People tend to forget the history of the Confederate flag, designed and used by the Confederates during the U.S. Civil War, from 1861 to 1865.
The first national flag, called the “Stars and Bars,” was designed by German-American Nicola Marschall, who also designed the gray uniforms the Confederates wore. He modeled it after the flag of the Austrian Empire. It was first flown over the first Confederate capitol of Montgomery, Alabama.
Sophomore congressman from South Carolina, William Porcher Miles, was elected to the inaugural Confederate Congress, chaired the committee on the flag and seal. He has received numerous public opinion to not abandon the U.S. flag, which was flown the last century above a county who had embraced slavery. He did design, and preferred, the battle flag, which would be the canton for the second appearance.
The second national flag, called the “Stainless Banner” or “White Man’s Flag,” included the battle flag in its canton because the first flag was often confused for the U.S. flag. Also because some Confederates didn’t want another version of the U.S. flag, but to start from scratch. General Robert E. Lee was already using the battle flag version by this time. It was designed by a newspaper editor from Savannah, Georgia, William Tappan Thompson.
The third national flag, called the “Blood Stained Banner,” was designed by Major Arthur L. Rogers, arguing the second flag was too white. Members and buffs of the military argued it can be mistaken for a “white flag,” a symbol of surrender. While some Confederates illustrates not all of the group was for slavery. This flag was barely used as the Civil War ended with the Confederates very own white flag, so to speak.
The Confederate Navy Jack was the canton of the first flag for a couple years, and then a rectangular version of the second flag’s canton for the rest of the Confederacy’s existence – 1863-1865.
The southern cross was a common symbol of the Confederate States of America (CSA). This was to illustrate the Christian heritage of the Confederates. Even their constitution, which was largely a copycat of the U.S. Constitution, referred to the CSA as a Christian nation.
The war was not fought over slavery – remember, the north retained slavery even after it was abolished. President Abraham Lincoln, both as a member of Congress and as a presidential candidate, said many times that he didn’t care if slavery was abolished or not (probably why black abolitionist Frederick Douglass rescinded his support for Lincoln), just as long as the Union was preserved.
Remember, he wanted to deport all slaves back to Africa, stating “A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as an immediate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas.” This is why he opposed slavery expansion, not because he believed in civil rights.
Reference: Lincoln’s speech on the Dred Scott decision
Speaking of civil rights, Lincoln was impressed by the following letter written by Reverend James Mitchell, who was appointed by Lincoln to be his Commissioner of Emigration, “As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may some day challenge the supremacy of the white man.” (Side note: Democrats and eventually Republicans alongside them, used Lincoln’s words in the 1890’s to fight for the marriage license mandates)
The “Great Emancipator” is also the prime example of “white privilege,” as he said “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”
Some argue if not for the Confederates throwing the first punch, on Fort Sumter, there’d be no Civil War. But Lincoln, who imposed an act of war, called sanctions against the CSA, cried “The War is waged by the government of the United States not in the spirit of conquest or subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or institutions of the states, but to defend and protect the Union.”
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery” was Lincoln’s goal. Not to be a champion of civil rights.
Lincoln believed in junk science, arguing “that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”
During his run for president, he debated opponent Stephen Douglas with this: “And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” Lincoln himself was a white supremacist.
So not only did the north start the war, but they were racist, too. Both presidents Abraham Lincoln of the Union and Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy imposed policies that were racist and said racist things. But even after slavery was abolished, the north held onto slaves for years afterwards while the south did not.
And, unlike the Confederate flag, the U.S. flag was flown above post-bellum racism such as segregation and Jim Crow laws, minimum wage, the drug war, gun control, affirmative action, tax inequalities, etc. Personally, I neither support nor oppose the Confederate flag, just as I neither support nor oppose the U.S. flag. But it is hypocritical to hold one flag is superior to the other in regards to slavery (which was one of many reasons the war started to begin with).
Bottom line: the Confederate flag is no more or less a symbol of slavery or states rights as the U.S. flag is.
Reprinted with permission. Originally posted on Facebook here.
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I find it odd that in one paragraph the writer states that the war was not fought over slavery, but in their closing they state that it was one of the reasons the war was fought. So, which is it? According to the Declarations of Secession by several States, the institution of slavery was, primarily, the ONLY stated reason for secession. The link to the documents is here: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/csapage.asp
Also, in the designer of the 2nd National Flag of the Confederacy’s own words, the flag was meant to represent the “superiority of the white man over the inferior colored races.” And, based on his beliefs, the Confederate Congress agreed and voted to adopt a symbol more representative of their cause. I don’t see how anything can be misconstrued, or taken out of context. Direct historical documentation proves the author of this article to be biased and incompetent.
Joe, thank you for commenting.
You said, “I find it odd that in one paragraph the writer states that the war was not fought over slavery, but in their closing they state that it was one of the reasons the war was fought.”
The war itself was not fought over slavery. It was waged by the North to whip the South into obedience (even Lincoln had said he went to war for this reason, declaring in his first inaugural speech, “My policy sought only to collect the Revenue,” not over slavery).
The South retorted with gunfire, with a number of Confederate officers, such as Robert E. Lee, saying the war is being fought in self defense, not over slavery. General Lee opined in a letter, “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.” He practically lead the South, who many believe to be purely pro-slavery.
Many historical records show there were many blacks who voluntarily chose to fight for the South. If the war was fought to preserve slavery, then this is a historic quagmire. You could chalk it up to Stockholm syndrome if you desire.
I cede in the overlook. I should have clarified the war was not fought over slavery alone.
You said, “According to the Declarations of Secession by several States, the institution of slavery was, primarily, the ONLY stated reason for secession.”
Slavery wasn’t the “primary” reason as you stated. Also, “primarily” and “only” being used to describe the same item in a sentence is a conflict. The Declaration of Causes was written by a few men, endorsed by a handful of southern states, and not supported by all Confederates. And the declaration itself mentioned quite a few reasons to secede, including but not limited to constitutional violations, state revenue, and trade issues. Not exactly “only” slavery.
And again, the north retained slavery, even at the ending of the war. If the war was “only” or even “primarily” about slavery then Lincoln would’ve made the political point to listen to black abolitionist Frederick Douglass who was his consultant for the issue. Douglass would later disavow his support for Lincoln. As did Lysander Spooner, an abolitionist who wrote much on the subject, and an ally to Douglass.
You said, “in the designer of the 2nd National Flag of the Confederacy’s own words…” let me stop you right there. Thompson wasn’t exactly respected by people outside Georgia, such as General Lee; and his flag was short-lived, to boot. I believe you’re grasping at straws here and trying to abuse the historian’s fallacy.
Slavery was a symptom of the illness, a result of a bad compromise, and even so, not the primary cause of Lincoln’s war. I hope you have a good day.
It is both amazing and educational to watch as history is rewritten and the most fundamental meanings of symbols are distorted until they are entirely different from their original meaning. History is truly written by those who win the wars, and sometimes the re-writing is done over the course of centuries, as each generation’s understanding is altered a bit more. After six generations, a desire for liberty expressed through independence and self determination is warped into racist hatred. The lie is now so large that most people will not stand against it. It’s sad for our society that knee jerk emotionalism almost always trumps truth and rational thought. Simply labeling your political opponents as racists and screaming that accusation in a shrill voice, over and over, inevitably wins. Facts don’t matter. History can be altered to accommodate the new reality.