Flag of Contention

In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shootings on June 18, 2015, Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the State capital’s flagpole. Regrettably, even if her call for action is successful, it would do no more to change the reasons behind the hatred that drives one human to kill others than legislation to ban the “N” word would go towards closing the inaccurately named “racial” divide.

Confederate Flag and Black Soldier

Many people look at the behavior of the rioters in Ferguson, Missouri in August, 2014 and in Baltimore, Maryland in April, 2015 and make excuses for them such as, “They are angry and have no other way of expressing their anger.” But, the same people look at the illicit behavior of white supremacists and say, “They are bigots and they have no excuse.” In their sentiments towards the white supremacists, they are absolutely correct, but they need to apply the same standard equally to people of every skin color. Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter who does it or for what reason it is done.

Despite the unequal application of a standard, there is another relevant point one can extract from these observations. When people are unjustly treated and when they have no viable means to address their grievances, they often turn to hatred and violence as an outlet.

The United States has much to atone for in its history and two of the most divisive matters in need of atonement are the treatment of African Americans in our nation, especially after the institution of slavery ended, and Lincoln’s War against the South which is commonly and inaccurately known as the “Civil War”. These two breaches of justice are closely related, but not as most people in America today believe they are.

One of the reasons the Confederate Battle Flag is still a potent symbol over one-hundred and fifty years after the war ended is because that war was an injustice done to the South, which has never been appropriately addressed by our national government and is still an open wound. In addition, the oppression of the southern culture through the national policy of Reconstruction deepened that wound to ensure that it would never properly heal without significant atonement.

Lincoln’s War was an injustice done to the South because, according the Tenth Amendment, every State has always possessed the power of secession, and the Constitution only authorizes Congress to call up troops, not the President.[1]

Lamentably, it was under the policy of Reconstruction that unrighteous southern animosity grew against former African slaves, mainly because the Republican Party used the former slaves as pawns in a political chess game to further their party’s interests by oppressing southern whites, who were mostly Democrats. Additionally, the Republican Party, ex post facto, used slavery as a means to justify the unjust war they perpetrated and the unjustifiable oppression they imposed upon the South after the war.

During Reconstruction, the northern occupiers disenfranchised white southern voters and enabled former slaves to vote and run for office. The northern occupiers also, among many other oppressive actions, confiscated property from southerners and gave some of the property to former slaves. Whether the animosity that grew out of these actions was justified or not, it did not sit well with the southern white population.

The southern whites, who could do little to change the economic and social oppression imposed upon them, turned against blacks as if they were the cause of the calamity. Even to this day, over one-hundred and fifty years later, one can still see the economic scars in the South left by Lincoln’s War and Reconstruction, and one can still feel the hatred of blacks for something for which they are blameless.

For the sole reason of righting wrongs, we should take pause before relegating the Confederate Battle Flag to museums. Regardless of its modern misuse, that flag is a symbol of liberty; it is a symbol of our nation’s Second War of Independence and it should be honored as such by people of every skin color. Without a doubt, slavery was wrong, but, according to Lincoln in his first inaugural address, his executive order[2] calling up troops on April 15, 1861, and his address to Congress on July 4, 1861, the abolition of slavery was not why he led the northern States to war against the South.[3]

In order to atone for the wrongs against the South, our national government should recognize that the South had a justifiable reason for secession that had nothing to do with slavery, [4] that Lincoln unconstitutionally took our nation to war, [5] that States still have a constitutional right to secede from the union if the national government breaches our national contract,[6] and that what Congress did to the South via Reconstruction was unjust. By taking these steps, white supremacists will no longer be able to perpetuate the myth that the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of oppression and it will take away the genesis of their hatred, whether they choose to recognize it or not.

The overwhelming majority of the men who fought for the Southern Cause in the 1860s did not own slaves. Additionally, slavery was a labor practice that denied them job opportunities. It is, therefore, irrational to believe that non-slave owning southerners fought to maintain slavery or were willing to die to maintain the right to oppress black people.

Accordingly, the people who use the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of oppression and hatred do not accurately represent the people who fought under that banner in the 1860s and shame on anyone who uses it as a symbol of hatred. They do not help their cause with misdirected anger and illicit behavior. We, as a nation should stand united with our brothers and sisters of all skin colors, as one human race, and instead fight against the civil government that takes away our liberty with nearly every bill it passes. May the Holy Spirit comfort the survivors and families of the victims of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and may God the Father guide our nation into true reconciliation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

[1] The power to call up troops to suppress an insurrection is an Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 power.

[2] Lincoln called his order a Proclamation, but it was an executive order by another name.

[3] American Founding Principles, A War to End Slavery, November 26, 2012.

[4] American Founding Principles, The Death of a Nation, January 20, 2014.

[5] American Founding Principles, The Case Against Succession, November 2, 2013.

[6] American Founding Principles, Can States Constitutionally Secede from the United States?, November 19, 2012.

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4 thoughts on “Flag of Contention

  1. Well said. There are several reference works posted on the book list at http://www.justplainbill.wordpress.com that support every word posted here. Just off the top of my head are: Bruce Bartlett’s, “Wrong on Race”, several works on both reconstructions (there were two official reconstructions, and several hidden works on how Woodrow Wilson eliminated all Blacks from supervisory positions in the federal civil service, and how FDR’s National Recovery Act, aka Negro Ruination Act permitted institutional racial discrimination in both management and labor, both organized and unorganized), and of importance almost as much as the fact that they were removed from bookshelves during the Clinton Administration, the same as trying to google Indonesian Adoption Laws, are Freehling’s “Secession Debated; Georgia’s Showdown in 1860” and his “Nullification; The 1828 South Carolina Crisis”, Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals and Race”, Richardson’s “The Death of Reconstruction”, Freehling’s “Prelude to Civil War”, MacDonald’s “States’ Rights and the Union, Imperium in Imperio 1776-1876”, Neely’s, “The Union Divided”, and The Kennedys’ “The South Was Right”. Oh, and for all the vilification they receive from the left, de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”, and Calhoun’s, “A Disquisition on Government”.

  2. Images of African-American men in Confederate uniform are among the greatest rarities of 19th-century photography: Only eight were known to exist, according to Jeff Rosenheim, curator of the 2013 exhibition “Photography and the American Civil War” at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The portrait of Robert Webster adds a ninth to that roster. Such images, says John Coski, vice president and director of historical research at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, are “tantalizing in what they do and do not tell us.” One thing they don’t tell us, he says, is that the men in the photographs fought in the Confederate Army, contrary to the belief of some researchers eager to show that African-Americans did so. Of the slaves photographed in Confederate uniform, the names and fortunes of only four are known. All four went to the front as servants to their owners, who were Confederate officers.

    First and most important, people who try to press this agend apply the word “soldier” to any person associated with the army, black or white, free or slave, regardless of their position or role. This misleads the reader, because it ignores most basic differences – social, cultural and legal – that were fundamental to the South in the 1860s. That’s simply not the way white Southerners, military and civilians alike, viewed their world. It was a hugely different world, and it does not improve our understanding of it to elide these very basic elements.

    Yes there are numerous accounts in the press, mostly early in the war, of African Americans volunteering, or organizing, or drilling, but these accounts usually have a few things in common. They almost never (1) specifically designate the company or regiment, (2) never identify the officers in command, and (3) they’re almost always offered at second- or third-hand. There’s no way to follow-up or corroborate them. These supposed African American units seem to disappear from the Confederate press after an initial mention. Where are the descriptions in Southern newspapers of these units, in field, with the regular army? These units comprised of African American men invariably disappear after some brief item in the paper.

    This picture purports to show the 1st Louisiana Native Guard, a group of African American soldiers who supposedly served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. It’s been used in numerous places, including Youtube videos

    The photograph has been used by pro-Confederate supporters for its propaganda value: the “fact” that blacks fought in the Confederate armed forces is viewed as proof that the South was not fighting the Civil War to defend slavery, but rather, for their freedom or “states rights”… or something.

    The problem with the photo is, it’s a fake. It’s a retouched version of this picture, which features a white Union official:

    The REAL photo
    The photo was taken in Philadelphia, around 1864. It was eventually used to make an illustration for a Union recruitment poster that was targeted at blacks. The fascinating story of how this piece of history was made into a hoax is detailed at the site Retouching History: The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph.

    The group that was the focus of this hoax – the Louisiana Native Guards – makes for an interesting story in and of itself. The guard, which was a militia of the state of Louisiana, consisted of creole (mixed race) soldiers. On Nov. 23, 1861 – after the start of the Civil War – they made their debut, with a show of 33 black officers and 731 black enlisted men along the banks of the Mississippi River next to their white counterparts in the Louisiana militia.

    • Mr. Tucker,

      Thank you for your detailed explanation. I was concerned the Louisiana Native Guard photograph was not authentic and as such I will remove it. Yet, my article was not about former slaves serving in the Confederate Army, which, by the way, was not allowed by the Confederate Congress. My article was about true reconciliation.

      To the point I think you were trying to make, of course slavery was important to the South, but that is not why Mr. Lincoln took America to war against the seceded southern States and furthermore, the welfare of African slaves was a minority concern among the northern population. I am certainly not claiming the southern culture was without sin, yet the northern States were just as “racist” as the southern States and in many cases more so, and the northern States were just as culpable as the southern States concerning the issue of slavery.

      First, if the North was truly concerned about the welfare of African slaves, they should have boycotted all commodities and products produced using slave labor. But, it was the southern cotton that fed the northern textile mills, so no one was willing to take that step.

      Second, the North should have first stopped all slave traders from sallying forth from their ports before they cast their finger towards the South. But, they were unwilling to do that either and even rioted, in 1863, when a New York slave trading ship captain was going to receive the just rewards for his illegal trade, the effects of which were portrayed in the movie Gangs of New York. As a side note, the majority of ships, from the United States, that participated in slave trading came from northern ports all the way up to and during the war.

      Third, the North should not have economically enslaved the Irish immigrants that came to America. But, instead they used them until they were no longer of any use to the factories, where they toiled, and then discarded them like some kind of human refuse to die in the slums.

      While it may not be clear to many that if slavery were the only issue leading up to 1860, the southern States would not have seceded. It should be crystal clear that Mr. Lincoln did not execute the war to abolish slavery or, for that matter, to provide any benefit to African slaves.

  3. Freehling’s book, “Secession, The Georgia Debates”, lays out clearly what and why the 7 Deep South states seceded. Other works, including Shelby Foote’s, “The Civil War, a narrative”, on the pages immediately after Sharpsburg, explain why Lincoln, after his cabinet debated the constitutionality of it and concluding that it was unconstitutional but ok to do under the war powers of Article II, proclaimed Emancipation in a foreign country; a country established in the exact same fashion as the United States in 1776. The Second Secession, that of Virginia and the other border states, if you are interested, is explained quite well in many places, both in Foote’s work, and in the biography of Jefferson Davis, “Jefferson Davis, American”. For those who do true non-wiki research and like to use verifiable and authentic sources, The London Times for the period has numerous articles and opeds on slavery and recognizing the Confederacy as a legitimate nation, some of which mention Locke, Smith, the Declaration of Independence (1776), &c, admittedly, as they printed anonymous and nom de plume letters, many of which may have been CSA authored.

    Anyway, The Kennedys have a website which has source and reference material. Also, if you travel about, The Old Courthouse in Vicksburg MS, has one of the best collections of Civil War Memorabilia, and the battlefield is certainly worthy of a two day tour. The Museum at the courthouse allows credentialed academics, and certain approved visitors, access to the diaries and records archived there. I would start the process of getting permission at least six months before your intended visit. A key person in the area who may be open to contact and provide assistance is Professor Associate Justice Mary Libby Payne, Esq., Professor Emeritus at the Mississippi College School of Law. MC main campus is in Clinton MS, but the law school is in Jackson. Professor Carol West, Esq (dec), made a serious effort in getting collectibles when she was MC Law’s Librarian, but I have no idea what has happened with any of that after she died.

    Anyway, as numerous non-pc historians have noted, the main cause of the War of 1861 is embodied in the Xth Amendment and the proposal of the legal and economic substance of, the never ratified, XIVth Amendment. Visit the book list on the justplainbill.wordpress.com blog for some of them.

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