Response to Confederate symbols at Lee to be reviewed
What Ms. Shay Templeton is attacking is more than just abstract symbols.
She is attacking our heritage—and many of us are growing very tired of that. Sometimes these attacks are out of malice or for political gain. But most frequently ignorance is the cause. I suspect this to be the case—judging from some of Ms. Templeton’s grossly miss-informed statements.
I hope she, and others of her opinion, are willing to learn a few simple facts and, thereby, come to understand Southern Heritage and what it is really about. Let’s start with a few facts—all very easily verifiable.
First and foremost, slavery was not the key issue until Abraham Lincoln made it so as a strategy to head off the entry of France into the war on the side of the South. The fact of the matter is that Lincoln (the great emancipator) was a racist. The proof of that is in his own words: "I have no purpose directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists."
Further and contrary to popular opinion, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free one single solitary slave. Read it. You will find that it pertained only to the slaves in "states still in rebellion." It specifically exempted the Yankee States and specific areas in the South that were being held at the point of a gun by Union troops—for example, western Tennessee. The Yankees kept their slaves.
As a matter of fact, what became known as West Virginia voted to join the union in July of 1863 and was admitted AS SLAVE STATE! Note that this was AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation. The Yankees continued to own slaves and even use them in Washington, D.C. as late as 1865—up until the 13th Amendment was passed which was after the war.
By contrast, Confederate President Jefferson Davis told Yankee diplomats in 1864 that the North was welcome to emancipate every slave, North and South, if they could provide for them, but "we will have our freedom."
Furthermore, General Robert E. Lee (commander of the Confederate Army and the man for whom the proud school in question is named) freed the slaves that he inherited from his father-in-law as soon as he legally could. To quote Lee, "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil."
Contrast this with Yankee General Ulysses S. Grant who thundered, "The sole object of this war is to restore the union. Should I become convinced it has any other object, or that the Government designs using its soldiers to execute the wishes of the Abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side." Grant continued to own slaves after the war—up until the 13th Amendment freed them.
Incidentally, it is important to note that the Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia—the one tragically banned from Lee High School in the 90s—was the battle flag of Lee’s Army. It was NOT the flag of the Confederacy as many people think. The Confederacy had 3 different flags and, Ms. Templeton, NO flag ever associated with the Confederacy in any way EVER flew over a slave ship. The Yankee flag (that’s right, “Old Glory”) flew over slave ships for more than 90 years. Perhaps we should ban it! Furthermore, if you read the Constitution of the Confederate
States of America and you will find that it forbid the slave trade. In other words, slavery would have died a natural death in the South even had there been no war. So, judging by their comparative records, it is obvious that, if anything, the South was anti-slavery and the North was pro-slavery.
So, if slavery wasn’t the key issue, what was? What was it that prompted history’s most heinous serial killer (aka “Honest Abe”) into an unnecessary and unconstitutional war that killed over 600,000 Americans (the modern day equivalent would be 5.5 million). In a nutshell and as it always is, it was MONEY. Generally, the South was faced with a big federal government intent on seizing more power than the Constitution had given it. Therefore, it chose to leave. More specifically:
Lincoln made it abundantly clear during his presidential election campaign that he would push for a protectionist tariff. True to his word, he pushed through the infamous Morrill Tariff after he was elected. This ghastly tax cost Southern ports 47% on their imports of European manufactured goods. At the same time, the south depended on exports of agricultural products which had no such protections. The bottom line is that Lincoln was lining the pockets of his Northern industrialist buddies and taking it out of the hides of Southerners.
Even communists could recognize it for what it was: "The war between the
North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty" (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. 1861. In "The Civil War in the United States" pg. 58).
In 1862 the great English writer Charles Dickens put it this way, "The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states."
Ms. Templeton, the saddest, gravest day for freedom in America was April 9, 1865—the day General Lee walked out of that courthouse at Appomattox. Keep this in mind. You can never kill a Rebel for his is a just cause.