What the flag really means
…("What the flag really means," Letter to the Editor, July 27) "The Confederate States of America – an entity that stood in support of racist laws, slavery, and yes, state rights insofar as those rights would afford laws that would continue slavery, a mainstay of the Southern economy at the time."
In 1863 the Union stood in support of racist laws and maintained slavery in Union slave states and areas of the South occupied by the Union Army.
Illinois had "Black Codes" forbidding Free Blacks from living in the state amended to its state constitution in 1856. The "Emancipation Proclamation" maintained slavery in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia and those parts of Virginia and Louisiana controlled by the Union "which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued." By deliberate omission even the Confederate state of Tennessee was exempt from the Proclamation.
In 1861, after secession but before hostilities started, President-elect Lincoln pushed the "Corwin Amendment" through the House and Senate. If ratified by the Southern states it would have amended the U.S. Constitution to forever protect slavery. In December, 1862, President Lincoln in his State of the Union Address offered the South gradual compensated emancipation with slavery ending completely in 1900.
If the South had seceded to preserve slavery it could have accepted the "Corwin Amendment" and returned to the Union victorious in purpose and principle. If the South had fought to preserve slavery it could have stopped the bloodshed and had 37 years to wean itself from slave labor.
The fact that the South accepted neither offer proves the Confederacy was not fighting to preserve slavery. It was fighting to free itself from taxes pushed through the Legislative branch which were bankrupting the South, filling 70% of the annual Federal budget and being spent mostly to help industrialization in the Northeast. The Federal government was just as dependent upon Southern slave labor as was the South.
Because of the exclusions in the "Emancipation Proclamation" the slaves in the South were freed as of April, 1865, while those in the specified areas who were l"left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued" remained slaves until December, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified. The United States of America was the last slave nation in North America.
Mr. Peters is a sad product of propaganda which has come to be accepted as "history" for the purpose of demonizing the South. The old adage is very true – "The Victors write the history."