Wednesday, April 07, 2010

April Is Confederate History Month!

"WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and...
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present; and...
WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace...
WHEREAS, this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live...
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH..."
-- Republican Virginia Governer Robert McDonnell, April 2010

OK then:

"The condition of slavery with us is, in a word, Mr. President, nothing but the form of civil government instituted for a class of people not fit to govern themselves. It is exactly what in every State exists in some form or other. It is just that kind of control which is extended in every northern State over its convicts, its lunatics, its minors, its apprentices. It is but a form of civil government for those who by their nature are not fit to govern themselves. We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority."--Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederate States of America, in the US Senate, 1860

"The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the 'storm came and the wind blew.' Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon 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. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."
--Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America in his Cornerstone Speech, 1861 (that's him pictured on the 20-dollar bill above)

"But let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races in the slaveholding States is an evil: far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition. I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually....I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good, a positive good."
--John C. Calhoun, February 6, 1837 on the floor of the US Senate (former Vice President of the United States; considered an inspiration to the Confederacy though he died a decade before the Civil War began)

"The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence."--Confederate General Robert E. Lee, 1856

"The wrongs under which the South is now suffering, and for which she seeks redress, seem to arise chiefly from a difference in our construction of the Constitution. You, Senators of the Republican party, assert, and your people whom you represent assert, that, under a just and fair interpretation of the Federal Constitution, it is right that you deny that our slaves, which directly and indirectly involve a value of more than four thousand million dollars, are property at all, or entitled to protection in Territories owned by the common Government. You assume the interpretation that it is right to encourage, by all possible means, directly and indirectly, the robbery of this property and to legislate so as to render its recovery as difficult and dangerous as possible; that it is right and proper and justifiable, under the Constitution, to prevent our mere transit across a sister State, to embark with our property on a lawful voyage, without being openly despoiled of it." --future Confederate Secretary of State Judah Philip Benjamin, 1860

"The slaves are obliged to work from daylight till dark, as long as they can see. When they have tasks assigned, which is often the case, a few of the strongest and most expert, sometimes finish them before sunset; others will be obliged to work till eight or nine o'clock in the evening. All must finish their tasks or take a flogging. The whip and gun, or pistol, are companions of the overseer; the former he uses very frequently upon the negroes, during their hours of labor, without regard to age or sex. Scarcely a day passed while I was on the plantation, in which some of the slaves were not whipped; I do not mean that they were struck a few blows merely, but had a set flogging." --Nehemiah Caulkins in an abolitionist pamphlet, 1839

"One party repeatedly plays the race card, appealing to the dark underside of American culture, to that minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality. In coded racial appeals, they embrace Confederate leaders as patriots and wallow in a victim mentality. They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division. They celebrate Martin Luther King and misuse his message. Their idea of reparations is to give war criminal Jefferson Davis a pardon. Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side." -- civil rights hero Julian Bond, speech to the NAACP 2003

(thanks to JMG for pointing this momentous holiday out)


  1. When I was a kid I was taught that the United States Constitution was great because it guaranteed the rights of minorities. That was during the relatively liberal sixties and we were taught that "minorities" meant powerless people.
    It turns out that the founders were quite clear that they wanted to protect "The affluent minority" from the "leveling tendencies" of the majority. Of course I didn't learn that in school. Thanks Noam Chomsky.

  2. Ouch. I didn't realize that either.

    I have to say that I'm honestly glad I was provoked to research all these quotes. I vaguely remember from school stuff about the South defending slavery but I was a little shocked to find it quite so, well, racist.

    I wish this "proclamation" was meant to generate that kind of historical revelation rather than what Julian Bond so eloquently described.

  3. You were one of the people who taught me the value of honoring my ancestors. I'm sure any number of closet racists and civil war buffs will say that this is just that. The Bond quote covers that pretty well.