April 12, 1861

Just for the record, as the day ends on the West Coast:

The Civil War was a rebellion against a democratically-elected government by white southerners when they lost an election in a system rigged to protect them.  They committed treason in order to preserve their ability to enslave African-Americans.

Fortunately enough, the good guys won and the bad guys lost.  The biggest problem was that Reconstruction did not go far enough and ended too soon.

The Confederate flag is a banner of treason and oppression.

That is all.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

40 thoughts on “April 12, 1861”

  1. Nah, they committed an act of secession, followed by an act of war. In as much as, following the first, they were no longer Americans, the second could not, logically, be an act of treason.

  2. The Confederate flag is a banner of treason and oppression.

    My understanding is that the “Confederate flag” wasn’t widely used in the Civil War. It was popularized by opponents of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. So it’s only a banner of oppression, not of treason and not of “heritage.”

  3. Within the number of things,attitudes, philosophies, ideologies whatever you wish to call them, at the most basic level before anything is added it is a symbol of treason. The treason is driven by a pathological philosophy that allows one man to enslave another. If the flag was used widely or hardly at all is not important, today at this moment it represents, in addition to treason and the right to enslave another, the entire body of thought that brought about the war and continues it in its many forms today, and I challenge anyone to find a kind, benevolent, godly thought amongst them.

  4. Ragout,
    I think that the “Confederate flag” was widely used in the Civil War, but not as the flag of the Confederacy. Instead, it was a battle flag. After the war, the “Stars and Bars” was viewed as a mite treasonous, so the battle flag was adopted by Confederate sympathizers. Now, it is the euphemism that is offensive, whereas the Stars and Bars has crept its way into several state flags. (IIRC, the battle flag is still in at least one state flag.)

    You’ve got a bit of a legal problem here. The Confederates thought that they had committed an act of secession. The Union thought than an act of secession was impossible, at least without consent of Congress. Union law governed, thanks to the case of Grant v. Lee, decided at the Appomattox courthouse. If the subjective intent of the Confederates governed, anybody with a smart lawyer could always beat a treason rap.

    I would imagine that black Jews would have an awfully hard time distinguishing between the good old Confederate battle flag and the good old hakenkreuz.

  5. What’s tragic is that apparently no southerners were involved in the 1944 liberation of France. What a fine heritage that would have been for them to celebrate.

  6. CharleyCarp:

    Sad too that Obama didn’t win a single state of the old confederacy.

  7. Ebenezer: Spot on about the flags. The Confederate Battle Flag became the symbol that it is in the mid-1950s, which is when Georgia went from a “Stars and Bars” motif to the Battle Flag. Now we are back to the Stars and Bars. The significance of that is lost on probably 70% of the current residents of Georgia, but our lunatic GOP is completely comfortable with their latter day Southern Strategy in a Southern state (note to RBC, the Stars and Bars flag is NOT the Confederate Battle Flag; that is a common misconception).

    And yes, plenty of White Southerners still quibble about the cause(s) of the Civil War. It is really quite ridiculous. And the next four years will be rife with ridiculosity as the Late Unpleasantness is “celebrated.” Robert Penn Warren was correct 50 years ago when he said that a day of mourning would be altogether fitting and proper.

  8. As a proud son of the South (although I haven’t lived there in thirty years), I have noticed quite a bit of black-and-white thinking on the Civil War on the various liberal blogs I frequent. I do not remember it being so cut-and-dried when I studied the Civil War at Yale oh so many years ago. To me, the interesting question, and the one that liberal bloggers seem to not even consider, is not why did the South secede but why did the North enter the war? The liberal blogger implication seems to be that the North entered because it was a good war (“the good guys won and the bad guys lost”), fought to destroy the institution of slavery. Perhaps it’s just the old Marxist in me, but I do not believe that history backs them up on this — I think it is more accurate to say that the North entered the war to further the economic interests of a certain portion of its society (oh, what the heck, call it a class) than from any desire to free the slaves.

  9. Keith, Virginia’s, North Carolina’s, and Florida’s electoral votes went to Obama in 2008. Here is a list of all the states’ votes: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/3383903/US-election-2008-State-by-state-breakdown-of-electoral-votes.html

    The Confederate states, in order of secession, were, according to Wikipedia:
    1. South Carolina (December 20, 1860)
    2. Mississippi (January 9, 1861)
    3. Florida (January 10, 1861)
    4. Alabama (January 11, 1861)
    5. Georgia (January 19, 1861)
    6. Louisiana (January 26, 1861)
    7. Texas (February 1, 1861)
    8. Virginia (April 17, 1861; ratified by voters May 23, 1861)
    9. Arkansas (May 6, 1861)
    10. Tennessee (May 7, 1861; ratified by voters June 8, 1861)
    11. North Carolina (May 20, 1861)

  10. David, never having been a Marxist, I do not believe that the North entered the war for economic reasons, but that it did so to preserve the Union. Although the North did not do so to end slavery, it, like the South, knew that the future expansion of slavery to the territories was at stake, and that, if slavery did not expand, it would eventually die out.

  11. Also, as I believe Sherman wrote at the time (letters to his brother, IIRC), it’s hard to imagine that the Union and Confederacy wouldn’t have come into conflict pretty quickly even if the Union had “let the South go” originally. Who gets the West (nobody gave a damn about the Native Americans, of course)? Kansas X 10.

    The Union fought to preserve the Union, primarily. There was more resentment of “slave power” than hatred of slavery itself, from what I’ve read. The Fugitive Slave Act pissed people off (you’re tellin’ us what we can do in our own state!? sound familiar?).

    The Confederacy fought to protect its… way of life, which was totally based on slavery (including the expansion of slavery, in order to keep up with new free-soil states so as to maintain the balance of power). This cannot be reasonably disputed. They were quite clear at the time.

  12. David,
    You posed a very good question. I don’t know if you will like my answer. I’m only a Marxist on alternate Sundays, but there is a materialistic explanation that actually maps pretty well onto history. Henry phrased it too weakly. The North not only knew that the future expansion of slavery to the territories was at stake; it believed that the South wanted to make the entire country a slave country. (This wasn’t fanciful; it was based on recent events: the Compromise of 1850 and Dred Scott.) The North viewed slave labor as inimical to free labor, and the North had a huge economic and ideological commitment to free labor. It could tolerate a slave South; it could not tolerate a slave United States.

    So yes, there was a class interest involved. The class consisted of just about everybody in the North: manufacturers, recent immigrants, artisans, freeholders, and the urban proletariat.

    Now you may ask why this class resisted secession. I think (although I go beyond the limits of my knowledge here) that it viewed the slave South as it viewed itself: an inherently expansionary force. There was the Caribbean to consider, as well as the west.

  13. Adding to Ebenezer’s comment: My understanding is that, at least before actual shooting started, owners of capital, both mfg and commercial, opposed letting things get to that stage. George Templeton Strong was a NYC lawyer, thus not properly of the class that I described, but he is widely taken to have echoed their views. The class that provided the backbone of anti-secession, anti-slave power sentiment, was I think further down — white men of various degrees of wealth, who worried that opportunities for themselves were effectively foreclosed in a region once slaveowners established themselves there. Cassius Clay based his opposition to slavery not on any favorable feeling toward African-Americans, but on a belief related to the one just described, that slavery in a region foreclosed the possibility of economic development, in large part because immigrants, both domestic and foreign would avoid the place like the plague, and in part because the presence of slavery devalued hard work and enterprise: the former as suitable only for slaves, the latter as incompatible with the pseudo-chivalric ethic of slavery.

  14. To add to Marcel’s comment (which corrects some misapprehensions in my prior comment): Cassius Clay’s sentiment was straight Tocqueville.

  15. David asked “why did the North enter the war?” I believe it was because the southern states attacked a United States military installation with an artillery bombardment, an act of war. I think the United States entered World War II because Japan attacked a U.S. military installation with an airborne bombardment.

    There has been a lot of history written in recent years that refutes the “lost cause” mythology that many have been taught.

    The best starting point is Battle Cry of Freedom, by James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning book that is regarded as the best single volume history available.

  16. I agree with most historians that the Civil War was not fought over the simple issue of the existence of slavery, but that the triggering issue was the future expansion of slavery into the federal territories.

    The event that triggered the secession was the election of Lincoln in 1860 on a platform that promised to stop the expansion of slavery, but never threatened it where it existed. The first seven rebel states left because they foresaw the eventual elimination of slavery by the new free states carved from the free territories.

    Lincoln’s objectives were thus to save the Union and to prevent the further spread of the evil of slavery.

    Therefore, because his paramount object was NOT to free the slaves in the states where slavery was legal, he did not in fact send troops to the states that seceded, and to the states that had not seceded, and did NOT direct the troops to invade the plantations and rescue the slaves.

    I think that virtually all constitutional scholars would agree that nether Lincoln, nor the Congress, had any legal authority under the Constitution to do so in peacetime.

    After the war broke out, it would have been folly as a military strategy to direct the troops to go to the plantations to free the slaves, since that strategy would have left the confederate army in the field, ready to fall upon the Union Army and its extended supply lines and destroy them.

    McPherson has shown, conclusively in my view, that Lincoln’s major strategic insight was to concentrate his forces on the destruction of the confederate army. He recognized that capture of the rebel capitol in Richmond could not end the war if the army still was active. He disagreed with McClellan on this issue, fired him twice, and defeated him for President. He would have rejected any plan to aim his armies at the plantations for the same reason.

    I disagree that neither Lincoln nor the soldiers on either side fought over slavery. That is not a complete answer, because it fails to take into account either the complexity of the motives of the millions of soldiers who fought, nor the development of the aims of the war as it unfolded.

    Gary Gallagher lectured on CSpan recently and said that there are tens of thousands of civil war letters and memoirs. Every possible motive can be found somewhere. We know that many, but not all, northern soldiers had abolitionist views. Others fought to preserve the Union. Many were drafted. So a generalization that no soldiers on either side fought over slavery is not correct in my view, because many did so.

    I think the facts show that Lincoln began the war because the US was attacked by the confederates at Sumter. He called for volunteers and waged the war to restore the Union. I think his policy on slavery was a means to this end. At the beginning, he signed four separate laws that ended slavery in some respects, as aid to the military effort.

    So any statement that the war was not fought over slavery has to deal with the fact that in 1861 and 1862 alone, Lincoln signed the first and second confiscation acts, the act ending slavery in the territories, and the compensated DC emancipation act. He also tried to get Delaware to emancipate its slaves, and asked the loyal slave states to consider compensated graduated emancipation.

    General Butler accepted the first three runaway slaves at Ft Monroe as contrabands of war, in part because they had been working on confederate military installations, and the flow of contrabands reached the tens of thousands, with Lincoln’s tacit consent. Lincoln revoked other emancipations by army generals (like Fremont) on the grounds that any such move had to come from the President.

    We know that in 1862, Lincoln decided on the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on the basis of military necessity. Since it freed all slaves in confederate-controlled territory, it made the end of slavery in the areas of rebel control a military objective. The EP denied slave labor to the rebel forces, and enabled 180,000 freedmen to fight for the Union. The war was fought to free slaves, to deny their labor to the enemy, and to recruit more soldiers.

    I think that almost all reputable historians (excluding the neo-confederates and lost-cause fanatics) would agree that after January 1, 1863, the war was fought by the Union both to save the Union and to free the slaves. Lincoln spent most of 1864 and early 1865 supporting the 13th Amendment, which presupposed a Union victory. This is another reason to say the war was fought over slavery.

    A lot of confederates fought to preserve slavery, even if they owned none, because made all whites superior to all blacks, by keeping blacks down. If slavery ended, the whites could sink to the bottom. Also, remember that all confederate soldiers were stop-lossed early in the war and had no choice after that. Many more were drafted.

    I suppose one could say that, AT THE OUTSET OF THE WAR, the fact that the South seceded over slavery does not entail that the war was fought over slavery, but that it began because the South seceded. But I still think that this begs the question why the South seceded. They seceded because of the fact that they thought Lincoln’s election put slavery on the path to oblivion. If the threat to slavery was the cause of secession, and secession caused the war, then the threat to slavery was necessarily a cause of the war.

    Besides, the southern leaders did not act on their own. Each state (except Texas, which had a referendum) called conventions consciously modeled on the conventions that ratified the Constitution of 1787, so it could not have been only the leaders who acted.

    And we do not have to read the minds of the voters. We have the language of all the resolutions that said they were seceding because of slavery. We have Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion, analyzing the letters of the delegates who visited states to urge secession. They say over and over that they are seceding because of slavery. We know what the secessionist white citizens of the south voted for.

    The rebels were fighting to substitute the confederate constitution for the U.S. Constitution. Take a look at their constitution sometime, since it had many EXPRESS protections for slavery, using the actual words slave and slavery. They HAD to know they were fighting for that constitution.

    The confederate constitution paraphrased the U.S. Constitution, except that slavery was covered explicitly by name. It forbade the importation of “negroes of the African race” from any foreign country. This served to preserve the value of existing slaves. To the same end, the Confederate Congress had the power to prohibit the introduction of ”slaves” from any non-confederate State. In the apportionment of representatives and direct taxes, “three-fifths of all slaves,” were expressly excluded. Congress could pass no law denying or impairing the right of property in “negro slaves”. The citizens of each State had the right of transit and sojourn in any State of the Confederacy, with their “slaves and other property;” and the right of property in said slaves could not be thereby impaired. The fugitive slave clause applied to any “slave or other person held to service.” In any Confederate territory “the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”

    So all the confederates fought to substitute this constitution for the United States Constitution.

    I just think it is an oversimplification to say the war was fought because the South seceded, because the south seceded because of slavery. I do not agree that the Union “did not fight over slavery; it fought to preserve the Union,” because it fought all along in part to preserve the territories from the spread of slavery, and it fought after 1862 to free all the slaves in confederate areas.

    The “but for” rule indicates to me that the south would have stayed in the Union, but for slavery and the perceived threat to slavery by Lincoln’s election.

    Maybe one could say that the Union did not fight at the outset to free the slaves, and did not fight to free all the slaves until January 1865, when the 13th Amendment was sent to the states, but the Union did fight over slavery. If it had lost, a lot of people would have been re-enslaved, just as Lee’s troops sought to do during the Gettysburg campaign.

    In his letter to Horace Greeley in 1862, Lincoln correctly said the aim was to save the Union, and listed three means: free all, free none, or free some but not all. He chose the third, by freeing those in the rebel areas but not in Union areas. (The means was dictated by military necessity, because their was NO military necessity to free slaves in areas of Union control, since those slaves were of no use to the rebellion). There was nothing dishonest about the letter. He may not have disclosed in a public letter that he had already decided on one of the three means, but there was a war on. He did not have to let the south know everything about his strategy (or the exact time and location of a planned attack).

  17. Nah, they committed an act of secession, followed by an act of war.

    Really, Mr. Constitution? And by just what mechanism was this achieved? Please quote the Article and Section, please.

    In as much as, following the first, they were no longer Americans

    Sorry, the Constitution does not work that way.

  18. Helluva post, Vince!!!

    About the only point I would like to modify is the Confederate abolition of the international slave trade had other motives. The international slave trade, by 1860 or so, was pretty clearly inimical to international law. The Confederates did not want to offend the Brits, who were proud of having brought this to pass. I’m not sure if the price of slaves was a strong motive. Virginia (a net slave exporter) had a strong interest in expensive slaves, but Alassippi (net importers) had an equally strong interest in cheap slaves.

  19. I would actually argue that, if the Civil War were waged over slavery, then Jim Crow is evidence that the “good guys” lost.

  20. Henry Henry Henry…irony isn’t quite dead, allow me some drollery please…(I am glad at least that you didn’t post historical evidence proving to CharleyCarp’s amazement that in fact southerners were represented in the army that liberated Paris).

  21. Benny Lava,

    “Jim Crow” lasted 70 to 80 years. But for the Civil War, it might never have ended….. or slavery would have blended seamlessly into an extended system of peonage that might well have included Hispanics and immigrants.

    There was a brief moment when Congress, dominated by Northern states, were will to pass Constitutional Amendments and Civil Rights Acts that made citizenship and the franchise rights guaranteed by the Constitution, rather than in the gift of the states. It did not last. See David Blight’s “Race and Reconstruction” or Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction”.

  22. David the “Son of the South”- You may well be an old Marxist from Yale, but based on my HS American History teacher (and Goldwater supporter) in LA over 45 years go, “Col” Calvin Howard- an authentic Old Son of the South- you sound like a follower not of Karl Marx but of Charles (and Mary) Beard and his “Economic Interpretation of the Constitution”. The Left-Right divide was not so clear and Karl does not get all the credit. The Union side was not made up of Abolitionists as much as fodder for Industrialists. 80 years after the ‘Revolution’ ‘they’ were determined no one would do to them what ‘they’ did to the British.

  23. “Really, Mr. Constitution? And by just what mechanism was this achieved? Please quote the Article and Section, please.”

    Amendment 10: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Since nothing in the Constitution says states can’t secede, per the 10th, they can. 😉

  24. Toby,

    “But for the Civil War, it might never have ended….. or slavery would have blended seamlessly into an extended system of peonage that might well have included Hispanics and immigrants.”

    But didn’t it?


    I am well aware of the history of Reconstruction. It only furthers my argument that the goals of the Confederate States were achieved. Why should someone gloat over an ephemeral victory like the Civil War?

  25. Brett,
    Nothing in the Constitution says, in so many words, that you can’t shoot federal officials who displease you. Indeed, your take on the Second Amendment guarantees that you have the hardware. Are you asserting that you have a federal right to do so?
    If you do assert that you have a federal right to shoot federal officials who displease you, you’re serious about the point you are making. You’re probably also of considerable interest to the Secret Service. If you don’t assert such a right, you are just playing games.
    Grow up.

  26. Wait, what? So the Constitution doesn’t specifically give the United States the right to secede from the United States (that is, itself), so therefore the individual states do have that right? So… South Carolina has the right to secede from South Carolina. Fascinating interpretation, there.

  27. David says:
    “Why did the North enter the war? The liberal blogger implication seems to be that the North entered because it was a good war”

    Fort Sumpter. Enuff said

  28. “Fort Sumpter. Enuff said.”

    Fort Sumpter, the “Gulf of Tonkin” of its time.

  29. “Wait, what? So the Constitution doesn’t specifically give the United States the right to secede from the United States (that is, itself), so therefore the individual states do have that right? So… South Carolina has the right to secede from South Carolina. Fascinating interpretation, there.”

    At some point efforts to be oblivious reflect on the person making them, rather than the argument you’re feigning incomprehension concerning.

    That the states had the power to secede because the Constitution didn’t deny it to them is scarcely some kind of crazy talk. It was a standard position asserted by state governments at the time. The Confederation didn’t lose an argument, remember, they lost a war. They were wrong, morally wrong, about a lot of things, that didn’t make their legal arguments wrong. Legality was quite irrelevant to the outcome of the Civil war.

  30. The Confederation didn’t lose an argument, remember, they lost a war.

    Well, actually they lost both.

  31. No, just the war. Wars may make arguments moot, they don’t settle them. They don’t even make them go away for any longer than people think you’ll wage war against them if they take them up again.

  32. (Scrooge): “Are you asserting that you have a federal right to do so?…Grow up.
    Really. How immature!
    (Thomas Jefferson): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government…

  33. (Zasloff): “The Confederate flag is a banner of treason and oppression.
    Sometimes. Symbols mean whatever they mean to whomever they mean something. I was in Hungary in 1989, summer. When I left the train station and walked through a pedestrian tunnel, I saw $ sign grafiti on the tile wall. Curbside book vendors had Solzhenitsyn’s __Gulag Archepelago__ and Varlam Shalamov’s __Kolyma Tales__ on their tables. There was a chain of biker paraphenalia stores called “The Rebel” that used the Confederate battle flag for a logo. I’d say it all meant: “Fuck Authority” to them. When I taught at Campbell High my students (mostly Filipino and the chop suey we call “local”) liked Andrew Dice Clay, I suspect just to annoy their parents and teachers (I didn’t bite).

  34. Malcolm, if the biker paraphernalia stores were genuinely ignorant of how most people in this country, particularly the descendants of slaves, understand the Confederate flag, then they should have been educated about it, and, if they were decent people, then they would have stopped using it for a logo. If, upon being educated, they did not stop, then they were racists, even if they thought otherwise. It would be like my telling you that you’re an asshole, and, if you got angry, telling you that I meant the word in a nice way. As Wittgenstein said, there is no such thing as a private language.

  35. (Henry): “…if they were decent people, then they would have stopped using it for a logo. If, upon being educated, they did not stop, then they were racists, even if they thought otherwise.
    I do not accept this rhetorical extortion. You denigrate people who do not accommodate your sensitivities. People can see what they want in symbols. The swastica, for example, occurs in Native American ideographs and in ancient Indo-European ideographs. Ken Hamblin used the Confederate battle flag, iirc. Is he a racist?
    What is racism? What is a racist? Seems to me it must have something to do with using race to determine which people deserve compassionate treatment and which do not. One can approve the anti-authority symbolism of the Confederate battle flag without wishing misfortune on anyone.

    (Henry): “As Wittgenstein said, there is no such thing as a private language.
    Really? What about mnemonic devices like markers people place on hiding places for items which they want to recover but which they want other people to overlook? That’s a private language (symbol, anyway). “Private language” doesn’t apply here, anyway, as my swastica example shows. It may not be private, but shared with a community whose interpretation differs from that of a different community. Why insist that your interpretation should rule? If you live in a democracy and you believe in free speech you have an obligation to grow a thick skin.

  36. Malcolm, you have a point about the swastika, but it doesn’t help you regarding the Confederate flag. I once had some neighbors who were immigrants from India. On some holiday of theirs, they put a swastika on their front door. I knew they weren’t Nazis, so I asked them about it, and they told me the meaning of the symbol, and that it predated the Nazis. I’ve since noticed it in books that were published before the Nazi era.

    The Confederate flag as an anti-authority symbol does not predate the Confederacy. The authority to which it symbolized opposition was the United States — the authority that would have prevented slavery from expanding to the territories and thereby threatened the Southern way of life, which was founded on slavery. You can’t divorce the anti-authority symbol of the Confederate flag from the pro-slavery symbol that it was or the racist symbol that it is today.

  37. Henry): “You can’t divorce the anti-authority symbol of the Confederate flag from the pro-slavery symbol that it was or the racist symbol that it is today.
    Sure, I can. Maybe you can’t.

  38. 4:06 AM: “They [confederates] were wrong, morally wrong, about a lot of things, that didn’t make their legal arguments wrong.”

    No. The Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869). The Court held that Texas had no right to leave the Union, and that it never had. It remained a state throughout the war.

    “When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.”

    That is the law. Secession was not legal. The confederates may have believed their misguided legal theories, but theories were not the law.

    They were morally wrong AND legally wrong.

    And that quote up there by Jefferson about “absolute despotism” did not sanction secession. The only absolute despotism that existed in 1861 was administered by the slavers, who fought for the right to continue the enslavement of four million human beings, along with the right to rape, torture and maim them with impunity, and to spread their foul, evil, despicable slave empire to the territories and beyond. The slaveowners were never an oppressed minority, but were themselves overrepresented at every level of the so-called despotism that they railed against. The slavers were the despots.

    The confederate states never left the Union. Their stars stayed on the flag throughout the war. The confederacy was never an independent nation. No other country ever accorded it diplomatic recognition. It never controlled its borders. Late in the war, Jefferson Davis told Lincoln that he would like to “enter into conference with a view to secure peace to the two countries.” Lincoln answered that he would enter discussions “with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.” Delegates met on Lincoln’s terms — one common country.

    The so-called confederacy was an area of the United States engaged in an unlawful rebellion. There was nothing legal about it all.

    The rebel states were never “readmitted” to the United States. The Congress passed laws readmitting the Congressional delegations of each southern state to representation in the Congress. Go and read those laws sometime.

    The slave states COULD have pursued lawful, peaceful means to leave the Union. They could have proposed a constitutional amendment seeking the “consent of the States” to secession under Article V. They could have invoked original jurisdiction in the Supreme Court.

    But no.

    They chose to act unilaterally, without the consent of the other states.

    They chose to start a shooting war by firing first, unprovoked, on Fort Sumter.

    The rest is history.

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