Hell, No, we Ain’t Forgettin’

Anyone with more than a passing interest in the War to Preserve Federal Revenues knows that slavery was NOT the key issue. Lincoln made clear in his inaugural address that he would approve a Constitutional Amendment (the 13th Amendment that was never ratified by the States) to permanently protect slavery….IF, IF the Southern states would remain in the Union as taxpaying serfs.

That amendment was not necessary; slavery was already protected by the Constitution and there was not a majority sufficient to abolish slavery via amendment (given its presence in many of the remaining States—at the outset 8 Union slave States vs. 7 Confederate states) so long as the South remained in the Union.

Lincoln stated that his intent and purpose was to collect tax revenues by force if necessary. Still several Southern and border states (VA, NC, TN, et al) did not secede until Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to march into the South and force the “rebels” back into the Union. Their secession was about principle (unconstitutional and immoral use of force) and nothing to do with slavery. Maryland would have seceded, but Lincoln ordered most of the Maryland legislature arrested and jailed.

“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…” —Declaration of Independence

Niven asserts that Confederate soldiers were marching under their flag “to defend the Confederacy’s right to exist.” That’s true, but not in the sense that Niven and Coski imply, which is to “support all the policies” of the CSA government. They were defending a principle, namely that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” To put it in the vernacular, they didn’t want any Yankees or outsiders trying to boss them around or intimidate with threats. The Southern states had the right to leave the union and no one had a “right” to make them remain in it. The Southern states were being robbed (tariffs) and that money was going almost entirely for “internal improvements” in the North (lighthouses, canals, railroads, etc.) Estimates are that Southern states were paying 75 to 90 percent of all federal taxes.

Of course, even that became an abstract notion in short order. They were fighting to defend their homes, their families and their lives against an invader who was determined to use force and take what they would not voluntarily give up. Cities, homes and farms were going up in flames! The invader was coming to kill, loot, rape and pillage. Self defense….there’s no way you can put an evil or racist slant on that. Even those who didn’t want their states to secede were willing to fight to stop an invader from burning their homes and killing their families.

When Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it was generally known that it was simply a propaganda ploy to keep Britain and France out of the war….and in the hopes of inciting a slave revolt in the South to further cripple and starve it. Instead, it resulted in draft riots in New York and Chicago where mobs hung every black person they saw. They didn’t want any part of a war “to free the slaves.” The laws passed by Northern states outlawing Free blacks made it clear they didn’t want the blacks on their soil. Most of the Southern blacks stayed at home and supported their land, their people against the invader…and they suffered greatly at the hands of the invader who robbed, raped and murdered them and who left them destitute by destroying their food, shelter and livestock.

The South was Right. States joined the Union by ratifying the Constitution and those “free and independent” (see Declaration of Independence) States retained the right to leave it at will. But the Constitution is not worth the paper it’s written on if the members of the pact have no integrity. The other partners, the Northern states, were willing to use force to keep the Southern states under their control because to allow their departure would have meant economic losses for the North—their ports and shipping economically undercut by the much lower tariffs in the Southern ports of Charleston, Savannah, Mobile and New Orleans.

The Lincoln Mythology machine is a powerful thing. It’s ironic that the Union painted itself as the glorious defenders of Liberty who freed the slaves….when in fact they shackled all the states to serve as slaves and serfs to a tyrannical central government which has grown larger and more powerful with each passing decade since. The Southern states were kept “down on the plantation” to serve the economic interests of the North. After they looted the South for another decade (they called it “Reconstruction”), they figured the South was whipped in spirit (not to mention dirt poor and destitute) and incapable of trying to leave again.

The Confederate flag stands for the Southern people and their righteous Cause which has not been snuffed out. As President Jefferson Davis said after the war, “

[T]he principle for which we contended is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form.”

The Confederate flag stands for the Southern soldiers who gave their all to defend their homeland. It stands for Southern pride and defiance against tyranny—a desire to keep the limited government as established by the American Founders.

The Confederate flag is flown around the world as a symbol of defiance against tyranny. The people in eastern Europe flew it to denote their desire to be free of the Soviet Union. The people of Quebec fly it to show their desire to depart from Canadian control.

To an extent, any symbol’s meaning is variable within the eye of the beholder. Those beholders who assert that the symbol represents only “hatred” or “racial supremacy” are self-centered and ignorant of history—OR they are deliberate demagogues and race hustlers. To presume such evil intent on the part of proud Southerners is bigotry. Everyone is welcome to look the other way.

I know that many atrocities and injustices have been carried out under the U.S. flag. I choose to see the righteous, the positive. I choose to see “the Republic for which it stands” as articulated in the Constitution….a worthy ideal that my Southern ancestors sought to preserve by separating from those who wanted socialism and Empire. That Constitution is now widely ignored and abused…but our Flags and our Cause of liberty remains.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison on the benefits of a Bill of Rights:
"Though written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, yet they furnish a text to which those who are watchful may again rally and recall the people. They fix, too, for the people the principles of their political creed."

The Confederate flag stands for our desire to return to limited government constrained by the Constitution and —the most necessary ingredient—-a moral people to give it backbone. America was built on capitalism and the profit motive is NOT evil or immoral per se. But when the worship of Mammon pushes all ethics and morals aside, we justify our actions by saying “it’s to preserve the Union” or “it’s manifest destiny” or whatever and we become a conquering Empire destined to follow all the previous Empires into the dust of history. The military conquest and occupation (looting) of the South and the genocide of the plains Indians were a dark period of American history.

The rights of ALL Americans were suppressed. Thousands of Southern sympathizers in the North were jailed as political prisoners (without trial) while “disloyal” newspapers were shutdown and the Constitution and Bill of Rights was suspended. Confederate President Jefferson Davis (hero in the Mexican War, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, U.S. Secretary of War) was held in shackles in Fortress Monroe (VA) [despite his failing health] as a political prisoner for two years without benefit of a trial. Davis wanted nothing more than his day in court to vindicate the Southern Cause. He was released after two years with no trial.

WHY? Because the South was Right. He knew it. They knew it. And they didn’t want it shown to the world in a court of law.

Hell, No, we Ain’t Forgettin’

–Steve Scroggins
Macon, GA

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