Heritage Not Hate? Let’s Ask Your Forefathers Why They Flew The Confederate Battle Flag
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Due to the now intense pressure to remove the Confederate Battle Flag, after the terrorist attack on Emanuel AME Church, many have stepped up to defend it. Known to many as the “Stars & Bars” the flag was the flag flown in battle by the former Confederate States of America. Many descendants of Confederate veterans maintain that the flag is about heritage and not hate. While the flag is certainly about heritage, the claim that it is not about hate or slavery or racism flies in the face of the very words of the men who flew it. Don’t believe that? Well let’s examine the very documents the reasons states gave for seceding. Only four states; South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia & Texas gave reasons for seccession. It’s worth noting that South Carolina & Mississippi were the first states to secede. So what did these two Confederate trailblazers decide to leave the Union over?
“The ends for which this Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a federal government in which each state was recognized as an equal and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights; by giving them the right to represent, and burdening them with direct taxes for, three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.
We affirm that these ends for which this government was instituted have been defeated, and the government itself has been destructive of them by the action of the nonslaveholding states. Those states have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the states and recognized by the Constitution. They have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace of and eloign the property of the citizens of other states. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and, those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common, government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found, within that article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has I been drawn across the Union, and all the states north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.”
So slavery for the state of South Carolina by their own admission was a key factor in seceding. I wonder what Mississippi was so peturbed about.
“In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.“
So the originators of this Confederacy seemed to have their minds made up on where they stand on slavery. Maybe as more states joined the cause the cause itself changed. Well let’s take a look at the great Confederate state of Texas who joined the later than either Mississippi or South Carolina for those answers.
“The government of the United States, by certain joint resolutions, bearing date the 1st day of March, in the year A.D. 1845, proposed to the Republic of Texas, then a free, sovereign and independent nation, the annexation of the latter to the former, as one of the co-equal states thereof,
The people of Texas, by deputies in convention assembled, on the fourth day of July of the same year, assented to and accepted said proposals and formed a constitution for the proposed State, upon which on the 29th day of December in the same year, said State was formally admitted into the Confederated Union.
Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?
The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.”
Well this seems pretty clear. Clear enough to not even have to ask the state of Georgia why it joined. But with something so obvious that I shouldn’t have had to write this piece in the first place, why not beat the dead horse & then lead him to water to make him drink?
“The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers.”
Well, that speaks volumes. What’s even more telling are the metrics of the language used in each of the documents. Slavery is referenced throughout the four declarations for the reasons of secession. The word slave itself appears in the documents over 80 times in some form. By comparison that is more times than the words “liberty”, “constitution”, “heritage”, & the term “states rights” COMBINED.
Can we put this one to bed now? Yes, the Confederate states seceded over states rights, states rights to own slaves. Yes they left the Union for economic reasons, the economics of slavery. Yes they fought over their heritage, the heritage of profiting from Black bodies. If you can’t accept that then you can kindly, safely & freely eat a bag of Boston Baked Bean flavored horse dicks, choke on a few & then go fuck yourself.