Northern Aggression and Southern Scars For some the conflict of the 1860s is known as the War Between the States. This is not an accurate title since once the Southern states seceded they were another country and thus this was not a battle among states, but between two separate countries. It has been called the Civil War, but there was nothing civil about it. The War of Southern Independence or The War of Northern Aggression are more appropriate terms for this conflict. For indeed, the South was fighting to maintain its independence and the North was the aggressor. It has been said that the South has never gotten over losing the war and hence the holding on to the various symbols and the battle cry of “The South shall rise again.” It is more probable that the North has never gotten over winning it or more likely, has never gotten over the guilt of it and hence the persistent vilification of the South until this day. Recently, a black journalist out of Baltimore decried the defense of car tags issued to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans that bore their symbol, which includes a Confederate battle flag. He claims that they should be denied on a basis of patriotism because the flag represents a caste of traitors and a failed rebellion. This is an interesting concept considering that none of the leaders of the Confederacy were ever brought to trial on treason. Since secession was their right and denied them by military force it, would not have fared well for the heroes of the Republic to bring to light their own crimes by seeking to prosecute the innocent. We are a nation founded by secession. We seceded from England. Just read the Declaration of Independence and you will see that the founding fathers were not advocating an “indivisible” union. The first sentence reads: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station. To which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the cause which impel them to the Separation.” Where in this do you see precedence for an everlasting Union? They saw the Political Bands between England and themselves as a contract that could be broken. So how could we think the bands between the North and South should be any different just because a new continent is involved. We live in a nation of broken contracts. There are lawyers who specialize in contract law and with all the fine print and red tape, suits, etc. A contract can be broken. What is inviolate about a political contract? Nothing except that generations of Americans have been taught that it was so in order to cover the tyranny of the Lincoln Republicans. The very next sentence sets up the everlasting status of the first. If you have unalienable rights and one of those is the ability to alter or abolish your government, where in the effort to do so can there be treason? It cannot be possible in principle. It can be possible in practice when dishonorable men who claim to uphold the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the precepts of our Founding Fathers deny them and suppress by force the free exercise of another’s unalienable rights. They can call it treason, but in reality, the men who suppress the right are the traitors and guilty of treason against the foundational principles of the land in which they govern. It is they who should be tried and convicted. Lincoln should have been impeached and the South allowed to go its way in peace. I submit that the leaders of the Confederacy are falsely charged with treason, as are their admirers. The South was and is slandered unjustly until this day. The question of slavery is always a vibrant one when speaking of the South and the late unpleasantness. The accusation that the South had slaves is a fact. However, the South did not invent this practice. There have been slaves since the Ancient Near Eastern times. The history of the Hebrews has been one of slavery and freedom. There were slaves in the days of Rome. They were called serfs in Europe. The African slaves were brought from their African owners. No one is innocent in the issue of slavery. Even the Native Americans practiced it. Iroquois Indians of the New York region had African slaves. Free blacks practiced slavery. Most of the ships that brought them had Northern ports of call, hence the name Yankee Clippers. Yet, the Confederacy and the Southern people bear the burden and vilification as a slave owning, racist, hateful people. I do not condone slavery now nor do I justify it then. I do strongly resent it being a “Southern thing”. Due to the slavery issue, all who fought for the Cause are made out to be evil, demonic, pre-evolutionary savages. When in reality, a very small portion of the Southern populace actually owned slaves. The Southern Baptists have recently apologized about the slave issue. Ironically, their only sin was their theological interpretation since most of the Southern Baptists at that time were far too poor to own anything so expensive as a slave. The expense itself would lend to the exaggeration of the abuse of slaves by their Southern owners. Frankly, they could not have afforded a slave for very long. Our society of the “bottom line” should understand that. I am not denying that there were abuses and even atrocities, but not to the extent that some would declare to be true. It would have been poor business and one cannot maintain an extravagant plantation by exercising poor business practices. Since it has been taught that the primary reason for the Civil War was slavery, then the battle flag has become a symbol of racial hatred. This has not always been so, and it is not the same in other countries. True, the battle flag has been used by the Klan and racists, but so has the American flag. On the cover of a 1981 issue of Triad magazine, published in North Carolina, there is a full body shot of a Klansman in his robe standing in front of an American flag holing the Bible and a shotgun. Therefore I submit that if the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of racial hate, then so is the American flag and we should seek to ban it as well as the Bible and shotguns. Although there have been movements against the Bible and guns for many years, I have yet to see one on the American flag since the Klan likes to wrap itself in it. The abuse of a symbol does not make the symbol itself evil. Men fought and died under that flag for states rights and principles of freedom as honorable as those at the Concord Bridge or Valley Forge. Their memory and their symbols should not be banished because of the ignorance and hatred of present maniacs. Recently, the Dallas Morning News, carried a picture of students protesting in Belgrade carrying a Rebel battle flag. Afghanistan freedom fighters flew a battle flag during the Russian oppression of their country. To other countries it is a noble symbol of brave men fighting for a just cause, even though it be lost. Only since the NAACP declared war on it ten years ago has it truly been labeled a symbol of hate. Most Yankees would just call it a Southern flag and if you eat lunch at the Old Orleans restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland you will see a sign that says “Welcome to the Home of Southern Hospitality” and you will find a Confederate Battle Flag on its dessert menu. The flag is just that - a symbol of the Southern culture and heritage, nothing more. It is brutally attacked by people of Northern culture and heritage and by Southerners who have believed in their propaganda. There are wounds that have never healed from the War of Northern Aggression. Many of these wounds are being rubbed with salt even today. Politicians in New York and Pennsylvania have removed the Georgia state flag from their displays and authored legislation to rebuke Georgia. Obviously all the children in New York and Pennsylvania are well educated and fed frequently, there is no crime, and their economy is perfect. At least it appears to be so, since they have nothing better to discuss or fight then another sovereign state’s banner. We are still fighting the primary issue of the War of Northern Aggression, and that is state’s rights. Slavery was an ethical issue that needed to be dealt with by the individual states, not by centralized mandates, especially when it only pertained to some states and not all. Definitely so, since General Grant maintained slaves until four years after the war whereas General Lee freed immediately those he received through marriage. A state flag is that, a state flag and only that state’s business. Desegregation should have been a state issue, not a Federal one. If the North had been so concerned about slaves in the 1860’s, they could have shared their technology rather than using it to exploit the South, and slavery would have ceased by the sheer fact of economic expediency. Slavery was moving in that direction and would have possibly been extinct by the 1870’s without Lincoln’s intervention. Again, please note that the great Liberator only liberated Southern slaves in his Emancipation Proclamation. Also note the near genocide only a few years later of the Native Americans. I really do not see a program of Civil Rights in the victor’s policy. They enslaved the Native Americans on reservations. Reservations or plantations, there is no difference. I’m sorry, but slavery was not a real issue in the war, it was only a smokescreen. I close with quotes about Afro-Confederates as an admonition to those who would desecrate the memory of white Confederates. When you unjustly abuse the South, you abuse not only whites, but also blacks, and reds that fought for the Cause. I salute those white, black and red men who were willing to die for their beliefs and their homeland. “To the majority of the Negroes, as to all the South, the invading armies of the Union seemed to be ruthlessly attacking independent States, invading the beloved homeland and trampling upon all that these men held dear.” - Charles H. Wesley 1. Some Negroes, however, soon became disillusioned because of the hardships they experienced during the early months of their freedom. Nine hundred freedmen assembled at Mobile on August 13, 1865, and by a vote of seven hundred to two hundred declared that the realities of freedom “were far from being so flattering as their imaginations had painted it, that the prejudices of color were not confined to the South, but stronger and more marked on the part of the strangers from the North.” - Robert D. Reid 2. Former mayor John Dodson ... presented them with a Confederate flag, assuring them that when they returned they would “reap a rich reward of praise, and merit, from a thankful people.” Charles Tinsley, a bricklayer and a “corner workman,” acted as a spokesman for the Negroes. His remarks in acceptance of the flag were brief: “We are willing to aid Virginia’s cause to the utmost of our ability ... There is not an unwilling heart among us, not a hand but will tell on work before us: and we promise unhesitating obedience to all orders that may be given us.” - Benjamin Quarles 3. Endnotes 1. Wesley, Charles H. “Quotations on Black Confederates,” Credenda Genda Volume 9 Number 1, Moscow, Idaho, Community Evangelical Fellowship, pg.2. 2. Reid, Robert D. “Quotations on Black Confederates,” pg.2. 3. Quarles, Benjamin “Quotations on Black Confederates,” pg2. Bibliography Page 1. Flags of the World, E.M.C. Barraclough, copyright 1971 by Frederick Warne & Co, LTD. London, England. 2. Quotations on Black Confederates, Credenda Agenda Volume 9 Number 1, Community Evangelical Fellowship, Moscow, Idaho. 3. A Short History of the United States, Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, Fifth Edition, copyright 1968 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 4. The International Flag Book, Christian Fogd Pedersen, copyright 1971 by Blandford Press Ltd. 5. “Britain Looks South,” Oran P. Smith, Southern Partisan Volume XVI, Second Quarter 1996. 6. The Union Sundered, T. Harry Williams, The Life History of the United States Volume 5: 1849-1865, copyright 1963 by Time Inc. 7. The Union Restored, T. Harry Williams, The Life History of the United States Volume 6: 1861-1876, copyright 1963 by Time Inc.