"The UA Faculty Senate has recently apologized for the role of the faculty in the slave system before the Civil War. The case for the faculty apology rests on three principles.
"First, the faculty benefited from slave labor. One of the university's first acts was to purchase a slave, Ben, in 1828. He worked building the university for several years before it opened in 1831. In the years from 1837 through the Civil War, the university owned a few slaves and rented others from faculty members and Tuscaloosa residents.
The slaves worked at many jobs on campus - from making bricks, carpentry, and carrying water and coal, to waiting on students. One slave, Sam, worked as a laboratory assistant for the distinguished science professor F.A.P. Barnard (who was president of Columbia University after the Civil War). Slaves were also brought to campus by students. Some of the buildings that survive to this day on the campus - including the imposing president's mansion - were built in part by slaves.
"The faculty were also responsible for the beating of slaves. When the trustees moved in 1845 to limit the abuse of slaves by students, they made the faculty responsible for discipline. President Basil Manly recorded in his diary that he beat Sam in the presence of the faculty. When Manly thought Sam was 'insufficiently humbled,' he beat him again 'severely.'
"Perhaps most troubling for a university, though, is that the faculty were proponents of proslavery thought. In its early years, a few at the university opposed slavery. Trustee James Birney (later a candidate for president on the Liberty Party), joined by Professor Henry Tutweiler, urged gradual abolition of slavery. But not enough Alabama faculty supported such progress. After 1837, faculty frequently lectured that slavery was the natural order of things and a positive good."
For going to the trouble of bringing his scholarly expertise to bear, Professor Brophy, according to this article, "received numerous threatening e-mail messages and phone calls." The story continues:
"'I only recently got a telephone at home,' Brophy said, somewhat sheepishly. 'Now I'm considering investing in Caller ID because a few people seem obsessed with calling and letting me know what they think about me.'
"Brophy is a short, thin man with delicate features. It seems absurd that people would feel the need to threaten this diminutive academic - who earned degrees at both Columbia and Harvard - with physical violence.
"Reaction across campus has been at times heated. The message board of the Crimson White, the UA student newspaper, featured several choice responses: 'Send Brophy to my house. I'll teach him about slavery.' 'I'm sure if our [white] relatives had known it was going to be like this, they probably would have picked their own cotton!' 'I admire George Wallace - probably the last statesman this country has seen. If only the men we elect today had the courage of Gov. Wallace. He'd give these money-grubbing reparation morons exactly what they deserve - nothing.'"
On April 28, 2004, one Roger Brothers wrote to the Tuscaloosa News with this striking insight:
"The source of the University of Alabama Professor Alfred Brophy’s anti-Southern cultural bigotry is not at all hard to trace. It is apparent if you consider the fact that his Ph.D. was awarded by those neo-Puritan monoculturists at Harvard University.
"If you doubt the anti-Southern bias at Harvard, consider this: That university honors all its alumni who died defending their country. All, that is, except the 69 alumni who died defending the South. Harvard to this day refuses to recognize these Southerners, though they do honor an alumnus who fought for the German Kaiser in World War I.
"Brophy should be ashamed for promoting such hair-brained, hateful, prejudicial and divisive schemes as apologies for slavery. He should be especially so now when American soldiers are dying every day to protect us from fanatics who have exactly the same philosophy as the so-called 'secret six.' These were the six prominent Yankees who financed and supported that original American fanatic and terrorist named John Brown. By the way, at
least four of those six were Harvard alumni.
"If Brophy or any other neo-Puritan wants apologies for past injustices let them start by apologizing for the policies and philosophies promulgated by Harvard that led directly to an unnecessary fratricidal war that killed 620,000 Americans and kept most Southerners (of all races) in an impoverished and subjugated
condition for three generations."
Well, there you have it: the Civil War wasn't necessary, and real hatred and prejudice consists in calling for an institutional apology for an institution's role in enslaving other human beings. This kind of moral clarity and intellectual insight is worthy of...the blogosphere.