In light of the recent racially linked murder, at the “Mother Emanuel” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a lot has been said in the news and on the pages of the social media concerning the linkage of the Confederate “Battle Flag” –the stars and bars, to anti-Negro (Afro-American) hatred. As my Facebook acquaintance Shia Altman mentions in his recent Blog; “Take Down The Flag”
“Even if one thinks the flag does not represent racial hatred in some way, and I think it does or in the very least is being used to do so, it represents those who wanted to separate from the United States, be it for “States’ Rights” or to defend slavery.”
So as a Southerner, born and bred, I started contemplating; “What is the history behind the whole story?”
Personally I say it is way past time to lower and remove the Stars and Bars to the museums. However as Shia reminded me in his Blog, to many of us in the South it is part of the proud “fighting’ heritage of the South. To very many in the South it is almost sacrilegious to remove the Confederate Battle Flag. You might say it is the final blow for them as it is truly the “Night they Drove Ole Dixie Down”.
Virgil Caine is my name and I drove on the Danville train
’Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again.
In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive.
By May the 10th, Richmond had fell.
It’s a time I remember, oh so well.
The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringing,
The night they drove old Dixie down
Before continuing I wish to present, as I always do, some historical background and point out to “Youz Yankees” that the South (The Confederate States of America) had three flags. The flag which is causing the controversy is the one known as the Confederate “Battle Flag” (or the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee). It was designed by William Porcher Miles of South Carolina.
Here is a Color lithograph from 1896 showing four versions of the flag of the Confederate States of America. Standing at the center are Stonewall Jackson, P. G. T. Beauregard, and Robert E. Lee, surrounded by bust portraits of Jefferson Davis and Confederate Army officers. Clockwise from upper-left corner: Gen. Braxton Bragg, Gen. P. T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, Alexander H. Stephens, Lt. Gen. T.J. Jackson, Gen S. Price, Lt. Gen Polk, Lt. Gen Hardee, Gen J.E.B. Stuart, Gen J.E. Johnston, Lt. Gen Kirby Smith, John H. Morgan, Albert Sidney Johnston, Gen. Wade Hampton, Gen John B. Gordon, Lt. Gen Longstreet, Gen A.P. Hill, Gen Hood.
Miles’ design was inspired by one of the many “secessionist flags” flown at the South Carolina secession convention in Charleston of December 1860. The specific flag that inspired him was a flag with a blue St George’s Cross (an upright or Latin cross) on a red field, with 15 white stars on the cross, representing the slaveholding states, and, on the red field, palmetto and crescent symbols.
What is very interesting to note is that there is a Jewish connection to the flag:
“Miles received a variety of feedback on this design, including a critique from Charles Moise, a self-described “Southerner of Jewish persuasion”. Moise liked the design, but asked that; “the symbol of a particular religion not be made the symbol of the nation”. Taking this into account, Miles changed his flag, removing the palmetto and crescent, and substituting a heraldic saltire (“X”) for the upright one. The number of stars was changed several times as well. He described these changes and his reasons for making them in early 1861. The diagonal cross was preferable, he wrote, because, “it avoided the religious objection about the cross (from the Jews and many Protestant sects), because it did not stand out so conspicuously as if the cross had been placed upright thus”. He also argued that the diagonal cross was “more Heraldric [sic] than Ecclesiastical, it being the ‘saltire’ of Heraldry, and significant of strength and progress”.
According to historian John Coski;
“The “Saint Andrew’s Cross” (also used as the flag of Scotland), had no special place in Southern iconography at the time, and if Miles had not been eager to conciliate the Southern Jews his flag would have used the traditional Latin, “Saint George’s Cross” (as used in the old ancient flag of England, a red cross on a white field). A colonel named James B. Walton submitted a battle flag design essentially identical to Miles’ except with an upright Saint George’s cross, but Beauregard chose the diagonal cross design.”
What Southerners were taught about their heritage.
The Confederate “Battle Flag” was mainly carried into battle to inspire and lead the “Son’s of the South”. The Stars and Bars is still emotionally symbolic for Southerners who wanted to honor those brave, barefoot, starving young men in tattered butternut brown (Not Grey) uniforms who fell defending their lands. Many of those young men were proud woodsmen from the hills of Northern Alabama who had advanced gallantly and bravely in tight rows across the deadly fields at Gettysburg in Pickets charge or up the hill to the Little Round top only to be mowed down in the withering hail of lead.
Many of them that died that hot July day were not slave owners they were just plain farmers who believed that their rights as free Americans were being challenged by those in the North. They were motivated by honor among brothers to fight. They had fought out numbered and out gunned by a highly industrialized modern army for four long bloody years in the deadliest conflict ever faced by Americans for their rights as free men to do as they wish.
Most famously, the “Bonnie Blue Flag” was used as an unofficial flag during the early months of 1861. It was flying above the Confederate batteries that first opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, in South Carolina beginning the Civil War.
“The Bonnie Blue Flag“, also known as “We Are a Band of Brothers”, is an 1861 marching song associated with the Confederate States of America. The words were written by the Ulster-Scots entertainer Harry McCarthy, with the melody taken from the song “The Irish Jaunting Car”. The song’s title refers to the unofficial first flag of the Confederacy, the Bonnie Blue Flag but the words reflect the true spirit of why the South separated from the Union.
We are a band of brothers
And native to the soil,
Fighting for the property
We gained by honest toil;
And when our rights were threatened,
The cry rose near and far–
”Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star!” .
For Southern rights hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.
As long as the Union
Was faithful to her trust,
Like friends and like brothers
Both kind were we and just;
But now, when Northern treachery
Attempts our rights to mar,
We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.
For many of us in the South we were taught that the Stars and Bars was symbolic of a proud pioneering heritage of freedom and homesteading. The movement of the American frontiersmen inspired by those like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone to claim the Appalachians and the vast forest areas to the west. Those “free men” many who had themselves once been “indentured servants” went west to build a free “god fearing” country from the “honest toil” of the land.
For those of us born 100 years after the Civil War in the South this was the version of the heritage of the proud American that was taught to us.
We were taught that the “Carpetbaggers” as Northerners were called always liked to take the higher moral ground and claim that the war was to free the slaves, which to us in the South was not why the war began. Most northerners apparently think that the institution of slavery was only in existence in the south, when in fact it was all over the United States when the war began. Throughout the years young American school children have been told that the Civil War was fought over slavery in the South. But this is NOT entirely true. In fact there were many Afro-Americans held as slaves in the North as well.
“During most of the British colonial period, slavery existed in all the colonies. People enslaved in the North typically worked as house servants, artisans, laborers and craftsmen, with the greater number in cities. In 1703, more than 42 percent of New York City households held slaves, the second-highest proportion of any city in the colonies after Charleston, South Carolina. But slaves were also used as agricultural workers in farm communities, including in areas of New York and Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.”
Maryland is a fine example of a state that fought on behalf of the Union, yet over half of the state was in fact pro-slavery. To claim that the south was exclusive to this scourge would be totally false and biased. History is written by the winners, and much of what people are taught in school about the war is biased, and taken as gospel by the masses. Truthfully, Abraham Lincoln was neither for or against slavery, he was for preserving the Union. He admitted this himself many times, and in fact said that if he could keep the Union whole by not freeing the slaves he would do that, or by freeing some of the slaves and leaving others, that he would also do that as well. So much for the “Great Emancipator” that folks build him up to be.
Most people don’t realize that the majority of the soldiers who fought for the south didn’t fight to keep slavery alive, and that many didn’t own a single slave actually. They fought because they felt they needed to protect their homes from a foreign invader, which is what was happening.
It is true that the great majority of slaves were indeed held in the “Black Belt” states of Virginian, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. They had large Negro slave populations from the times of British Colonialism because they had developed an agricultural economy dependent on commodity crops. Its planters rapidly acquired a significantly higher number and proportion of slaves in the population overall, as its commodity crops were labor-intensive.
It is estimated that more than half of all white immigrants to the English colonies of North America during the 17th and 18th centuries came as indentured servants. Many Germans, Scots-Irish, and Irish came to the colonies in the 18th century, settling in the backcountry of Pennsylvania and further south
At first the English Crown had emptied out it’s prisons of impoverished Scotmen, Englishmen and Irishmen. The number of indentured servants among immigrants was particularly high in the South. These “White Men” –and women, who were originally brought in through the “Indentured Servant” program could not endure the gruling work in the hot humid fields or in the muddy rice fields of the wide coastal areas. Many were rebellent and if they escaped they were hard to find because they could easily fade into the sympathetic population.
The plantation owners found that the major problem with indentured servants was that many left after several years, just when they had become skilled and the most valuable workers. With the improvement of the British economy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries from profits realized in the new colonies abroad meant that fewer workers chose to go to the colonies.
As time went by the need to hire cheap slave labor created the imputus for the slave trade in Afro-Americans in states like Virginian, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia where cotton reigned supreme and so did large plantations with aristocratic land lords many of them descendants of English aristocracy who were British Loyalists who recieved their lands in grants from the Kings of England. Oh yes Charlestown and the coastal regions of the “Linas” North and South were “big” slave states. These states had large holdings that necessitated the use of large groups of slaves to till the hot humid low coastal rice fields.
True historically the majority of Southerners who had very small family based farms or homesteads rarely owned slaves. But that is not the issue.
The question that must be asked here is; “What issue was worth splitting the nation in two and fighting a terrible war over, at the cost of 600,000 lives? States rights or Slavery? And what state right was being questioned?
The objective of what the South sought was not to end the Union but to preserve slavery. There would have been no secession, no Confederacy and no war had the South not been intent on maintaining its “peculiar institution.” Slavery was the raison d’etre of the Confederacy. The “liberty” the Confederacy sought to preserve was the liberty to own human beings.
So now knowing the truth the reality is that the Civil War was not fought to end slavery; it was fought to defend slavery.
As to the use of the Confederate “Battle Flag” as a hated symbol of blind racism.
Ever since the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920’s with the post World War I rise of racial and immigrant hatred. The Stars and Bars – the Confederate “Battle Flag,” had increasingly become identified by with it’s usage by the KKK with the utmost blind racial hatred.
During the 1950’s the Stars and Bars was usurped to become symbolically identified together with hoods and white sheets to be the centerpiece of abject white supremacist hatred. This vile hatred reached it’s zenith during the Civil Rights period of the 1960’s.
The flag was a centerpiece, along with Nazi Aryan symbols, in the “preaching’s” of William Luther Pierce III. Pierce was a prominent anti-Semite, anti-Zionist and American (read Aryan) white nationalist (supremacist) an associate of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.
Pierce was one of the most influential ideologues of the white nationalist movement for some 30 years. His follower David Ernest Duke has continued to spread Piece’s rabid hate filled slanderous teachings. Duke’s an American White nationalist, writer, right-wing politician, and a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, has also defamed the southern heritage by his use of the Stars and Bars with his philosophies of white supremacist and ardent anti-Semitism /Judaism and utterly vile anti-Zionism.
Dukes has aligned himself with every venue of hatred of Jews and Zionism from Iran, the Palestinians and Hezbollah. He is one of the chief sources of rabid anti-Semitism on the World Wide Web.
If anything should be outlawed and banned it should be the spreading of YouTube videos of abject and utter racial hatred narrated by William Luther Pierce or David Duke’s through the use of social media on the Internet to influence young naive Americans and even Europeans.