Why You Can’t Separate The Confederate Flag from its History

An Army of Tennessee Confederate Battle Flag. This is image is historically linked to the preservation of slavery, no matter what other symbolisms later generations have attached to it.

An Army of Tennessee Confederate Battle Flag. This image is historically linked to the preservation of slavery, no matter what other meanings later generations have attached to it.

The Confederate battle flag inspires, shall we say, some passionate opinions among different groups of Americans. To a particularly weird contingent of neo-Confederate apologists, including the various branches of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the flag symbolizes “Loving the South and defending its culture, symbols and heritage.” These groups go out of their way to separate the Rebel flag from its historical associations with slavery and racism and claim that the emblem merely represents their love of all-things Dixie. To other groups, however, especially African-Americans, the Confederate flag is a historic symbol that invokes the legacy of slavery and racism that defined the American South for generations.

So who’s in the right here? Does the Rebel flag today merely serve as a symbol for historically illiterate Bubbas to wave in the name of “Heritage, Not Hate?” Or, does the flag still symbolize slavery and racism — basically the two worst things about the Old South? The answer is both complicated and straightforward.

Yes, people of different generations have attached different meanings to the Confederate flag to the point where, on one hand, it’s now little more than a generic symbol for rebellion that fuels a decidedly tasteless bumper-sticker and bikini industry. But on the other hand, the Confederate flag emerged at a very specific point in American history. It served as the military emblem of an army whose government, the Confederate States of America, waged a treasonous war against the United States in the name of defending, upholding, and perpetuating racial slavery. This is the real history of the flag that makes many Americans (justifiably) uncomfortable, and its a history that will forever be linked to the stars and bars.

The flag’s historical association with slavery and racism has always made it a banner controversy (oh yeah, that pun was intended). Case-in-point: Talking Points Memo recently reported that students and alumni of Douglas S. Freeman High School in Richmond, Virginia have signed a petition to bring back their stars and bars-clad “Rebel Man” mascot. The move has proved controversial, but proponents of bringing back the mascot claim that “The Rebel Man was never intended to embark racism or start any kind of political controversy, but only to represent our city’s history.”

Unfortunately, the history that “Rebel Man” is intended to represent is quite loaded: Richmond, Virginia served as the capital of the Confederacy after it was moved from Montgomery, Alabama in early 1861. Knowing this full-well, one Freeman High School student echoed a familiar (and tired) refrain when he claimed that, “Since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, a Southern soldier really represents us as a school…This Rebel Man does not represent racism or slavery.”

The "White House" where Confederate president Jefferson Davis lived in Richmond, Virginia.

The “White House” where Confederate president Jefferson Davis lived in Richmond, Virginia.

Of course, whether or not that student believes that Confederate imagery “does not represent racism or slavery,” the fact remains that the rebel flag and its associated symbolism historically represents a breakaway nation whose “cornerstone,” as explained by its vice-president, Alexander Stephens, was “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Based on this “cornerstone,” the majority of the slave-holding southern states formed the Confederate States of America in 1861 as an explicitly white-supremacist nation dedicated to defending the right to own black slaves.

And just how dedicated to slavery were the Confederate States of America, you ask? Well, consider the fact that the Confederate Constitution was, for all intents-and-purposes, a virtual carbon-copy of the American Constitution, but with a crucial difference: it had provisions clearly defending the right to preserve slavery. While it’s true that the American Constitution in its original form was essentially a pro-slavery document (it did have that whole three-fifths clause, after all), the framers of the Confederate Constitution went out of their way to make sure that NOBODY on earth could EVER deprive the South’s of its hard-working and EXTREMELY under-paid labor force.

Article I Section 9(4) of the Confederate Constitution reads that, “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” That’s pretty straightforward, innit? But the fun doesn’t stop there! Article IV Section 3(3) reads that, “The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and… In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”

You get all that? Basically, the Confederate Constitution not only protected slavery, but it also protected the right to perpetually extend slavery into any new Confederate territories FOR-EVER. Don’t believe me? Then read the dang thing for yourself! These Rebels were in the slavery business for the long haul, folks, and this is the uncomfortable fact that some contemporary Americans want to gloss over when they claim that you can wave the flag of a nation dedicated to slavery and white supremacy while simultaneously denying that said flag has anything to do with slavery and white supremacy. Sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that.

There's a reason why these hooded clowns tend to wave the Confederate flag: they know its history.

There’s a reason why these hooded clowns tend to wave the Confederate flag: they know its history.

But debates over the appropriateness of displaying the Rebel flag in public settings aren’t likely to go away any time soon. As historian John Coski writes in The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (a book I referenced in an earlier post about the flag’s legacy), “Even though the battle flag was the banner of a people striving to break away from the Union and protect the institution of slavery, those people were Americans.”* This means that the Confederate flag is also an American symbol, and it stirs high emotions precisely because it invokes the negative issues of slavery, racism, and inequality that are supposed to be contrary to American ideals but for which hundreds-of-thousands of Americans gave their lives in battle.

The Rebel flag makes us uncomfortable because it symbolizes a time in history when half the country took the worst aspects of American society and tried to form a new nation dedicated to those aspects. But it’s too easy to blame only the South here; after all, throughout the nineteenth and much of the twentieth centuries, racism and white supremacy were American values, not merely southern ones. Even though the Union won the Civil War, the Federal government wasn’t exactly committed to full-on, post-war racial equality, and the northern states didn’t exactly become havens of racial tolerance in the decades following the Confederacy’s demise.

Thus, the Rebel flag is controversial because it reminds Americans of a racist set of values that were once widely held; the South was just more honest about holding them. Nevertheless, the fact of widespread American historical racism is no excuse to blindly claim that the Confederate flag has nothing to do with racism and slavery. History is clear about the flag’s unfortunate connotations, and it’s a history that you can’t separate from the stars and bars. There’s plenty of other symbols of southern pride that ALL southerners — and all Americans — can get behind (like sweet tea; damn that stuff’s good), so let’s leave the Confederate flag where it belongs: to history.

* See John Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), 293.

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  1. when it comes from such a terrible historical meaning? I came to understand that, simply, the word has morphed into a different meaning. Urban dictionary defines it as
    “The term Nigger, was used in the mid 1900 as a demeaning term to describe a black person. In the latest years the N-word “Nigger” is no longer seen as demeaning, and in black cultures often used as “brother.”
    Yes, the confederate flag comes from a very racist and terrible time in history. Could it simply be that people use it solely as a symbol for southern pride, because that is its new meaning?

    • Yes, you are correct that symbols have no true fixed meanings and that people employ them for personal, subjective reasons. I acknowledge that, but the comparison with the “N-Word” doesn’t quite work. Yes, many (not all) black people have adopted that word as a term of pride in order to rescue it from its use as a term indicting subjugation and racism, but they don’t accept its use by whites. In other words, the word is far from being “no longer” demeaning, and the reason blacks have appropriated it is precisely because it’s a word with such strong racist implications. The comparison doesn’t really work with the Confederate flag, however, because the people who want to appropriate it for “heritage,” not “hate” are white. They’re therefore trying to whitewash a former symbol of white supremacy, which is not the same as a formerly subjugated group adopting the symbol of their oppressors.

      Furthermore, my main issue with folks who who want to use the flag as a symbol of “Southern Pride” is that quite often, they actively work to deny the flag’s true historical implications by claiming that the southern rebellion had nothing at all to do with slavery and racism, which is just factually wrong. Finally, I’d ask why you need the flag as a symbol of “Southern Pride” anyway? The South, like any American region, has a long and rich history, and can hardly be reduced to the four short, violent years of the Confederacy’s lifespan. Moreover, the Confederacy never received the support of all white southerners, as thousands of them fought for the Union or actively resisted the Confederate government, especially the Confederate draft, which was the first national draft in American history. The South is so much more than the Confederacy, and modern southerners and non-southerners alike should have symbols that reflect that fact. Thanks for reading!

    • Oh yeah, you’re totally right. I remember seeing a story about that a few weeks back. The thing is, do people think it was a coincidence that racist, reactionary groups like the KKK, anti-segregationists, and the whole George Wallace campaign used the Confederate flag as a symbol for their movements? Of course it wasn’t a coincidence. They knew full-well the flag’s history, and current Neo-Confederates do as well. Me thinks they doth protest too much.

  2. Oddly enough, here in Australia you occasionally see the Confederate Flag in the generic forms you mentioned… eg bumper stickers on cars, flags behind bars, or worn as a patch by bikers.

    • Yeah, I see them on occasion here in Canada as well. A lot of people who display the flag have no idea about its historical implications, or they just don’t care. They don’t concern me as much as those people who purposefully try to deny the flag – and the Confederacy’s – connections to slavery and white supremacy. I have little patience for those who want to romanticize the southern rebellion and what it stood for.

  3. History, and facts that lead to events, can over time, become clouded in memory, and therfore, makes it easier to be re-envisioned, and remembered a certain way that is of particular intrests to the victors of a military conflict. For instance:
    The “Stars and Bars” you keep refering to as being the “Confederate flag” that eveyone recognizes, as in the photo above.
    This flag is NOT….the “Stars and Bars”
    The “Stars and Bars” was the first natoinal flag, a blue field in the upper left corner, with seven stars in a circle, and three bars of red, white, and red.
    The flag in question here, that is universely recognized as the “Confederate flag”,…is acually call the “St. Andrews Cross”.
    Is was designed after the Scotish Christian flag.
    ….you see the point im making here?
    Without doing your historical research for this rag peice you’ve written here, you are inacuratlly refering to the flag by the wrong name…..and a so called “historicly innacurate bubba” just corrected you! ( as i can do on so many of the falsities and half truths you speew forth here…..shall i go on?

    • I’m well aware of the differences between the flags that you’ve pointed out. I use the term “stars and bars” because that is a phrase that people commonly use to refer to the “St. Andrews Cross;” for example, in the TPM article I cited. It’s a colloquialism (watch out, big word there!). As for my other points in this piece: if you think that they’re “falsities and half-truths,” then yes, you are an historically illiterate Bubba.

      Moreover, of course symbols’ meanings can change over time. My issue is with people who willingly deny the flag’s association with treason, slavery, and white supremacy. They aren’t fooling anyone who doesn’t want to be fooled.

    • You can call it the “St. Andrews Cross” all you want but it ain’t. The true StAC is blue with a white cross. Let’s not sully the poor Scots with the careless appellation of neo-Confederates.

    • “Then, as now the flag symbolizes for Southerners not hate but love, love of heritage, love of faith, love of constitutional protections, love of family and community.” Indeed, especially those certain “constitutional protections” that I highlighted in my post.

      • For SOME Southerners. The unconscious omission of southern blacks (most of them) and other ethnic groups with no affinity for the Old Confederacy is always striking to me.

        • Indeed. I always wonder what gives the SCV types the right to speak for “the South,” as if the entire region can be condensed into a lily-white, mythologized interpretation of the Confederate years.

  4. TDH-
    “To other groups, however, especially African-Americans, the Confederate flag is a historic symbol that invokes the legacy of slavery and racism that defined the American South for generations.”

    Is this true?…or are you making an assumption?
    According to this poll most blacks (about 60%) either have a positive view or don’t care-

    Pew Research Poll (2011)

    Reactions to the Confederate Flag


  5. The Confederate Battle Flag, (St. Andrews Cross) was created to help eliminate confusion on the battlefield from the US and CSA, (first National flag). The use of black gunpowder made it all most impossible to see across a large battlefield and identify your own line of fellow troops. Quit reading so much into it.

    • You know, you’re right: where on earth would I ever get the crazy notion that national flags represent the nations that fly them?

  6. I’m not sure that it’s fair to sum up the difference between the North and the South as “they were both racist, the South was just more honest”. The South was far crueler toward its blacks than the North. The convict leasing system in the South resulted in tens of thousands of black deaths in the South- there was nothing comparable in the post-Civil War North. And let’s not forget the South was so committed to white supremacy that they were willing to split the Democratic Party during the Berlin Airlift.

  7. I’m not sure what point that link serves. The issues raised therein have been covered in countless scholarly texts for decades now.

    • I assure you, my interpretations in this post merely reflect the consensus of Civil War scholarship for the last 30-40 years. The only way to cherry-pick the facts when it comes to why the South seceded is to ignore the mountains of archival evidence in which Confederates said that slavery was the issue that caused the Civil War.

      • You’ll have to excuse George. He gets accused of cherry picking his facts quite a lot. He doesn’t really know what it means but he’s decided to start accusing others of the same.

      • ‘mountains of archival evidence in which Confederates said that slavery was the issue that caused the Civil War.”

        Suppose you post some of these mountains of evidence. Suppose yiu post anything where any Confederate leader says we are going to war for the institution.

    • Says George Purvis, cherry picker of facts and idiot extraordinaire of the Lost Cause theory. Hi George, I see you found another blog to be ridiculed on as you lie to everyone about the Civil War. Those darn facts just trip you up every time.

  8. I agree and the same is true of the United States Flag as it is also inseparable from the evils in its history. When I see the United States Flag all I see is its long and sordid history of New England slave trafficking, Northern slavery, Northern slave profiteering, Northern racial segregation, lynching and race riots, Native American genocide, discrimination and violence against women, theft, corruption, and murder, poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, Japanese internment camps, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the firebombing of Tokyo, the Mai Lai massacre, religious intolerance and bigotry, the Great Depression, and a culture built on McDonald’s. For many, the American Flag is a shameful rag representative of a long an odious history of grotesque and severe human rights abuses. And the two cannot be separated.

  9. Slavery was legal in both the United States and the Confederate States. It could not possibly have been a cause of the war. Secession was the one and only cause of the war.

  10. Yes, secession over the right to protect slavery, because slavery was not legal in the northern states in 1860. You know, they have history books that cover this basic stuff…

  11. Except that the war was not fought between Northern and Southern States, it was fought between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. And slavery was perfectly legal in both countries. It’s pretty basic stuff.

  12. “The war was not fought between Northern and Southern States.” I have to admit, that’s an interpretation I haven’t heard before. Are you making these comment transmissions from planet earth?

      • It’s the only way to penetrate that stupid block on your shoulders. At what point do you begin to use reading comprehension to understand primary sources that state beyond a shadow of a doubt the war was about slavery? Oh, that’s right, you don’t comprehend because you ignore anything that proves you wrong. That is willful ignorance.

  13. Well, inasmuch as the war was, in point of fact, fought between the CSA and the USA, I have to say that this novel idea of yours, that the war was fought between two geographies, strikes me as quite ludicrous. So I repeat, the war was fought between the CSA and the USA, and most decidely not between the “North” and “South”.

    • Ever look at a map? The CSA actually did not exist as a legal entity since it was only a pack of traitors in rebellion against the legal government of the United States.

  14. You told me your post was not biased and free of cherry picking. Let’s take a look at it shall we?
    It seems to me your problem is with a high school and you cherry picked some facts to support your claim of racism.
    Your first fact the Cornerstone speech — Let’s look at some important facts about that document —
    The Cornerstone Speech was delivered extemporaneously by Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, and no official printed version exists. The text below was taken from a newspaper article in the Savannah Republican, as reprinted in Henry Cleveland, Alexander H. Stephens, in Public and Private: With Letters and Speeches, before, during, and since the War, Philadelphia, 1886, pp. 717-729.

    Speech and then this —[REPORTER’S NOTE. — Your reporter begs to state that the above is not a perfect report, but only such a sketch of the address of Mr. Stephens as embraces, in his judgment, the most important points presented by the orator. — G.]
    So the Cornerstone speech is useless as any sort of proof of the Confederacy fighting for slavery.

    You slur aside how about proving the Confederacy fought to preserve the institution. As a PHD you should have some document that proves this fact beyond a shadow of doubt. Let’s see it. Now it could it could also be said the United States was fighting to preserve the institution because under Article 1 section 9 reads—
    The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
    The Confederate Constitution states — The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.

    An outright ban on the importation of African slaves!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If there was no slavery in the United States then why the need for the 13th Amendment?

    Moving on we see you post a photo of the KK holding a Confederate Battle flag. I suggest you visit —

    The remainder of you posts is nothing but rambling biased opinions of yours. Meaningless really. It is well documented the racism of Lincoln and Grant and Sherman – under the United States flag. If you would like to go into that discussion we can.

    Oh yes I also took one of your comments from Al Mackey’s blog and reposted it on Cold Southern Steel here– http://coldsouthernsteel.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/neo-yankee-hypocrisy/

        • Look, I have no problem with people who want to acknowledge their history, but when you make nonsensical claims that try to deny the simple truth of the Confederacy and its ideological underpinnings, you’ll get a nonsensical response. Besides, why do you equate “southern heritage” with the Confederacy? After all, thousands of white southerners (and thousands more black southerners who donned Union blue) fought against the Confederacy, so what would the Rebel Flag say about their contributions to the war?

          • and exactly where did i make “nonsensical claims that try to deny the simple truth of the Confederacy and its ideological underpinnings,”

            Be a man admit that I caught you posting bigoted information and half truths. You haven’t a clue about real history do you.

            I never said that “southern heritage ‘ was simply about the Confederacy and i nevr said that bpeople living the South did not fight for the north. If i said that bring the proof.

            And thousand of Black, Indians, Jews, Asians, Mexicians and possibly other fought fo the South. What is your point?

            Simple question what is the flag of the KKK????

          • I think most of what you write qualifies as nonsensical. That said, if your goal is to deny the intimate connection between slavery and the Confederacy, which is the topic of my last couple posts, than there is nothing at all I could ever say to change your mind. I could point you to the vast consensus of professional scholarship and it wouldn’t matter, because you’re not really interested in learning about the past, rather, you’re interested in suppressing and/or denying it.

          • If you interpret historical “judgement” as blame, then fine. But its more a statement of fact: you can’t separate slavery from white supremacy, and these concepts were integral to the antebellum South and the Confederacy. Again, these points aren’t controversial to professional historians and even to most of the general population who are even remotely historically literate.

          • Not one person has denied slavery and the South. The difference is your post does not address slavery in the United States. You photo of the KKK with the CBF is a slanted view of the KKK especially since the official flag of the KKK is the United States flag. This is not hudgement this is fact.

            With that being said You can’t separate slavery and racism from the United States flag. You post is mote. You are proven to be biased.

  15. Ever read the Constitution? Please, do show me the phrase “Northern States” in the Constitution. And was Lincoln the President of the United States of America, or the “Northern States of America”? And then, please show me the phrase “Southern States” in the Confederate Constitution. And the Confederate States of America was no less a legal political entity than the United States of America, which was established by a pack of slave-traffickers, slave-owners, tax-cheats, and traitors who were in open and violent rebellion against their King and Country.

    • Again, look at a map. Your stance is ridiculous, but then we’re used to that from the heritage crowd. In case you are wondering there is a treaty that officially established the independence of the United States from Great Britain. Of course, that would be one of those facts you don’t like.

  16. Again, look at the respective constitutions, each of which bear the Official and legal name of the two belligerents. Can you find the words “Northern States” or “Southern States” in either? Your position is ludicrous, but then we’re quite accustomed to that from the “perpetual union” crowd. In case you are wondering, the Treaty of Paris is utterly irrelevant to this discussion. But of course, that would be one of those inconvenient facts you have a habit of ignoring.

    • I’m sure you think it is irrelevant, but that’s because it doesn’t help your position. Neither does a map. You must be a special kind of stupid to be unable to use one. You also don’t understand the Constitution, but then that’s not unusual for your type.

      • Jimmy, I would give it a rest, for your own sanity’s sake. Either this guy really is that obtusely dense, or he’s just trolling. Whatever the case, you’d have better luck trying to convince the ocean that it’s not wet.

    • Hmmmmm, I wonder if it’s our pal Austin/Caldwell/Carmichael and the plethora of other names he uses. I got $20 that says it is. Any takers?

      • The rhetoric sure sounds the same. By now though he has usually already made the “Winning” comment about other blogs and his statements on them which reflects the alternate reality of a world that does not exist.

  17. Too afraid to look at the respective constitutions Jimmy boy? Is it because you will find your childish understanding of the combatants contradicted and reduced to a farce? To be as stupid ad you are must be a truly frightening thing huh? But then again, the inability to read and understand the constitution if expected of your sort.

    PS- Do you really think you are the only one capable of flinging insults? Or do you do it only on left-leaning blogs where your adversary has to fight with one hand tied behind his back?

    • My adversary ties his own hands behind his back with his stupidity. The fact that he can’t look at a map shows he can’t think. He obviously cannot understand the Constitution or use context with historical analysis.

      Basically, you’re a f****** idiot repeating the same old crap with no proof whatsoever while you ignore the facts that prove you wrong. All you have to do is provide factual evidence to prove your points. You can’t. That’s why you continue to fail each and every time.

      You made a claim and the map shows you are wrong. The Confederacy was not legitimate so their constitution wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. It also reflected the element of slavery that drove their secession. I’m sure you think it says what you want it to, but unfortunately for you, you are in a minority of folks with little intelligence who only see what they want to see.

      Try college. You might learn to think there, but I doubt it.

  18. Oh dear, the screeching, idiotic moron with the worthless dime-store mail-in “degree” is in a little rage. Lol. Essentially, you are a gutless f#####g jackass incessantly repeating the same baseless garbage in defiance of the recorded historical facts. The facts prove you wrong, yet you flail wildly in the desperate hope of altering what cannot be altered. It is a f#####g laugh-riot to watch.

    Tell me, Jimmy boy, was Lincoln the President of the United States or the “Northern States”? Tell me Jimmy boy, which side of the war did Maryland fight on, and is Maryland North or South of the Mason-Dixon line? And tell me Jimmy boy, was Maryland a free State or slave State? And get this straight, Jimmy boy, if the Confederates States were illegitimate, then so were the slave-owning, slave-trading United States.

    What yo need to do Jimmy boy, and darn quick, is to take your worthless dime-store “degree” from your useless on-line correspondence “school” and replace it with a degree from a recognized and accredited institution of higher learning. But beware, those schools, unlike the comic-book “schools” you ” attended”, have competitive entrance requirements. And you are way, way,too stupid to get in.

    • Oh, I hit a nerve with that one didn’t I? The fact that I have a degree and you don’t really bothers you doesn’t it? You don’t like people who can think because you can’t.
      Still can’t figure out the facts can you? That’s what you usually do is try to mess up history with your allegations which are based on your opinion, not fact.
      I’m surprised you didn’t toss in a reference to community colleges, but then you don’t know anything about higher education in the US. All you know is you are not part of it and not capable of taking part in it because you would fail your history classes.
      Reading comprehension is required at all schools which is why you can’t attend them.

  19. Ou-oh, I most surely hit a very, very! raw nerve, didn’t I? The fact that you never even took the SAT’s, and that I not only did, but that I am also an alumnus of two prestigious and accredited Universities makes you furious, doesn’t it? Well get this; not only did I attend two major Universities, but as an undergrad, I did so on a full football scholarship. So the bottom line here is that I took part in University life in a way you could never hope to, even in your wildest dreams. Tubby.

    Now take your worthless dime-store “degrees” and try not to humiliate yourself anymore, tubby.

    • Alumnus of what? A school that you didn’t pass history in? Did Colonel Sanders teach Lost Cause 101 and Assgrabbery 102 while you played “foosball” on the cow pasture? Better check for brain concussions because you do not know your history.

      Oh, and pong!

  20. Lol..spent 5 semesters on the Dean’s List and was a two year starter at linebacker. Played in front of 80,000 fans too. I am starting to feel more than a little uncomfortable battling such an inferior “adversary”. You are pathetic.

  21. I for one am sick and tired of hearing blacks crying racism. If you don’t like the cushy life you live here go back to Africa. Maybe I should cry racism after all look what happened to my Cherrokee ancestors. And we were here first. Southern raised and still proud of the rebel flag.

  22. Well to be honest I noticed you didn’t cover any of the atrocities committed against the Indians or the Negroes by Union troops. Why??? I also noticed you didn’t address any racism in the North. Why???

    George Purvis
    Cold Southern Steel
    Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

      • Could you please post a link? Do you have info other than Dee Brown’s book “Bury My Heart–“?

        Still you did not address racism in the North or atrocities committed by Union troops against Negroes. Also you failed to point out that the US flag is the official flag of the KKK. Is it your objective to point out racism only in the South or racism as a whole? You have to admit your article is one sided.


          • No Chris it doesn’t. If that is the case why were there white, Indian slaves? If slavery is racism why do we have the Black codes in states like Illinois which did not have slavery.

            Now I have proved to you slavery was not the cause of the war. That is well documented. So to say the South wa trying to “rend” the union because of slavery is not the truth.

            Yes let’s get history right.

          • Look, this thread is nearly a year old. If you are seriously interested in these complex historical questions (which I doubt you are, but oh well), there are tons of great scholarly books to consult. You can find them in libraries, on Amazon, etc.

          • “there are tons of great scholarly books to consult.”
            “thread is over a year old”

            Well as I said I received a notification today. I know ATT is slow but not that slow!!!!!!!!

            Well the fact of the matter is I asked YOU. See the problem in consulting books is you come away with another persons opinion, much like you and Chris have done. I had rather do my own research, that way I can find the truth in the historical documents.

            Now I am beginning to think you either don’t know the truth, or you just don’t want anyone else to know historical facts. Which is it???? Well no matter the cat is out of the bag so to speak. people will visit may pages and come away with a ton of facts.

            One more thing I would like to point out. The 7th Miss. Inf. Regt started in 1861 with about 1,100 men in 1865 at surrender there were about 90 men left. My grandfather Pu(e)rvis was listed as a deserter. Census records indicate he may have come home to bury his wife and young child. He disappears from the CSRs after his arrest. Hardly someone fighting for the institution of slavery.

            In the words of Chris Shelley — “Let’s get history right”

            George Purvis
            Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • Being a historian isn’t something you just do. You need training, like any other skill, and it isn’t easy. It’s not a matter of merely looking at documents. If you don’t want to read what professional, trained historians write, then that’s your choice, but you don’t get to claim that factual relativism is the same as professional scholarship. Presumably you’d respect other credentialed professionals in other fields; in other words, if you needed to see a doctor for a medical issue, you’d go to a doctor who was trained in medicine, you wouldn’t go to, say, an auto mechanic. Trained professionals work for a reason, and while there are certainly good amateur historians out there, even they emulate how professional historians are trained.

            I’m not going to argue any further on the slavery issue, because you are one-hundred present, utterly and completely WRONG on that point. I don’t know how else to say it. And no amount of evidence, no amount of peer-reviewed scholarship will ever convince you otherwise, because you have no interest in the truth. Basically, I’m going to be an elitist jerk for one moment and just be honest here: I have more training than you; specifically, I have a PhD in history. I worked for six years to get it. I trained in scholarsip. I wrote a dissertation. I publised an article. I spent months in archives in Mississippi, North Carolina, and Washington D.C. researching that dissertation. I know what I’m talking about. You don’t. I’m not out to worship ancestors, I work to critically analyze the past.

          • Got to give you credit, most of your buddies would have banned me by now, you haven’t. Good job.

            Really??? I disagree. I think I have enough education to know what most historical documents read. If I have a question I know some good reliable unbiased people I can ask. I have no real need for you trained biased historians,

            Well other fields are different. A doctor can make a mistake and it be an honest mistake, but he cannot have a biased feeling toward your heart when your leg is bleeding. On the other hand I have watched you and every one of your friends on this board corrupt history at one time or another. No I won’t go searching the web looking for examples, you know they exist.

            If I was you I wouldn’t argue the issue of slavery either. You are sure to lose and lose to someone that doesn’t have your credentials. You see your education in history is simply worthless when you fail to acknowledge the truth. You know the war wasn’t about slavery. The closet you can come to proving that point is the Secession docs or the Cornerstone. neither are war declarations.

            Racism is just a tool you use to cloud the issue. You well know there was no more racism in one section of the country than another. That is still true today — and it is true across racial lines. So why do you feel the need to play that card???

            Well thought you may for once want to put your big boy pants on and exchange some facts after all you are a “trained ” historian — if that means anything to anyone.

            George Purvis
            Website: Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education
            Blog: Cold Southern Steel

            Ya’ll come see me now. ya heah?

  23. Oh BTW —

    I just noticed the Battle flag you posted is the flag of the 7th Miss. Inf. Regt., part of the “HIGH PRESSURE BRIGADE.”
    This is the unit I my ancestors served in. I have transcribed some 50+ letters of my ggg-grandfather, Richard B. Pittman. Go to http://www.7miss.org/ and view these letters.

    Look over the website and you will see these racist, traitors and other foul names you and your friends call my ancestors are just like anyone from anywhere USA.

    Now other points to be made the US constitution in 1861 still protected slavery and slavery does not equal racism.

    • Well, no, George. American slavery meant racism. It was a system of race control every bit as much as a system of labor. But it was American slavery, not just Southern slavery. It was a mutual sin, to be sure. But only the slave states chose to rend the Union over the issue. And it’s not personal for us: we aren’t attacking you for racism and slavery. Hell, my ancestors were bigots too. But that simply historical fact does not have to define us today. We can transcend it. But we have to get the history right first.

  24. It would have been nice if you could have mentioned that two other reasons that the South fought the Civil war were in defense of States rights (Lee was a prominent proponent of this view) and in defense of their home states or even homesteads.After all, not every Union soldier behaved himself when down south and there’s nothing to turn a neutral or even a (kept his head down) nominally pro-Union southerner to the southern cause like having one’s home burned/looted, or ones sister raped. As a class, the leaders of the South (who owned the vast majority of the slaves) were wealthy. Most Confederates were poor farmers with not a slave to their name, some were even drafted(yes, there was a Confederate draft. And like Lincoln, Davis had to violate his own Constitution to conduct the war, you can use that if you argue with Confederate apologists who demonize Lincoln in the future). And, to illustrate my point that at least a substantial minority if not majority of Southern solders weren’t fighting for slavery per-se: when Lee first invaded the North in 1862 some 10 to 20 thousand of his soldiers refused to go because, according to their reasoning, they weren’t in the war to invade the North but to protect the South.

    As for the Battle Flag, while I will defend anyone’s right to fly it (and not be fired or physically assaulted for doing so) it is sad that such a neat flag, aligned with the one Southern Army that got almost universal respect for its battle prowess and its gallantry, should have become associated with the KKK, but that is what happened. Maybe over time a more positive association can be constructed, but denying its history like I see so many do does no one any favors.

    Anyway, good piece but I did feel the need to defend the Confederates a bit. They certainly weren’t all fighting for slavery, and they certainly didn’t have a monopoly on evil during the war. You really can’t compare them (not even downright haters like Ruffin) to Nazis, but that is what many people do today because Slavery is the Great Sin and most people only get a very superficial education in public schools. I view the American Civil War as much more of a tragedy than a morality play, esp because the war really ended when Jim Crow was established in the south with the blessings of the Northern political and financial classes.

    • This was a great comment and I agree with most of what you point out. But while it’s true that many Confederate soliders weren’t fighting for slavery per say, all of them were familiar with the South’s racial order: how it elevated even the poorest whites above enslaved blacks. Historians call this “Herrenvok Democracy,” in which all whites perceived themselves as “equal” in their shared domination over enslaved blacks. I wrote another piece that discusses this idea re: the Rebel flag.

      Slavery was more than just an economic institution, it was a social and cultural one as well, and the average Confederate soldier didn’t have to personally own slaves to be fighting for slavery. Many came from families that owned slaves, or from neighborhoods where slaveholders held prominent social roles. And, of course, there was the “aspirational” aspect of southern slave society. Even those who didn’t own slaves often aspired to do so, much in the same way that modern Americans aspire to climb into the wealthy classes. And, in the antebellum South, to be a slaveholder meant social, economic, and cultural power. And regarding States’ Rights: that concept is insparable from the issue of protecting slavery, because when southerners touted “states’ rights,” what they meant was the rights for states to own slaves. Thanks very much for the comment and for reading.

  25. Jarret,

    You are still wrong. Slavery had nothing to do with the war or what the Confederates were fighting for. Simply put, the Confederacy was fighting because Lincoln decided to send an invasion fleet to Charleston. Why did Lincoln send this fleet to Charleston to hold Sumter— for the collection of revenue. The same reason Buchanan wanted to hold Sumter.

    Why would the Confederacy fight to protect slavery if the United States was willing, by passage of the 13th Amendment, to make slavery a permanent institution in this country?

    Now we all know that the North passed laws prohibiting the introduction of negroes into their areas– The Northern Black codes. This being the case, we could say the Union was fighting to keep the North Lily white couldn’t we?

    Now to prove me wrong simply post a period document that proves the Confederacy was “fighting for the institution.” I am almost certain you are going to present the secession docs or the cornerstone speech.

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