Commissioners charge ahead with proclamation
Randall Franks

April is Confederate History and Heritage Month in Catoosa County.

Catoosa County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution April 3 recognizing Confederate History and Heritage Month and Confederate Memorial Day on April 26.

Although fully supported by commissioners, the proclamation did draw differing opinions on the reasons for the Civil War.

Catoosa County Attorney Clifton "Skip" Patty read the proclamation:

"Whereas April is the month in which the Confederate States of America ended a four-year struggle for states rights, individual freedom and local government control and whereas, Georgia joined the Confederacy in January 1861 when a convention ratified the Ordinance of Succession. And whereas, Catoosa County has long cherished it’s Confederate history and great leaders who made sacrifices on behalf of the Confederate cause.

"And whereas, on April 26, Confederate Memorial Day, Catoosa County will honor the brave men who served the Confederate states and whereas, it is fitting and appropriate that all Catoosa Countians reflect on our county’s history and honor the county’s leaders, soldiers and citizens who devoted their lives to the cause of Southern independence."

It’s reading prompted Commissioner Jim Emberson to request discussion about its content.

"I will support the proclamation," he said. "But I would point out there were other people involved other than the Confederates.

"The trouble began in 1852 then again in 1858 with the Missouri Compromise," he said. "It was inevitable that war was going to come. And it was to be over slavery. People can say whatever they want about these other things. It was over slavery."

Emberson said even Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens wrote that slavery was the reason for the war.

"Children were separated from their parents. Husbands and wives separated and sold to never see each other again," he said. "That was a blot on our past but it has nothing to do with us revering those who did fight for their homeland. I respect them. I had forbearers who also fought for homeland."

Chairman Bill Clark quickly said, "I don’t think I could disagree with Commissioner Emberson more."

"The reason for the Civil War was an embargo on cloth making equipment coming into the country and putting a tax on cotton leaving the country," he said. "Essentially half the South was paying the bills for the entire nation. Slavery was not a reason. It was an excuse."

Clark said all one has to do is read what Abraham Lincoln wrote in an August 1862 letter to Horace Greeley: "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

Catoosa resident Roy Neal, a former Sons of Confederate Veterans Joseph McConnell Camp commander, said that the reason was westward expansion.

"It was not so much about slavery," he said. "It was about the Constitution of the United States. It was all over the 10th Amendment. The problem was the expansion of the nation and how states would come in union. It was a political compromise.

"When states that were going free were outweighing states going to slavery, it really was who would control the two houses in Congress," he said.

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