The Future of the Confederate Flag

My recent post on the unveiling of another large Confederate flag in Tennessee generated a number of comments.  It’s an emotional issue on all sides and it is unlikely that the interested parties will ever fully agree on whether it should be displayed in public as well as its meaning.  But that’s the way it is when it comes to controversial symbols.  By definition they are open to multiple points of view.  There is a certain amount of legitimacy on all sides and on occasion we can also see these same individuals/groups engaged in actions that betray ignorance and callousness.  Consider H.K. Edgerton’s ridiculous suggestion that if you don’t revere the Confederate flag than you ought to be considered a “traitor” or the Auburn official who plucked the Confederate flags from a soldier ceremony.  I could go on and on with examples.

Such a state of affairs is one of the reasons why I’ve suggested that the flag ought to be removed to a museum setting where it can be properly interpreted.  I don’t understand why more people in the SCV and other Confederate heritage groups don’t consider such a move.  Done right the flag would be taken out of a public debate that rarely evolves in a way where any real understanding of history is conveyed; it simply works to fuel passions on both sides.  As I see it the problem is that the flag is both connected to men who fought bravely in battle during the Civil War and it is a flag that was used as a symbol against civil rights in the 1950s.  You can’t change the history and, by extension, the way people identify with it.  To suggest otherwise is to misunderstand history and the nature of symbols themselves.  Go to the Museum of the Confederacy and you will see the flag in the context of the Civil War.  Across Broad Street, at the American Civil War Center at Tredegar, you will see the flag associated with the Civil War as well as a symbol of white supremacy in the 1950s.  The flag is there to be better understood.

Now, you might suggest that I am being a bit extreme in suggesting that the flag ought to be retired to a museum.  After all, its supporters want to see it in public as a rallying point and as a symbol of pride.  Fair enough and luckily we live in a society where that is permitted up to a point.  The sticking point as we know all too well is that the visibility of the Confederate flag is determined to a certain extent by society through local assemblies and other levels of government.  And let’s keep something very important in mind as we proceed: THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE!

The only difference in the last three decades following the civil rights movement is that a much broader segment of the population can now weigh in on issues having to do with how the past is remembered in public spaces because a broader segment of society is now represented in local government.  Because of this the debates are more heated and the outcomes no longer follow what some have taken for granted for far too long.  Does anyone really believe that if African Americans had been allowed to take part in local government during the era of Jim Crow we would not have seen a more vigorous and and even contentious debate about the public display of the Confederate flag along with monuments and other public sites?  Of course we would.  The defensiveness of some who believe that their “heritage” is under attack is a function of the fact that a certain segment of society has had a monopoly on public remembrance.  That has changed since the 1960s, but again, it should not be seen as anything more than the same democratic process at work.

So, what is the future of the Confederate flag (along with other symbols) and their meaning?  Its future will be determined in every community by those who choose to focus on whether this particular symbol best reflects their values and its collective past.  For instance, in Allegany County, Maryland the local school board has prevented the distribution of a pamphlet that depicts the Confederate flag.  In Jonesborough, Tennessee the mayor and aldermen voted to allow the placement of bricks with the names of Confederate soldiers from the county in a display to honor its veterans.  In both cases, as in so many other examples that can be found in newspapers across the country, these decisions are being made by elected officials who do their best to reflect the sentiment of their constituents. Get it right in enough cases and they stand a good chance of being reelected.  Get it wrong and they are out on their asses.  There is no fixed meaning of symbols with the kind of contested history as the Confederate flag, but if enough people rally to allow or prevent its display in a park or parade, etc than in that sense the community has issued a statement.  In each decision the meaning of the flag is fixed until the community chooses to change it.

On one of Robert Moore’s recent comment threads, fellow blogger Richard Williams suggested that the large Confederate flags are examples of “push back” against those who are perceived to be a threat to their preferred view of the past.  I think that is a fair characterization, but it is one that I hope I’ve explained in this post lies at the foundation of our democratic process.  Let me suggest that the supporters of the Confederate flag ought to be grateful that we now live in a society where “push back” is possible.

99 responses... add one

The Flag doesn’t need to be in a museum. The Flag needs Americans to Grow up and stop all this gripping about what offends them. I am offended by enough stuff to write a book if I wanted to take the time to do so. Americans need to remember the whole history of the Flag the good and the bad. People who are not old enough to have experienced Jim Crow and Racism need to quit acting like they did. Kevin the real issue is a lack of Historical knowledge and Maturity! Too many people on both sides are acting like they are in Kindergarden! Sending the Battle Flag to a Museum is giving up my Rights per the Bill of Rights. I have never asked anyone to give up theirs to please me and I don’t want anybody asking me to give up mine to please them.

Mike,

It’s not simply a matter of remembering the “whole” history of the flag as much as it is in making a decision based on its history as to its meaning. With all due respect, I’m not sure your comment really addresses the purpose of this post. The issue is not simply what offends or doesn’t offend, but what an individual or community believes best reflects its values. For a growing number of people the Confederate flag no longer does – end of story.

In Jonesborough, Tennessee it took a threat of a Lawsuit to get the City to play nice.

Kevin:

From my days in broadcast media (not very long, but it was my major at Stephen F. Austin State University), I seem to remember something called “local community standards” to define decency in the public sphere. Basically, this theory is that what is acceptable over the airwaves in New York or Los Angeles may not be acceptable in Wills Point, Texas or Charlottesville because the broader tastes of the community define what is acceptable over the public airwaves. Sure, there are some decency laws that apply everywhere via the FCC (e.g. George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words”), but on the whole, local communities dictate what a radio personality say based on the tastes of the people living there.

If I read your post correctly, this varied approach to “local community standards” as it applies to the Confederate battle flag is one of the reasons for advocating its interpretation in the museum. In addition, within each community, differing constiuencies are at loggerheads over its interpretation, particularly in the public arena.

Mike:

Personally, if someone wants to place a flagpole in his/her yard and display a reasonably-sized Confederate battle flag, that should be their choice. What I have a problem with is flying one that would cover the Jumbotron at the new Cowboy’s Stadium in a public space and forcing everyone, whether they want to or not, whether they agree with it or not, to view it. Then, these same people who want to fly this honkin’ huge flag say the rest of us have to accept it as a freedom of speech right, well, I suppose that’s where I choose to disagree.

In the end, symbols mean a variety of things to a myriad of people. I believe people who want to have the freedom to continue to fly Confederate battle flags need to consider this and think about displaying it where it is acceptable to the greater community — on their own flagpole, on their own property and in such a way that I or anyone else can look away from it if we so choose. But please, do not confuse the large displays of Confederate battle flags with a freedom of speech issue. As the saying goes, “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining!”

Kevin,

I don’t own a gun, although I believe in and will fight like hell for those who do want to exercise their rights to do so. Like Mike, I am Offended as Hell at Many of the Issues and Object displays in our Society. Since we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, although “Fast Disappearing” We have an Obligation to be “More Tolerant” of Those we are “Offended” by in their Actions and Displays. Many are “Offended” by the slightest issues, such as God Written on Currency or Christmas Trees in the Town Square.

There’s an old saying – “Be Careful of What You Wish For”, You May Get Your Wish. And, Then what’s next – Banning Military Flags in Public, Banning R.O.T.C. Recruiting on College Campuses [Shoot - that's already happening and it's spreading like wildfire], or Perhaps we Need to Finally ban S.U.V.’s because of their Imaginary Carbon Footprint [which doesn't exist - because Global Warming is a Hoax]. As Bill Clinton say, Ban Flags and the Camel Gets His Nose in the Tent. Book Banning Cold be Next, and You should Remember from your Readings about the Burning of the Books in Germany preceding WWII.

As long as there are tens of millions of Americans who will fight for their rights, then this issue of taking a Flag away from someone is not going to happen. Next to the Guns that People in the South own Freely and with a Purpose, If you try to take either one of these Items – Guns or Flags away from them, You Will Get a Fight from them that will never end.

Kevin, the best way to deal with this issue is to educate “everyone in the loop”, especially to those who are “Offended”. These are Heritage Symbols, every bit as symbolic as the Tartans and Colors of Ireland and Scotland. Many use several of the Confederate Flag Variations for many purposes and uses. For Example, on your recent trip to Five Forks you took a photo of Sutherland’s Station, and their was a Confederate Stars and Bars at the base of the Monument. I put that flag there, and if you had gone on down to Namozine Church – You would have found another Flag that I had placed.

Kevin, for the Group of Individuals who are Constantly on Attack against Southerners, Southern Rights, Southern Symbols, and Southern Heritage, these are the Very Ones damaging the Core of “Civil War Memory”. Many of the States are not going to have a Sesquicentennial, and Ohio has backed out of the event 100%. Some of the Southern States are so Sensitive in their Sesquicentennial Events that you can’t even find a Confederate Flag on their Website. The Commissions for the Sesquicentennial Programs are made up of African Studies Professors and very Few Authors of Southern History Material that’s true to the History of the Southern Soldier.

Consider this, some of the most dedicated Civil War followers are the groups that honor their Ancestry and Genealogy – Sons of Confederate Veterans and Daughters of the Confederacy. The Sesquicentennial Commissions are Dreaming if they think they are going to excite those most interested, unless they become more historic in the Regimental Studies and Service Histories of the Ordinary Confederate Soldier.

This is my Humble Opinion, but I do have a background in Sales and Marketing, and One of the Number One Rules – You have to Appeal to the Interests of your Group to be successful in your efforts. Perhaps, the Sesquicentennial Program could change the dynamics by placing the Confederate Flag on their Web Pages, and Recruiting some Good Writers and Historians who are more interested in the Military History in Something Other than Slavery.

Bobby Edwards, you seem to have forgotten what the civil war was all about. The southerners did not want SLAVERY to end and was therefore fighting to break free so they can run their states their way with slaves working to build their economy. The flag represents that war, the ‘civil war’. That’s why also white supremacy groups used that flag in the 1950′s so you saying programs should ‘change the dynamics’ really can’t be done. From the moment that flag was flown it oppressed people. Why post that on websites? If you want to raise the flag in support of racist views that’s your choice but for the people who are offended by the symbol have some respect.

Greg,

Good points.

Bobby,

This has absolutely nothing to do with violating your constitutional rights or the burning of books or preventing you from displaying the flag on private property. What I am specifically talking about is the public square. Communities make these kinds of decisions all the time so nothing I’ve suggested should be understood as a constitutional question.

Why do you immediately point the finger at those who are offended as in need of education. The history of the flag gives Americans of various stripes a very good reason to be disgusted. It sounds like all you are complaining about is that some people do not share your preferred view. And that is my point. There is no one way to view this symbol; again it means different things to different people. Let me be clear that I am not advocating “banning” the Confederate flag. What I am suggesting is that the very system that allowed the flag to fly with no “push back” following the war and through Jim Crow is the same system that has now made room for differing views.

The rest of your comment has nothing to do with the post so I will leave it at that. Suffice it to say that as a member of Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial we have had very little difficulty generating interest among a wide range of people.

…and is there no room for people who think like Bobby on Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial commission? It appears you will take it upon yourselves to dictate to the rest of us how we are to view our past, and the symbols that were bequeathed to us by it. Truly Orwellian!!

No one is dictating anything. The commission is made up of a wide range of people from various backgrounds around the state. My guess is that you know very little about the make-up of this body so you should probably refrain from issuing vague references (“Orwellian) about it.

The flag should not be solely in a museum, but great care should be taken when it is on display in public. Frankly, most folks don’t care about it one way or the other, but if you are black and grew up or had family in the South the St. Andrews cross flag doesn’t bring back memories of the Civil War – rather it is a vivid reminder of folks who held that flag high and tried everything possible to keep racism and segregation running full steam ahead. When your or your father was called one name or another and treated like a dog by someone carrying that flag, who more often than not couldn’t even tell you who the Confederate President was, the memories are still pretty vivid. By the way, all of that was really about heritage. It was some white folks slowly realizing their heritage wasn’t the only one that mattered. Also, that didn’t happen 145 years ago – that was happening in public 45 years ago.

But that said the flag should not just be in a museum. For example, where I work at Carnton, there is a Confederate Cemetery with a battle flag and National flag flying high above every day. Those flags should NEVER have to be removed. Confederate soldiers who flew that flag in battle aren’t the problem so I am not going to condemn them for the silliness that is often promoted in their name(s) today.

What is the future of the flag? It’s future is limited and is dwindling. In 20-30 or so years it will probably be in places where it should be – at Confederate cemeteries, at appropriate descendants’ functions, and, yes, in museums.

If the SCV really wanted to be clever they would just drop the battle flag and instead use and promote the Stars and Bars. No one would ever complain!!!!

Eric,

Of course I agree that the flag can never simply be relegated to a museum and that it does seem fitting to allow them in cemeteries. My point, however, is that its future in the public square (i.e. parades, parks, schools, etc.) will be determined by whether the symbol reflects the values of the community just as it has been done from the late nineteenth century on. The only difference is that now the system allows for “push back” which was not the case just a few decades ago.

Sherree

The recent senseless murder at the Holocaust Museum has shaken my heart
As well as opened my eyes.
In all the world you will find no one who defends the battle flag, or holds it in greater reverence than I do. But I am just one man. My vision as well as my beliefs are not the whole picture.
My flag has been used as a terrorist weapon. Not only recently but in years gone by. In my defense of the flag I have in the past stated “ You must look past the hate groups who adopted the flag to the man who flew it originally.”
I was wrong ! As much as I love and respect the flag I must include its misuse by “others” to perceive the whole picture.
I shall in the future be more perceptive and respectful to those who see the flag as a hate tool.
And I shall also redouble my efforts to show what it means to me.
I love the Flag in a way that cannot be adequately described in words.
Nor can I describe my distress for those who have been intimidated or abused by its other application .

Speaking only for myself, not the SCV or NAACP , or anyone else in any capacity !
“I still love my flag, but shall strive to present it in a respectful setting”
At one time I did not care what others thought of my flag, now I do !

Respectfully Submitted

David Tatum

While the Flag might offically wind up in a museum it will be flown and displayed by Rebels till it is outlawed or there are no more Rebels.

Kevin,
The “Public Square” is Still Protected by the 1st Amendment, and as of Today I have the Right to Display Whatever Flag that I want to. That is protected by the 1st Amendment Rights. Not to be difficult, but perhaps you could enlighten me as to what Law has been passed Nationwide or Statewide that Prohibts or Bans the Confederate Flag in Public?

Banning the Flag would be Censorship, especially if you apply a doctrine that if this were the only Flag Banned. The Supreme Court has often ruled in Seperate and Equal Scenario’s.

It’s like the Mexican Flag being flown in the recent Citizenship Rallies of Illegals and Others, in the “Public Square”. Perhaps the Mexican Illegals should have been flying American Flags , but instead they were flying “Mexican Flags”.

There are too many “Elitist Groups” trying to decide what’s appropriate for the “Public Square”, and you will often find the Heavy Hand of Censorship at Universities. For example, today on the news – there’s a story about the University of Oregon removing 80% to 90% of the Conservative Paper called “Liberty” from the Campus and Throwing the Papers in the Trash. The University Claim – “They Wanted to Keep Trash on the Campus down to a Minimum”, however only the Conservative Paper was thrown in the Trash. Perhaps this isn’t the type of “Public Square” that our country is entitled to.

Eric,

I will grant that the display of the flag over a Confederate cemetery is an appropriate public display. That said, the Confederate cemetery I have visited near Keatchie, LA (near the site of the Battles of Spring Hill and Mansfield) flew the Third National, both a national flag of the Confederacy and incorporating the St. Andrew’s Cross. It is of a standard size and not imposing itself upon the passersby. This is an appropriate display of “honoring heritage” sentiment through the display of a Confederate flag.

Bobby,

Public spaces limit free speech all the time and that is not considered to be a violation of the first amendment. Take for instance the wearing of t-shirts in public schools which has been limited owing to recent racial concerns. The story cited in the post surrounding the pamphlet is another such example. I am not going to address your elitist groups comment since I have no idea what you are referring to. There is nothing controversial about what I am sketching out since public spaces have always been controlled in certain ways based on community standards. Where do you live?

Bobby,

You, personally, have the right to fly whatever flag you choose — on your own flagpole, on your own property — no one is suggesting that your 1st Amendment freedoms be abridged. On the other hand, utilizing the public sightline to make a statement, by whatever group and for whatever purpose, is wrong — both with regard to Confederate battle flags and Mexican flags.

As far as the University of Oregon removing a conservative publication (That is what you are referring to when you say “paper,” is it not?) from campus, that’s an apples to oranges comparison here. In that case a 1st Amendment right has been abridged — especially if no other publication has been removed from the campus.

When it comes to Confederate battle flags, or any other flag, you and others who support the flying of extremely large ones, have an attitude of “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.” We would, except the flag is so damn big if we do while driving down the road, there would be major pileups on the interstates near where these flags are located. Why should I have to reroute my trip through Tennessee or Florida to avoid those areas and looking at a flag?

I’m not sure what the point is in doing this, but, in my opinion, it does nothing to promote either history or heritage. It comes across as more of a spitting (I’ll keep it cleaner this time, Kevin) contest — a pretty selfish agenda, again, in my opinion, and, the last time I looked, selfishness is not protected by the 1st Amendment.

The point here as I understand it is not the First Amendment, but that in a museum you can interpret the complete history of the flag or any historic document, while in public display you can only get the narrow interpretation of the group that posted it. The whole point is, this is a HISTORIC flag, not a flag that is recognized by the UN or any public office in the US as a flag that represents officially “the South” today, a Southern State or anything else. So, as it is already outdated in its function it is up for historic interpretation. Therefore, its perfect place is in a museum (or in its historic site, i.e. cemeteries etc.). In the museum it would allow for a complete narrative which would, of course, include that certain groups consider it to represent their heritage, while it is representing slavery and oppression to other groups. So, to have just one group putting it up in the Court Square does not give that group the ownership of interpretation however “big-ass” that piece of textile may be. And all of those so dearly clinging on to their First Amendment are still wrong if they think it represents Southern heritage and pride. The first Amendment, bless it, does nothing to protect you from error and ignorance. It is not about banning the flag in public places, it is that its display is meaningless other than to propagate that particular group’s opinion. The local soccer club could do the same for my sake only they tend to be more inclusive and less offensive to a particular group in the community. PS: If you are afraid of peer review or interpretation it tells me more about you or your group than about the item on display.

Dave,

You have really turned a corner. It happens to all of us at some point in our lives, and in various areas of our lives.

In order to get some different interpretations of the Civil War and good thoughts and opinions, you might want to listen to David Blight’s lectures online. Blight is a professor at Yale, and the lectures are free. (Never thought you would be going to Yale, did you, lol?) The link is oyc.yale.edu. Just click on “history”, then go to Blight. If you decide to do this, just listen to what Blight says and don’t get defensive. As I said to Mike, Blight doesn’t pull any punches when presenting the history of either the north or the south. There were roughly four million black men and women who were slaves in 1861. That is a staggering number, and a staggering tragedy. Also, on Google Books, you can read the slave narrative of Frederick Douglas. Douglas takes both northerners and southerners to task as well. He is not easy on either group. You know about Kevin’s blog, and now you have established rapport with Kevin and with me. Greg Rowe, Robert Moore (Cenantua), and Vikki Bynum (Renegade South) run excellent blogs that are educational. I have learned a lot from all of the bloggers I mentioned (and also from some I haven’t mentioned) and from David Blight. I noticed on your website a little girl. I assume that she is your granddaughter. She is beautiful. Have a good evening, Dave, and everyone else as well. As always, Kevin, thank you for all that you do. Also, thank heavens you spoke up Michaela! I was beginning to wonder what happened to all of the women! Sherree

I Fly American Flags, I don’t Fly Confederate Flags. I don’t wear Confederate Clothes, Hat, T-Shirts, nor Do I wear American Flags or T-Shirts. I don’t own a Gun, but I am a Die-Hard 2nd Amendment Protector.

Everyone’s Danced Around the Issue of eithe a State Law or National Law that Would Prohibit the Flying of the Confederate Flag, Any Version in Whatever Time Frame.

For Sheree – There’s a Cherokee Confederate Flag, Where more than 20,000 Indians of Color wore Confederate Gray, fighting under General Stand Watie – The Last General to Surrender. School Grounds are not the Public Square – They are the School Yard, guided by School Clothing Regulations. I wouldn’t want Children Wearing Flags of Any Kind.

At one time in our Society, the Preservation of Individual Rights, linked Closely to the 1st Amendment was a Sarcosanct Right – Defended by All. Now, in our Society, there are Groups of Individuals who, if they don’t like you or agree with you – Will Sanction You and Deprive You of Your Rights. The Issue at Colleges around the Country, and recently within the last couple of Days a Conservative Newsletter hauled off to the Trash Dump and restricted to only One Point of Distribution. This type of Censorship of Thought in Banning Books or Publications on Campus, or of Flying a Flag is Dangerous to our Society. I am a War Veteran, and I Fought for These Rights, and Dammn Well I Will Protect Them. The Removal of Magazines, Newsletters, Books, and Yes – Even Flags approaches the Evils of an Adolph Hitler.

That’s My Humble Opinion. I would be just as Passionate about “Your rights to own a Handgun”.

Bobby,

Of course the school is a public space since it is funded by tax dollars and regulated by state and federal laws. Sorry, but I cannot respond to hysteria re: your first amendment rights. Nothing I’ve said challenges anyone’s right to fly a Confederate flag on private property. To compare this to book burning and gun control fails to address the major points of the post.

“For Sheree – There’s a Cherokee Confederate Flag, Where more than 20,000 Indians of Color wore Confederate Gray, fighting under General Stand Watie – The Last General to Surrender. ”

Bobby,

I know about Stand Watie. I also know that some Cherokee owned slaves. I would not fly either the Confederate flag or the Cherokee Confederate flag. On some days, I am not interested in flying the American flag. That does not make me un-patriotic. I am very patriotic. I love this country very much.

You are mixing too many issues up. You make some really good points, but they are hard to grasp because you are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Kevin.

Everyone honors your service, Bobby. The Vietnam War, and the way in which the nation turned its back on veterans of that war, is a shameful chapter in our nation’s history. You have that all wrapped up with the Civil War, though, and they are two really different wars.

Sherree

PS. If you go to your friend’s reservation, please take some tobacco to him for me. A cigarette emptied into a small piece of red cloth will do. That is a sign of friendship and of respect. You already have both with your friend. That is just for me, Bobby, to thank both of you for working for abused women, since I have known women who have seen the wrong side of a man’s fist, and they need our communities working for them. Thanks.

Bobby,

At least take the time to get basic facts straight. In 1861 the Cherokee population numbered somewhere around 17,000. The Cherokee were bitterly divided over whether to support the Confederacy. Article 41 of the treaty between the Confederacy and Cherokee called for the formation of a regiment of ten companies of mounted men with two reserve companies to serve in the armies of the Confederacy for 12 months.

If you want your comments to be approved you need to be more responsible. Thank you for your understanding.

(Kevin, sorry for the personal post to Sherree)
Sherree, Good to hear from you. It always amazes me how these discussions over that flag turn out. As if all the richness of Southern history and culture can be best represented by that piece of textile that was flown over the South when it fought over slavery. I would never dare or choose to fly a swastika over our house to represent the richness of German culture especially in the first part of the 20th century that includes Bertold Brecht, Kurt Weill, Lisa Meitner, Otto Hahn and Arnold Schoenberg (who went into exile and among others had lived 4 apartments down from the apartment I occupied in the 1990s in Boston. Being a musician I thought that was the coolest). I don’t care what kind of textile people in the US choose to fly, but I find it suspicious that when interpretation is suggested it always becomes a First Amendment issue which wasn’t even the point of this post.

Not to put my bronzed native Westerner nose into this question, but when the loudest defenders of the rights of julep-sipping southrons to display their beloved flag “wear-evah” they wish can not – quite – manage to grasp the rules of Capitalization in Standard american english IN A consistent Manner, It Does very Little for Their Argument and tends to LEAD readers to To Tune them Out.

It is a parody, right?

Kevin, I have to say I enjoyed the photo of the two women “honoring” the flag; perhaps if more Americans chose to “honor” it in such a way – could Confederate Battle Flag thongs be next? Speedos? Flip-flops? Diapers? – then those who see this as a necessary “push back” might give up and find something else to get exercised about…

Flouridated water, perhaps?

Our precious bodily juices?

TF,

I have to say that I fail to see what this has to do with the subject of the post.

Michaela,

It is good to hear from you, too. Your point of view is always so refreshing! I wish that the history and legacy of the Civil War in America had been as clear as the history and legacy of World War II in your country. (I am sure that there are many historians who would not agree with that statement. Let’s just say that I am speaking broadly) In many ways the American Civil War never ended, and the issues that started it were never fully resolved. Thus, we are still debating those issues nearly one hundred fifty years later. I have never been a defender of the Confederate flag. To me it has always been a symbol of terrible violence and hatred, because of my family’s connection to the black community in our area. I have an almost visceral reaction to seeing the flag because it brings back memories of the 1960s and images of beatings and murders on the TV screen and of the assassination of Dr. King, and of Medger Evers, and of the Kennedys, and of all of the violence. We lived and breathed the 1960s in my house because my parents were active in local civil rights issues and they worked at the Job Corps, a social program for disadvantaged youth. Thus, many of my parents’ friends and colleagues were black. Dr King’s murder was truly devastating for everyone. It was a terrible time. (Many of my parents’ friends were also Vietnam soldiers and several did not come home except in body bags, so a cheap pot shot at a veteran’s preferred method of Capitalization is Not Appreciated. Disagree With His Views. But Don’t Take Pot Shots at Him From Behind Your Computer Screen. Sorry Michaela, that was not for you, but for a previous commenter)

It is an impossible issue, is my point. Truly impossible! I don’t know what to think when I see an African American woman wearing a “Confederate” bikini, except that maybe she has claimed and redefined the symbol in a defiant way. In other words, she owns the symbol now; it does not own her.

I wish it were as simple as the display of the swastika. The swastika is almost universally condemned (except by holocaust deniers) The Confederate flag, for some reason, is an elusive symbol. It continually transforms itself into something else.

As far as putting up big ass flags on super highways in the south right when we elect our first African American President, though–that’s an easy one to catch.

Schoenberg lived in the same apartment building you lived in–now that is cool!

(Thanks, Michaela. And thanks, Kevin. I am sorry as well to put in a direct post to Michaela.)

Kevin,

The number of Cherokee Indians was a number that I had seen in print someplace, and just like the Official Records, there’s lot of material that gets a little off with numbers, especially when you are quoting from memory. As there’s over 25 years of Civil War Magazines, and a large number of books in my library, I can’t remember where I got the quote.

However, in trying to sift through all of the facts and sometimes you see writers using individuals like Grant’s, Ely Parker, an American Indian, who wrote the terms of surrender documents for Grant. Parker’s promotion by many writers as an Indian has warranted many Civil War Magazine articles – It’s a Great Story. Through the Civil War, the Indians in the West waged war against the deserted Forts and Outposts of far strung Western areas. Indians are men of Color. I am wondering if the Federal Units that included primarily Indian Regiments were classified seperately as USCT? Just curious. But, I do know that Mexicans from Texas and Indians from various Nations rode with Confederates, and fought for the Confederacy – Sometimes under the flag of the Cherokee’s.

I have a friend who is a Custer fan, and this past Fall spent some time out in the Dakotas with the Lakota, Sioux, and other tribes. He’s a Movie Producer including many historical productions. By the way, he may have something worked out with the North Carolina Sesquicentennial Commission. For those who measure Southerner’s in unflattering studies, reports, and writings, my friends opinion is that they pale in comparison as to what we have done against the American Indians, all under the American Flag. While attending Christopher Newport University on the G.I. Bill, one of the Books for required reading was – “Custer Died For Your Sins”. It’s been more than 30 years ago that I read the book, but I remember the many unforgivable sins that our Government perpertrated on the American Indians.

It’s a shame that the Tar Heel Cavalry Brigade of Rufus Barringer had not finished off old Curly a whole lot sooner at Five Forks, or Haws Shop back in 1864. As I see it, Custer could have never died for our Sins. They still haunt us to this day, Under the American Flag.

- Trail of Tears, Seminoles and Cherokees
- Broken Treaties and Promises
- Ethnic Cleansing of Cherokees in their Migration Westward
- After the Civil War, The Relentless War on Men of Color – “The American Indians”

Bobby,

Parker’s story is indeed interesting. Also, there is no doubt the clash of cultures between indigenous people and European immigrants is a sad story. What I fail to understand is how the actions of the U.S. government in its relations with Native -Americans is a defense of the Confederacy. We can point fingers at the post-war army in the west as if only Northerners are to blame for what happened (even that gets complicated), but remember it was Andrew Jackson and Southerners who instigated the Trail of Tears.

Bob,

I am so glad that you responded. For some reason, many individuals believe that modern-day descendents of Southerner’s defend Slavery. The mistake by many is that they ascribe a Nation’s 1810-1820-1830-1840-1850 & 1860 Values to todays descendents when they engage in Conversations about Slavery. I started with the 1810 era because in that time frame, Slavery by European Countries had been discontinued. Soon Haiti would defeat French Colonial rule gaining their Independence. Bob, under the American Flag that pursuit of Slavery continued by New Enland Merchants in the transport of Slaves. Northern Businessmen and Entrepreneurs headed South as Cotton became King and established the Largest of Plantations Needing the Largest amounts of Labor – Slaves.

Bob, The Slavery Issue from the beginning of the Colonies at Jamestown, In South America earlier, and when the Founding Fathers came up with a Flag to Create this Nation – Slavery was Legal Under the American Flag. Bob – The American Flag. As Europe Freed their Slaves, America Continued with Slavery – Under the American Flag. The Race for Political Power between North and South Unfortunately About Slavery, and How Slavery Provided the “Basis for Congressional Representation” as designed by Congress, Under the American Flag. When New England States feuded with Congressional over Issues, in the 1840′s (?) they threatned to Seceed from the Union and the American Flag.

At West Point Miltiary Academy – Flying the American Flag, Academic Classes on the Constution provided the Military Officers with the Basis and Foundation Premisis that when the Colonies Formed a Union – They had a Right to Leave it and Seceed, just like the New England States Understood it and threatened to pursue. Heck even during the Civil War, New York Citiy, Interperting the Right of Secession – Also pursued that Avenue. Slavery May have been at the Issue of Seceesion, but I tend to believe there were dozens of Issues, One of which that stood out more than others was all about the Tariff Receipts that were 80% of the Treasury – Collected from the South. Hurrah for that, Cotton was King Afterall, and the Modern Day Them of Tax the Rich isn’t bad after all, but the Receipts were distributed mostly to Northern Infrastructure Projects; such as Ports, Docks, Railroads, and Canals. All the While the North was Building up a New World Industrial Power, the South was being Starved of Needed Infrastructure.

Bob, Let’s Turn the Tables, and Let’s Say the South were receiving the 80% of the Treasury Revenues and Were building their Ports of Norfolk, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and New Orleans to the World’s Greatest Ports, and the Rail Lines, Canals, and Industrial Power Exceeded the South, But – Let’s Say Just for Grins that Products Coming into the Northern Ports Generated 80% of the Revenue. Would the Northerners Have some Tight Jaws. You Betcha. Would they Consider the Actions of the Earlier New Englanders and Seceede – You Betcha. Southern Legislators were never happy of where the Revenues were Directed from the 80% of the Tariff’s they brought In. When you Screw the Money Maker – They May Want to Get out of the Game.

In the 1860 Elections, with the Fracture of the Southern Wing of the Democrats, and the Additional Party – The South Lost All of Their Political Power. They were in a Land With “No Political Power Whatsoever”. Their memories of the Founding Fathers giving them the rights to leave the Marriage, the Constitutional Teachings at West Point of Secesion Validated their Efforts to leave the Union. As all of the Legislators and Congressmen left the Halls of Congress in Washington and returned to their states, the Balance of Power and Legislative Power Shifted to the Federal Government in D.C. from the Northern and Border States. No Voting Power from the South could Interfere with Any Program, Any Policy, or Any Attempt at Legislation of Northern States.

After all of the Discussions about Slavery and all of the Debate, Now in the Halls of Congress – those Southern Legislators were Gone. Throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, and Maryland – There Were Slaves Still Reporting to Masters, Owned by Masters like General U.S. Grant. Bob, This is a Slam Dunk – this is the American Flag Government after All, and Only that Confederate Flag now Flying had Slaves. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Lincoln didn’t Want to Free the Slaves, Legislators and Congressmen Didn’t Attempt One Piece of Legislation to “Free the Slaves”. Battles would pass, Southern Victories, and No Slaves Freed by the American Flag, It Still Flies Over Slavery. Now in 1862, when Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation – It Becomes Nothing More than “Providing False Freedom” to Many Slaves in the South. Throughout the Federal Territory, Owners of Slaves Could Keep Them. Lincoln had a Great Military Strategy – Make the Slaves in the South Believe they were Free, All the While in the North, Under the American Flag, they were still Slaves. After Gettysburg, when Irish Immigrants in New York City Rioted – killing large numbers of Blacks, perhaps that could have been an opening to Free the Slaves – It didn’t happen and we continue to Fly the American Flag, and Ships Going to Liberia still Carried Slaves back to Africa, Under Lincoln’s Wishes, and Still Under the American Flag. After Key Victories of Vicksburg, Atlanta, and the South didn’t look like it was going to last another month – Congress Did Nothing About the Slaves in America, and Lincoln did Nothing about the Slaves in America – And, Under the American Flag.

At the End of the War, when Atlanta Fallen, All Southern Ports Closed, Railroads into Richmond and Petersburg Severed, and with just weeks and Days Left in the War, Finally Congress Knowing that the End of the War, They were going to have to Finally Do Something About Slavery – Started with the Process of Writing the 13th Amendment, Finally Freeing the Slaves.

Bob, For Most of the Civil War, While the American Flag Flew, Without and Southern Legislators to Stop the North – those Americans Kept Slavery, Until the Very End.

Under the American Flag.

I Respect the Southern Flag, because it Only Represents the Southerner on the Battlefield. Others Ascribe to it Whatever they Want. It’s Currently Protected by the 1st Amendment and the Laws on the Book.

Yes – Slavery Should Have been Over in 1810, but the American Flag Stood in the Way. Have you ever Wondered why it took until the End of the Civil War with 600,000+ Dead to Finally End Slavery? All the While, Under the American Flag.

Bobby,

Once again I am going to ask you to take the time to get your facts straight. Your comment about Grant and slavery is incredibly misleading. In 1859, Grant freed William Jones, the only slave he is known to have owned. In addition, West Point did not teach their students that secession was justified. You are going to have to provide some references to support this claim. West Point provided students with a national focus at a time when regional identification was much more common. If you expect to have future comments approved you will need to do a better job collecting reliable information. Thanks for your understanding.

It was taught in a textbook by William Rawle entitled “A View of the Constitution”. I believe the time period was the 1820′s. I have a copy of the book in my personal library. Bobby was correct on this point.

Kevin,

The U.S. Grant Issue – I didn’t know the numbers, dates, but according to you, it’s indisputable that Grant had a Slave. I knew that, and thanks for informing to me that he was free.

In my Opinion, if the topic of Slavery is presented, I would assume that all of the Participants, the time frame of events, and the Laws that finally did away with Slavery are part of the forum. The topic leaves a lot of questions as to why the United States didn’t do away with Slavery much sooner. Why didn’t anytime in Congress didn’t Lincon issue a “Real Emancipation” that Freed the Slaves in the North as Well as Using his Military Strategy of Freeing Slaves in the South. Why did the North wait until the End of the War to Free Slaves?

The West Point Issue – I am glad you brought it up. It may be an opportunity for all to delve into what West Point was Instructing Officers in the Constituion as written by a Philadelphia Lawyer. I have seen this topic in my Civil War Magazines several times, so I assume that through the many articles, that someone knew what they were talking about. Here’s a quick look at a source:

by William Rawle
originally published in 1825
paperback; 350 pages
Written by a Philadelphia lawyer, this nearly-forgotten book is an excellent treatise on the federal Constitution and openly discusses and defends the right of a State to withdraw from the Union. Wrote Rawle, “It depends on the State itself to retain or abolish the principle of representation, because it depends on the State itself whether it continues a member of the Union…. The secession of a State from the Union depends on the will of the people.” What is not widely known today by the advocates of an “indivisible Union” is that this book was used to teach cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York from 1825 to 1826.

Kevin – Concerning the Mindset of those who formed the Government and the Constitution, I will grant that some probably came away after the Constitutional Convention believing that Secession was legal, while others felt that it was not possible once the Constution had been ratified. I do know that there was a deadlock at the Convention and the Federalists and States Rights groups were at each others throats for hours trying to hammer out a resolution. In a successful negotiation, both sides have to feel they got what they wanted, and perhaps this is the case with both viewpoints. Somewhere the “Doctrine of Secession has to be Born, and I believe it was born at the Constitutional Convention to seal the deal of the Convention.

Here’s one of my points. The Southern States were not the first State to Introduce the Concept of Secession.

From an 1862 Book by James Spence: “The Constitutional Right of Secession”

Some background and the efforts of a Northern State to Seceede.
Spence:
“The doctrine, indeed, has been maintained and loudly declared, both in the North and South, at frequent periods in the history of the Union. Jefferson, in his Ana, refers to that occasion of its being first raised in Congress, and observes that it was the Eastern, that is, the Northern States, who especially threatened to secede. He describes a walk with Hamilton, in which the latter painted pathetically the danger of the secession of their members, and the separation of the States. And the Northern States were the first to raise it practically. The war of 1813 was highly unpopular in that district, and when called upon by the President to supply their quotas of militia, they absolutely declined. In the words of Jefferson to Lafayette: “During the war four of the Eastern States were only attached to the Union, like so many inanimate bodies to living men.” But they went far beyond inaction. They called a Convention at Hartford, of which the proceedings were suppressed, but the object is well known; a flag appeared with five stripes, secession was threatened in the loudest terms, nor can there be a doubt in the mind of any one who studies the events of that period, that the New England States would have seceded from the Union had the war continued.
The State of Massachusetts has threatened, indeed, on four separate occasions to secede from the Union. First, in the debates referred to on the adjustment of the State debts; secondly, on the purchase of Louisiana and its admission into the Union; thirdly, during the war of 1813; and fourthly, on the annexation of Texas, when, we believe, one chamber of her legislature actually passed a vote of secession. On these occasions it was no mere act of excited individuals, but the general voice of the community. Yet this State is now the loudest in denouncing it, when inconvenient to herself; and a bastile is now said to be preparing in the vicinity of Boston, for the incarceration of those as political prisoners, who simply utter the opinions which, when it suited, this very State has so often and so vehemently expressed.”

Kevin, Perhaps this topic could be pursued under a Seperate Heading. Oh, by the way, I see many comments without sources and backup refeferences. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. As we are all looking at history through our modern attitudes and life experiences, the Issue of Slavery is something that none of us wanted, and we would all be delighted, if in the World Expansion and Discovery of New Territory that we would have done our Fellow Humans better service. Slavery is a complicated subject, because it’s still practiced in parts of Africa, and the Citizens of the World are All to Mum about the Issue.

You Know – I truly believe that we were all part of the problem, and we have been and can be part of the solution – even in the areas where Slavery is still the norm.

Bobby,

I’m not sure where to even start.

First, I’m not sure how your response relates to my comment regarding Native-Americans. As I have said in other comments, I don’t see how pointing out the rampant racism in the North justifies the Confederacy.

Second, I would not dispute that tariffs were an important and divisive issue, but tariffs did not cause the national political parties to split, or the national religious denominations to split, or cause Congressional members to resort to violence in the halls of Congress, or require a “gag rule” to suspend open debate. Tariffs were not the issue of Kansas-Nebraska, nor the primary subject of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Some southerners actually benefitted from tariffs and compromises over tariffs could be reached. Remember, when South Carolina threatened to secede over tariffs under Jackson, no other states would join her. Tariffs did not have the same societal and moral dimensions that slavery had. Even if you take the slavery issue out of the equation, in my humble opinion a dispute over tariffs does not justify secession. And while some may have believed secession was legal, many others vociferously disagreed, including Andrew Jackson. Furthermore, even if secession was legal, seizing Federal property and firing on Federal installations was not.

Second, I never suggested that modern day defenders of the Confederacy are still trying to defend slavery (although I do occasionally hear people say slaves were not really treated all that bad). What I maintain, and what I believe the historic record shows, is that the Confederacy was established to protect the institution of slavery. This does not mean that the Federal government attempted to suppress the rebellion in an effort to abolish slavery. The abolition of slavery only became a war aim as events progressed.

Third, as Kevin points out, you have some of your facts wrong. Regarding Grant, you are not just misleading, you are completely wrong.

Oops, I see I have two “seconds” in there. That’s what happens when you are typing in a little box. :)

Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments. That said, this comment thread has moved far beyond the focus of the post. While I am not closing the comments I will be deleting/editing comments that do not address the issue at hand. Thanks for your understanding.

“The Future of The Confederate Flag” – The Topic of the Discussion

- Southerners who love the history of their Ancestor’s Courage will Continue to Fly the Flag or Display it wherever they want to. They Have a Legal Right to Do So.

- School Systems Can Limit or Restrict the American Flag, Confederate Flag, State Flag, Gang Flags or Whatever Dress they Want. Dress Codes are Enforceable.

- For those Who Wish to see the Flag Only in Museums, I don’t think that will ever happen as long as there are millions of descendents who see the flag differently than those who want to remove it from public view. It will be viewed in the public for quite some time.

Bobby,

First, you contradicted yourself. You can’t say that the flag can be flown anywhere and then suggest that school systems have the right to restrict it. Public displays can be restricted by any number of public institutions. Are there millions of descendants who see the flag as representative of their preferred memory of their family’s past not to mention that of the region? Perhaps, but did you just pick this number out of thin air? How many more “millions” of black and white southerners do not see the flag as representative of their preferred memory? How many “millions” have a memory that actually looks beyond the four years of the Confederacy? You are making a number of assumptions here without any evidence. One of the points that I tried to make is that we may be moving to a point where a sufficient number of southerners do not see the flag as representing their memory of the war. My point is not to say that this would be right or wrong, but that changes in how we identify with symbols is inevitable.

Bob and Kevin – Concerning my statement about Grant, I stand corrected. He didn’t own Slaves during the Civil War – He Owned a Slave before the Civil War.

From the NPS Web Site for : National Historic Site, Whitehaven – U.S. Grant

“In Mary Robinson’s July 24, 1885, recollections, during an interview for the St. Louis Republican memorial to Grant following his death, she noted that “he always said he wanted to give his wife’s slaves their freedom as soon as he was able.” In 1859, Grant freed William Jones, the only slave he is known to have owned. During the Civil War, some slaves at White Haven simply walked off, as they did on many plantations in both Union and Confederate states. Missouri’s constitutional convention abolished slavery in the state in January 1865, freeing any slaves still living at White Haven.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

How many slaves did his Wife Have?

Concerning Grant and the Petersburg Campaign and His Use of Black Troops, I have a couple of questions for you.

- Why did Grant pull the Black Unit trained for the Attack on the Crater from the lead role in the attack. They were the ones who had been trained and made ready for that role, but were pulled at the last minute. Did he lack confidence in them?

- During the Petersburg Siege, Thousands of Blacks were used in a “Ditch Digging Project” called the Dutch Gap Canal that had very questionable value. Why were they not used as the soldiers role they were trained for? If Grant had applied these Black Soldiers in all of the Engagement in and Around Petersburg – Could the Siege have come to an earlier conclusion?

An Inquisitive Mind would like to know.

Thanks

Bobby,

Most historians believe that the last-minute decision had something to do with the political fallout of a potential military disaster. It was Meade who lobbied Grant to pull them out of the lead owing to his concern that if the attack failed it would look like these man had been sent to slaughter. Remember that 1864 was also an election year. Keep in mind that USCTs were used predominantly in an non-military capacity owing to the racial assumptions that blacks made poor soldiers. I recommend Chandra Manning’s book, _What This Cruel War Was Over_ if you want to read more about this.

Kevin,

As a teacher, you have a completely different seat than most when it comes to what’s allowed and what is not allowed in school. Overall, it’s my opinion from the many years of having to sign the “Codes of Conduct” that the Public Schools here in York County sent home to my daughter. And, I have followed many of the issues in the news, and you are right about the Schools being Public, but they do have a right to “Limit or Restrict” the types of Dress, Including Confederate Flags.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t fly the Confederate Flag, and I believe that it has an appropriate time and place in Events, Parades, Cemeterys, Monuments, and Yes even at the National Park Centers on Civil War Battlefields. I am an American War Veteran, and my Flag is the American Flag. On the Numbers Issue of Millions, I am just working through the number of descendents of Southern Soldiers being in the Millions. There’s a couple of hundred descendents or more just from my Ancestor, and I don’t have the exact number of Confederates (perhaps a little less than a Million), but there are surely Millions of Southerner’s just like me, who don’t actively display the flag, but if you try to take it away from them – they will fight the process. For groups like the SCV or UDC if Campaigns origniate that threaten the Flag in it’s use by Southerner’s they mount Campaigns drawing on the strength of memberships and actions of Law Centers to fight the “Unlawful Removal” of the Flag.

Currently, It’s Still Lawful – Wherever Good Southerner’s desire to Fly and Exhibit it, except on your Domain of the Public School System. Perhaps it may disappear in the future – 200 or 300 years from now, but it’s amazing how resilient heritage has been in Ethnic Groups throughout the World.

Remember – “It’s Heritage, & Not Hate”.

Bobby,

Let me say once again that no one is suggesting that the Confederate flag be “taken away” from anyone. The issue is its display in public spaces. Through protest citizens can cause local governments to prevent certain symbols from being displayed. The flag was taken down from the capitol building in South Carolina after prolonged protest. I could go on and on. There are certainly public spaces such as NPS battlefields where it is unlikely that the flag will be banned in the foreseeable future. However, even that could change given certain circumstances. Perhaps a better example is the maintenance of Civil War era monuments. Should taxpayer dollars be spent on their cleaning and upkeep? That’s a question for taxpayers to decide.

As for your final reference, all I can say is that there are plenty of black and white Americans who see that flag as a symbol of hate and based on how it has been used in he past they are justified.

Then they are just as justified in seeing the stars and stripes as a symbol of hate. It is, after all, the “official” flag of the KKK. To give buffoons such as this the power to change the meaning of these flags ought to be laughable…but if you’re going to give small groups of people this power, you’ve got to be fair and apply the same standard to both.

Well then someone should write up a post on that particular symbol. This post is about the Confederate flag and its rich history.

“What I fail to understand is how the actions of the US government in its relations to Nat ive Americans is a defense of the Confederacy”

It isn’t. This is yet another example of how framing the discussion within the parameters of Lost Cause vs denial of Lost Cause ideology prevents a deeper understanding of the Civil War and its legacy. I understand,Bob, that you did not choose those parameters, and that neither did Ko pursue this discussion with you, if you are w illing, and if Kdvin thinks it is appropriate. I will not be able to do that for another couple of weeks, though, because Iam not at home and the computer I am using offers limited access. Plus, I cannot see the screen! You are right. Jackson certainly is not a hero to the Cherokee and the Creek. Neither is Grant, however. (I am personally sympathetic to Grant, in many ways) I am interested in exploring, in a positive and constructive way, how percsptions of race shaped the present–perceptions of race in every area of the country. I am not interested in attempting to defend the actions of the Confederacy.

As I said, I really can’t see this screen, so I am going to have to stop. Bob, if you haven’t read it, you might consider reading Lakota Woman, written byLeonard Crow Dog’s wife. It is aview of the second Wounded Knee from indigenous perspectiuve. Thank you for using the word “indigenous”.

TF, thank you for your respect.

Bobby,

Please listen tyo David Blight’s lectures.

Kevin,

As always, thanks.
PS. I am not plugging Blight. Yale just happened to put Blight’s lectures online. They are truly excellent.

Sorry about punctuation, etc. I cannot imaginee why anyone would make print so small!!

I am about athird of the way through the Tatum book and woule like

I am about a third of the way through the Tatum book, is what I attempted to say at the end, Bob.

I am retiring now and for a while, unless I find some super stong bifocals! Sherree

Sherree.

The Tatum Book ? Ok You have my curiosity at it peak. Please share with me the book you are referring to ! Any information I can obtain will be apreciated.
I have written and passed out many Poetry booklets. Is it one of those ?
Kevin
I have tried to post this message many times but it gets lost in cyber space……
A Kodak Moment / 1860s style

During the war for Southern Independence depending on which side of the mason Dixon line you lived, or which side you aligned yourself with you had differing views.
The status of the Battle Flag will remain exactly as it stands TODAY
Divided opinions, differing interpretations.
I have my opinion. It was formed by my great uncle W.H. Tatum
During the war he wrote home. I have transcripts of his letters that are in the Virginia Historical Society archives.
If our moderator will be kind enough I shall present a few lines from his letters home.

July 22nd 1861 At Bull Run Creek
“We have cause to thank our Heavenly Father for thus giving us the victory–
Many poor fellows have bitten the dust since yesterday morning & one of our men are worth 20 of Lincolns minions.”

July 29th 1861 Centerville VA.
“ I heard of one of our men whose company was behind the trenches, standing out when the enemy made a charge, his Captain told him to get behind the embankment. His reply was “ No sir, they come up to us far and squar and I am going to stand here far and squar” He did stand fare and square, and was not hurt !

Leesburg VA Nov 1st 1861
“ I understand that in case the enemy attacks again, Gen Evans has orders to retire.
This is a beautiful country and I would hate to see it in position of Lincoln’s hordes.”

Culpepper Court House VA Oct 9th 1862.
“The country looks like a commons from the battlefield to the court house.
The people all have the same tale to tell, they took whatever they could lay their hands on & not content with that they would break up costly furniture, tear down banisters, & kick the panels out of doors.”

The letters continue in the same fashion until Appomattox . But this is my personal reason ! I was never the target of hate or intimidation, and I won’t deny this happened in the past and is happening today. To those who see the Battle flag as a hate tool I understand. I ask for your understanding of what it means to me.

Respectfully Submitted

David Tatum Jr

David,

No. This is another Tatum– Lawrie Tatum.

The book is entitled Our Red Brothers and the Peace Policy of Ulysses S Grant.

Have a good day, everyone. Sheree

According to a friend the Texas SCV is starting their own Flags across Texas program.

Them Big Ass Confederate Flags are going to be all over the South and it is IMO all because of the NAACP actions in SC. Some folks just don’t know went to leave well enough alone. They just want to keep pushing and we are seeing what it got them and us.

This has nothing to do with the NAACP, Mike. You have stated that line of reasoning enough times. I am white with Cheorkee ancestors, and I do not approve of the display of these enormous flags that have been displayed in order to make a statement–and a very unattractive statement at that. There are plenty of other white people ,and men and women of other races as well,who object to the display of the Confederate flag in this manner, so you may be as adamant as you want but we will be adamant and firm in our position ,too

Sherree,

You are absolutely right. This notion that this is being done simply in response to the NAACP is as shortsighted and knee-jerk a response as one can get. Ultimately it tells us much more about how Mike sees the situation than anything having to do with the facts. Mike has presented not one piece of evidence in support of the claim and he completely ignores the point that there are plenty of white Americans from all over the country who find that flag to be offensive.

Well folks while I have a written document from people with the SCV that I work and some I go to church with have told me that is the Reason for the Flags across the South Program. http://www.hardcoreconfederates.com/flags.html “An SCV victory over the NAACP!”
So believe what you want. The NAACP sowed the seeds for this when they started their campaign to remove the Battle Flag from the Capital in SC and then when they reneged on their original agreement and now want it removed from the Capital Grounds where it is flying over a Confederate Monument.
For myself I could care less about those Flags. I just sharing what I see and hear from the other side. So don’t shoot the messenger!

As I stated before I have plenty of things that offend me but I not pitching a fit about it like many of my Fellow Americans are doing over that Battle Flag. We have real issues and problems in this country that need to be dealt with rather than having a fit about some redneck flying a Civil War Flag.

Mike,

First, thanks for making me aware of this situation as it appears in Texas, both here and on my blog. I’m not sure if you felt you were being intimidating or just informative, but bring it on here in Texas. I’m game to object in public with both my presence and my words.

Second, you have totally missed the boat. Not just you, but the SCV as well. It matters little that the NAACP objected to anything in any state at any time. What does matter is the appropriate use of the ANV flag. I’ve defended the flying of the ANV flag on the state house lawn in SC and I’ll continue to do so. To say, however, that the flying of gargantuan ANV flags is a result of NAACP protest ignores the fact that the SCV is known for its extreme attempts to place itself in the public eye. I could name any number of things, but I’ll not, since that only gives the SCV more of what they desire — attention. As long as the SCV takes this extreme position, in my opinion, it will continue to be difficult for anyone to take their efforts at preserving anything very seriously.

Yes, we do have real issues that face this country, but the fact that we are arguing this point 144 years after the flag was flown on a battlefield shows it is as important an issue as anything we are currently facing. This symbol continues to divide people who might otherwise want to work together to solve the other real issues we face.

No Threat is being made toward you Greg. I read your post #14 and since you seem to take great personal interest in this Flag issue I thought I would FYI you. I understand due to the baggage the flag got during the post civil war years and really in the 1950′s and 60′s I can understand folks problems with the Flag and why some Historians and the NAACP want to place it in a Museum. My Concern is if we surrender the flag to the Museum what will keep it from being removed from public view altogether. Earlier this year there was a pushing and shouting match over the Confederate Constitution being displayed in a Museum in GA.

http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_12238314?nclick_check=1

Greg did you read what was on this link
http://www.hardcoreconfederates.com/flags.html
They want to rub the NAACP’s face in it. It is what we would call in the Delta of Arkansas a Peeing contest between the 2 groups.

Mike,

Now you have two white southerners on record who oppose the SCV’s stand. There are many more. The rest of the country is fairly clear on the issue, so their voices have already been heard. In the south, though, our voices of dissent are rarely heard, and Kevin has given us the opportunity to be heard, so hear us.

The members of the SCV need to begin to understand that they do not represent all of the south–only their particular segment of it. I am sure there are plenty of black churches in which a different perspective on the display of the flag exists. Also, there are plenty of white churches in which the display of the flag in this manner is also condemned. So the SCV speaks for its supporters and no one else.

I am inVirginia now. It is interesting that there are no Confederate flags flying in front of individual houses. There are several American flags, but no Confederate flags.

I intend to check out the new large flag that was recently placed. I might even contemplate taking it down myself.

It is interesting that you use the word “redneck”, Mike. I suppose you approve of it.

Actually, flying these big flags at this time, probably has as much to do with watching Glen Beck and listening to Rush Limbaugh, two non southerners, as it does with fighting the NAACP. That is generally how political coalitions are formed in this country–by tapping into divisive and polarizing deep veins of discontent. Then, while no one is paying attention, the real objectives are achieved, which generally involve the acquisition of power and money. There are ways to begin to build broad based coalitions in this nation, we are just ignoring them because Fox News or its alter ego MSNBC tell us to. It is up to us, as citizens, to begin to understand that our nation is truly diverse, and that this is our strength. The far right and the far left have dominated our political landscape for too long.

Now Sherree don’t go all PC on me over the Word Redneck. It is nothing more than a description of a group of people who live in the South who hold to the Flag and the Lost Cause with out any real historical reason to do so. Over the years I have been called one myself and consider it a badge of honor. For Rednecks are generally hardworking honest folk who want to live and be left alone. The ones I know love and defend the flag because they believe in flying it they are putting it to the MAN. So in their limited world view they would consider you , Kevin and Greg as part of that group that defines the MAN.

Hilarious Mike. Yes, in this case “limited” is definitely the operative word.

The Future of the Battle Flag.! ( in my limited opinion)
Compare it to Religion, who is right ? who is wrong ? And then Prove it !
The Battle Flag will remain a divided subject until a meteor strikes earth and we all die.
If a catastrophic event were to happen and two people were the only survivors on earth. They would find something to argue about !
I drive a second hand pick up truck, its beat up, it looks like it wont make it to the next stoplight. I have the battle flag on the tail gate, and a Robert E Lee tag on it.
I have denture impairment. A shot gun rack in the cab. And the bed of my truck is full of “stuff” ! Am I a “Redneck ?” Isn’t that stereotyping ? Is it a racial slur ? Heaven forbid ! You liberal bleeding hearts who so adamantly attack the SCV and the Battle Flag should be ashamed of yourselves.

Dave Tatum

Sherree,

While you are in Virginia, I do hope that you have an opportunity to enjoy many of it’s historical resources. I noticed that June 22nd the Pamunkey Indians are going to be doing a Pow Wow – just east of Richmond, Va.

We have our Confederate Flags in front of many homes, mostly in rural farm areas. The Confederate Flag is not a problem to us, unless someone wants to remove it from the venues that’s used as a matter of personal preference in display or heritage celebrations. It’s not a complicated issue. My “What Offends Me List” is completely different than yours and maybe anyone else, but in Virginia we have a Legal Right to display the Flag in appropriate locations. The SCV works behind the scenes to make sure they have the opportunity to celebrate their heritage, according to the laws – which are still on the books.

Throughout our lives we either move towards something or away from it. Demographics and changing Generation beliefs impact the directions that we take – toward something or away from it. While shaving this morning, I was listing to a local radio show with a Christopher Newport Professor covering a lot of topics, but in finishing up, he mentioned the changing “Attitudes” of the Younger Generation, moving away from the Religious Foundations that my generation and prior generations focused on. The newer generations (I am 66) are more secular and frame life situations and issues completely different. The SCV groups are primarily in their 50′s – 60′s – 70′s, and it’s a matter of time before some of the issues they focus on will leave them behind because of atrophy, unless there’s a new paradigm where they can bring in descendents that are more focused on the research and heritage of their ancestors. The Ancestry thing is still a generational issue, as most younger individuals are not concerned about their Ancestry.

Most young people are not concerned about history, unless they are blessed with a dedicated instructor like Kevin, who’s passion I am sure would be unmatched by any other High School Instructor in Virginia. It looks like that he’s trying to move into the History Department at UVA with Gallagher or at VA Tech with Robertson. Now, although Gallagher has been successful, Robertson can make the words on the page come alive with excitement. We just need to make sure that we keep him on his toes, so that he can move upwards and onwards.

Bobby,

As always I appreciate the kind words. Rest assured that I have no interest in any kind of transition to the college level. The lack of a Phd takes care of that, but my place is on the high school level. I pretty much agree that our attachments to symbols is in many cases generational. That said, I suspect that there is no difference in the level of interest in history, heritage, ancestry between this generation and previous generations.

Kevin:
However you cut it we are all bias in some fashion or other.
Your definition of Redneck is ?
Redneck ? That word seems to be thrown around quite freely, to me it seems as degrading as the “N” word.
Kevin are you the middle of the road guy, who is afraid to commit to one side or the other on any subject ? I posed a question ! With an accurate description of myself ! YOU formulated the answer, Or lack of one. I chose to give you an accurate description of myself, Why ? You can’t tell a book by its cover ! You have read my post you know what’s in my heart.

You are a clever wordsmith, with good ideas and an open mind ( to some extent )
I will continue to fly my flag on my land. I have however in light of the Holocaust Shooting scaled back my display in public. Not discontinued it but toned it down. Out of respect .

As For the S.C.V. a favorite target of yours and many others.
I can only speak of the Tom Smith Camp # 1702 S.C.V. Suffolk VA. In my four years as a member I have never heard the “N” word used at any meeting or event. It’s not a sinister smoke screen for the KKK ! If it were I would resign. When I was the Color Sergeant, I had the duty to forward the colors ! I did so with pride.
Kevin I respect your views, I do not agree with all of them ! I’m sure you are a fine teacher, But at some point we all must take a stand !

” If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything !”
Malcom X

Have a nice day !

Dave Tatum

Dave,

I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. I never used the word redneck in a post or comment. To be honest, I don’t have a working definition of redneck nor do I care to have one. Perhaps you are getting me mixed up with another comment. Furthermore, I have never suggested that you should not fly your Confederate flag on your property nor do I have any interest in doing so. Yes, I have commented on the actions and statements of the SCV in the past and I will continue to do so. The organization and its history interests me.

Oh lol. I have been called many things in my life, but I have never been called “The Man”!

It looks as if more than enough has been said, so I will simply say “have a good evening, Kevin.” Sherree

“I never used the word redneck in a post or comment.”

May 3o 2009
Post by Kevin Levin
“Sorry, but interviewing the commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans concerning plans to spread Confederate culture to every municipality in the country and including an image of some dude wearing a Confederate flag jacket as part of the 2006 Redneck Games doesn’t cut it.”

NEVER say NEVER !

Dave Tatum

David,

This is getting a bit too silly for my taste. I reported a story that used the word redneck. Are you seriously going to hold me responsible for this? By all means if you want to waste your time and categorize me based on one post than go ahead. But is this really the level at which you want to interact with me? You can have the last word as I see nothing serious to discuss further given the content of this post.

I agree it has fallen into a farce.
The downward spiral started at this point I think !
“So in their limited world view they would consider you , Kevin and Greg as part of that group that defines the MAN.”
We do not all have an eduction that matches yours.
Thus some of us have a limited view of the world.
You can only write what you know ! ( or have been taught )
Please excuse my Redneck correction, I posted it to show
NONE OF US WALK ON WATER !
Your a Good Man Charlie Brown !

Dave Tatum

I do have a suggestion. There is another flag that unequivocally represents Southern pride, and the Cause as it should be, and is very hard for people to associate with hate groups. That flag is the original stars and bars, the first national flag of the Confederacy. To my knowledge, this flag has its honor intact, and truly represents our heritage, and has not been sullied by people whose sole purpose is to hate. To see a representation of the original stars and bars, look here – a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America rel=nofollowWikipedia – Flags of the Confederacy/a.

This is the one I fly. My humble suggestion is for those of us who do believe in the Confederate cause, states rights, individualism, and the like, and are proud of our heritage but do not hate any man, to adopt this flag as our symbol.

Here are my thoughts, condensed.

Black slavery was the MO in the beginning of this country. A movement was begun to abolish it, but the south wanted to perpetuate it and left the Union and formed its own separate country to do so, the Confederate States of America. The Union converged on the CSA charging them with treason and to continue there “black people should be free” initiative. A war began, the north fighting to free blacks, the south fighting to keep blacks enslaved. During this time the CSA created (what is widely known today as the Confederate Flag) the Confederate Battle Flag to represent them in battle. They lost, the north won, slavery was abolished. Now, there are people who will tell you that the Confederate Flag is “Heritage Not Hate” but as I outlined above, the flag was only created to represent the war spirit of the white south fighting in the Civil War, a spirit that had them kill and be killed to keep blacks in bondage. So there is no way the flag can be anything other than a heritage of hate. This is the lesson of Jesus Christ in hate. Those that died for the south in the Civil War would rather be shot to death than to see a black person treated with the respect the equal love of GOD grants them. The figures on Stone Mountain are synonymous with the points I’ve outlined. The leaders of the CSA even mocked GOD through their coining of phrases that claimed GOD blessed the beliefs and practices of the Confederacy that were in direct contradiction to what The Father is. GOD is good and GOD IS good, where then does the courage come from to say he smiles on your actions when you do anything otherwise. If a person dies in a war, and it turns out you’re related to them, it doesn’t automatically make them a hero, but this seems to be the logic behind the Stone Mountain carvings. This carving on Stone Mountain has helped me though, without it, I would have lived to imagine everyone saints… but instead I see the not so bright truth outlined in the bible, man is evil. The bible says GOD looked and saw that every imagination of the thoughts of man was only evil continually and it repented the LORD that he had made us. Sad… isn’t it? GOD sees everything and so when we sin, we sin in his face. And so I hold tight to Jesus Christ for peace, and expect nothing less from man than what we’ve been doing. The KKK and The Sisters of The Confederacy prove GOD’s disappointment in us by building a monument to hate. True, those are pieces of history, but they are the pieces that keep record of the worst in man. Even sadder is when parents, knowing all that I have said, condemn their own children to hate by telling half truths about how those men flew that flag while “simply fighting off the attacking north”. Children of those parents I ask you this; if that truly be the case, how then can you be here? How was your lineage allowed to progress? The north wasn’t “after” southerners, the south lost the war… if that were the case all southerners would be either dead or exiled. The Union was after freedom of black people, and HAD to shoot and kill to realize this goal because as I stated above, the hateful south at that time preferred to be killed than to treat a black person like GOD loved them just as much. (Please forgive all typos) What are your thoughts?

Thank you for taking the time to write, but unfortunately your comment was deleted owing to its content. Comments that engage in personal insult will not be posted. Thank you for your understanding.

Tree – the Civil War was fought on Southern soil. The Vietnam War was fought on Vietnamese soil. In both case there was an invader and a defender.

Rick,
Your points are all well and good, but they assume that the Confederacy was all about about states’ rights and individualism. I suggest you consult John Majewski’s “Modernizing a Slave Economy” for arguments that at least complicate (if not prove the falsity) our ideas that these ideals are what the Confederacy stood for. And so I agree that the first (Confederate) national flag remains untarnished by Dixiecrat and Klan associations, I can’t really see that it represents what you purport it to mean.

Bobby,

There is no law (and never will be a law) prohibiting you from flying a confederate flag on your property or in the public sphere as you wish. Under the First Amendment, “political speech” is protected almost absolutely. It would take a much more compelling reason to than mere nuisance to prohibit an individual from flying the confederate flag in public (particularly b/c such a narrow law would be viewpoint specific). There’s a famous case in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of neo-Nazis to hold a public rally in Skokie, Ill., a town with a high population of Holocaust survivors. (You can thank the ACLU–a Jewish ACLU lawyer argued and won the case on behalf of the neo-Nazi group.) (By the way, I am not at all comparing the confederate battle flag to the swastika. I use this case as an example to show that our First Amendment protects pure political speech in even the most extreme cases.) So you really don’t need to worry about that.

Whether the state should fly the confederate battle flag on public property is another matter entirely. That’s an issue of policy. There is no question that Southern states began officially incorporating confederate iconography, including the battle flag, during the mid-1950s to protest federally-mandated desegregation. There is no question that the flag was co-opted by groups that wanted to maintain the racist apartheid Jim Crow system. And there is no question that the flag continues to be co-opted today by white supremecist groups. I’ll assume that you are correct that the Confederacy and the battle flag that Southern soldiers carried and died under on the battlefield was not simply “about” defending the system of slavery. But given the more recent history of the use of the flag, with one of its meanings unambiguously signifying official, legislative resistence to racial integration, what signal does the state send by flying the flag above its capital bldg? What does the legislative bldg have to do with civil war remembrance? I hope you agree that the context in which the symbol is used is crucial to its meaning.

No one has the right to not be offended period!

The Confederate Flag is a symbol, to those who do a bot of research or know better, of states rights and over reach of Federal Government and tyranny, very similar to whats going on today.

AFA the slavery issue, google the Horace Greely letter from Abe Lincoln and see his stance on slavery and end the debate that the war was all about slavery

In 1971 or 1972, Mad magazine did some mini-posters and among them was a Confederate flag done in the colors of the Afro-American Flag. The blue becomes green & the white stars and borders with the blue bars becomes back & nicknamed “The Afro-Confedrate Flag” A black sect known as “The Grinch Nation” adopted the Mad Magazine, “Afro-Confederate Flag” as there own. And some black groups it doesn’t mean anything to them. And some it does. However nobody is offended when it’s on the roof of a 1969 Dodge Charger dubbed as “General Lee” & one Haitian family designed a flag for General Lee that resembles The 1956-2001 Georgian State Flag. There is a orange background with the number “01″ and the name “General Lee” and the 2/3 is the Confederate Flag design. So that’s it with the issue. When was the last time you saw an “Afro-Confederate” flag?
Marcus Brainard

Texas has long avoided the controversies by displaying the First National Confederate Flag at the Capitol in Austin. It represents the Confederacy in the Six Flags over Texas displays. A lot of people who might otherwise be offended probably have no idea what it is.

That supports my contention that the problems with the so-called Confederate Flag comes not from the 19th century but from the 20th century-especially from the time it was used as a symbol of resistance to the Federal government and desegregation by the Dixiecrat Party when it broke away from the Democratic Party over Harry Truman’s positions and actions supporting civil rights for blacks including the desegration of the U.S. Armed Forces (ironic since Truman’s mother was a very unreconstructed Rebel who never forgave the Yankees).

You also don’t see any problems with the actual South Carolina state flag (not to be confused with the Confederate flag that also flew over the state capitol building for many years) even though a Palmetto flag was the banner first raised in support of the rebellion when South Carolina passed the first Ordinance of Secession.

Kevin,

I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months now and I find it very interesting. I read this article and I thought you might find it interesting. It is about Ole Miss picking out a new mascot to officialy replace Colonel Reb. It is an attempt by the university to further seperate it from its Old South past.
Here is the link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=5684400

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the kind words and for passing along this story. I’ve read a bit about it.

This line is priceless:

In the body shops, junkyards and trailer parks near U.S. 92, it is hard to find a white person who objects to the Sons of Confederate Veterans memorial.

Are you really saying you want museum curators and “historians” interpreting the flag? Seriously Kevin! Come on! To say these academics aren’t biased too is being dishonest.

Yes, I am very serious. If you have any doubts please read John Coski’s, _The Confederate Battle Flag_ (Harvard University Press) http://www.amazon.com/Confederate-Battle-Flag-Americas-Embattled/dp/0674019830/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294138280&sr=8-1 and Robert Bonner’s _Colors and Blood_ http://www.amazon.com/Colors-Blood-Passions-Confederate-South/dp/069111949X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294138327&sr=1-1

Everyone is biased in the way we look at and interpret sources. The issue for me is whether the individual can apply a certain historical method.

Bonner’s book is excellent. He spends a great deal of time focusing on issues related to Confederate nationalism.

Hello! Thanks for the opportunity to write in. I respect everyones comment on the Civil war and slavery but I have some questions. How many slaves did the Noertherners sell the Southern plantation owners when the Norths factories did not need them anymore because it was found that hiring immigrants and children was cheaper? Why did Lincoln want to send all the freed slaves to other countries after the war was supposed to be about slavery? Why was Union General Sherman not an abolishionist , did he not believe in the cause? How is it the war was supposed to be about preserving the Union but at the same time the Constitution was trampled on, is not that an oximoron? If the Northern people were so concerned about black people then why were there several race riots during the war? What about the estimated 10,000 freed blacks in the South who owned slaves? Why did the people of the state of Ilinoise, a Northern free state, attempt to ban blacks from moving into that state, would not that be counter to what they were supposed to be fighting for? What about the prewar tarriffs levied on the Southern states before the war that would have benefitted mostly Northern staets and Rich Northerners? What about former Pres. Harry S Truman being a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the man who desegregated the armed forces, was he really a bad guy? If George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were alive at the time of the Civil War would the Northern troops have burned down their slave plantations and condemned them? Was the “stain” of slavery transferred to the Confederate flag so Northerners and the Country as a whole could feel better about themselves? How was the average Southerner at the time of the war resposible for slavery and how could they have ended it besides joining one of the over 100 antislavery groups that exsisted at the time of the pre Civil War in the Southern States? These are just some of the many questions that should be asked by Historians. Thanks for your time, hope all is well! Tom Jantz in Michigan.

Hi Tom,

You are asking a number of interesting questions about Lincoln and race in the North. Where did you get your 10,000 black slaveowners from? Please provide the source. On Lincoln I would recommend starting with David Donald’s biography, _Lincoln_. You may also want to check out Eric Foner’s new study of Lincoln, race and slavery, _The Fiery Trial_. The book also goes into great detail into some of your other questions re: slavery in the North. On Sherman I recommend John Marszalek’s, _Sherman: A Soldiers Passion For Order_. Happy reading and thanks for the comment.

Tom-In addition to Kevin’s reply-Historians have dealt with all of this, including Ira Berlin’s “Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South” and his “Generations of Captivity”, Peter Kolchin’s “American Slavery 1619-1877″, William Lee Miller’s masterful “Arguing About Slavery” (about the Gag Rule fight) Fehrenbacher’s and McAfee’s “The Slaveholding Republic-An Account of the United States Government’s Relations to Slavery”, William Freehling’s 2 volume “Road to Disunion” and his work on the Nullification Crisis, and David Grimsted’s “American Mobbing: 1828-1861: Toward Civil War” (which, while it deals with Northern mobbing as well as Southern, goes into the suppression of opposition or even question slavery in the Deep South in the decades before the Civil War.) As for the Constitutional issues, I’d suggest Mark Neely’s “The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties” and “Southern Rights: Political Prisoners and the Myth of Confederate Constitutionalism” (Neely found the records of the proceedings of the Confederate habeas corpus commissioners.)

In addition:

1. I’m not aware that slaves were ever used in northern factories to any significant extent if at all. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that the end of slavery in the North pre-dated significant industrialization. Pennsylvania passed its first (VERY) gradual emancipation law in 1780. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found slavery unconstitutional under the Commonwealth’s 1780 Constitution (still in effect, much amended, and written primarily by John Adams). Vermont (originally part of New York) abolished slavery in its first (1777) Constitution before Congress passed the legislation formally admitted it into the Union as the first new (14th) state in 1791.

2. The tariffs closest to the beginning of the secession winter were (1) the Walker Tariff of 1846 passed with Southern Democrats dominating all branches of government and which lowered to tariffs to rates barely high enough to produce the revenue to run the government and without being protective, and (2) the Tariff of 1857 which slashed tariff rates even further to the extent that, rightly or wrongly, many Northerners blamed it for the Panic of 1857 and the ensuing depression that hit mostly non-slave states. There were tariffs that actually gave some measure of protection to significant Southern products, especially hemp and sugar. Furthermore, in the antebellum period, tariffs were how the government raised revenue for its very limited operations.

3. The war did not begin as an effort to free the slaves. The war began due to secession which was an effort by the rebel slave states to PROTECT slavery from the perceived threat to the institution from the election of a Republican as President and an increased number of Republicans in both houses of Congress. The initial war objective of the US government was to preserve the Union; ending slavery, in part to eliminate its divisive effects, only became a war objective later. Northern attitudes on race were complex. In the case of Illinois, it was a free state not due to its own initiatives but due to the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance, passed by the Congress under the Articles of Confederation and ratified by the first Congress under the Constitution that covered it when it was a territory. Furthermore, the southern part of the state, known as Little Egypt, was heavily settled by migrating Southern whites.

4. I don’t know anyone on this blog or among Civil War historians who use membership in the SCV as a litmus test on character.

Regarding the last point, SCV has changed enough over the last 20 years that any judgement about SCV leaders in the present doesn’t necessarily imply anything about SCV members in the past.

Hello everyone again! I have written many letters regarding the Confederacy and the Confederate flag. As I read all the letters on this site one thing stands out to me that everyone seems to agree on, that is, nobody is condoning slavery but simply trying to point out who is to blame and was the war needed/ justified. I do not believe that the Northern states should have or needed to invade the Southern states for any reason. My reasons are stated in letters I have written when you type in “Thomas Jantz, Confederacy” When I was a child {I am now 58 years old} during the 100 anniv. of the war I would travel through the southern states with my parents and siblings. We would stop at misc. Civil War sites that battles took place or other war related events. I remember seeing Confederate flags in downtown areas all over the place. In Gatlinburg, Tenn. I remember seeing flags from both sides lining the streets along with lifesize wooden cutouts of Rebel and Union soldiers and other “neet stuff” that as a kid I was thrilled with! Those were the days before political correctness. After the war there were get togethers by veterans of both sides to remember the war and see their fellow soldiers who they served with again and to shake hands with and embrace the men who were once their enemy. I hate to think that we as citizens today are somehow undoing what those old veterans did, that is, brought closure to the war as best they could. It seems many followers of the war dismiss or justify the statemnts of Abe Lincoln before and during the war regarding black citizens and slavery in general. Many people say that while he did make statements about blacks being inferior, wanting to send them to other countries, ending the war if he could even if slavery still exsisted, etc etc. that he evolved from those positions. If it is true or not, why do the same people not give southern leaders a break? Malcom X was correct when he stated that Lincoln was not the man that most History books make him out to be. I am not a Lincoln hater, I just think that we as Americans should stop putting people up on pedistals. Everone is only human – everyone! I do not think that God would have put his blessing on Northern men invading the south and killing Southern men in battle. The institution of slavery was a problem of the whole country. Both northern and Southern troops took great pains in making sure Mount Vernon was trated with respect when they arrived there. Both sides saw Washington as “on their side”, Washington, the man who owned about 300 slaves. Washington was on Confederate currency. I have to say that so often when someone defends the Southern Cause and the Confederacy so often it is looked at as defending slavery. I am sure that is true with some people.. It is the problem with belonging to groups and organizations, that is, individual opinions of issues seem to be foregotten and individuality suffers. Lets not forget that Lincoln, in reality, freed no slaves during the war. He could have in the Northern staes but did not. I know this sounds incorrect to some but please research this. Lincoln once said that when the war ends an approx. date for giving blacks freedom would be 1900. If someone is truly interested in the causes of the war please do your research and do not take my word for it, I could provide refferences for my information but time does not allow me. Sufface to say that I do my research and keep an open mind. Kevin should be commended for having this debate on this site as I believe it is very important and he is obviously well read even though we disagree on many points. We should all respect eachothers opinions and not look down on anyone who disagrees honestly with one another! The causes of the war will be debated from now until doomsday, perhaps that is a good thing! Do not forget, everyone, to see the Robert Redford film “The Conspiritor”, should be out this month {April} in time for the Civil War anniv. Also, Spielbergs Lincoln film is starting to take shape finnaly, should be out in early 2012. One more thing, make sure and get to the new Gettysburg visitor center/museum that opened about 3 years ago, really interesting! The Casino, by the way, is dead in the water. {I am a member of the Civil War Preservation group, please join if you can!} Thanks again, Kevin, for letting me post! Tom Jantz in Michigan.

I’ve long viewed the Confederate flag as the symbol of the last stand of Native Americans against the Union. General Sherman’s march over Atlanta is viewed by serious historians as a trial run for a new tactic to be directed westward. It was the Union that forced the “Trail of Tears” over the objections of some of the southern States. The last Confederate General to surrender was a native American chieftan. The cost of the Confederate loss to Native Americans is arguably greater than the gain to African Americans. (The Confederacy would itself have broke into slave and non-slave States before the institution simply collapsed as it finally did in Australia, etc.. before the face of industrialization – and without the ‘rally around the flag’-including-its-most-repugnant-causes effect of the Union power grab. ) In other words, the African Americans would have won out eventually – and probably in better shape since the unimaginable amount of blood spilled in the Civil War psychologically absolved Southern whites of their natural sense of duty or responsibility towards their former charges .. something that I think would have been impossible if the institution had dissolved peacably. But for Native America, the cost of losing the war was irrecoverable.

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