group.
Malcolm Suber, an adjunct professor at Southern University, a Marxist-Leninist, and a member of Take Em Down, has called for the destruction of any monument to the Confederate South. Suber said that physical monuments should not just be removed but destroyed, saying that the city should “let everybody take a whack — just like the Berlin Wall.”
Suber didn’t stop with his call for the removal of physical monuments, but also called for the renaming of public streets and institutions. Suber has called for the renaming of Jefferson Davis Parkway, Touro Hospital, and even Tulane University as he calls them symbols of “White Supremacy.” If the elimination of anything that has had any type of brush with the Confederacy is a target for removal, is Louisiana State University a target as well?
Take Em Down NOLA organizer Malcolm Suber leading chant of 'we can't get no satisfaction til we take down Andrew Jackson' pic.twitter.com/mFAoHZC4Yr
Suber operates in a Americanized strand of Marxist-Leninist Critical Theory or Cultural Marxism called “Critical Race Theory.” The New Republic reports that this has become a recognizable face of the anti-monument movement and that the theory is the backbone of Suber's approach.
“Malcolm and Leon had this kind of pedagogy that was integrated into organizing work and a Marxist/Leninist framework … then taking that and integrating it with black history and what it meant for black people to live under systemic oppression …”
This is quintessential Critical Race Theory which, along with its broader disciplines, is intended to turn the culture inside out by exploiting its weakness as a “means to an end” to destroy capitalism. Suber has been fighting against capitalism for much of his career and against these monuments at least for 6 years, as this video shows:
The political energy found in proverbially and politically digging up the graves of Confederate soldiers has been found to offer the Democrats and ideological Progressives one last breath to remain politically relevant. It is a particularly risky attempt to salvage their political clout since they have had to abandon political moderation and align with radical left-wing Marxist-Leninist hate groups. The effort by these Marxist-Leninists to tear the cultural fabric that has existed in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and most of Southern Louisiana will definitely further divide an already divided culture.
How far will the uprooting of Southern culture go? Will activists call for the removal of Jesuit High School run by the people who sold slaves in 1838 at Jesuit-founded Georgetown University in Washington? Ironically Jesuit High School is Mitch Landrieu’s High School Alma Mater. Will these activists call for the elimination of Mitch Landrieu’s collegiate Alma Mater Loyola University which is also established by the Jesuits? Will activists fight for the elimination Mitch’s sister Mary Landrieu’s collegiate Alma Mater LSU and her all-white sorority Delta Gamma?
The political left is fueling a wave of historical revisionism and intentional exclusion of context surrounding the times of slavery. The intersection of what has been termed as the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” where many southerners revel in Confederate heroism, and Marxist-Leninist scorched-earth racialist agitation has created a social boil that needs to be lanced.
There is no reason why we should not reflect on the ills of slavery and be able to celebrate our heritage. Removing the physical structures of the antebellum period, Civil War monuments, and names that reflect our past will not eliminate the history that has been chiseled in time. New Orleans has had four black mayors prior to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and none of them fought to remove Civil War monuments. Now there is a concerted effort by Landrieu to take up the cause to change the complexion of the city which has served only to open old wounds. It is political opportunism at best.
At what point do we seek to punish descendants of black slaveholders for the moral crimes that they participated in? Did we fail to recognize that out of the 69,000 slaves in 1820, there were an additional 11,000 non-whites that were free in Louisiana? Some of those were slave owners themselves. At what point do we seek out the ancestors of the colonial French who stole the land of Acadians in Eastern Canada in the mid-1700s? At what point do we eliminate the fleur-de-lis, which was used to brand recaptured runaway slaves as a punishment?
In truth, the broader battle is not about slavery or black oppression. Black oppression is just the vehicle being used to perpetuate a broader fight against “capitalism.” Capitalism is viewed by socialists and progressives alike as a colonialist or imperialist system developed and implemented by the rich to oppress the poor. Radical activists pursue social justice polemics in order to “progress” the move against capitalism by citing the oppression of blacks, women, gays, immigrants, Muslims, etc. New Orleans happens to be a fruitful political battleground rich with culture and history to use as a backdrop for the class war needed to eliminate capitalism.
“It is incredibly insulting for any African American to have to attend to a school that honors confederate militantism.”
Many may think it is a joke considering the rich culture surrounding LSU and the support of Mike the Tiger. After all, think of all the great black athletes from LSU like Shaquille O'Neal, A.J. Andrews, Kevin Faulk, Schowonda Williams, Odell Beckham Jr, and others.
Would any you have known prior to this post that the Tiger was not actual a fierce meat-eating Bengal cat and rather an Irish or German Confederate soldier? I would think it would simply be an interesting piece of history if we have not seen state-wide institutions such as Tulane or Touro possibly losing their identity due to pursuits of shallow “quick fixes” of social justice.
Political correctness is being used to completely undermine the foundation of the United States one microcosm of culture at a time. The intent is to paralyze free speech by pointing out “micro-aggressions” that have nothing to do with the broader cultural problems that we have.
Crime does not exist because of the Robert E. Lee monument or the existence of slavery over 150 years ago. It exists largely thanks to broad cultural problems that prevent many members of our culture from not becoming an LSU Tiger or a member of another college program. It is not the existence of some systemic racist system.
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Your analysis is flawless and your predictions may very well come true. I pray to God that you are not right and that cooler heads prevail so that Louisiana's rich historical contributions our this great nation can be preserved for generations to come. For if we rewrite history, we doom the next generation to repeat its errors.