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Why is Jefferson Davis' birthday a state holiday?

by: hgalloway

Fri May 29, 2009 at 13:34:04 PM CDT

( - promoted by mooncat)

I have obviously lived under a rock until lately.  I had NO idea that Confederate Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis' birthday were state holidays.  I did know that for some reason my kids' school lists Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as the King/Lee holiday.  That doesn't sit well with me.  Was Robert E. Lee's birthday a holiday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a federal holiday?

I just really don't understand why Alabama would make Jefferson Davis' birthday a state holiday.  Is there some message our state is trying to send?

I am interested in everyone's opinion on this.

hgalloway :: Why is Jefferson Davis' birthday a state holiday?
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have to give you the standard Alabama answer... (4.00 / 2)

"it's always bin thataway."

And I say that as a 7th generation Alabamian (Bradley Byrne is only a 6th generation!)....

My hubby has a funny Robert E. Lee birthday story.  His bar mitzvah was held on Lee's birthday.  His dad went to the liquor store to buy "beverages" for the party, and it was CLOSED!  For Robert E. Lee's birthday.

The Philadelphia-born man had never heard of such, and had to drive to Tennessee.

btw... anyone else remember when liquor stores had to say only that they sold "beverages" or "packages?"

Is it still that way?  Probably not, because there are plenty of wine stores about.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

Why you ask? (4.00 / 3)

Because this is Alabama, the cradle of the Confederacy, the Heart of Dixie.  The reddest of the red confederate slave states.  Hell NO, they ain't fergittin.

I wonder if the State Alabama realizes how much revenue they lose by closing the state beverage stores on Jefferson/Lee/King's birthday?  Probably not.

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.~Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D. MA)

[ Parent ]
Well, I did some desultory googling (4.00 / 2)

But couldn't find out when Jefferson Davis' birthday became a state holiday.  Apparently the UDC was instrumental in lobbying the legislature to make it so, but they didn't provide a date on the webpage I visited.

Shame on me, I didn't even bother to google the Lee holiday, but my extremely fallible memory thinks it was already a holiday before the MLK's birthday was adopted -- there was considerable weeping and wailing over that, let me tell you.

Anyway, the best answer I can give you is that these holidays were adopted by the Legislature a long time ago.  Probably a lifetime ago.  And because Alabama is a "conservative" state, in the sense of "a state that resists change," there has been no move to do away with them.  Status quo is always the easier path -- you could easily spring from that to "conservatism is a lazy state of mind" if you were so inclined. 

Work harder and work smarter!

I would guess sometime in the 1950s (4.00 / 1)
The same time that the state flag of Georgia was redesigned to incorporate the Confederate Battle Flag as a gesture of resistance to integration and the Civil Rights movement.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
- John Adams

[ Parent ]
I am outraged! Last week I learned about segregation enshrined in the constitution (4.00 / 1)

and now this!  Has there been no organized move towerd the 21st - or even the 20th -Century in this eolithic bastion of reactionary tripe?  Let's think about Jefferson Davis for a moment.  Can somebody tell me something - antything at all that this man accomplished in his years on earth?  I mean something positive? 

Conferderate Memorial Day? WTH?  Isn't America's Memorial Day good enough for these jerks?  It was good enough for Obama and other American presidents to honor Confederate dead with a wreath. Newsflash!  The freakin' war is over and we won.  By "we", I mean all of us.  Even the morons who say "Hell no,we ain't forgettin" " and "The South shall Rise Again" are far better off today because of the defeat of the destructive forces their ancestors unleashed.

Robert E. Lee was a brilliant military mind - usually named among the top three or four in the history of the world, along with Alexander and Rommel.  But an official holiday on his birthday?  Bull hockey!  What insanity.

Tell me again why any of us continue to live in this backwater state.  I may sell my house and move a mile and a half south, just so I don't have to pay state income taxes to support this insanity.

Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. Cree Nation Tribal Prophecy

Why do we continue to live in this backwater state? (4.00 / 1)
I wonder the same thing on a daily basis.  I am just appalled that these days are state holidays.  I honestly am.  I have just been flabbergasted ever since I discovered this a few days ago.

I am the most offended by the King/Lee Holiday.  It's like the only way to appease folks around here who were offended by MLK Day becoming a federal holiday was to also say that we were celebrating Robert E. Lee's birthday.  

I still for the life of me can't understand why anyone wouldn't admire Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
Same reason MLK's birthday is a holiday (4.00 / 1)


In a sense, your comment is correct. (4.00 / 1)

I am sure that a political process was followed in adopting both holidays you reference.  The similarity ends there.

The question of Davis's Birthday being a holiday really is more about "Who was this person to be so honored?"  He must have been a great Alabaman, right?  Uh, no, he was born in Kentucky.  Well, he must have served Alabama in his political career?  Uh, no, he was a senator from Mississippi.

Okay, he was Secretary of War under Franlin Pierce.  But we don't celebrate anyone else from Pierce's administration.  In fact I wager 45% of Alabama adults would say of Franklin Pierce "He was a president?"

No we honor this man because he was the president of a renegade, breakaway group of states who attempted the destruction of our nation.  Maybe we should have a King George III Day. An Emperor Hirohito Day.  An Adolf Hitler Day.

Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. Cree Nation Tribal Prophecy

[ Parent ]
That's exactly what I said to my husband (4.00 / 1)
"we don't celebrate Adolf Hitler Day".

[ Parent ]
Confederate Memorial Day (4.00 / 1)
@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents may be a starting point to seeking answers.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...."      Hosea 4:6

MLKing/Jefferson Davis Holiday (4.00 / 1)

If I remember correctly, I believe that the only way that Alabama would adopt the observance of the King holiday is if the observance of Jefferson Davis' birthday was moved to the same day. I believe it was done so that Alabama could observe the King birthday holiday without offending the sensibilities of those who 'don't revere' Dr. King or the Civil Rights movement and their achievements (there are still many who don't consider them 'achievements,' but, rather, the ultimate degradation). I do remember some 'chit chat' among many who would not take a holiday that commemorates a Black man. I still encounter many who will concede that Dr. King "did some good, but not enough to warrant a federal holiday." The Jefferson Davis thing was a compromise.  BTW, this is recent history.

I welcome other recollections, and I'll attempt to verify with my Dad. He was instrumental in helping to organize the first King Holiday observance in Dale County. That was in 1986.

For a chronology of how the King Holiday came to be, click here

Also, check out this Wikipedia entry, particularly "Reluctance to observe day." That information very closely resembles the 'chit chat' I remember, particularly the South Carolina info.

Actually (4.00 / 1)
I think the MLK Holiday was very close in time to the Lee holiday, which already existed. Those are the two that were combined, not the Davis birthday

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke

[ Parent ]
I think the "official" explanation for combining them (4.00 / 1)

was that the state couldn't afford another state holiday.  So they combined the observances.

I'm not saying that was the real reason, but it was the official one.  Fiscal responsibility!  Our legislature's top priority, right?  ;-)

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
More Holidays! (4.00 / 1)

If we keep adding them on, eventually we'll achieve the progressive agenda of a 4-day work week!

How could we tie Rosa Parks to George Wallace? that'd be a Great Holiday! I'll take 'em anyway I can get  'em!

In the long run, they'll all be marketed shopping days anyway, and the significance of the individual recognition will disappear, kind of like the "Christian" holidays we celebrate as a "Christian" nation? Are you counting the shopping days til...? 

Speaking of Rosa Parks (4.00 / 1)
Why is the Rosa Parks Museum located at Troy University Montgoermy instead of instead of Alabama State University in Montgomery? 

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.~Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D. MA)

[ Parent ]
Don't be silly Redeye. I'm sure they had a plausible reason. (4.00 / 1)
And then they prabably had an entirely different REAL reason.

Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. Cree Nation Tribal Prophecy

[ Parent ]
First you decide what you want to do (0.00 / 0)

Then you come up with a plausible, marketable, reason for doing it.

This is an unwritten law of the universe, in case anyone missed it.  My sister-in-law used it for new prom shoes: "But I saved $50 on the dress, so the $75 shoes are a bargain!" 

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]

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