An apology on Lee-Jackson Day

Today, for the 120th year, the commonwealth of Virginia pauses to honor Gen. Robert E. Lee. Additionally, for the 105th year, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is also remembered. To “celebrate” the day, certain state and local employees will have the day off and some politicians will compose proclamations.

If you recall, last week, I called for ending this practice and replacing it with a day to honor all heroes of the commonwealth with a “Virginia Heritage Day.” I asked you to sign a petition in favor of this proposal.

Needless to say, this proposition has not been met with overwhelming favor.

Over the past week, since posting the petition, I have been amused by the comments and discussion both for and against the idea. And, have appreciated the impassioned emails some of you have sent my way.

Certainly emotions run high (perhaps more so than I expected) on this particular subject. Those that support Lee-Jackson Day take my idea as a personal affront to their culture and heritage and as a slap to the honor of two “great men.”

I can appreciate their sentiment, but I do not agree with it. Therefore, this post is not for them.

It is patently obvious to me that no matter what logic I use, or argument I make, I will be accused of being a dumb, ignorant, liberal carpetbagger, who sees history only through a modern-day prism.

Therefore, instead of addressing folks who would rather spread discord than attempt discourse, I won’t bother to waste my words or my time on them. They will find nothing of value in the words that follow.

However, for those of you who are still on-the-fence regarding this subject, support the idea, or are willing to at least give me a fair hearing, let me attempt to answer some of the assertions that others have made, and further clarify why I believe as I do.

My Rationale – Historically Based

Let’s first address head-on the premise of my argument.

Frankly, I view holidays as largely symbolic. Not necessarily as a day to honor the person.

In other words, I see Martin Luther King Jr. Day as representative of the civil rights era and an appeal to service, Presidents’ Day as representative of all who have led our nation in its highest office and to make us think of duty and commitment, and Columbus Day as honoring the spirit of exploration and the bold vision, determination, and courage it takes to take a risk.

So, what is the symbolism of Lee-Jackson Day in Virginia? Is it honor to one’s state? Is it duty to your fellow citizen? Is it perseverance in the face of adversity? Is it the ability to take a bold stand on principle?

I would argue: yes.

I see Lee and Jackson as all those things. And, today, I will think about those characteristics and how I too can live up to that example of courage and sacrifice.

But the question is, for what motive did they serve?

In the end, their motive was to side with the disintegration of the union for the cause of a state’s right to choose for itself whether it would permit the enslavement of another human being.

This leads me to my second point. Many have argued that “Lee was forced to fight for Virginia, as federal forces were going to invade – it was not because of slavery.”

In order to accurately assess that statement, you have to look at the timeline.

It began when Virginia attempted to hold a peace conference in February, after several states had already seceded.

The results of the Virginia peace conference, which concluded in late February, were very similar to the Crittenden Compromise, thus, they didn’t stand much chance in Congress.

The final proposals from the conference were:

1 –For territories south of 36-degrees 30-minutes north longitude, slavery could exist and Congress could not hinder it; and, that any state admitted to the union from those territories could enter with or without slavery, as their state constitution directed.

2 – No further territory should be acquired without treaty and consent of 4/5 of the Senate.

3 –That Congress could not regulate, abolish, or control slavery in the states or territories.

4- Fugitive slave provisions in the Constitution should be enforced and Congress should not interfere.

5- The foreign slave trade should be prohibited.

6-There should be compensation for the loss of fugitives from labor.

The peace conference amendments were rejected by Congress.

Just over a month later in April, the Virginia State Convention met to discuss the possibility of secession. To this date, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas had already seceded. The Virginia State Convention rejected secession on April 4 by a vote of 89-45.

However, after tension in South Carolina finally broke into an attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, and Lincoln called for a militia of 75,000 from the Union states on April 15, Virginia balked.

First, Gov. John Letcher told Lincoln on April 16 that he would not furnish troops. He was opposed to what he said was the subjugation of the southern states.

Second, on April 17, the Virginia State Convention met again, this time voting for secession 88-55, and permitted the governor the authority to raise a volunteer army.

Third, on April 18, federal forces abandoned and burned the armory at Harper’s Ferry. On the same day, Col. Robert E. Lee of the Union Army refused command of the army at Blair House.

Fourth, on April 19, Southerner and U.S. Navy Capt. David Farragut left his home in Norfolk to remain in the service of his country.

Fifth, on April 20, federal troops evacuated Norfolk and burned and scuttled the USS Merrimack.

Sixth, on April 22, Robert E. Lee is commissioned major general and given command of the confederate forces in Virginia.

If you follow the timeline, you will notice that the turnaround from honest broker to belligerent is very quick; it seems ironic to me that so quickly after aggressive, independent action by South Carolina on rightful union property, that Virginia, who had been brokering for compromise, would turn around within a week and raise an army for insurrection. In many ways, it’s like Germany declaring war on the U.S. because Japan invaded Pearl Harbor. Was the quick turnaround because Virginia was ready for secession, despite their outward overtures?

To this point, no federal forces were advancing on Virginia – they were fleeing because Virginia was seceding and raising an army!

Looking at the history, we can see several flaws in arguments that have been made over the past week by those who are against the petition.

First, they say that the confederacy was only fighting for “states’ rights”.

This argument is not only naïve, but it is somewhat insulting to everyone’s intelligence.

It seems those that wrap themselves in the blanket of the 10th amendment fail to see that the whole reason behind the argument was that it was the right of a state to self-determine its position on slavery. Clearly the amendments from the peace conference indicate that slavery was very much on the minds of southern secessionists.

Second, many have argued that Lee did not have a choice but to fight for Virginia.

But, looking at the history, you can compare the loyalty of Gen. Lee and Adm. Farragut. Both Lee and Farragut were exceptional officers, and both, by most accounts, exceptional men. However, Lee, instead of remaining loyal to the Union took the route of rebellion and Farragut, also a Southerner – and, by all accounts, a Virginian (his home was here) – remained loyal to the Union throughout the war.

Had Lee taken command of the union, could the war have ended more peacefully – perhaps with no battles or bloodshed? Would he have been able to convince other Virginian’s that their rush to war following South Carolina’s actions was not prudent?

We’ll never know because Lee chose the path that led him and Virginia deeper into conflict.

Third, it is clear that the south instigated this war. By taking steps to secession, raising an army, and firing on federal soldiers, it is clear that the south was “itch’n to fight.” Therefore, when the anti-petition crowd argues that slavery as an institution was being eliminated by states in the south, why did southern states feel compelled to attack union soldiers and seize federal property? If slavery didn’t matter, then certainly there was no need to go to war over the state’s right to eliminate it, right?

Finally, folks believe the days came to fruition simply out of reverence for Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Not quite.

The tradition to honor the two generals is more than a century old and began in 1889. Virginians began paying remembrance to Robert E. Lee — nearly nineteen years following his death (and nineteen years following the end of federal military control). The holiday started while Fitzhugh Lee, Robert’s nephew, and fellow confederate officer, served as governor; F. Lee enacted the legislation during his last year in office.

In 1904, Jackson’s name was added by the General Assembly, but in a less than desirable political climate.

Andrew Jackson Montague (born in 1862) was elected governor in 1902 having made two major promises – education reform and the disfranchisement of black voters. During Montague’s term, poll taxes and literacy tests came into being: the very laws we know now as “Jim Crow” laws.

For nearly twenty years following Lee’s death, Virginia did not honor him. It took his nephew on his way out the door from serving in Virginia’s highest office to give him a day. As for Jackson, his day came during a time of deep racial discrimination and mistrust, where some Virginians were looking back to the confederacy with wistful longing.

My Motive

Many have questioned my motive for doing this.

My motive is simple.

I see both Lee and Jackson as symbols of the confederacy – which implies the armed insurrection against the government of the United States for the right to enslave people for personal profit. I cannot in good faith recognize and honor them with an exclusive day…nor accept that my tax dollars are going towards a paid holiday for government employees on such a day.

Every time this day arrives on the calendar, it is a day that reminds us of what the confederacy gave us: the pain and suffering of slavery, the burdens of Reconstruction, and the unnecessary era of Jim Crow.

It just isn’t very uplifting.

All of the other holidays that exclusively honor a person that I mentioned earlier are inspirational and motivate us to greater things. But Lee-Jackson Day seems to remind us of Virginia’s darkest hour.

Understandably, a good portion of Virginia’s 400+ years of heritage includes some of our greatest patriots as slave owners. However, the difference is that those patriots remind all Americans of the promise of freedom and liberty – not the repression of it. Jefferson and Washington helped put this country together – not take pains to tear it apart.

Virginia Heritage Day is not meant to gloss-over or diminish Lee and Jackson – or the pains of slavery and discrimination. In fact, as Virginia heritage, they should very much be included in any remembrance. However, with Virginia rich in heritage from the waterman on the Chesapeake to the farmers in the southern counties; from personalities such as Patrick Henry to Douglas Wilder; it seems that we, as citizens of the commonwealth, are missing out on so much more to celebrate.

For all to see – including other Americans and our children – we place Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson up as model Virginia citizens; citizens, who if they were successful in their endeavors, would have torn the country apart and allowed the institution of slavery to perpetuate in states until that state decided to stop the practice – if ever.

My conservatism

Because of the Southern Strategy employed by the Republican Party since Barry Goldwater, disillusioned Democrats “realigned” the “solid south” from being predominantly Democratic to mainly Republican.

When you consider the irony that it was the election of a Republican that set the above course of events into motion, you cannot help but shake your head.

I am a traditional Republican…of the 1856 variety.

My brand of conservatism is based upon fiscal responsibility, a limited central government, strong national defense, and individual liberty.

I believe that all men and women are capable of achieving great things in this country if they are given equal access to education, employment, and property ownership. If allowed to compete and be motivated by the “pursuit of happiness”, I am convinced anyone can be successful.

The celebration of Lee-Jackson Day, regardless of what they personally felt or did with slaves and African Americans, symbolizes the repression of individual liberty.

For a true conservative, it goes against our very fiber.

Why now?

Why not?

With my political party in shambles, it is time to go back to basics.

Closing thoughts – or parting shots

Some have decided to take this argument to a personal level; I can only say that such arguments diminish only the person making them and further sustain my beliefs.

If you feel that you must personally attack someone to make your point, then you really don’t have a point, do you?

If you support this endeavor, I ask you to please sign the petition and vote in our poll.

PS If you didn’t get in the title my use of the word “apology”, it also means a formal justification or defense.

  • As a fellow conservative, I’m sure you understand the immediate impulse I have to resist someone suggesting we drop remembrances of such pivotal and historic figures. With the revisionist tendencies displayed by so many in this country over the last 8 years or so it’s easy to see similar designs in your suggestion. I’ve been treated to years of people who look at a man or an event and see nothing but the bad, ignoring any of the virtuous qualities displayed. Your suggestion regarding this holiday observance has a similar look and feel and I have no doubt that’s where much of the resistance you’ve faced comes from.

    You’ve made your points and you’ve argued effectively, for the most part. A couple of observations – or parting shots, if that’s how you view them – are what I’d like to offer and a question besides.

    First, don’t expect to refer to someone’s arguments and beliefs as “naive” and then expect to be taken seriously when decrying personal attacks. Call it that if you feel you must but understand that’s considered a personal attack as well.

    Second, the term “apology” is understood by the vast, overwhelming majority of english-speakers as the act of saying that one is sorry for something, not as a formal justification or defense. I’m sure the latest Webster’s will bear you out but only a statistically insignificant slice of your audience will take that to be your meaning at first contact. The rest of us will think what I have no doubt you intended: that you’re saying you’re sorry to the rest of the county for Virginia’s continued observation of this holiday. Feel free to do that, if you must, but the failure to “get” the meaning of the title seems clearly deliberate on your part.

    To the matter at hand, I am leery of your suggestion because I think it’s far more likely that people will use such a change to completely bury Lee and Jackson and use that as leverage to erase them from our heritage. I think they’ll use your argumentation to eclipse the honor and virtue these men displayed preferring to concentrate only on the cause and focus of the Civil War, reflecting that darkness back on these men, specifically. I would be far more willing to support your idea if I knew there would be an effort to include them along with all the others. I understand your point, here, is to argue for expanding the scope of the holiday but your concession regarding Lee’s and Jackson’s sense of duty, perseverance, and principles just seems like a perfunctory nod. That doesn’t generate confidence in the idea that this change isn’t designed to blot them from history.

    All of that said, I’m not completely against the idea. I just want it done carefully so as not to destroy the good marks on history these men made with a brushing aside for the side they fought on. History is rarely black and white and I just don’t want to see this modern air of political correctness swallow up yet more of our heritage in pursuit of the maxim “offend none.”

    So, the question: How do you recommend we do this to achieve your goal while not sacrificing these men in the temple of PC?

    Thanks, and good luck.

  • Richard Williams

    Another view . . .

    If anything, Robert E. Lee was the quintessential American patriot, assuming you understand the 19th century definition of patriot.

  • Carl Roden

    Sir, you refer to those who disagree with you as “folks who would rather spread discord than attempt discourse” and you could not be more wrong at that.
    The people who honor Lee and Jackson are not closed-minded individuals, and do not see to run from a discussion on their beliefs.
    Just because you disagree with their ideals doesn’t make them wrong and you right.

  • Border Ruffian

    “In the end, their motive was to side with the disintegration of the union for the cause of a state’s right to choose for itself whether it would permit the enslavement of another human being.”

    You sure about that?

    Seems that the North was more than willing to perpetuate slavery-

    “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled…:
    ARTICLE THIRTEEN, No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.”

    Proposed amendment to the United States Constitution, March 1861 (passed by a Northern dominated Congress after several Southern states had seceded).


    “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service….I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”

    Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861


    “…this war is not waged upon our part…for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union…”

    Resolution passed by the United States House of Representatives, July 22, 1861. Similar resolution passed by the Senate, July 25, 1861.


    “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

    Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862

  • John Harvie

    Seems like Border Ruffian has done more homework than JRH…

  • Max Shapiro

    Sucks to have been arrested last night, courts are closed and were getting lots of calls at work from people in jail or relatives of people in jail.

  • The Pale Horse

    So, Jim, are you suggesting we splinter the South off as a reliable political ally because you’re upset about Lee Jackson Day? Because the conservatism of the Southern tradition and the conservatism of the original Republican Party only intersect at so many points, and it has been a delicate balancing act of the last 40 years to keep it together. I’m not sure the Lincoln coaltion could win a national election at this point any more than it could in 1964.

    Your ‘conservatism’ didn’t list any socially conservative or religious values, and I’m not sure that your Republican Party would include a vast majority of the people that actually make up our grassroots. Your principles might not survive the end result of your ‘apology.’

    As a final note, I’m not a secessionist, and I believe that slavery was a tragedy and a stain upon American history. However, this is just an exercise in divisiveness that can’t lead to anything positive for our party aside from ensuring that we never see the majority again either here or nationally.

  • Paul

    As far as the Border Ruffians choice quotes go, all that proves is that the North and Lincoln were willing to try and reassure the South that they were not a threat to slavery. But the South’s motives in seceeding were quite clear (and thus any that sided would be aware of those motives) Every Ordnance of Secession mentions slavey or injury to the slave holding states. An example from Mississippi:

    “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin”

    The Virgnia Article is a lot shorter, but says:

    “The people of Virginia in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States”

    Southerners deemed that the election of a Republican President meant an attack on slavery, despite any assurances from Lincoln or Congress, and in a panic seceeded.

    Mr Hoeft also make the comparison between Lee and Farragut. An even more apt and telling comparison is that of Lee to George H. Thomas, who had the same choice as Lee but honored his oath to defend the Union instead of laying it aside and taking a new oath.

  • Pingback: Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » More Thoughts On Lee-Jackson Day()

  • The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was closely modeled on the U.S. Constitution, with some key differences. The Confederate Constitution specifically legalized slavery. The U.S. Constitution did not contain an explicit reference to slavery until the 13th Amendment, which specifically forbade slavery.

    Conclusion: At least one of the goals of Southern secessionists (and probably their main goal) was to protect slavery.

  • That’s it then. The ‘pale horse’ (whoever that is) sounds like he is throwing you out of the Republican party, Jim.

    That kind of misses the point of all of this don’t you think, Mr. Horse? As I understand it, Mr. Hoeft is asking for more inclusiveness in honoring all of Virginia’s heritage, not just ‘the recent unpleasantness’ or its participants, but all of Virginia, and all of its heritages.

    I am not sure why this is such a hard idea for some people to grasp.

    Massive Resistance is part of Virginia’s heritage, and should be contemplated and learned about. It is not seen as a positive image for the Commonwealth, but neither is the subjugation of humans for forced labor and profit.

    The good, the bad, the ugly. It is the truth, and we should honor the truth by honoring all of Virginia’s heritage.

  • J.R.,

    From a modern day perspective, this debate has been good. The Republican party needs to get back to it’s culturally conservative roots. In recent years our party has been laxed on this front.

    From a historical perspective, I am compelled to defend Lee and Jackson. The Civil War was a war of varying perspectives. Lee and Jackson were fighting for a different reason than Lincoln. There were good and bad people on both sides. If Lee and Jackson were so intent on protecting slavery then why did they speak out against it within the confines of the Confederacy? It is my belief that Lee and Jackson represented the best of the South, while Lincoln and Grant represented the best of the Union.

    Apart from these two gentlemen, the Civil War itself was a punishment on our nation for the atrosity of slavery. This leads me to beg the question, what is the difference between enslaving millions of people and aborting millions of unborn children?

  • This leads me to beg the question, what is the difference between enslaving millions of people and aborting millions of unborn children?


  • Mark

    Jim – OUTSTANDING POST!!!! You have my support now more than ever. Keep up the good work.

  • Alter of Freedom

    While I applaud JR efforts to enage in adebate over the issues and I respect those efforts, it should remind us that many of our ideas or frankly bias about this part of history are rendered to us through secondary sources of history. Those of us who are true students of history or even military history rely on “primary” sources as a basis for much of what we do in the area of research. For example, I come to different conclusions on the timeline based on first hand accounts like say the Richmond Examiner or Richmond Whig or countless other newspapers reporting the goings of the Assembly in Richmond, the Convention, the arrival of Lee to the Spotswood Hotel, arrival of Davis and the new capital move to Richmond as well as the accounts of those involved themselves. In todays times, we seem to attribute much of our information to the MSNBC’s or FOX news of the world as sources that shape modern thought. Our ancestors did not have such luxury, but in reading what they would have been reading proves to provide a better basis than say taking the “Washington Peace Conference of 1861” from Wikipedia and attemtping to draw distinctions to the timeline. You are forgetting the meetings in Washington of Lee as well as the months after election of John Letcher his tour of the North in search of contracts to provide Virginia with arms. He formed the Council of Three in response to Virginia’s readiness in case of conflict.
    I will head to Lexington, Virginia home to both my beloved V.M.I. and Washington & Lee where my children can experience Lee Chapel and Jackson’s final resting place….as well as take a look at the new third barracks going up. I will teach them the totality of the men, just as I would hope they would endeavor in their lives to take the totality of ones soul in evaluating a person and not simply taking what “they think” is in someones heart. Will I tell them about the “Cause”- absolutely but about the cause that was identified at the time of history and not the one that generations after have exploited for some other gains. Meaning; I will teach them that just because “One Wore Gray” does not mean one endorsed slavery as my ancestors did not own slaves in the Valley nor did any of the other Scotch-irish in the Church they worshiped and yet that church still send hundreds of men, inlcuding my ancestors, to the ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia. The diaries in my family’s possession today spell out their hatred for the institution of slavery but they answered the call of Virginia and their trials of battle and at no point of service or in the letters was slavery attempted to be rationalized or even brought into the dynamic of the day for the soldier. Are their many that represent the opposite view? Absolutely. But do those accounts somehow dismiss the thousands that served and died wearing Grey that never owned a slave nor supported slavery? Do we believe in everything today that our State Government does? Our Congress? We should never lose sight of those little inconsistancies when drawing conclusions about the past. Have all of us supported the Iraq War? No. But I imagine and would hope that all of us would support the troops in the field. Could this action be no different in 1861-65 for citizens in Virginia who say Lee and Jackson as “defenders” of the Dominion. We have almost succumb to the belief that even if you feel that the Civil War was solely fought over salvery that is perfectly acceptable to honor men who were President of the United States that owned them and only attempt to dismiss those that in their view fought to preserve it. There is an inconsistancy in those arguements that somehow a Washington or Jefferson get a pass when in fact both these men supported slavery and its premise more so than a Lee or especially a Jackson ever did. The same in my view goes for the “Flag” view as it stands in our country as well as we have allowed it to be shaped by extremists using for its own vial purposes completely dishonoring the heritage of all those that DIED ON THE FIELD OF HONOR behind it.

  • P-Town Hubert

    I subscribed to the Bearing Drift after canceling my subscription to the Virginian-Pilot, because of the liberal bullcrap that was delivered to my door each morning. Now, I just cancelled my subscription to the Bearing Drift because of the liberal bullcrap that’s being delivered to my inbox. I thought BD was a conservative blog. Boy, was I wrong.

    It really makes me sick to receive emails from disrespectful jerks who denigrate two of the greatest men America has ever produced. You scalawags aren’t fit to scrape the horse crap off Lee’s and Jackson’s boots, and you will therefore never send email to my inbox again.

    This Lee/Jackson thread is an affront to all who take pride in their Southern Heritage, and is absolutely sickening. It would more appropriately be posted to or the Huffington Post. Keep your sickening liberal scalawag bullcrap to yourselves, and stay away from my inbox.

  • “You scalawags aren’t fit to scrape the horse crap off Lee’s and Jackson’s boots”

    I thought you looked familiar.

    Besides, didn’t you cancel your subscription on the original post? For a canceller, you still hang around a lot.

  • P-Town Hubert

    Brian Kirwin said, “’You scalawags aren’t fit to scrape the horse crap off Lee’s and Jackson’s boots’

    I thought you looked familiar.”

    Absolutely brilliant! I’m sure you’ll be bragging about THAT response for a long time.

    “Besides, didn’t you cancel your subscription on the original post? For a canceller, you still hang around a lot.”

    Your first paragraph was absolutely brilliant. Your second one is absolutely wrong. No, I have never unsubscribed from Bearing Drift before this morning.

    You’re not very smart, are you?

  • You still here?

  • Alter of Freedom

    Brian Kirwin-
    “The right wants to jeer him. The left wants to censor him”–not so much a reality given Brains apparent liberal leanings and sit downs with folks of that passion. Could some of all that be rubbing off on Brian. Apparently so. He has begun to handle criticism and debate in the same manner of those folks we had thought he always stood against.
    Will the real Brian Kirwin please stand up—-this lastest incarnation certainly is not the one we have known.
    Besides the Brian expressed throughout this thread is rather shocking given his position with the Arts & Humanties—-nothing he has said here on this topic alludes anything even remotely close to having any “humanity”. I always liked Brian and reading his posts— anxiously awaiting for his return/recovery.

  • Alter, all you’re proving is that my bio is true. Whackos on both sides have problems with all us wonderful people here in reality-land where most people are.

    I refuse to celebrate slavery. I support honoring ALL Virginia heritage, rather than just two people who fought to preserve the owning of blacks.

    I chuckle at those who wave the flag of a defeated sect. I rather like the 21st century and, while I’m intrigued by those who dedicate large quantities of time studying every nuance of every facet of days “Gone with the Wind,” I am not too interested in hoping those days return.

    People are free to study whatever they like. And I’m free to wish they had more than one interest, for their own sake.

    I do think it’s funny that so many “anti-government” types wants so badly to have government preserve their holiday. Funny how pro-government some people can become when it’s something for them.

  • I never had a problem with this holiday. I always looked at it as being the celebration of two “home town heroes” that brilliantly sought to defend a lost cause.

    Perhaps I should give more thought into what the cause was they were attempting to defend.

    Thank you J.R. for shining some light on this. While I will continue to often disagree with you on many issues, my respect for you grows.

  • Alter of Freedom

    Little David- in the course of your thoughts, give some time of thought to exactly when the War became as some here have proposed it was about the freedom of the slaves. Was it 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864? At what point politically did it become neccessary for Lincoln to do so or was it his intent from the beginning. Its a interesting question if you examine what Lincoln’s supporters had to say in places like New York during the election and of course the theory Lincoln was waiting for a big victory to do change the tone of the War. Or was it also Lincoln needed a fresh group of man power to fill the ranks of Union forces. Given the timeline when exactly did this occur as it reflects the change in political view and what were the conditions on the ground in the War itself.
    There is also papers from within Lincolns cabinet in the early years that reflects the notion that had McDowell swiftly ended the War at Bull Run that it would not of guaranteed anything other than the end of hostilities let alone an end to slavery. It took the first two years of dreadful conflict and division for a movement to grow that may not have had such opportunity without the framework of War. I would think that Iraq 2003 to 2005/6 would be an example of the same emotion and growth of political will.
    Its always interesting though to study the actual papers and letters of the time to get a real handle on what was truly at play during the time. Semper Fi.

  • Alter of Freedom,

    I do not have a degree in History or anything, however from my limited knowledge I understand that the issue of slavery was one of the things that drove the secession of the Confederate States. Is my understanding somehow incorrect?

  • Alter of Freedom

    Depends who you are speaking to or of frankly. Do you agree with your Congress? Do you support your General Assembly and all that they do? We place such anoymosity towards politicians in present day that we seem to think citizens did not have the same level in our past. Who was it exactly that voted to break from the Union? Was it by referendum by the people to leave the Union? Or was it in the hands of one class of folks?
    We simply here are casting such wide aspertions as to who owned slaves and if One Wore Grey they endorsed slavery and if One Wore BLue they did not that is laughable given the facts. Its like the contention that no Union Generals owned slaves upon the start of the War. Virginia, on balance was not this grand “slave state” that people make it out to be based on the numbers and yet in the end because Virginia broke South people lump it into that dogma. In fact you can divide Virginia much like the pundits do today in terms of politics but instead by slave regions and the numbers. Ask yourself why you think West Virginia broke away from greater Virginia around the Civil War? The greater density of slaves were in the eastern areas of Virginia not the West or even the Valley. The elected Governor after Henry Wise was from Lexington, Virginia and a Whig in John Letcher and no big supported of slavery or leaving the Union. In fact if you read the record and read the papers of the time in Virginia, you will find it was NOT the slave question that began pushing Virginia into the War after voting down joining the Cotton States, nor was it what was in the hearts of everyday citizens. Petersburg, Virginia had a huge free black population that was building the railways of Virginia at the outset of the War. My point has been we need to be careful when we paint such large sweeping condemnations of people and peoples heritage. Again, descended from Scotsh-Irish from the Shenandoah Valley and Pennsylvania who held no slaves and who were pro-Union at the outset but ended up fighting for both sides I can see it very clearly in our family heritage what led those that fought for Virginia. The greater point I seek people to understand is just because one wore Grey does not mean one owned slaves nor supported slavery. In fact, some of the greatest Units in Stonewall’s divisions of Virginians were made up of ranks of slaveless Virginians. I doubt, in reading many of their diaries, you will find a justification for their fight having anything to do with slavery. You certainly may find it in the wealthy class who owned them or the politicos of the day but then ask yourself how many people in the Virginia or even the South made up that class in society. Again, how do you feel about what your Congress does or your General Assembly in Richmond? Is it reflective of you and your values 100% of the time. I doubt it. And if your State requested your service say for a national emergency would you go? Remember, most of the day believed the War would be over in less than four months. All you have to do is look at the enlistment terms to understand this dynamic on both sides. No one saw it lasting some four years. Again, would you have heeded your States call to come an serve? That was the real question of the day for those that joined the ranks to defend Virginia, not whether they owned slaves or not. But, in the end the debate will continue as it always has I guess.

  • LittleDavid, how’d ya like that answer to your yes-or-no question?

  • Brian,

    Alter’s responses would be more easily digestible if he learned to include paragraph breaks.

  • Alter of Freedom,

    After wading through your comment sans paragraph breaks, I find issue with this.

    Back in those days, money was even more important then it is today. Today the average citizen has the power to express his own ideas on the internet. But in those days the common voice was controlled by the editors of the newspapers.

    Money back then had a big control on what was written and who was elected. Back then the money was behind secession and secession was the result. What was the dividing issue that separated the south from the north? The issue was slavery.

    Even if the average Confederate soldier did not own a slave, he was bound up in his service in the defense of slavery. I have no doubt that the “average” confederate soldier included the word nigger in how he would describe even the free black man.

  • Alter of Freedom

    “bound up in his service”? In the same manner our current armed forces are or have been in Iraq? Even those that have opposed the War who have been in uniform? Are they “bound up in service” because they did not go awol? And if they still went in country to serve does that mean the support everyhting and all the principles of those that sent them?
    Interesting take gentleman.
    Brian has no reponse to the very large free black population of Petersburg that built the railroads of the Commonwealth leading up to the War does he. Its as if they did not exist in his narrow lense.
    Brian also likely dismissies those blacks that fought for the Confederacy that has been well documents by scholarly works and dissertations over the years with supporting primary facts, but since its not addressed in the mainstream or is ignored out of political expediencies I guess it never happened as well?
    Little David- your last point proves how ignorant we all have become by allwoing our history to be hijacked by those who would distort the real history. “Nigger” is rarely used in Virginia primary sources and is more directly and properly associated with the Cotton States and the Deep South. The majority of references to blacks in Virginia sources is “darkey” or “darkies” and not the word “nigger”. Another great distortion manipulated by those who try to assign all the Confederates to one history.
    In fact there are current works taking a look at slave populations in the border States versus the population in Virginia. There is even one looking at Ohio in the 1830-50’s. Remember as far as population goes West Virginia was part of Virginia until when exactly Brian? And exactly what State was Jackson born in officially? Makes you wonder whether Clarksburg, WV celebrate and revere Jackson as much now does it.
    Fact remains gentleman the pro-slavery circles could not sell Virginia and the Whigs in particular on the slave issue being the determining factor to leave the Union and anyone who thinks that slavery was the factor knows very little of the true history of the Commonwealth frankly. Not to say some did not try, but it was not the deciding factor. Had it been, Virginia would have never attended the Washington Peace Conference along with KY to work for peace between those seven that had sought to break away already. Fact remains, had it only been about salvery or slavery been the sole rationale for breaking away, Virginia would have done it at the first Convention. Brian offers no reason for why this took place and why it was Virginia did not break and totally discounts the events that would transpire in March and April leading up to Virginia’s final break with the Union.

    This is not to say that slavery was not a major issue to some or even the greatest issue to some, but not my Virginia. Brian appears poised to dive right in to the current politics of the day here in the modern era, but fails to give Virginia’s past and its particpants the same level of investigation. If he had or if you chose to undertake such investigation you very well may find a depth of greater understanding regarding the politics of the day in Virginia in the 1850’s leading up to April 1861.

    Brian acts like the election of a Republican in Lincoln had nothing to do with the level of distrust Whigs and Demcrats in Virginia had for the North that overwhelmingly put Lincoln in office. FYO, that level of distrust had nothing to do with slaves friends and it flows through much of the politics of the day after Lincoln’s election. Brian evidently must liken slavery as an issue then to present day abortion rights I guess and yet even Brian knows its much more than that that has created the seperation between present day Democrats and Republicans. He is smart enough to know its never just one issue.

  • Border Ruffian

    “Even if the average Confederate soldier did not own a slave, he was bound up in his service in the defense of slavery.”

    ..and the average Federal soldier was bound up in service to defend the slave interests of “loyal” slave owners.


    “I have no doubt that the “average” confederate soldier included the word nigger in how he would describe even the free black man.”

    Use of the “N” was rather common in the 19th century…but more common in the North.

  • It’s never just one issue, eh Alter? Well, that one issue seems to be the one repeated over and over and over and over in the remarks by secessionists.

    I’m sure someone somewhere wanted to leave the Union because they didn’t like Lincoln’s campaign policies on the iron trade, but I really don’t think that was the main issue that made people take up rifles.

    Now onto more Alter lies:

    “Brian has no reponse to the very large free black population of Petersburg that built the railroads of the Commonwealth leading up to the War does he.”

    Yes, I do. We should honor them with Virginia Heritage Day.

    “Brian also likely dismissies those blacks that fought for the Confederacy”

    I do not. We should honor them with Virginia Heritage Day.

    “And exactly what State was Jackson born in officially?”

    I don’t care.

    “Brian appears poised to dive right in to the current politics of the day here in the modern era”

    Unlike the secret anonymous commenters on here, I actually live in the present, and do not yearn wistfully for the days when landowners owned blacks and possessed women as property.

    “but fails to give Virginia’s past and its participants the same level of investigation”

    No I don’t. I include them all in Virginia Heritage Day.

    “level of distrust had nothing to do with slaves friends”

    That’s why the South voluntarily freed all slaves before the Civil War. Huh? You mean they didn’t? No kidding…..

  • Alter of Freedom

    Yeah Brian—the power brokers and insiders of politics like the current political consultants of the modern era certainly would not have freed their slaves, but thousands of Virginians did free them even before the shells fell on Ft. Sumter or a single shot was fired at Bull Run.
    Brians lies- I never said I was against a Virginia Heritage Day. I merely took the position that before you “apologize” for something maybe you ought to investigate just how your paradigm has been shaped in the first place. Because, clearly on this issue its not the facts or the history, but by events that happened began in the 1950’s that distorted alot of the truth behind our history.
    I wonder just how many Virginia conservatives would support your wording and condemnation of Lee and Jackson? I can still support Virginia Heritage Day and its premise and still think your complete arse on this issue. Semper Fi.

  • “Brians lies- I never said I was against a Virginia Heritage Day.”

    Alter, if you’ve written all these comments to oppose a proposal that you actually support, I can’t help you any more than a good counselor could.

  • Walter Ring

    You are a pathetic piece of self-hating white trash. If you do not like the fact that Virginia honors two CONFEDERATES, move to a black ghetto in New Jersey and live out your days dodging gunfire, crack dealers and gangstas. It is people like yourself that brought this nation down from a great White country to a racial polyglot, borderline third world nation. It is not black power that gave the blacks what they have-it is White weakness, from wastes of space like you. LEE, JACKSON AND THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA YES!!! Scalawag traitors like you NO!!! WHITE SOUTHERN SOLIDARITY!!!

  • Walter Ring

    You would have no idea what honor and duty is about you malodorous race traitor. Your inane drivel about what you think about the Lee-Jackson holiday speaks volumes about what you think about the White race. Are you White? If so, you do not deserve to be. This is a day for White Southerners to reflect on what we have and what we have lost, albeit not without a long, arduous fight against the likes of you, nigger lover. WHITE SOUTHERN SOLIDARITY AND HAPPY LEE-JACKSON DAY 2010!!!!

  • Paul Benton


    I discovered this page fairly early in the morning, whilst I browsed the Internet for certain other information, regarding the late unpleasantness between the states.

    All concerned in the great “Lee/Jackson Debate” seemed quite sincere, and mostly articulate- save a few personal low blows- in their opinion; which seemed mostly predicated upon the institution of slavery as the cause (or a cause) of the “War Between The States”.

    As the old Saw goes “the winners write the history”. Nay, they also teach that same history- generation after generation- with the same slant as when it was written. When I began learning American History, in the third grade, Appomattox was not yet three generations removed from that time. Lincoln- who by the way lived in a log cabin and studied by firelight, which relates to some sort of a wonderful character trait, that we at Saint Mary’s School should have strived to emulate- promised to free the slaves. Thus, as President, he in fact freed the slaves, and also saved the Union: All in one fell swoop. Therefore, this Blog leads me to believe that- not unlike Sister Margarita- you have been reading the winners version of Mr. A. Lincoln’s fidelity to The Constitution, and his conduct and culpability regarding the events, leading to, and surrounding the Late Unpleasantness.

    The “Winners” first bit of history: Slavery was a major issue, which precipitated the war, and that Mr. Lincoln freed the slaves. Both historical heresy. As an issue, as someone on this page said, Slavery was akin to our modern day issue of Abortion: militants- moderates- and all. Although, Slavery was less prevalent than today’s abortions, it too was not illegal. Honest Abe had not the Constitutional power to free any Slaves in the United States of America. The Emancipation Proclamation, which applied only to “the States in rebellion”, was on shaky ground with Northerners, because it smacked of denial of private property at the whim of the Federal Government. It was in fact unconstitutional. However, the Proclamation was a political master stroke, which kept Great Britain from recognizing the CSA as an independent nation, and it surely helped re-elect the man. The United States Constitution- alone, in the Thirteenth Amendment (12/06/1865), freed all persons in bondage.

    Should Mr. Lincoln have respected The Constitution, and not raised an army to march South to punish the secessionists and set things right, he would have looked to the Supreme Court and the Constitution for LEGAL guidance in the matter of secession- which by the way, is not prohibited by the Constitution. His first step of unfounded aggression, which violated the Southern States Sovereignty, was certainly illegal- even when compared to contemporary events. Think ahead to what the world did with Slobodan Milosevic for aggression, etc. in Yugoslavia. Then, consider the orderly dissolution of the USSR. Which event- with respect to Lincoln’s actions- would have saved the life and limb of nearly a million Americans?

    The war was about the Sovereign States rights and power in the Federal Legislature. That is- the power to tax and thereby regulate economic behavior. Since the founding under The Constitution, the agricultural South had been a cash cow for the Northern industrialists. Taxes and Tariffs had favored Southern commerce with the North, rather than with England. After the Founding, the government policy was to promote American industry, including the means of manufacture and distribution. The new government’s rational was that we needed to be truly independent of England, not only politically, but also economically. To this end, we needed to manufacture domestic products and build our own industries. Seemed fair enough at the time; therefore, the Southern States relented. This tax and tariff policy took on a life of it’s own, which in one guise or another, still survives. However, the Northern industrial and agricultural interests took a big hit when the world market price of cotton went sky high. Again a brisk, lucrative, Southern trade developed with England to supply their textile mills- with the profits from such trade purchasing English goods. In the Southern United States, the Pound Sterling note spent better than any Yankee paper. As an aside to “distribution”, note that most Southern goods were shipped in Yankee Bottoms.

    Note the following Plank of the 1860 Republican Party Platform (Furman University)

    “12. That, while providing revenue for the support of the General Government by duties upon imports, sound policy requires such an adjustment of these imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interest of the whole country; and we commend that policy of national exchanges which secures to the working men liberal wages, to agriculture remunerative prices, to mechanics and manufactures an adequate reward for their skill, labor, and enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence.”

    Note the following excerpt from South Carolina’s Address to the Slaveholding States

    “The Southern States now stand in the same relation toward the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation, that our ancestors stood toward the people of Great Britain. They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust taxation, and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British Parliament for their benefit. For the last forty years the taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a view of subserving the interests of the North. The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue — to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.”

    So enough already! In regard to the late unpleasantness: Forget about the Slaves, they were just a megillah to sell the war. Forget about the Great Emancipator- although he did emancipate us from the bounds of The Constitution and destroyed the Republic. Forget about the two sons of Virginia, who were the greatest “American” military tacticians, ever to don a uniform. Forget about the previous politically correct, and pusillanimous Virginia Legislature. Forget about the painted tapestry of R.E. Lee, on a down town Richmond flood wall, that was vandalized on several occasions and never returned. Forget about the “Winner’s History”- it ain’t so cousin.
    The War was all about POWER IN THE FEDERAL LEGISLATURE- power to TAX whoever and whenever the majority, which had always favored “special interests”, decreed. Don’t Forget the people are still the people- as in “WE THE PEOPLE”- only the foolishness foisted upon us by political parties changes…Holy Chickahominy Bat Man!! We ARE re-living the late 1850’s. Go Figger…!!


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