Portsmouth Historical Commission Dedicates May as Southern Unionist History Month

For a whole slew of reasons, Southern Unionism during the War of the Rebellion is of special importance to me. Some time in 2010 (during the whole Confederate History Month brouhaha), I came up with the idea of Southern Unionist History Month. Late last year, a friend of mine (Greg Eatroff) who serves on the Portsmouth Historical Commission came across a memorial in Lincoln Cemetery built by the Silas Fellows Post #7 of the Grand Army of the Republic, in honor of local Unionist veterans who had gone to their greater reward.

That inspired us to push forward on SUHM. Greg took the ball and presented this resolution to the Portsmouth Historical Commission; the Commission passed it last Tuesday night:

Whereas the history of the Civil War has at times, understandably but mistakenly, been seen as a battle between regions . . .

Whereas in reality the dedication to Union and Emancipation was shared by millions of Americans north and south . . .

Whereas there were many in the states that formed the Confederacy “who in the darkest hour of slavery kept alive in their souls a love of manhood rights, justice, and the unity of the United States of America”

Whereas these men and women who risked everything to preserve the Union are rarely remembered as much as they should . . .

Whereas in Virginia especially, support for Union was so pronounced that the state split itself in two . . .

Whereas many of the people of present day Virginia can also look to the family histories of Unionism of which they can be proud . . .

And whereas the city of Portsmouth was, for much of the war, a haven for Virginia’s Unionists, both black and white . . .

Be it resolved that the City of Portsmouth through its History Commission. . .

Declare May of this year to be Southern Unionist History Month,

Encourage other localities in Virginia and the Commonwealth itself to join in this declaration, and

Provide for various events and information during May to make Virginians more aware of Civil War Unionism in and around Portsmouth, Virginia.

The resolution will be present to the Portsmouth City Council next week.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

  • Right is Right

    “Whereas the history of the Civil War has at times, understandably but mistakenly, been seen as a battle between regions . . .”

    It is obvious that you have never read the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln only freed the slaves in the Confederate states, not the Union states. After the war, the North had a huge economic advantage over the South with their slave labor. The Civil War was not about slavery, but about states’ rights. From the Civil War forward the erosion of states’ rights continued unabated until today.

  • That logic only works if you ignore the federal government’s constant intervention into northern states to override personal liberty laws in the 1850s.

    And then there was Kansas.

  • Oh, and the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, so the North had no such “slave labor” advantage.

  • Right is Right

    Your statement is that the Civil War was not a battle between regions. On January 1, 1863 Lincoln issued an executive order – the Emancipation Proclamation applying only to the Confederate states. The 13th Amendment, which applied to all states, was not fully ratified until three years later on December 6, 1865. But it was not a war between regions.

  • MD Russ

    Right is Right,

    You should read about Lincoln’s deliberations and legal reasoning over the Emancipation. He finally decided that his Constitional authority to free slaves by executive order, essentially confiscating private property, applied only to those states in rebellion against the Union who had, therefore, placed themselves outside of the protections of the Constitution. As a practical matter, he also did not want to free the slaves in border and western states that were not in rebellion and risk that such an action would push them over the edge to join the Confederacy. Finally, Lincoln delayed and hesitated to issue the Proclamation because he was not certain that it would ever be executed. Even in January 1863, the successful outcome of the war and the return of the Confederate States to Union authority was far from certain. In fact, Lincoln’s enemies in Congress were agitating for Lincoln to end the war and let the Confederacy go. In the 1864 election, George B. McClellan ran against Lincoln as a Democrat proposing to do just that.

    D. J.,

    Now I know why you are a Jets fan, you damned yankee. It is not called the War of Rebellion. It is properly referred to as the War of Yankee Aggression. And Civil War is also a misnomer. A civil war is when an opposition group attempts to seize control of the central government by force. The Confederacy had no such goals.


  • Old-geezer

    The grandfather of my grandfather was James Hawley. During The War Of Northern Aggression, James and his brother William Hawley served with the 32nd Virginia Regiment from the start until their capture at Five Forks.

    It was more about economics and taxes.

  • Donna Sayegh

    Are you going to report anything about the War of 1812 sincee the 200 year anniversary is coming up June 17th?
    Just want to know. Thanks. DS

  • Carl W. Roden

    So long as April is still Confederate History and Heritage Month, I have no objections. If anything I think maybe honoring Southern Unionists may be a bit overdue…as is honoring Northern Confederates from Illinois, Ohio, and other places.

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