He was a warm, extremely witty, engaging speaker
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Edward C. Smith of Washington, D.C. in March. He was a beloved friend of many in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and when he spoke at the SCV National Reunion in Lexington, Kentucky August 12, 1993, he was introduced with thunderous applause as "Professor Ed Smith, black Confederate."
He taught at American University for 45 years becoming the first tenured African-American professor at AU, and he co-founded American University's Civil War Institute.
At the 1993 Reunion, Professor Smith said that blacks fought enthusiastically for the South in the War Between the States for the same reason they fought for the Colonists in the Revolutionary War, which he called "the first Confederacy." It was about defending home and family, same as for whites. Remember, Crispus Attucks was the first man killed in the American Revolution and he was of African and Indian descent.
In his talk, Professor Smith pointed out that most abolitionists were not pro-black, they were anti-black and wanted to get rid of blacks. They didn't want blacks anywhere near them, especially in the West. Even Lincoln did not believe blacks and whites could live together. He wanted to send blacks back to Africa or into a place they could survive. See Colonization After Emancipation, Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2011) by Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page.
Smith was indignant at the politicized fraud that often passes for history in this now-Woke age.
He discussed slavery and how it was dying out and likely would not have lasted another generation. There were already over 500,000 free blacks in the country, some 260,000 in the South, more than in the North. There were 60,000 free blacks in Virginia alone.
He talked about the social intimacy that exists today and back then in the South between blacks and whites, which could never exist in the North or West. The South was a multi-cultural, mostly integrated, bi-racial society as opposed to the North that was overwhelmingly white. Five Northern states had laws that forbid blacks from even visiting much less living there including Lincoln's Illinois. Jim Crow laws started in the North and were there a long time before moving South according to C. Vann Woodward in his famous work, The Strange Career of Jim Crow.
Professor Smith said there is overwhelming proof that black Southerners marched alongside white Southerners as soldiers in Confederate armies, not segregated and in the back of the line as they were in the Union Army.
Smith mentions one prominent Yankee observer, Dr. Lewis H. Steiner, Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission, who observed the exit of Stonewall Jackson's army from Frederick, Maryland in 1862:
Wednesday, September 10, 1862: At 4 o'clock this morning the Rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson's force taking the advance. The movement continued until 8 o'clock P.M., occupying 16 hours. The most liberal calculation could not give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in the number. They had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc. They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and they were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederacy army. They were seen riding on horses and mules, driving wagons, riding on caissons, in ambulances, with the staff of generals and promiscuously mixed up with all the Rebel horde.
There could have been many more blacks than 3,000 since Dr. Steiner began observing at 4:00 a.m., before light, and could have missed many light-skinned blacks.
Professor Smith spoke of black loyalty on the home front where there were wholesale avenues of escape throughout the war. He pointed out that most blacks stayed home and ran the economy and protected women and children whose husbands were off on distant battlefields.
Smith maintains that blacks had it within their power to make the War Between the States a "four-week war" had they chosen to side with the invading Yankees and sabotage, poison, rape and pillage, but of course they did not. They were steadfast in their loyalty to the South, which enabled the War Between the States to be a bloody four-year contest with 750,000 deaths and over a million maimed that ended only after the South was utterly exhausted of manpower, and largely destroyed.
Contrast that with the Yankee army that was 25% foreign, many of whom had come here with only the shirts on their backs, signing up to get clothes and Union Army enlistment bounties.
Professor Smith's long, loud standing ovation at the end was heartfelt and well-deserved.
We have the DVD set on our website. Here is a YouTube link to part of that great talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2S62SoN-sI&t=401s
Professor Smith's Funeral Mass will be April 17, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC.
Below is his complete obituary (Click Here to read online) followed by links to the Defend Arlington campaign to save the Confederate Reconciliation Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
Edward C. Smith
On March 11, 2023, Professor Edward C. Smith peacefully passed away. Smith, a third-generation Washingtonian, was 80 years old.
His professional academic career began in 1969 when he co-founded The Heights School, and he taught there until the 1970s. Almost simultaneously, he began teaching at American University from 1969 -2014. While at AU, Smith became the first African-American educator to earn a tenured professorship, and he was a co-founder of American University's Civil War Institute.
From 1976-1978, Smith took a sabbatical from AU and worked at the White House in the Carter Administration. He was deputy speech writer for presidential assistant Midge Costanza. In 1997, in collaboration with two Catholic Study Centers, he co-founded the Youth Leadership Foundation. Since 1997, the organization has supported character development in more than 4,000 students in the DMV.
Smith's words, humor, and insights will be missed by family, friends, and former students. He is survived by his children Todd, Dawn, Christopher, Austin, and SGT Chad, as well as his grandson Coby. Predeceased by the late SSG. Justin.
On Monday, April 17, 2023 at 10 a.m., his funeral mass will be held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle located at 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC. Immediately following, the interment ceremony will take place at Washington National Cemetery in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, where Professor Smith will be buried with his late wife Mary Magdalene Jefferson Smith and near his late mother Rachel Willis.
(Obituary Published by The Washington Post on Apr. 9, 2023.)