Figures of Merit

Civil War Chat

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. – Anonymous

A 2010 Atlantic Magazine article criticized a Confederate Memorial Day resolution by the Texas State Senate mentioning that 98% of Texas Confederate soldiers never owned a slave. While admitting that the statement was technically accurate, the author added that it was a “deeply, deeply dishonest statistic.”

He was correct to note that the percentage of individual soldiers who owned slaves was not a valid figure of merit by which to measure slavery’s penetration in Civil War era Texas. That’s because the patriarch was the legal slaveholder in most families, and not his sons who were more numerous in the Confederate armies than were heads-of-households.

The better figure of merit is the 28% of Civil War Texas families that owned slaves.
Even though it is much larger than the 2% mentioned in the resolution, 28% is still a comparatively small percentage. If Texas…

View original post 538 more words