One Man’s Reply to "Flag no longer represents South"
Flag no longer represents South
The War of 1861-1865 (commonly, but eroneously, called "The Civil War") was triggered by the United States of America invading the Confederate States of America.
The States composing the Confederate States of America had seceded to escape an overweening, intrusive central government — the same reason that thirteen States seceded from Britain in 1776, Mexico from the Spanish empire in 1818, and Texas from Mexico in 1836.
The Confederate States of America did not have as their raison d’être the perpetuation of slavery. If they had wanted to perpetuate slavery, all they had to do was re-join the United States and ratify the Corwin Amendment (already passed by both houses and endorsed by Abraham Lincoln), which amendment stated: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."
The flag that we know as the Confederate Battle Flag was used by many (but by no means all) Confederate military units during the War for Southern Independence (1861-1865). It was their flag, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
When the War was over, the Confederate soldiers became Confederate veterans. They formed an organization known as the United Confederate Veterans. The Confederate Battle Flag was still their Flag, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
In 1896, since many of the Confederate veterans were aged, infirm, and dying off, the Sons of Confederate Veterans was formed as the successor organization to the United Confederate Veterans. The legacy and authority of the United Confederate Veterans was transferred to them over the next ten years. This transfer of power culminated in a speech given 25 April 1906 at New Orleans, Louisiana by Stephen Dill Lee, Confederate lieutenant-general, and commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans:
"To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves are triumph and defeat."
Since 25 April 1906, therefore, the Confederate Battle Flag has been the flag of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They alone have the right to interpret its meaning. They have interpreted its meaning, and explained (repeatedly!) that meaning – and it is not hatred, nor is it bigotry.
Anyone other than the Sons of Confederate Veterans who uses the Confederate Battle Flag does so without authority. Any interpretation or meaning he gives to it is spurious and not to be regarded.
Clifton Palmer McLendon