Rebel Flags and Locust Plagues

never surrender t shirtI saw another Rebel flag tee shirt the other day.

Such “Southern Heritage” apparel reminds me of my old college history professor. “A lot of white Southerners,” said he, a Louisianan, “still have a loser’s complex from the Civil War.”

The flag shirt was on a white teenager. He was gabbing with a buddy; based on their accents, I suspect they are sons of the South.

“Never Surrender” and “Protect Your Heritage” were printed on the shirt below a cluster of four flags that flew over the Confederacy in 1861-1865.

“Never surrender?” The kid’s Rebel heroes gave up unconditionally in 1865.

“Heritage?” The Confederates bolted the Union in 1860-1861 and provoked America ‘s bloodiest war because they feared President Abraham Lincoln and his Northern “Black Republican” party would make them give up slavery.

I wonder if the teen is a fan of Alexander H. Stephens, the Confederate vice president. Soon after he took office, Stephens opined that the Declaration of Independence was flat wrong about all men being created equal.

Said Stephens: “Our new Government is founded exactly upon the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”

Stephens also claimed that that the Confederate States of America was “the first Government ever instituted upon principles in strict conformity to nature and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society.”

Hence, according to Stephens, God was cool with white folks enslaving black folks. Throughout the Confederacy, white men of the cloth were wont to preach that slavery was heaven ordained.

Anyway, I imagine the national sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War is boosting the sale of “Southern Heritage” stuff, from caps and shirts to Rebel flag license plates and bumper stickers.

red flag truckConfederate banners are flapping from flagpoles all over Dixie and even in border states like Kentucky , where I was born, reared and still live.

At the same time, I’m pretty sure another reason for the in-your-face Rebel revanchism is because we have an African American president.

“The fetishism surrounding the Confederate battle flag is akin to periodic locust infestation,” said John Hennen, a Morehead, Ky. , State University historian and author. “The worship of this icon to treason and white supremacy will lie dormant for a while and then emerge with a vengeance whenever willfully ignorant whites — not limited to the old slave state South, by the way — sense that minorities are stepping out of line.”

Indeed, after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan hoisted the Confederate banner as they beat, chased away and murdered newly-freed slaves. (The current Klan is partial to the Rebel flag, too.)

In the 1960s, Klan members and like-minded Southern whites waved the Confederate flag in fierce — and often violent – opposition to federal laws aimed at ending years of Jim Crow segregation and race discrimination.

Of course, white people of the “Southern heritage” persuasion insist that their ancestors’ Confederacy was all about “states’ rights” and not the South’s peculiar institution. By “states’ rights,” the Confederates meant Yankee Republican Washington had no right to ban bondage in the slave states or even to stop slavery’s spread into the territories.

Berry CraigHennen added that after Reconstruction — when the Jim Crow era started — “there was a conscious effort by white Southerners to deny that the Civil War had anything to do with slavery. Oh, no, they said they fought in defense of local sovereignty.”

Hennen said “local sovereignty” in the antebellum South meant preserving slavery and white supremacy. “The contemporary ‘never surrender’ and ‘heritage’ tee-shirt cannot be separated from that legacy.”

Berry Craig

Comments

  1. says

    If you are a Professor of History there’s no wonder our children are getting short changed in the education department.  You may be quite the wordsmith but you sound like a victim of the Frankfurt School.  

    You should know from historic documents and Congressional records that the South could have preserved slavery at anytime during the war by simply laying down arms.  If the war was about preservation of slavery as you suggest please explain why anyone would conduct a war with political action in Washington such as the Corwin Amendment and Lincoln’s own statements about slavery.   
    In conclusion, I will just have to say Berry, you don’t know what you’re talking about, have pity on our youth …… take early retirement.

  2. gafftop says

    Huuummmm,   I believe the quote you used by Stephens comes from the “Cornerstone Speech.”  It should be noted that no original copy of this speech exists and that Stephens denied making some of those statements. But so what IF Stephens did make those states they are nothing more than what Lincoln said:
    I am not now, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races. I am not now nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor of intermarriages with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and the black races which will forever forbid the two races living together on social or political equality. There must be a position of superior and inferior, and I am in favor of assigning the superior position to the white man. Lincoln in his speech to Charleston, Illinois, 1858
    I am not now, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races. I am not now nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor of intermarriages with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and the black races which will forever forbid the two races living together on social or political equality. There must be a position of superior and inferior, and I am in favor of assigning the superior position to the white man.

    Lincoln in his speech to Charleston, Illinois, 1858

    George Purvis
    Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

  3. says

    The Confederate Battle Flag With The “St Andrews Cross” was not the only Confederate Battle Flag, but She was the most known and used late in that great war. She is the most, hated, debated, misrepresented and beloved of all Confederate symbols. She has been tarnished by groups as the, naacp “by way of slander”, kkk, aryan nation, skinheads, neo nazi, white supremacy clowns…Just to name a few. She was not a national flag, nor was She a politician’s flag, and most defiantly not a flag of hate!…”She was a soldier’s flag” a banner of courage, honour and a call to duty. She was a rallying point for battling warriors. Many died to keep Her safe and out of enemy hands, this Flag was stained with the blood of our Southron patriots. Last, and most important…SHE WAS AN AMERICAN FLAG!!

    As Southron, we owe it to ourselves and noble ancestry to protect Her and hold Her in reverence. We must stand up to those that slander Her, for that slander is slander toward us and our past. We must never let our past be removed from our future. ~ PoP Aaron

  4. David Tatum Jr says

    In 1861
    a ringing call came to the manhood of the South. The world knows how the men of the South answered that call. Dropping everything, they came from mountains, valleys and plains— from Maryland to Texas, they eagerly crowded to the front, and stood to arms. What for? What moved them? What was in their minds?

    Shallow-minded writers have tried hard to make it appear that slavery was the cause of that war; that the Southern men fought to keep their slaves. They utterly miss the point, or purposely pervert the truth. In days gone by, the theological schoolmen held hot contention over the question as to the kind of wood the Cross of Calvary was made from. In their zeal over this trivial matter, they lost sight of the great thing that did matter; the mighty transaction, and purpose displayed upon that Cross.

    In the causes of that war, slavery was only a detail and an occasion. Back of that lay an immensely greater thing; the defense of their rights—the most sacred cause given men on earth, to maintain at every cost. It is the cause of humanity. Through ages it has been, pre-eminently, the cause of the Anglo-Saxon race, for which countless heroes have died. With those men it was to defend the rights of their States to control their own affairs, without dictation from anybody outside; a right not given, but guaranteed by the Constitution, which those States accepted, most distinctly, under that condition.

    It was for that these men came. This was just what they had in their minds; to uphold that Solemnly guaranteed constitutional right, distinctly binding all the parties to that compact. The South pleaded with the other parties to the Constitution to observe their guarantee; when they refused, and talked of force, then the men of the South got their guns and came to see about it. They were Anglo-Saxons. What could you expect? Their fathers had fought and died on exactly this issue—they could do no less. As their noble fathers, so their noble sons pledged their lives, and their sacred honor to uphold the same great cause—peaceably if they could; forcibly if they must.

    *Those Who Answered the Call
    So the men of the South came together. They came from every rank and calling of life— clergymen, bishops, doctors, lawyers, statesmen, governors of states, judges, editors, merchants, mechanics, farmers. One bishop became a lieutenant general; one clergyman, chief of artillery, Army of Northern Virginia. In one artillery battalion three clergymen were Cannoneers at the guns. All the students of one Theological Seminary volunteered, and three fell in battle, and all but one were wounded. They came of every age. I personally know of six men over sixty years who volunteered, and served in the ranks, throughout the war; and in the Army of Northern Virginia, more than ten thousand men were under eighteen years of age, many of them sixteen years.

    They came of every social condition of life: some of them were the most prominent men in the professional, social, and political life of their States; owners of great estates, employing many slaves; and thousands of them, horny-handed sons of toil, earning their daily bread by their daily labor, who never owned a slave and never would.

    There came men of every degree of intellectual equipment—some of them could hardly read, and per contra, in my battery, at the mock burial of a pet crow, there were delivered an original Greek ode, an original Latin oration, and two brilliant eulogies in English—all in honor of that crow; very high obsequies had that bird.

    Men who served as Cannoneers of that same battery, in after life came to fill the highest positions of trust and influence—from governors and professors of universities, downward; and one became Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States Congress. Also, it is to be noted that twenty-one men who served in the ranks of the Confederate Army became Bishops of the Episcopal Church after the war.

    Of the men who thus gathered from all the Southern land, the first raised regiments were drawn to Virginia, and there organized into an army whose duty it was to cover Richmond, the Capital of the Confederacy—just one hundred miles from Washington, which would naturally be the center of military activities of the hostile armies.

    From Rappidian TO RICHMOND AND THE SPOTTSYLVANIA CAMPAIGN
    A Sketch in Personal Narrative of the Scenes a Soldier Saw
    By
    WILLIAM MEADE DAME, D. D.
    Private, First Company Richmond Howitzers

    I guess that this is as true of an account as you could find anyplace!

    Not from a politician of the era, not from a historian – 150 years after the fact! But from the man who signed or made his mark on the dotted line. The man who faced cold winters, little or no provisions, nonexistent pay, an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers; who were better armed, fed, and clothed !

    It was every man of the south who simply wanted the right to choose his own Government, and set the levels of the politician’s power at an acceptable level.

    I noticed a passage in the book / —————————

    “When rations got short and were getting shorter, it became necessary to dismiss the darkey servants. Some, however, became company servants, instead of private institutions, and held out faithfully to the end, cooking the rations away in the rear, and at the risk of life carrying them to the line of battle to their young massahs”

    Also from a different book titled -
    Reminiscences of the Richmond Howitzers
    By Carlton McCarthy

    “A few of our negro cooks, who were with our wagon train when it was captured by the enemy, escaped and returned to camp today. Certainly they were the happiest fellows I ever saw and were greeted with loud cheers by our men. A chance at freedom they had, but they preferred life and slavery in Dixie to liberty in the North.”

    With all of the conflicting views on Black Soldiers in the Confederacy, an argument that will continue as long as the sun rises and sets, somehow the efforts of the loyal black servant gets lost in the shuffle.

    Ok this group of black men were not rifle carrying soldiers, but their dedication is deserving of recognition. Their courage and dedication shows where their loyalty was at.
    No matter how you slice it they were “Black Confederates”. No one held them at gunpoint, all they had to do was walk away, but they didn’t. So were these men slaves when they could have walked away and didn’t? I guess they were, but something other than the Massahs whip kept them in camp! Loyalty! Honor! Courage! The same attributes we give to the confederate soldier who signed on the line and defended his country.

    So It was not only the free man but the servants themselves who opposed the onslaught of the north.

    I have a letter from another member of the Richmond Howitzers

    William Henry Tatum, my Great Uncle, it says in part——

    When I volunteered I really did not know how a long a time it was for, and in fact did not care.
    I am, with the other 12 month volunteers . Called upon to reenlist in accordance with an act of congress Dec 11 1861, and I am called on to decide what I shall do, before we are mustered out of service.

    I think that with everybody else, that the period will be the most critical one in our history, our enemy are perfectly aware of the straight in which we are placed and will certainly endeavor to take advantage of it.

    Now what is my duty, to go home and leave our defense to undisciplined militia who will make a sorry fight at best, leaving it in the range of probability that the Northern hessians will overrun our state before the summer is over and bringing ruin on all of us? Or stay in the field, determined to see the end of this business before we give it up.

    I might say to myself I am only one, I will not be missed, but ought we allow such selfish considerations to govern us, our whole army is made up of individuals, and suppose each was to say the same thing?

    That’s a powerful statement!

    It says a lot about my ancestor and about the Confederate soldier as well.

    Again from William Meade Dane
    The Confederate Heart

    The heart is greater than the mind. No man can exactly define the cause for which the Confederate soldier fought. He was above human reason and above human law, secure in his own rectitude of purpose, accountable to God only, having assumed for himself a nationality which he was minded to defend with his life and his property, and there to pledged his sacred honor. In the honesty and simplicity of his heart, the Confederate soldier had neglected his own interests and rights, until his accumulated wrongs and indignities forced him to one grand, prolonged effort to free himself from the pain of them. He dared not refuse to hear the call to arms, so plain was the duty and so urgent the call. His brethren and friends were answering the bugle-call and the roll of the drum. To stay was dishonor and shame!

    So who was the Confederate soldier?

    He was a man of every color, every income range, every religion, a man who was highly educated or had no education at all. A farmer, a lawyer, a politician, a store clerk, a blacksmith, a ship captain, a dock worker, a military man, a civilian, a slave , a slave owner, a native American, A Doctor, He was every man who resisted the despotic Government of Abe Lincoln; and all had one thing in common, they were Southerners!

    Men to whom Honor was more than an idea, it was a way of life.
    Men of courage, outnumbered, without supplies’, Men who when the enemy had repeating rifles and endless amounts of ammunition , stood their ground and threw rocks at the invaders.

    Men who at Appomattox upon General Lee’s return from the surrender told the general,

    “Just give us the word General and we’ll charge em again”!

    That is who they were, and that is why we honor them.

  5. John C. Hall, Jr. says

    Such a limited understanding of why many in the South revere their ancestors and fly the Confederate flag. I would suggest you broaden your understanding as a professor and write more than a diatribe against something you don’t like. Your visceral hatred for the South is nothing but contempt for a large portion of the country.

  6. Kip Rollins says

    I came across this article and felt the need to reply to the author, Mr. Berry. I certainly feel that he is entitled to his opinion, and that is truly all that this article is. There are no citations or facts within the article to support his claims. This is truly just a personal observation. As a history professor, I am sure that he has read books that would shed a different light on some of the observations he has written about. Granted, today many of the people of the “Southern persuasion” who do not know the history of that time period. They look to our school systems to teach them that. I would challenge him and everyone to read the firsthand accounts of the people who actually lived through that time period. I would challenge them to look at the views of this nation, both North and South, regarding the sectionalism and political issues that those people faced. The views of equality were virtually equal across the land. Look at the number of people who were abolitionists, and how relatively small they were. Look at how many of the statesmen spoke of Union being the most important factor of the war, and not slavery. I am not saying that slavery was not morally reprehensible, because it was. Look at men like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson who held in disdain the instittution of slavery, and wrote as much in their letters to loved ones. Look at the whole picture, here. Did the Klan misappropriate and misuse that symbol? Absolutely! If we are to judge solely on the actions and institutions, let us not forget the US flag that flew when thousands of Sioux women and children were needlessly killed by US soldiers because this nation was expanding westward and the Indians sood in the way. And finally, let us not forget that it was not only whites who fought for the South, but Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Jews, Hispanic people as well as people of color(look at the records of Albert Pike and read prisoner exchanges from the WBTS). I am Southern son. I am half Cherokee and half Scots-Irish. I have ancestors who fought on both sides of that war. I honor their efforts. I would ask that before passing judgement, do some research for yourself.

  7. Defender of Heritage says

    Mr Craig and Mr Hennen need to go back and study history without their bias and PC mindset but with a desire for TRUTH! If they take this simple step they would understand that less than 10% of Confederate soldiers owned slaves nor had any desire to defend the institution. They were fighting because their homeland was being invaded and their land confiscated by a tyrannical president who wiped his feet on the US Constitution! The Confederacy was simply standing up for the very principles upon which the founders of this country had established it. You have eagerly swallowed the poisoned pablum offered by the liberal public education system in this nation. Use your heads for something other than a hat rack and search for truth! All Southerners are asking is what they have been denied by these self same tyrants – the right to celebrate and honour their ancestors and the stance they took in fighting an illegal invader of their homes!

  8. southron_98 says

    Ah yes, Paducah much like Whitesburg, Neon, Hazard a back water and meth capital of the country anyone with any sense has long gone. I grew up at the head of the Kentucky River listening to my great, great grandmother who was part Cherokee and black tell me about what the yankee army did to her family leaving a jar of molasses to feed her eight brothers and sisters, yes the Union was our god sent miracle. I read this interesting opinion but have yet to verify if the writer is truly a history professor as he fail to mention a few things like Lincoln planned the war: “A cabinet members’ brother-in law, Gustavus V. Fox, had a plan for resupplying Fort Sumter which would unless the Confederacy capitulation would force them to fire the first shot thusly be responsible for starting the war. When Anderson was informed of the plan he not only rejected it, but recommended against it.

    Even Lincoln’s cabinet had issues with the plan rejecting it before the having its acceptance forced upon them. When Congress learned of Lincolns’ action they demanded an investigation but Lincoln not only unconstitutional but illegally refused to participate in the matter.

    Lincoln delivered an ultimatum to South Carolina, stating he intended to resupply Fort Sumter peaceably or by force.

    Afterwards Lincoln wrote, “You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.”

    Then of course there is further proof when “In an unusual move, Democratic President James Buchanan signed the Corwin Amendment on March 3, 1861, his last day in office (the Constitution does not require presidential approval for proposed amendments). It was ratified by only two states—Ohio on May 13, 1861, and by Maryland on January 10, 1862—and therefore fell far short of the necessary three-quarters majority of states in order to become part of the U.S. Constitution. Had it achieved ratification, the Corwin Amendment, which protected slavery, would have become the Thirteenth Amendment”. (In 1861 there were 34 States so it would have only taken 26 states to secure the amendment, now consider the Northern Slave trade, New York large slave population and how blacks were viewed; it is clear they could have secured the right to have had slaves).

    If the war had been over slavery the South could have at any time rejoined the Union passing the amendment securing her slaves, and even though Lincoln repeatedly made that offer (The last time on February 1865 on the ‘River Queen’ outside Fort Monroe, when both Seward and Lincoln again made the offer return pass the amendment and keep your slaves) they refused.
    May-be a grade school teacher or for Kentucky about right.

  9. Jack Adkins says

    Mr. Craig,
    I see from your credentials, that you are a professor of history. Quite obviously, you are poor at your chosen craft. From the erroneous statements you have made regarding the reasons for the War of 1861, I surmise that you also are pompous and self-righteous.

    Anyone who does not love their southern heritage could not possibly know why we fly our Confederate battle flags and it is arrogant of you to think you have a clue. I pity you for you will never know the pride of defending the honor of our Confederate ancestors who answered the call to defend their states from an invading force who unconstitutionally attacked Americans on American soil. No sir, you will never feel grateful to the brave men who dared to rise up against an oppressive President who suspended habeus corpus and placed the State of Maryland under matial law in order to keep them from seceeding from the Union because they understood the real reason that South Carolina lead the way to secession. The sole reason was that Lincoln unfairly placed taxes on southern trade to fund infrastructure for the north. Lincoln did the unthinkable! He sent troops on his own people. A concept that sheep like you accept in today’s modern society where unconsitution actions against the populace is perpetrated every day.

    These are the principles and concepts you should be teaching rather than the reconstructionist lies you are feeding our youth. Shame on you Mr. Craig! You are not fit to even breathe the same southern air as our ancestors. You should be teaching your student what Lincoln really said. Lincoln said, “If I could bring the South back into the Union without freeing a single slave, I would do it!’ Abolishionism was an entirely separate issue and slavery would have played itself out to it’s conclusion with or without the War Between the States. Yes, Mr. Craig it is people like you who spout false history to our youth as if it where fact and take advantage of children who trust you to teach them truthfully. You and your ilk are responsible for turning the country’s populace into mindless sheep who readily accept oppression from the government in their everyday lives. As my cousin Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. ”

    Mr. Craig, you need to go back to school and learn your craft. Better yet, just go North until someone believes your useless version of history.

    Jack Adkins
    Proud Southerer

  10. says

    First of all I will say that I believe that everyone has the right to hold their own opinion, and I do not begrudge anybody of that fact.
    However I think that you have neglected to mention the fact that so many fine young both black and white people served in this war and they should be remembered and honored because they fought for a purpose.

  11. -Nate says

    Thank you Berry ;

    As a liught haired White person I get daily barrages of ignorant racist dogma from the neo-con retards who are too stupid to stop and think first .

    They never imagine , in their tiny little hate filled minds , that I might just live happily in The Ghetto and am not afraid of Black Folks , not to mention that I have a mixed race son who’s a hard working typical American success story , raised in poverty , never did drugs , joined a gang nor brought me any bastard children to raise .

    I and he , are both _TRUE_ Conservatives who understand what the word ” Conservative ” means .
    .

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