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McDonnell Taking Heat For Confederate History Month Proclamation

by @ 6:56 am on April 7, 2010. Filed under Bob McDonnell, History, Politics, Virginia, Virginia Politics

Not surprisingly, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is taking some heat for his decision to issue an official proclamation honoring Confederate History Month:

RICHMOND — Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, reviving a controversy that had been dormant for eight years, has declared that April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia, a move that angered civil rights leaders Tuesday but that political observers said would strengthen his position with his conservative base.

McDonnell said Tuesday that the move was designed to promote tourism in the state, which next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the war. McDonnell said he did not include a reference to slavery because “there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.”

The proclamation was condemned by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP. Former governor L. Douglas Wilder called it “mind-boggling to say the least” that McDonnell did not reference slavery or Virginia’s struggle with civil rights in his proclamation. Though a Democrat, Wilder has been supportive of McDonnell and boosted his election efforts when he declined to endorse the Republican’s opponent, R. Creigh Deeds.

“Confederate history is full of many things that unfortunately are not put forth in a proclamation of this kind nor are they things that anyone wants to celebrate,” he said. “It’s one thing to sound a cause of rallying a base. But it’s quite another to distort history.”

Indeed, as one of the nation’s most pre-eminent Civil War historians noted himself:

As James McPherson, dean of Civil War scholars, commented on learning of Mr. McDonnell’s proclamation: “I find it obnoxious, but it’s extremely typical. The people that emphasize Confederate heritage and the legacy, and the importance of understanding Confederate history, want to deny that Confederate history was ultimately bound up with slavery. But that was the principal reason for secession — that an anti-slavery party was elected to the White House. . . . And without secession, there wouldn’t have been a war.”

Or, as South Carolinian John Preston said at Viriginia’s secession convention in 1861:

You may, as you are at this moment doing, centralize a coercive power at Washington stronger than the Praetorian bands when the Roman eagles shadowed the earth “from Lusitania to the Caucasus,” but you cannot come nearer coalescing the people of Virginia and the people of Vermont, the people of the St Lawrence and the people of the Gulf, than did Rome to make one of the Gaul and the Dacian, the Briton and the Ionian. No community of origin, no community of language, law or religion, can amalgamate a people whose severance is proclaimed by the rigid requisitions of material necessity. Nature forbids African slavery at the North. Southern civilization cannot exist without African slavery. None but an equal race can labor at the South. Destroy involuntary labor and Anglo Saxon civilization must be remitted to the latitudes whence it sprung.

Or, just look at this from Georgia’s Declaration of Secession:

The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution. While the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African race was fully conceded by all, it was plainly apparent that slavery would soon disappear from what are now the non-slave-holding States of the original thirteen. The opposition to slavery was then, as now, general in those States and the Constitution was made with direct reference to that fact. But a distinct abolition party was not formed in the United States for more than half a century after the Government went into operation. The main reason was that the North, even if united, could not control both branches of the Legislature during any portion of that time.


Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and out of the protection of Federal law everywhere; because they give sanctuary to thieves and incendiaries who assail it to the whole extent of their power, in spite of their most solemn obligations and covenants; because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides. To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquility.

That $ 3,000,000,000 in property that the Georgians refer to was not property, it was human beings held in bondage.

Face it, the Confederacy existed solely for the protection of the rights of the elite Southern planter class to enslave human beings.

So far, the only blogs that have reacted to this story are on the left.

Does that mean conservatives really think that it’s okay  to whitewash history as McDonnell has done ?

I hope not.

My original post on McDonnell’s resolution can be found here.

7 Responses to “McDonnell Taking Heat For Confederate History Month Proclamation”

  1. tfr says:

    > Face it, the Confederacy existed solely for the protection of the rights of the elite Southern planter class to enslave human beings.

    True, but you also have to remember that the majority of Confederate soldiers owned no slaves and had no particular desire to fight to uphold some rich person’s right to do so.

  2. TiredofWesternJihadis says:

    You write: “Face it, the Confederacy existed SOLELY for the protection of the rights of the elite Southern planter class to enslave human beings.

    That statement is false; a pure and simple lie. Even McPherson —a biased source— said secession was ‘bound up‘ with secession, an obvious fact. He said the defense of slavery ‘was the principal reason for secession’, another fact. But solely? Far from it.

    In neither case was McPherson talking about Virginia; a fact you-and-the-Post also deliberately ignore. Also ignored by you-and-the-Post is McPherson’s long-running campaign to demonize everything of the pre-war South; and much of the post war too.

    The WP you quote says:

    “. . . we’d guess he is pandering to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that lionizes the Confederacy and pressed for the proclamation.”

    Our Governor, the guy who just had a landslide over his racially-pandering special-interest focussed opponent, is ‘pandering’ to a group with a thousand members in order to insult 1.5 million other people. Fail.

  3. ms says:

    Although it is true that the majority of Confederate soldiers owned no slaves, I am not so sure about the suggestion they had no desire to uphold slavery or the “southern way of life” (which was built around slavery). In any case, regardless of what they believed, they were used by the slave holding aristocracy to defend slavery as an institution.

    Soldiers throughout history may or may not have agreed with the ideologies of their leaders who start the wars they fight–not all German soldiers during WWII necessarily agreed with Hitler’s racial theories, for example–but that doesn’t really alter the underlying ideological basis behind those wars.

  4. Let's Be Free says:

    How about we don’t honor anyone or any group whose ancestor’s ever associated with anyone who did anything wrong? It would save a lot of money printing up those proclamations, because there would be none.

  5. [...] I’ve written yesterday and today, Governor Bob McDonnell’s decision to issue a proclamation on the occasion of Virginia’s [...]

  6. [...] McDonnell Taking Heat For Confederate History Month Proclamation – Below The Beltway [...]

  7. Ben says:

    A national study conducted by explored opinions of 600 Americans regarding Virginia’s reinstatement of Confederate History Month. Results found that Among political parties, the majority of Republicans (62%) indicated that confederate history should be honored, while the same proportion of Democrats (62%) reported that confederate history should not be honored. In addition, nearly half of the respondents (48%) reported that celebrating Confederate History Month promotes racist ideals.
    More results can be seen at

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