I would like to take this opportunity to comment on R. Emmette Boone’s Letter to the Editor published in the May 14th, 2003 edition of the Goose Creek Gazette. He states that the Confederate flag ought to remain in it’s place on the Statehouse grounds to remind us of South Carolina’s slavery past. I certainly respect everyone’s right to their opinion and certainly respect everyone’s right to voice it publicly.
In that spirit I would like to suggest some other things that we should also be reminded of when we see the Confederate flag. We ought to be reminded of tens of thousands of South Carolinians who had no vested interest in slavery that fought to defend against a hostile invader. Included in that score were free men of color such as Henry Brown of Darlington and John Wilson Buckner of Charleston who incidentally came from a high class mulatto family of slavemasters. As well, we should be reminded of those South Carolina slaves who willingly and proudly served their masters and their State in it’s time of need such as Richard Mack and Mr. Evans as quoted in the Slave Narratives. We should be reminded that the population suffered greatly at the hands of Union forces, including people of color as stated in the Slave Narratives. We should be reminded of great Southerners who fought under that flag who were not slavemasters such as Stonewall Jackson and General Lee. Consequently, we should be reminded that many in the Union army were slavemasters such as General Grant. We should likewise be reminded of slavemasters such as Wade Hampton who saw the immorality of the institution and was strongly considering his removal from it when war broke out. We should be reminded that 70% of the budget for the Federal government was borne by the South while less than 10% was reinvested in the South as was personified by Lincoln’s statement, "Let the South go? Who would pay for the Federal government?"
I would also like to submit to R. Emmette Boone that if it is a symbol that is needed to remind us of slavery, we need to look no farther than the flag of the United States of America. Slavery existed under this flag, North and South, for 80 years while only 4 under any Confederate flag. In addition, slavery of Chinese immigrants in the Old West existed well into the 1880’s. Every imported slave in American history came to these shores aboard a New England slave vessel which flew Old Glory. Every captive African who ever died in the Middle Passage did so on these same vessels flying the same flag. Under this flag a US president used the freedom of a people as political leverage to subjugate a region wishing to leave a voluntary union. This flag also reminds us that although the North largely (but not totally) had done away with slavery, many passed laws to keep people of color from settling in their states, an offense punishable by public floggings and incarceration. No doubt this lends to the fact that the South boasted a larger population of free people of color while the North boasted a much higher overall population, but many less free people of color.
In conclusion, should the flag be hidden away? I likewise say, "Hell No!" But let us see it for all of what it is and strive to endeavor to see the whole story as shown us by documented factual history, not just the version written by the victor.
Brian Lee Merrill
Goose Creek, SC