The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Curious Silence on the Confederate Flag Debate

We have heard quite a bit from Sons of Confederate Veterans over the past week in response to the debate over the Confederate flag on the state house grounds in Columbia, South Carolina and beyond. Members claim a direct ancestral connection to Confederate soldiers, which they believe translates into some kind of privileged status regarding all things heritage.

Silent on these issues has been that other venerable Confederate heritage organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded two years before the SCV in 1894. [The best history of the organization is Karen Cox’s Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture.] Their silence surrounding the Confederate flag debate is curious given their consistent position limiting the display of the battle flag. The UDC’s position was born out of a concern that any use strictly apart from carefully orchestrated ceremonial events in honor of the soldier would distort its meaning. Continue reading “The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Curious Silence on the Confederate Flag Debate”

Black Confederates to the Rescue… Again

I’ve been writing about this subject for much too long to be surprised by the emergence of the black Confederate narrative by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in response to last Wednesday’s shooting in Charleston. Black Confederate soldiers have been coming to the SCV’s and other Confederate heritage supporters rescue since the late 1970s, following the release of the popular mini-series, “Roots.”

This particular incident is unfortunately tailor-made for this myth. In a statement released by the South Carolina Division, SCV they maintain that neither the Confederate flag nor the history of the Confederacy has anything to do with the reasons behind Dylan Roof’s actions.

Historical fact shows there were Black Confederate soldiers. These brave men fought in the trenches beside their White brothers, all under the Confederate Battle Flag. This same Flag stands as a memorial to these soldiers on the grounds of the SC Statehouse today. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a historical honor society, does not delineate which Confederate soldier we will remember or honor. We cherish and revere the memory of all Confederate veterans. None of them, Black or White, shall be forgotten.

The historical record suggests that Confederate soldiers never acknowledged the existence of black comrades in arms during the war, though thousands of slaves performed a wide range of functions in the armies and elsewhere. They certainly didn’t acknowledge their presence while massacring black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow or the Crater and there were no signs of black soldiers while rounding up hundreds of fugitive and escaped slaves during the Gettysburg Campaign in the summer of 1863. Continue reading “Black Confederates to the Rescue… Again”

Sons of Confederate Veterans LOSE in High Court

Earlier today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the SCV, which sued the state of Texas for denying its petition for a specialty license plate that includes a Confederate battle flag. This comes on the same day that a twenty-one year old white South Carolinian man was arrested for allegedly murdering nine African Americans while worshiping last night in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Continue reading “Sons of Confederate Veterans LOSE in High Court”

Quote of the Day

Ron Sydnor
Ron Sydnor Addressing SCV and UDC

On Tuesday night the local chapters of Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy of Murray, Kentucky came out to commemorate Confederate Memorial Day.  The keynote address was offered by Ron Sydnor, who is the park manager at the Jefferson Davis Historic Site.

He was a man ahead of his time. But because of that one moment in time, his legacy has been tainted. My grandmother used to say, ‘You can have a million ‘atta boys, but just one awe shucks, and that one can ruin them all. None of our history books talk about what he did before the Civil War. What he did helped shape this country. He’s the scapegoat for everything, but he gets no credit for the positive things that he did.

Yes, it is unfortunate that this one moment (which happened to involve leading a rebellion against the United States to ensure the future of slavery and white supremacy) overshadows all of the positive contributions made by Jefferson Davis.

Davis may not be getting the credit he deserves, but I have no doubt that for the amount of time it took Mr. Sydnor to share his views on Tuesday evening all was right with the world for the members of the SCV and UDC.

Freedom of Speech and the Confederate Flag

While I am leading a Civil War battlefield tour this coming week for thirteen students another school group will visit Washington, D.C. to observe the Supreme Court in action. As many of you know beginning on Monday morning the court will consider the case of Walker vs. Sons of Confederate Veterans. The case essentially turns on whether the state of Texas has the right to control the messages on its vanity license plates. The SCV plate includes a Confederate flag.

I hope and expect that the court will rule in favor of free speech. Perhaps such a ruling will result in states doing away with vanity plates altogether to avoid these situations. The case makes for strange bedfellows as I find myself largely in agreement with H.K. Edgerton, though I would not be surprised to learn that he is not the author of this editorial. Continue reading “Freedom of Speech and the Confederate Flag”