York should have lost rebel Gen. John B. Gordon and his ‘Last Days of Confederacy’ talk

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This newspaper advertisement touts Gen. John B. Gordon’s return to York to deliver a speech. The friendly, enthusiastic crowd welcomed the general-turned-politician. (See photo of Gordon below.) Background posts: York County Civil War hero grandmom of Gore Vidal and Civil War affected women in York County – and vice versa and Years after Civil War, (a) Longstreet steps onto York County soil .

Imagine if a Pancho Villa-type invader from Mexico had penetrated into the United States as far as the west bank of the Susquehanna River maybe 30 years ago.
The head of this hypothetical invading force was gentlemanly, but this did not keep his men from stealing the cars and other property from many York countians. Further, he damaged other property – catalyzing the destruction of an expensive Susquehanna River bridge and trampling valuable crops in fields. He killed at least two defenders of the county and shaped the way York viewed itself for years.
Would we welcome him back as a hero? … .

That’s exactly what York did with John B. Gordon, who was on the lecture circuit in his later years. In late-June 1863, then-Gen. John B. Gordon had been in the vanguard of the Confederate Army’s invasion of York County.
Some might argue that the older John B. Gordon was a fellow American, and the nation was still trying to regroup as a nation.
But it shows again that York countians did not have fire in their bellies against those grayclad horse thieves (back to the car analogy) who terrorized most of their county in those days before the Battle of Gettysburg. And they could not muster resolve against an enemy that was protecting the enslavement of an entire race of people.
They should have disinvited Gordon and his Lost Cause ideas.
June Lloyd blogs with much more on his appearance in York. (Her Universal York post really got me thinking about this.)

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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