Brooks Simpson came across the Virginia SCV’s response to Gov. McDonnell’s Confederate History Month proclamation today while teaching his course on research methods. I recommend that you read the entire post, but here is the SCV’s proclamation for your consideration. Brooks has already pointed out the false claim that Ulysses S. Grant and his wife owned slaves until the adoption of the 13th amendment. Have fun with locating the other mistakes and the distortions. What I find truly bizarre is why the SCV feels a need to reference Lincoln on race as well as the Emancipation Proclamation. They have nothing to do with the governor’s proclamation or amendment to it. The governor’s amendment pointed out that slavery was a cause of the war and that it cannot be ignored in trying to understand the scope of the conflict. I think this reflects just how defensive the SCV has become, but it also reflects an intellectual bankruptcy that should be apparent to anyone who has reads serious Civil War history. More importantly, it suggests to me that the SCV is not going to be a significant player in influencing Virginia’s remembrance through the sesquicentennial. Nice try guys, but the sooner you come to term with the fact that we no longer live in 1961 the better off you will be.
The Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans statement regarding the Confederate History Month Proclamation as issued by Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, TO WIT:
WHEREAS, Governor McDonnell declared the Month of April to be Confederate History Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans; and
WHEREAS, governors of Virginia have issued proclamations for diverse groups and individuals; and
WHEREAS, Members of the Democratic Party and its leadership, including former Governor Douglas Wilder, have repeatedly made statements in regards to the proclamation that the only reason that Confederate soldiers took to the field of battle was to defend the institution of slavery; and
WHEREAS, President Abraham Lincoln stated “I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races” and further stated at the outset of the crisis that “I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists,” and “my paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union;” and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union not in the defense of slavery, but only after President Lincoln called for troops to make war against the lower Southern States; and
WHEREAS, The Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave in any slave state that had remained loyal to the Union during the War Between the States, nor did it free any slave in the District of Columbia or any part of the Confederacy which was occupied and controlled by the U.S. military; and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth of Virginia was cleaved in two by an executive order of President Lincoln, creating the State of West Virginia which was admitted to the Union as a slave state in 1863; and
WHEREAS, General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife held slaves until forced to release them with the adoption of the 13th Amendment after the war and when questioned as to why he had done so, Grant replied because “good help is hard to find;” and
WHEREAS, Governor McDonnell altered the original Confederate History Month Proclamation to include a clause which states that the Civil War was fought solely over the existence of slavery despite numerous contrary arguments and a host of other social, moral, political, and economic factors.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
THE VIRGINIA DIVISION, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS, does hereby commend Governor Robert F. McDonnell for the issuance of the Confederate History Month proclamation; and
THE VIRGINIA DIVISION, does hereby absolutely refute the claim that Confederate soldiers went to the field of battle for the sole purpose of preserving slavery as an intellectually dishonest argument; and
THE VIRGINIA DIVISION does not endorse any statement that the Confederacy existed entirely for the defense of slavery and considers such statements to be a detriment to the memory of the many Virginians who gave their lives to defend against the illegal federal invasion of the Commonwealth of Virginia in a long and bloody war.
ADOPTED this 9th day of April, 2010. Attest: John Sawyer, Division Commander
9th day of April, 2010. Attest: John Sawyer, Division Commander