Flagging Support for Flags

Calls to remove confederate flags from government property are big in the news these days. I was going to collect a number of articles, but the explosion of commentary is so huge it’s difficult if not impossible to put together a comprehensive collection.

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I’m happy to see elected officials such as Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Sen. Tim Scott call for the removal of the confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse. Likewise, I’m happy Alabama Governor Robert Bentley removed the four flags from that state’s capitol grounds. The National Park Service discontinued sales of items that depict the flag in a stand-alone format, a move that affects eleven out of over two thousand items for sale in the Gettysburg National Military Park’s museum book store.

There was a buildup of events that triggered this sea change in public opinion. First came the ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States that allowed states to ban the confederate flag from license plates, followed by Virginia’s governor, Terry McAuliffe, announcing he would ban the confederate flag from his state’s license plates. Then came the horrific terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina by a racist who used the confederate flag to symbolize his hatred of African-Americans. What I believe put things over the top was the depiction of the US Flag at half-staff over the South Carolina capitol while the confederate flag on the statehouse grounds stood at full staff. Outrage, shock, and horror turned to anger, and anger turned to action.

The flag needs to be removed from any context that shows or implies acceptance or support by a government entity. It doesn’t deserve such a place of honor. It is a flag that symbolizes treason against the United States. It is a flag that symbolizes a fight for the preservation of slavery. It is a flag that symbolizes racial oppression. It is a flag that symbolizes resistance to equal rights for all regardless of race.

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Those who think it represents southern heritage don’t know what they’re talking about. It represents the worst four years southerners ever lived, and it represents the oppression of African-Americans for the next hundred years after that. Those who think it was “hijacked” just don’t know what they’re talking about. That flag has symbolized those things from its first moments on. Recent events have galvanized opposition to the flag’s display, and have moved many who had no opinion on it to opposition. Most welcome, it has moved several who previously supported the flag’s presence to oppose it.

This does not modify my long-standing view that an individual is free to use that flag to express his or her opinion on their own property. I’m against an outright ban on all displays of that flag, reprehensible as it is. I think the best place for the flag is in a museum. Reenactors portraying confederate units are another legitimate use of the flag. I have no problem with individuals placing flags on the graves of confederate veterans on special occasions, though I think they should be removed as soon as that occasion has passed.

Where do you stand?

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34 comments

  1. That’s my position.

  2. Pat Young · · Reply

    Good thoughts there Al. I have to say that the Confederate flag ceremonies that SCV performs at cemeteries in mostly black neighborhoods remind me of the Orange Order marches in Northern Ireland. They are supposed to be about heritage, but they seem to be about subjugation.

  3. Al, you and I have our differences (but I still consider you a good friend), but this was, IMO, totally on-target. I think there has been some over-reaction by Amazon and Apple, but I think that will shake out in the long run. Any attempt to “ban” the Confederate flag in any way runs in to the First Amendment and loses. For me, the crucial period is not 1861-1865; it is 1866-1876 plus 1948-1963. During those two periods the battle flag became more associated with hate than heritage. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

    1. Jim, I regard you the same, and don’t worry, both conservatives and liberals have differences with me, albeit on different issues. 🙂

      Regarding Apple, who has since backed off their original stance, and Amazon, I see it as business people making a business decision they believe will lead to the most return for their investors.

      Let’s remember that it was confederate soldiers under that flag who murdered black soldiers because they were black soldiers. The flag represented a heritage of racial hatred from the beginning.

  4. Another example of possible over-reach: Apparently, NPS has taken down the Confederate flags at Fort Sumter. The initial reason was out of respect for those killed by Roof, but it appears there are no plans to put them back up. Given Sumter’s status as a park/museum, I think the flags should remain, unless it can be determined that certain specific flags never were flown there.

    1. Personally, I see it as a US facility, Jim, and I have no problem if the US Flag is the only flag flown there.

  5. I saw this paragraph and was curious:

    “It is a flag that symbolizes treason against the United States. It is a flag that symbolizes a fight for the preservation of slavery. It is a flag that symbolizes racial oppression. It is a flag that symbolizes resistance to equal rights for all regardless of race.”

    Couldn’t all these charges be leveled at the Stars and Stripes? The revolutionary war was a successful treasonous action in which British subjects took up arms to make war against their parent nation. Surely just by virtue of victory didn’t turn a treasonous action into a non-treasonous one.

    Second, the Somerset case, which came down a few years prior to the start of hostilities, freed slaves in the British Isles and held slavery was not part of the common law. British regents in the colonies promised freedom to slaves who enlisted with the British. Gen. Washington, at least initially, forbid recruiters from signing negroes into the Continental army. The Colonies were fighting to perpetuate slavery in addition to avoiding taxes.

    Third, how are the the Stars and Stripes not a symbol of racial oppression? I’d like to see a poll of the Native Americans on the Trail of Tears for their input.

    Finally, “equal rights for all regardless of race” has only been enshrined in the Constitution since 1868, three years after the Civil War ended. How can two warring countries, neither of which subscribed to the principle of “equal rights for all regardless of race” fight a war over such a proposition. If the United States invaded Mexico for the alleged casus belli that our neighbor to the south did not have a $20 minimum wage, but fails to concede that neither does the invader, can any reasonably objective spectator conclude that the minimum wage issue was truly the cause of the war?

    It would seem to me that if Britain had been victorious against he fledgling American colonies, we would be having the same hand-wringing over the Stars and Stripes, should the citizens of Boston wish to fly the flag under the Union Jack. It is said that history is written by the victors, that seems apt here.

    1. No, not at all. You have not been careful enough in your reading. The Stars and Stripes never once symbolized treason against the United States. The Revolutionary War did not involve treason against the United States. Lord Dunmore’s proclamation only came about after the Revolution had already started, so the Revolution was not a reaction to a fear that slaves would be lost. The Stars and Stripes were not used as symbols of massive resistance against equal rights for all. While the United States’ record isn’t perfect regarding racial oppression, we have to note that the victory of the troops who fought under that flag demolished slavery in this country and paved the way for the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. When state governors resisted movement against racial oppression it was troops under that flag who ensured schools were integrated. So while Old Glory’s tale is one that is mixed, the same cannot be said for the rebel flag.

      1. Thanks for you response. I often feel I’m on a deserted South Pacific island when it comes to rational discourse in this topic. However, I still have some questions on your response:

        “You have not been careful enough in your reading. The Stars and Stripes never once symbolized treason against the United States. The Revolutionary War did not involve treason against the United States.”

        It appears you equate might = right. So treason against an abolitionist Crown is wrong, but treason against a slave holding Union is right? How so? I admit you said “treason against the US”, but why is that morally wrong when treason against the Crown was morally right? Was there a fiat from on high saying only treason against the United States was a moral wrong?

        “Lord Dunmore’s proclamation only came about after the Revolution had already started, so the Revolution was not a reaction to a fear that slaves would be lost.”

        Yes, and the Emancipation Proclamation only occurred after the start of the Civil War. As I’m sure you recall, the Corwin Amendment lacked only Southern votes to prevent the US Constitution from being amended to ban slavery. The amendment is, as of 2015, still awaiting ratification by the sufficient number of states. Southerners likely did not fear losing their own slaves as much as they feared the loss of acquiring future western territories as slave holding states. Thereby being essentially flanked by abolitionist.

        “The Stars and Stripes were not used as symbols of massive resistance against equal rights for all.”

        Only if starting an armed revolution to prevent the abolition of slavery as not to be considered “massive resistance.”

        “While the United States’ record isn’t perfect regarding racial oppression, we have to note that the victory of the troops who fought under that flag demolished slavery in this country and paved the way for the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. ”

        Certainly you don’t admit, as a former member of the US military, that the most recent invasion of Iraq was to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. Its stated purpose was to eliminate WMDs from a government that may furnish it to terrorists. To change the mission midstream was disingenuous, and this comes from someone who fully supported the war effort. Going back to 1860, the mission of the Northern invasion was to preserve the Union, not abolish slavery. The abolition effort was an afterthought that sought to deprive the South of labor and prevent foreign powers from getting involved. A genius political move, but clearly not the North’s primary aim at the war’s outset. As a corollary, at least Britain had banned slavery before attacking the breakaway slave owning colonies. It did not attack the colonies then, after international outrage, ban slavery in the colonies (though not in the British Isles) and hypocritically declaring the war was about ending slavery.

        “When state governors resisted movement against racial oppression it was troops under that flag who ensured schools were integrated.”

        I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean. It was state troops in Arkansas and Mississippi (and probably other states) that helped integrate schools under their respective state flags as well. I would also suggest looking up pictures of James Meredith during the March Against Fear when he walked through the state literally draped in a rebel flag.

        “So while Old Glory’s tale is one that is mixed, the same cannot be said for the rebel flag.”

        Really? The first colored troops in the war were Louisiana militia units, not in the North where they were not allowed. Stan Waite was a Southern brigadier general while Phil Sheridan was clarifying that the only good Indians he saw were dead indians. WT Sherman was burning Atlanta to the ground and starving out old women in Vicksburg while RE Lee had his property illegally seized by the federal government with minimal or no complaint. Lee released his slaves to make sure no one confused the war with slavery. Jeff Davis formally adopted a black slave child as his own son. Meanwhile, Grant also was a slave owner and Lincoln was arguably the biggest eugenicist of the war.

        Lincoln made it clear before the war he opposed the spread of slavery, but had no intention of freeing Southern slaves. The war was clearly about preserving the Union until after Antietam/Sharpsburg when a political decision was made to focus the war on abolition to prevent Britain from invading form Canada or France from providing aid from Mexico.

        1. The American Flag was never a symbol of treason AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. Can you understand that now? Do you understand that the Revolutionary War did not involve treason AGAINST THE UNITED STATES? You’re engaging in fallacious reasoning. Certainly it involved treason against Great Britain. So what? If Great Britain wants to ban its citizens from displaying the U.S. Flag that was used during the Revolution, I could not care less. You cannot equate the US Flag being displayed in the United States, where it does not represent treason against the United States, with display of the rebel flag in the United States, where it represents treason against the United States. To try to do so is absurd, nonsensical, ahistorical hogwash.

          The Emancipation Proclamation has nothing whatsoever to do with the attempted secession of the confederate states and their desire for independence.

          The Corwin Amendment did nothing more than codify the existing constitutional interpretation of the time, that slavery was a state matter, not a federal matter. It did nothing, absolutely NOTHING to prevent the government from cutting off the expansion of slavery into the territories. It did nothing, absolutely NOTHING to prevent the government from abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, or on any other federal property. It did nothing, absolutely NOTHING to prevent the President from using patronage to appoint antislavery postmasters who would allow abolitionist literature to go through the mails. It did nothing, absolutely NOTHING about any of the complaints the confederates had regarding slavery. The reason why they were against cutting off the expansion of slavery was because that would lead to more free states, making it more likely legislation that was inimical to slavery would be passed by an increasingly antislavery Congress, thus slowly strangling slavery both by surrounding it with free states and by increasingly making it more difficult to maintain. Add to that the view that slavery had to expand to survive, and without expansion it would eventually die off. They saw cutting off expansion of slavery as a direct threat to the institution’s existence, and they could not abide that.

          You quote me here: “The Stars and Stripes were not used as symbols of massive resistance against equal rights for all.” and you respond thus: “Only if starting an armed revolution to prevent the abolition of slavery as not to be considered ‘massive resistance.’ ” Once again you’re confused. The folks who carried the Stars and Stripes did not start an armed revolution to prevent the abolition of slavery. That’s appallingly poor history on your part.

          You claim, “Certainly you don’t admit, as a former member of the US military, that the most recent invasion of Iraq was to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. Its stated purpose was to eliminate WMDs from a government that may furnish it to terrorists. To change the mission midstream was disingenuous, and this comes from someone who fully supported the war effort.” That’s more fallacious thinking. It’s a non sequitur. It has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.

          You continue, “Going back to 1860, the mission of the Northern invasion was to preserve the Union, not abolish slavery.” Straw man fallacy. I was talking about what the United States troops actually did.

          You say, “The abolition effort was an afterthought that sought to deprive the South of labor and prevent foreign powers from getting involved. A genius political move, but clearly not the North’s primary aim at the war’s outset.” It was not an afterthought. The Lincoln administration was freeing slaves from August of 1861 to the end of the war. There was no purpose to prevent foreign powers from getting involved. In fact, there was just as much chance emancipation would bring on a foreign intervention as it would prevent it. See Allen Guelzo’s book on the Emancipation Proclamation.

          You write, “As a corollary, at least Britain had banned slavery before attacking the breakaway slave owning colonies. It did not attack the colonies then, after international outrage, ban slavery in the colonies (though not in the British Isles) and hypocritically declaring the war was about ending slavery.” That’s another non sequitur fallacy.

          Your understanding of the history of desegregation is very flawed. The troops that facilitated desegregation were United States troops because the state National Guard had been federalized. On one day they were state guard troops who were deployed to prevent desegregation. The next day they were federalized and were deployed under the US Flag to enforce desegregation.

          You bring up the Louisiana Native Guards. They were never under the rebel flag. More bad history on your part. Stand Watie was a slave owner, not an egalitarian. He was also fighting to preserve the slave status of black Americans. Sherman didn’t burn Atlanta to the ground. There is no documentation that Lee ever released his slaves. He was a slave owner in his own right prior to the war and during the war. Lee’s property could be legally seized in accordance with the Confiscation Acts. The problem was that after the war it would have to have been returned to him, which couldn’t happen due to its use as a cemetery. Davis did not formally adopt a black slave child. That’s a lie many neoconfederates like to peddle. Grant had owned one slave in his life, William Jones, whom he freed in 1859 at a time when he needed money and could have gotten upwards of $1,000 by selling Jones. Instead, he freed Jones outright.

          As usual, we have poor history and poor use of logic needed in order to try to defend the confederacy.

          1. “Do you understand that the Revolutionary War did not involve treason AGAINST THE UNITED STATES?”

            Yes, of course I do. I inferred from your original comment that a flag representing treason represented a mala in se and was morally wrong to display. However, if you simply mean a flag of treason being displayed in the victorious mother country is wrong simply by virtue of its location, you would have no problem with that same flag being displayed by the government in other locations? Would you seriously be fine with the British government banning the US flag? Would you be as militant against the Stars and Stripes had the British won the war? The reason I ask is to see if you have a consistent rule on this matter or your opinion varies based upon the specific facts.

            “The Emancipation Proclamation has nothing whatsoever to do with the attempted secession of the confederate states and their desire for independence.”

            I agree entirely.

            “The Corwin Amendment did nothing more than codify the existing constitutional interpretation of the time, that slavery was a state matter, not a federal matter.”

            Incorrect. The Corwin Amendment stated “No amendment shall be made TO THE CONSTITUTION which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” In other words, the US Constitution could not be amended to outlaw slavery. I assure you, that was not simply an attempt to codify constitutional interpretation. The current and 1860s and since the document’s inception interpretation of the US Constitution was that a properly amended constitution could outlaw or legalize anything.

            “The folks who carried the Stars and Stripes did not start an armed revolution to prevent the abolition of slavery. That’s appallingly poor history on your part.”

            Only if you are a practitioner of necromancy and can speak to them personally. I have no doubt some in the Continental Army absolutely took up arms after Lord Dunmore’s proclamation to do just that. Contemporary accounts state the colonists were “struck by horror” by the proclamation and were encouraged to resist by the Continental Congress.

            “Going back to 1860, the mission of the Northern invasion was to preserve the Union, not abolish slavery.” Straw man fallacy. I was talking about what the United States troops actually did.”

            It is not a straw man fallacy if you reasons for making a statement is unclear. Was the Union’s intent at the outset of the war to abolish slavery or preserve the Union? If it was the latter, to change the casus belli halfway through seems disingenuous and highly calculated. Also, what they actually did and what they intended to do is a huge moral distinction. The Enola Gay’s mission was to blow Hiroshima off the face of the earth. It was never intended to create a beautiful lake. Any apology for the actions of 1945 should only include what they intended to do as opposed to what they actually accomplished, ie “well they did create a beautiful lake.”

            “In fact, there was just as much chance emancipation would bring on a foreign intervention as it would prevent it. See Allen Guelzo’s book on the Emancipation Proclamation.”

            I highly doubt that. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of historians believe the EP was calculated, in part, to prevent foreign intervention. I’m sure somewhere some historian had argued the dropping of the atom bomb had as much chance of prolonging WW2 as it do hastening its end. I’ve never heard any opinion that such a proclamation would encourage anyone to intervene, but may take a look at the book you referenced. Who did Guelzo think would intervene on behalf of the CSA because of the EP?

            “You bring up the Louisiana Native Guards. They were never under the rebel flag. More bad history on your part.”

            They served under a CSA national flag, did they not? Are you making a distinction between the Stars and Bars and the rebel flag? Besides, you claim the US has a “mixed” history on race while the CSA did not. Would having the first colored troops in uniform be considered a positive by you?

            “Stand Watie was a slave owner, not an egalitarian.”

            And an Native American. Wouldn’t having a Native American general in your army be considered a positive racial move by the CSA?

            “Sherman didn’t burn Atlanta to the ground.”

            It was a rhetorical flourish. He may not have set Atlanta on fire, but his army did significant damage to civilian property by the torch.

            “There is no documentation that Lee ever released his slaves. He was a slave owner in his own right prior to the war and during the war. Lee’s property could be legally seized in accordance with the Confiscation Acts.”

            Is there really any debate that he released the Custis slaves in 1862? The National Park Service doesn’t think so. Also, his property was illegally seized as confirmed by the US Supreme Court. It “could” have been seized legally, as could anyone else’s land, but it wasn’t.

            “Davis did not formally adopt a black slave child. That’s a lie many neoconfederates like to peddle.”

            Ok, maybe “formal” adoption was incorrect in so far as that Virginia did not have an adoption law, so no one could be “formally” adopted. However, he still found and had pity on a black child that was being beaten by a black man and had him freed from slavery. Maybe informal foster parent would be more appropriate. That would seem to be a positive step for race relations in the CSA, no?

          2. The British can do what they want to do. I have no say in it whatsoever, and it doesn’t affect me one bit. If they wanted to ban their citizens from displaying a particular flag, it’s up to them. We don’t know what we would be like if the American Revolution had been successful, so your question about that is irrelevant. If you agree the EP has nothing to do with the confederate state seceding [it did, after all, come after they seceded], why did you bring it up?

            Again, you simply don’t understand the Corwin Amendment. It did nothing new about slavery in the states. The agreed on constitutional interpretation of the time was that slavery was a state matter, and that the federal government could not abolish slavery in the states in which it existed. Here’s what Lincoln said about it: “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I have not seen — has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.” The Corwin Amendment would simply codify that prevailing constitutional interpretation and make it permanent that the federal government couldn’t abolish slavery outright. It did nothing about the extension of slavery or any of the other complaints the confederates had regarding slavery. As to it being unamendable, that is a chimera. Nothing in the Constitution is unamendable as long as one can muster the required constitutional support for amending. Bringing up the Corwin Amendment is simply a red herring.

            One doesn’t have to speak to the Revolutionary Generation because they left us these things called documents. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. One of these documents is the Declaration of Independence, which clearly lays out the reasons for the Revolution. Protection of slavery is not one of those reasons. There are no documents that show protection of slavery as being a reason for the American Revolution.

            You say, “Was the Union’s intent at the outset of the war to abolish slavery or preserve the Union? If it was the latter, to change the casus belli halfway through seems disingenuous and highly calculated.” The United States accepted the war started by the confederacy in their quest to preserve slavery in order to preserve the Union. Emancipating slaves was indeed a tool used to achieve that goal. So what? It doesn’t change the fact that the reason why the confederacy sought its independence was to preserve slavery and white supremacy from what it perceived as a direct threat to them both. Now, the United States did in fact free slaves. That’s what those soldiers actually did. The soldiers themselves also came to understand that slavery had to be destroyed, not just to win the war then but also for two additional reasons: 1) to prevent further rebellions; and 2) because they came to see it was the morally right thing to do. Soldier diaries, journals, and letters are filled with observations such as Henry Hitchcock’s from his journal: “We had hardly got into the yard when four or five stout negro men appeared, who had skedaddled this morning early from their ‘kind masters’ four or five miles off to join and go with us. Quizzed them a little about how we treat negroes. Asked them if they knew how the negroes fared at Atlanta. ‘Oh, yes, white folks tole us you burned the men in the houses and drowned the women and children.’ ‘Well, did you believe it?’ ‘No, Sir!! We didn’t believe it–we has faith in you!’ ” [pp. 69-70] And in further talking he learned, ” ‘Dey don’t thinkn nothing ’bout here of tying up a feller and givin’ him 200 or 300 with the strap.’ Another of them explained his presence by his having heard ‘the white folks’ last night talking about the Yankee’s approach, and their own intention to run off their negroes this morning down to Macon and thence to Florida (!). He was ordered to have the horses, etc., all harnessed up early this morning; but instead rose very early and came over to the Yanks himself. It is most striking and touching, the faith in us these people show.” [p. 70] He tells us, “Judge Harris is a prominent man hereabouts. Nichols had a long talk with his negro driver and came back full of indignation. The women say that their master, though an elderly man, and with a family, obliges them to submit to him, and straps them if they refuse. One fine looking old darky has but one leg: his story, confirmed by the others, is that the white women shot him–years ago–deliberately, first picking a quarrel about the way he planted some potatoes, and so he lost his leg.” [p. 72] He says they “stopped for lunch at house of Mrs. Farrar, six miles N. of E[denton] Factory. Mrs. F. at home–young woman, would be pretty if less slatternly. Never saw a Yankee farmer’s wife but would be ashamed to look so. Yet he has a good place, probably twenty negroes, certainly I saw ‘quarters’ for so many or more. He is at Milledgeville–‘gone there last week to help in the breastworks, and to fight,’ said the darkies. Mrs. F. said he was in the rebel army from choice–the first woman who has not declared her husband was forced to go. General talked to her in his usual strain–kind tone, but declaring that unless they obey laws all will be utterly ruined, etc. The negroes here (F.’s) say they have been habitually punished by flogging not only with strap, but with hand-saws and paddles with holes–and salt put in the wounds. They also told us of a famous ‘track-hound’ (blood-hound) at the next house, nearby, used to hunt runaways. As we went by that house, Nichols had gone there (by General’s permission) and had the hound shot by a soldier: he was a large red dog: we heard the shot and the dog’s dying howls. N. says the darkies there were in great glee over it. No wonder.” [p. 78] While the white American soldier was as racist as his confederate counterpart, even he came to see the moral need to end slavery. There are several cases of soldiers who were against abolition when they began to fight and changed their minds after seeing slavery firsthand. Adding destruction of slavery to Federal war aims was not disingenuous. It was realization that ending slavery was necessary. And that’s what they did. They ended slavery. The victory of the soldiers who carried the flag of the United States ended legal slavery in the United States.

            I said, “In fact, there was just as much chance emancipation would bring on a foreign intervention as it would prevent it. See Allen Guelzo’s book on the Emancipation Proclamation.” You responded: “I highly doubt that. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of historians believe the EP was calculated, in part, to prevent foreign intervention.” Wrong again. Read Professor Guelzo’s book.

            Regarding the Louisiana Native Guards, you claim, “They served under a CSA national flag, did they not?” No, they did not. They were Louisiana militia who were not accepted into confederate service. They were never confederate soldiers. I suggest you read some actual history books on them instead of some bogus neoconfederate website.

            I said, “Stand Watie was a slave owner, not an egalitarian.” You responded, “And an Native American. Wouldn’t having a Native American general in your army be considered a positive racial move by the CSA?” No. Not when his goal was racial subjugation itself.

            As to Sherman in Atlanta, you have quite a lot to learn here as well. “Rhetorical flourish” seems to be another term for falsehood. His army burned public property of military use. True that some of the fires spread to civilian homes that were close to the property, but the same thing happened when Hood’s troops burned Atlanta public property on their departure.

            As to Lee, he didn’t own the Custis slaves. I said he owned slaves in his own right, which he did. He was a slave owner before he became the executor of his father-in-law’s will. There’s no documentation he freed his own slaves. As to Arlington, first we have to remember it didn’t belong to Lee. It belonged to his wife, Mary, and after her their son, Custis. That was according to GWP Custis’ will. So seizing Arlington was not seizing R. E. Lee’s property. Lee owned property in the District of Columbia, inherited from GWP Custis, and he lost that property due to the Confiscation Acts. As Arlington had been seized for nonpayment of taxes and the Lee’s had attempted to pay the taxes through an intermediary, lower courts ruled that the taxes should have been considered to be paid in full. What the Supreme Court determined was that the doctrine of sovereign immunity didn’t apply in this case. You can read the case here: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/106/196/case.html

            As to “Jim Limber,” whose real name was James Henry Brooks, you say, “Ok, maybe “formal” adoption was incorrect in so far as that Virginia did not have an adoption law, so no one could be “formally” adopted. However, he still found and had pity on a black child that was being beaten by a black man and had him freed from slavery. Maybe informal foster parent would be more appropriate. That would seem to be a positive step for race relations in the CSA, no?”

            No. First of all, it was Varina Davis, not Jefferson Davis, who accounts claim “rescued” the boy. Second, he wasn’t a family member, but brought in as a playmate for Davis’ actual son, William, and he was thought of mostly as a “pet,” not a son. It was claimed Davis filed free papers for him, but there is no record of those papers being filed, at least none that have survived. And don’t we find it strange that the boy seems to have disappeared completely after the war? If he was indeed a member of the family, where was he in the years after the war? Why didn’t they ever reunite with him? He was more like a lost pet or a lost toy.

            http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/limber_jim#start_entry

          3. “Again, you simply don’t understand the Corwin Amendment… Here’s what Lincoln said about it: “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution – WHICH AMENDMENT, HOWEVER, I HAVE NOT SEEN”

            Yikes, I don’t understand the Corwin Amendment, that I quoted verbatim, but you do, because you cite man who admittedly hadn’t seen it? I agree slavery was considered at the time to be a matter left to the states outside of the regulation of the federal government, but the amendment varied from typical amendments in one very significant way.

            “Nothing in the Constitution is unamendable as long as one can muster the required constitutional support for amending.”

            That is the issue. I’m not aware if an un-repealable amendment had ever been proposed. You assume that such an amendment can be repealed, but that is bar exam-type legal question. You dismiss it way too quickly. It may be repealable, it may not. It is not a simple matter.

            “The soldiers themselves also came to understand that slavery had to be destroyed, not just to win the war then but also for two additional reasons: 1) to prevent further rebellions; and 2) because they came to see it was the morally right thing to do.”

            That was quite a bit of cut and pasting to convince me that 1 man of the 2+ million man Union Army believed in the morality killing hundreds of thousands in order to free slaves. I’m pretty sure for every man in the army who believed point 2, there was a draftee in New York burning a black man on the street. However, you have convinced me Henry Hitchcock believed it.

            “the Louisiana Native Guards…they were never confederate soldiers.”

            They were militia for the Confederate state of Louisiana. Certainly they weren’t signing up for a safari or trip to Disney World. They signed up to protect their state from the invading Union Army, as did hundreds of thousands of other southerners. So what if they were not in the formal national command structure?

            “So seizing Arlington was not seizing R. E. Lee’s property.”

            Puh-lease. Arlington was seized, the gardens were dug up and turned into a cemetery because of random chance? Because the titled owned was Martha Washington’s relative? No, it was largely due to RE Lee. The property was seized illegally and the US Army had a motive to seize and convert it to their use without due process of law. Also, highly technically, he may have had a homestead or other interest in the property by virtue of his marriage, that would arguably make at least part of it “his property.”

            “First of all, it was Varina Davis, not Jefferson Davis, who accounts claim “rescued” the boy.”

            Why quotes around “rescued”? Do you not think he was rescued? Even if it was Varina and not Jeff, why does that matter? Do you think Jeff had no say in who lived under his roof? He was president of a nation but not of his own household? If he disapproved of a black boy living with the family he could do nothing about it?

            “Second, he wasn’t a family member”

            Yes, Virginia had no adoption law.

            “and he was thought of mostly as a “pet,” not a son.”

            I think you are trying to make a PC cry of racism here, and if so, please let me point you to the dictionary:

            Definition of PET
            1
            a : a pampered and usually spoiled child
            b : a person who is treated with unusual kindness or consideration : darling

            However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you know the meaning of the word “pet” and just cut and pasted your response from a website.

            “And don’t we find it strange that the boy seems to have disappeared completely after the war?”

            I don’t know if he disappeared or not, but familial relations in the mid-19th century were a little more spartan and a little less touchy feely than today, as were race relations. It is difficult to judge people of that era by the modern standard.

          4. Yes, you don’t understand it, and Lincoln did.
            Nothing is unamendable. All you have to do is pass and ratify an amendment to that amendment, taking out the wording you need to take out.
            Quoting, not cut and paste. I gave you one example. There are hundreds of others. You’re just getting silly now. Your other “I’m sure” is an ill-informed absurdity. Draftees weren’t rioting in New York City, civilians were, and if you knew the history you’re pretending to know you wouldn’t have made that idiotic remark.
            Again, the Louisiana Native Guards were never confederate soldiers, and they didn’t serve under the confederate national flag. The flag they carried was the Louisiana State Flag. You were wrong.
            Arlington was not R. E. Lee’s property. You seem to still think it was.
            There are quotes around “rescue” because it’s questionable whether or not there was a “rescue.” We don’t really know the circumstances involved. And yes, it matters that it wasn’t Jefferson Davis because you claimed it was him. It wasn’t. Perhaps you don’t think accuracy matters, but it does here.
            I don’t cut and paste from other websites without attribution. In this case, the closest definition that fits how they felt about him would be, “any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pet
            “PC” has no value and merely reflects poorly on the person using the term, by the way.
            As James Brooks was not part of the family, there was no familial relationship.

          5. “Wrong again. Read Professor Guelzo’s book.”

            I read some reviews on the book and found an index of it online. According to the index he only speaks of emancipation and fears of intervention in three short passages, one of which is in the introduction to the book. It seems he asserts the EP was a gamble in that foreign powers would see it as Hail Mary move, an assertion with which I agree and I believe is generally agreed to as to why Lincoln waited for a victory to issue it. The other reason, from what I can tell from the reviews, is that England might have been afraid its issuance would cause a Southern race war and impede their ability to get Southern cotton. Since their ability to import Southern cotton had already been significantly impeded due to the blockade, I’m not sure how objectively reasonable that fear was. I’m still interested in reading it. However, this is the only scholar I could find who thought the issuance was a gamble with foreign powers. It seems Guelzo is alone or in sparse company making this assertion. He also asserts that it was Lincoln’s mission from his inauguration to free the slaves, which means he believes years of speeches and letters by Lincoln were lies, which they may have been, but it would be difficult to come to that conclusion without speaking to the man. The general consensus of other scholars seems to be Guelzo is the leader of the Lincoln fan club.

            “Fear of foreign intervention in the war also influenced Lincoln to consider emancipation. The Confederacy had assumed, mistakenly, that demand for cotton from textile mills would lead Britain to break the Union naval blockade. Nevertheless, there was a real danger of European involvement in the war. By redefining the war as a war against slavery, Lincoln hoped to generate support from European liberals.”
            http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3074

            “Fact #7: The Emancipation Proclamation helped prevent the involvement of foreign nations in the Civil War.

            Britain and France had considered supporting the Confederacy in order to expand their influence in the Western Hemisphere. However, many Europeans were against slavery. Although some in the United Kingdom saw the Emancipation Proclamation as overly limited and reckless, Lincoln’s directive reinforced the shift of the international political mood against intervention while the Union victory at Antietam further disturbed those who didn’t want to intervene on the side of a lost cause. ”
            http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/emancipation-150/10-facts.html

            “When the Civil War became about slavery — not just union — Great Britain could not morally recognize the South or intervene in the war. To do so would be diplomatically hypocritical.
            As such, the Emancipation was one part social document, one part war measure, and one part insightful foreign policy maneuver.”
            http://usforeignpolicy.about.com/od/introtoforeignpolicy/a/Emancipation-Proclamation-Was-Also-Foreign-Policy.htm

            “In the end, the Emancipation Proclamation kept the Europeans out of the conflict because it made slavery the central issue of the war, which no liberal government could support, and shifted popular opinion in Britain from support of the Confederacy to vigorous support for the Union cause.”
            http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444358804578016772025002926

          6. You apparently have a loose definition of “scholar.” I’m talking about historians who have credibility, not neoconfederate propagandists. The British historian Amanda Foreman, who is a recognized expert on US-British relations during the Civil War, tells us that initially after Lincoln issued the EP, the confederates actually gained the most benefit from it in England. Rather than using unsigned websites or articles from people wh aren’t historians, you should read books by recognized historians. The CW Trust site only tells us the result of the EP, not the potentialities it had. Professor Urdank, by the way, is a professor of modern British and European history, and he has no recognized body of work in Civil War History or Lincoln. Professor Guelzo’s book won the Lincoln Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of Civil War History. That tells me the scholars on the award committee liked what he had to say.

          7. “Arlington was not R. E. Lee’s property. You seem to still think it was.”

            Mr. T burns down the house in which Hulk Hogan lives and calls home because he is mad at Hogan. Does Hulk Hogan run out and yell, “ha-ha, the joke’s on you, the house is titled in my wife’s name and she only has a life interest before title reverts to my child”? You are missing the logic because of the details or the woods because of the trees. Arlington was targeted in no small part due to RE Lee’s involvement with the property. A formal title search on the property may not have been performed prior to the illegal seizure, but I’m fairly sure no one was surprised the most famous southern general lived there.

            “There are quotes around “rescue” because it’s questionable whether or not there was a “rescue.”

            Where is it questioned? I really would like to know. I admittedly don’t know much about the circumstances. The whole story may be a fabrication, I don’t know, but who is claiming the boy was not rescued, and if he wasn’t, where did he come from?

            “And yes, it matters that it wasn’t Jefferson Davis because you claimed it was him.”

            It only matters in that we were discussing the mixed racial history of the US vs. the “all negative” racial history of the confederacy. If the president of the CSA rescued the child or the first lady of the CSA rescued the child, I believe it is a positive point on race in the brief history of the CSA.

            “In this case, the closest definition that fits how they felt about him would be, “any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.”

            Your interpretation of the English language strains credulity. Of the three definitions on the site you referenced, one refers to a domesticated animal, one a child and one a “cherished thing.” You reflexively decided the definition referring to the domesticated animal is more appropriate than the definition referencing a child. How did you get there? Was the child forced to sleep outside in a dog house? Was he made to wear a collar? Was he not allowed on the furniture? Otherwise you are speaking authoritatively about how a person who lived in the 19th century subjectively felt about another person who lived in the 19th century without, presumably, speaking with either of them and contra the most logical interpretation of their writings.

            “You apparently have a loose definition of “scholar.””

            My cites under the Guelzo reference was not an attempt to demonstrate scholarly disagreement, just that I did an admittedly cursory search on the potential impact of the EP on foreign intervention and virtually every site on which I clicked stated it was issued, in part, to reduce the likelihood of foreign intervention. I don’t know if that is true or not. Like I said, I’ve never heard anything different prior to this discussion and am interested in learning more.

          8. No, Arlington was targeted because of its location and its clear view of Washington, making it an ideal place for artillery to threaten the capital, meaning that Union forces needed to retain it.

            As I said, the question arises because we really don’t know the details. Who was that “older black man?” Was it the boy’s father? How was he “mistreating the boy?” Was he merely spanking him for misbehaving? We don’t know. Did Varina Davis take a boy away from his father simply because she could? It’s not a positive point for the confederacy. It wasn’t an act performed by the confederacy. Forcing a child to be your son’s playmate isn’t necessarily a good thing.

            The definition I provided fits the way the Davis’ thought of James Brooks. He wasn’t a family member. As far as we know, he was there solely to provide entertainment for their son, just like a puppy. Notice he disappears from the record after the war. They didn’t care about him as a person.

            If you’re interested in learning more, I highly suggest reading Professor Guelzo’s book. It’s in paperback and it should be available through interlibrary loan if your local public library doesn’t have it. I’ve also previously pointed you to the British historian, Amanda Foreman, whose book, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, goes into relations between Britain and the United States during this time period and discusses attitudes toward intervention and emancipation.

            Professor Burruss Carnahan, in his book, Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War, agrees, writing, “In England and France, concern had been widely expressed that the Emancipation Proclamation would incite an indiscriminate race war.” [p. 127]

            At the cabinet meeting where Lincoln showed his cabinet the EP, William H. Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State, warned him that it might provoke a foreign intervention “for the sake of cotton.” See Howard Jones, Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War.

        2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

          Talk about echoes of the Lost Cause. You might want to learn the difference between a revolution and a rebellion. Revolutions are about bringing something new into being. They involve a rejection of the old order with the goal of replacing that old order with something new. American Revolution, Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution are examples of what revolutions are.

          A rebellion occurs when people want to replace the existing government with a new one. Most of the time the new government would strongly resemble the old one. They are usually not about replacing the old system with a totally new one. In the case of the Confederacy, that was a rebellion meant to maintain the current system, not replace it with anything new at all. In no way, shape, or form was the Civil War a revolution by the Confederacy. In fact, they sought to reject some of the principles of the American Revolution such as equality.

          I think Al takes care of the rest. Sherman burning Atlanta? That’s funny. Study the creation of the Confederate Constitution. The fireeaters were pissed off about the international slave trade being banned. They only agreed to it because the moderates pointed out that there was no way the UK would recognize the CSA with the slave trade as law. It was also pointed out that there was such a thing as a paper law. Just because it was on paper didn’t mean it would be enforced. Of course, the northern border states wanted to use the ban on the international slave trade to line their pockets as they sold their excess slaves south.

          That’s the wonderful thing about history. It is far more complex than people realize.

          1. “You might want to learn the difference between a revolution and a rebellion.”

            I’m admittedly not a master linguist. However, I will say Merriam Webster lists “rebellion” as the primary synonym of “revolution.” In its discussion of synonyms it states “rebellion implies an open formidable resistance that is often unsuccessful. Revolution applies to a successful rebellion resulting in a major change.” It uses rebellion to define revolution. Which I guess is my point, if the South would have won, it would have been a revolution. If the Colonies would have lost, it would have been a rebellion.

            However, even if there is a significant distinction between the two, does that mean one is justified and the other is not? If a 60s radical group had overthrown the US Government in a revolution, is that something to be applauded, while if Mozambique threw off the governance of Portugal and installed an exact replica of the Lisbon government, would that be something to condemn?

            “That’s the wonderful thing about history. It is far more complex than people realize.”

            I agree. I’m not a Lost Cause apologist, I simply thought the arguments used against the rebel flag could be used against the Stars and Stripes in the line of “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

          2. I’ll point out that the Declaration of Independence tells us when a rebellion/revolution [if we were to use the two terms interchangeably] is justified. Such was not the case in the 1860s.

          3. Jimmy Dick · ·

            The delegates who formed the permanent Confederate government discussed whether or no to just use the US Constitution or to make changes. The hardliners wanted a much firmer stance on slavery than they got, but even they agreed that they were carrying on the American Revolution. Their problem was they left out the principles from the Revolution and decided to build their foundation on the idea of inequality, racism, and slavery. They wanted no change in their system. That is a rebellion, not a revolution.

            The thing about the Stars and Stripes is it stood and still stands for a great many things. The principles which it stands for are great lofty things. Unfortunately, some of the people beneath it didn’t live up to those principles in their actions. Actually, some of the people beneath it today do not live up to those principles which is sad.

          4. “I’ll point out that the Declaration of Independence tells us when a rebellion/revolution is justified. Such was not the case in the 1860s.”

            And if the Crown had suppressed the rebellious colonists today we would be debating whether the Declaration of Independence was justifiable under the terms of the Magna Carta. Might doesn’t equal right.

          5. I have no doubt you believe that. My position is that we don’t know what we would be doing.

          6. “The thing about the Stars and Stripes is it stood and still stands for a great many things. The principles which it stands for are great lofty things. Unfortunately, some of the people beneath it didn’t live up to those principles in their actions. Actually, some of the people beneath it today do not live up to those principles which is sad.”

            This sounds like a modern progressive version of the Lost Cause.

          7. Jimmy Dick · ·

            Andy,

            “This sounds like a modern progressive version of the Lost Cause.”

            I don’t think you have a clue of what you are saying with that statement.

          8. “I don’t think you have a clue of what you are saying with that statement.”

            It seemed to me the statement you made was political speak that politicians in literally any country to ever appear under the sun could have made about their own land, though I’ll agree with you that it is a nice sentiment.

  6. I should also add the Confederacy banned the slave trade before the US, thereby showing at least a mixed record “regarding racial oppression.”

    1. That’s one of the most idiotic statements a commenter has made here in a long time. The United States banned the slave trade in 1808. I don’t know where you went to school, but I learned in school that 1808 came 53 years before 1861. Perhaps you should undertake a study of some actual history before trying to comment.

      1. Touche. Mea maxima culpa. However, your answer is more than a little vitriolic. I’ve tried to treat you with respect and even complemented you at the beginning of my response. I have studied “actual history.” I was wrong about the sequence of bans of the slave trade, though I would suggest that the South’s continued ban on the international slave trade was a positive, wouldn’t you?

        1. Don’t you think that claim deserved more than a little vitriolic response? I sure do.

          No, it wasn’t a positive. It was in place to ensure continued high prices for their own slaves in the interstate slave trade. Virginia especially had a lucrative trade in slaves to other states.

          1. “Don’t you think that claim deserved more than a little vitriolic response? I sure do.”

            No, not if polite debate was your goal. I would have chalked it up to debating an old man with a memory that is not as good as it was 20 years ago thinking he once heard something to that effect, but was probably wrong. Plus I was also watching football, which I also am tonight and should account for some of my spelling errors.

            “No, it wasn’t a positive. It was in place to ensure continued high prices for their own slaves in the interstate slave trade. Virginia especially had a lucrative trade in slaves to other states.”

            So outlawing it in the constitution wasn’t positive? Would legalizing been positive? If neither is a positive, you seem to be slipping into the realm of ideologue.

          2. The fact that the United States outlawed the slave trade decades before the confederacy was even formed is so basic a fact that I can’t simply chalk it up to a bad memory. If you’re watching football while commenting, then that’s your own fault, no?

            It’s neither a positive nor a negative for them, since their reason for outlawing the Atlantic slave trade was to maintain the high price of their own slaves in the interstate slave trade. Legalizing it, since it had been illegal under the United States for 53 years before they came into being, would have been a negative. That’s not being an ideologue, it’s looking beyond the surface.

    2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

      You might want to do something like show your source of information for that particular piece of incorrect history.

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