After eight year lapse when the Democrats controlled the statehouse, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) quietly declared April 2010 to be Confederate History Month.  This was a practice started by former governor George Allen (he of macaca fame).  For some reason the California bred Allen had a predilection for confederate imagery.  While from my perspective the confederates were traitors who tried to tear apart this nation for a disgraceful motive couched in noble sounding words, I have no deep objection to such an acknowledgement as long as confederate symbols are not glorified and the context of the war is understood.  It is after all a part of the history of the South.  What does bother me is the revisionist movement of the past two decades that tries to minimize the extent to which slavery led to the civil war and the pandering of politicians to the racist fringe.

Revisionists would have you believe that the South fought solely for the cause of states rights.  This is bullshit.  Just like politicians ignore states rights when it suits them, the South had no reservations in infringing of the right of the free states to ban slavery.  The antebellum years were full of attempts like the Fugitive Slave Act that overrode states rights in the North.  But heaven forbid the Union attempting to ban slavery.  That was intolerable.  At the time of secession the Southern states made no bones about the fact that the “states right” at issue was slavery.  This is evident from their declaration of causes for secession where slavery dominates the reason of their departure.  See link.  Mississippi went on to declare “[o]ur position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.”

Even the Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens in his infamous Cornerstone Speech, parts of which are quoted below, had no doubt of the part slavery played in the civil war:

But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. 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 corner- stone 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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