June 04, 2005

A ridiculous apology

The other day the CEO of my bank, Wachovia, issued a world-wide apology for doing something the bank had absolutely nothing to do with. The bank’s CEO apologized because some of Wachovia’s ancestor banks in Charleston and Georgia long ago held an interest in slaves.

The bank claims the apology followed a mandate of a Chicago municipal law requiring businesses to reveal any connections with slavery — even in the far distant past. When you talk about slave-holding, the ugly word "reparations" can’t be far away. Perhaps Wachovia’s apology seeks to mitigate the need to offer reparations. The slavery connection is some 150 years old — long before Wachovia, as we know it, existed. Maybe this was a clever move to avoid reparations.
This issue is always about money!

Does this mean I should feel guilty because my great-great-granddaddy was a blockade runner during the Civil War? He came to Pensacola, Florida, in the early 1860s from the Highlands of Scotland with his sailing vessel. G-G-Grandaddy Francis purchased bolts of textile materials which he transported to Boston and sold to the Union Army for the making of uniforms.
Once his cargo was unloaded, he purchased firearms from New England gunsmiths and sailed back down around the Florida Straits to Pensacola where he sold those weapons to Confederate troops. Some might think of G-G-Daddy Francis as a gun-runner, but I prefer to think of him as an entrepreneur with a flair for high adventure. Whatever — had he been captured by either side he’d have been promptly hanged. But he wasn’t captured, he just continued making handsome profits. After the "hostilities" ended, G-G-Daddy Francis moved to Philadelphia where he planted a family. One ancestor, my grandfather, was in the butter-and-egg business.

Now, based on Wachovia’s logic, I must owe both the North and the South profound apologies for events which occurred more than 65 years before my birth. And what if my apologies — which have not yet been offered — lead to claims for reparations? How much must I pay each claimant and what are the criteria for making such claims?
I may close my account with Wachovia and move over to a savings and loan.


  1. Well, at least one of ancestors was an entrepreneur! :) Linda B

  2. There seems to be a spate of new apologies for OLD injuries.

  3. You might need to consider a second mortgage on your home to make those payments. Excellent column.

  4. I disagree that one who can walk and chew gum safely can also operate a cell phone safely while driving. Our PD offers stats that show an increase in number of accidents involving drivers using cell phones. And this is from your Texas cousin, so pay attention. Gimme a few stats from S.C.