It was not my intent to comment about the Confederate flag controversy but there is so much inaccurate information on various media outlets and the fact that I grew up in the South, that it is hard not to voice an opinion.
This is such an emotional issue for so many people. Whether you are black or white, from the North or South; we all have different views based on our personal experiences and, of course, our cultural differences.
Most of what we know about the Civil War; it causes and why a Nation of United States would go to war against one another we learned from history courses in high school, which were totally inadequate. Most of us assume the civil war had to do with slavery. That is a somewhat simplistic view, but not totally inaccurate.
On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats, and John Bell of the new Constitutional Union Party. He was the first president from the Republican Party.
Take note: There were four candidates for President in the November 1860 election. The Democrats effectively split the vote which allowed Abraham Lincoln to be elected. One of his campaign pledges was to eliminate slavery. He served from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.
His victory prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before he moved into the White House - no compromise or reconciliation was found regarding slavery and secession. Subsequently, on April 12, 1861, a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter inspired the North to enthusiastically rally behind the Union in a declaration of war. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats, who called for more compromise, anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination. Politically, Lincoln fought back by pitting his opponents against each other, by carefully planned political patronage, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory. His Gettysburg Address became an iconic endorsement of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.
Although the Southern States claimed that the secession was a matter of States Rights (Claiming the Federal Government was infringing on States Rights by proposing to ban slavery in all states of the Confederation; in truth, the Southern States needed slaves in order to continue the Plantation style cotton plantations that were the mainstay of Southern aristocracy. Without large cotton plantations the Southern economy would crumble.
So the issue was economical, politically motivated by the rich and powerful slave owners. Those politically connected understood the necessity of continuing to support slave labor, without which the South would fail.
So yes, it was about slavery! Yet, for the average recruit in the Confederate Army it was about protecting their homeland, their property and their honor. For the average Southerner it was about the Union forces invading their homeland and they were honor bound to defend their homes and their heritage. Why else would a poor Southern farmer put his life on the line except to defend his land and his family against Northern invaders, aggressors?
The vast majority of Confederate recruits had small farms and never owned any slaves. In fact, the vast majority were opposed to owning slaves and would never consider owning slaves. Most Southern families were large, in part owing to lack of birth control, but mostly because offspring, in time, provided the cheap labor needed to produce sufficient crops to survive. Essentially, the average Southern family lived off the land consuming what they grew and selling the surplus for sufficient monies to purchase essentials that could not be grown.
Why then would the Confederate recruits sign on for a war that did not serve their interests? Loyalty to their homeland, Loyalty to their heritage and their basic freedoms, protection of their homelands, their property and their families.
Did the average Confederate foot soldier understand the issues of States Rights, Slavery and large cotton plantations? No!
But does it surprise anyone that surviving soldiers and their families of the generation that fought in the Civil War, although it was a lost cause, would take pride in their efforts to preserve their heritage, their homeland and their way of life? This is where the Southern Pride and the adoption of the Confederate Battle Flag began. It was a symbol of pride and respect. It was a symbol of loved ones lost that would never return home. It served as a symbol of the bravery shown by those that died and those that returned after a devastating loss.
It is not the official Confederate flag. It was adopted as a Battle Flag once it was determined that the official Confederate flag and the United States flag were too similar, causing confusing on the battle field as to who was friendly and who was enemy.
It was a very popular flag although a "Battle Flag" used originally only in battle. Following the end of the Civil War the Battle Flag became the symbol of a defeated nations pride in its just cause, in spite of an overwhelming defeat. The war which many thought would last only 90 days at most continued for four long years. The South, early in the war showed their ability to wage a war with dedicated troops that were capable of defeating the Union forces in battle after battle.
From the end of the Civil War until the current time, the Southern States took pride in the epic battle to win independence from the United States even though through defeat, they once again became a part of these United States of America. It was commonly known as Southern Pride!
Right or wrong, the Battle Flag of the Confederate States became a symbol of Southern pride, Southern Heritage and the Confederate Battle Flag was commonly flown in many predominate places including State Houses, flag poles through out the South and too many places to name. A number of Southern States incorporated the Battle Flag in their State flags. For a long period of time the Confederate Battle Flag was accepted as part of Southern culture for many, many years!
Unfortunately; a number of different organizations adopted the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol to promote hate and racist philosophies. The KKK, the White Supremacists, the Nazi skin heads, and any number of lessor groups, high-jacked the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of hate.
We stood by and allowed this to happen! We didn't object, we didn't protest, we remained silent!
As a result of our inaction, as a result of our complacency we allowed the hate-mongers to spew their evil. We sat back and did nothing! We didn't protest, we didn't raise a hew and cry; we simply sat back and let it happen!
Personally, as a Southerner, I take pride in the Confederacy. I believe the Confederate Battle flag is a symbol of a bold campaign fought by and supported by a large segment of the Southern populace that was the epitome of bravery, loyalty, and sacrifice and a dedication to a way of life that to their way of thinking, was threatened. .
It is indeed unfortunate that we allowed the Ku Klux Klan, the White Supremacists, the Nazi skin heads, and any number of lessor groups, to adopt the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of hate. These groups stole our heritage! They took a symbol dedicated to Southern heritage, pride and history and turned it into something evil. A symbol today that is threatening to to African Americans. African Americans look upon the Confederate Battle flag as a symbol of "Hate". That is so unfortunate! The Rebel Flag was never intended to symbolize Hate! How did that happen?
It happened because we allowed it to happen! You, I and all the people that sat back and did nothing when the hate groups adopted it as their symbol of hate!
And so it goes...