Dear President Obama: Please Don't Honor the Arlington Confederate Monument


This letter was written by Edward Sebesta and James Loewen and signed by the scholars listed below.

May 18, 2009

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Since the administration of Woodrow Wilson, presidents have sent annually a wreath to the Arlington Confederate Monument. Prior to the administration of George H. W. Bush, this was done on or near the birthday of Jefferson Davis.  Starting with George H.W. Bush, it has been done on Memorial Day.

We ask you to not send a wreath or some other commemorative token to the Arlington Confederate Monument during your administration or after.

There are several reasons as to why this monument, a product of the Nadir in American race relations, should not be honored, and we list and explain them in this letter.

The monument was intended to legitimize secession and the principles of the Confederacy and glorify the Confederacy. It isn’t just a remembrance of the dead. The speeches at its ground-breaking and dedication defended and held up as glorious the Confederacy and the ideas behind it and stated that the monument was to these ideals as well as the dead. It was also intended as a symbol of white nationalism, portrayed in opposition to the multiracial democracy of Reconstruction, and a celebration of the re-establishment of white supremacy in the former slave states by former Confederate soldiers. In its design it also tells wrong history, boasting fourteen shields with the coat of arms of fourteen states.  Thus it claims that Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland were part of the Confederacy. They weren’t.

The monument was given to the Federal Government by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which raised the funds to erect it. The UDC’s reasons for the monument are instructive. In the address of Mrs. Daisy McLaurin Stevens, President General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at its dedication, she makes clear that the monument is to glorify the ideas of the Confederacy:

Great ideas and righteous ideas are alone immortal. The eternal years of God are theirs. The ideas our heroes cherished were and are beneficial as they are everlasting. These were living then; they are living to-day and shall live to-morrow and work the betterment of mankind. Thus our heroes are of those who, though dead, still toil for man through the arms and brains of those their examples have inspired and quickened to nobler things.

Since the United Daughters of the Confederacy upheld in multiple publications in the early 20th Century that the Ku Klux Klan was the heroic effort of the Confederate soldier, we have an idea what the “noble past” and “ideas our heroes cherished” were. Of course one of these “ideas” was secession to preserve the institution of African slavery.

Likewise General Bennett H. Young, Commander-in-Chief of the United Confederate Veterans also defends the cause of the Confederate soldier, the neo-Confederate cause of their descendants, and defends secession in his speech as follows:

At this hour I represent the survivors of the Southern army. Though this Confederate monument is erected on Federal ground, which makes it unusual and remarkable, yet the men from whom I hold commission would only have me come without apologies or regrets from the past. Those for whom I speak gave the best they had to their land and country. They spared no sacrifice and no privation to win for the Southland national independence.

I am sure I shall not offend the proprieties of either the hour of the occasion when I say that we still glory in the records of our beloved and immortal dead. The dead for whom this monument stands sponsor died for what they believed to be right. Their surviving comrades and their children still believe that that for which they suffered and laid down their lives was just; that their premises in the Civil War were according to our Constitution….

The sword said the South was wrong, but the sword is not necessarily guided by conscience or reason. The power of numbers and the longest guns cannot destroy principle nor obliterate truth. Right lives forever, it survives battles, failures, conflicts, and death. There is no human power, however mighty, that can in the end annihilate truth.

In fact, most white Southerners in 1914 agreed that both slavery and secession were wrong.  Not Young.  No apologies.  No regrets -- despite the historical record of Confederate soldiers having committed racial atrocities of massacring surrendered African American soldiers on at least eight occasions.

Hilary A. Herbert, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Arlington Confederate Monument Association, makes it clear that the monument stands for the legitimacy of secession, in opposition to Reconstruction, and for white supremacy. In his History of The Arlington Confederate Monument at Arlington, Virginia, he writes:

In 1867 the seceding States were subjected to the horrors of Congressional Reconstruction, but in a few years American manhood had triumphed; Anglo-Saxon civilization had been saved; local self-government under the Constitution had been restored; ex-Confederates were serving the National Government, and true patriots, North and South, were addressing themselves to the noble task of restoring fraternal feeling between the sections.

Within a generation after Congressional Reconstruction, American historians condemned it ….  as “a crime against civilization,” and public opinion seems to have approved the verdict.

Herbert goes on to refer to the Confederate soldiers who joined the Ku Klux Klan and Red Shirts as being heroes for restoring white supremacy and overthrowing Reconstruction, referring to “the soldiers who fought the battles of the Confederacy and … by their courage and devotion during the two decades after the war, were saviors of Anglo-Saxon civilization in their section.”

The monument itself has a Latin motto, “Victrix causea Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.” It translates, “The winning cause pleased the Gods, but the losing cause pleased Cato.” This is a classical reference which to the cognoscenti implies that Lincoln was a despot and the Union cause unjust; Cato, the stoic believer in “freedom,” would have sided with the Confederacy.

The Arlington Confederate Monument is a denial of the wrong committed against African Americans by slave owners, Confederates, and neo-Confederates, through the monument’s denial of slavery as the cause of secession and its holding up of Confederates as heroes.  This implies that the humanity of Africans and African Americans is of no significance.

Today, the monument gives encouragement to the modern neo-Confederate movement and provides a rallying point for them. The modern neo-Confederate movement interprets it as vindicating the Confederacy and the principles and ideas of the Confederacy and their neo-Confederate ideas. The presidential wreath enhances the prestige of these neo-Confederate events.

Fr. Alister C. Anderson, as Chaplain-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), at the 85th anniversary of the dedication of the Arlington Confederate Monument in 1999, gave a lengthy speech explaining its meaning. His understanding of the Arlington Confederate Monument can be said to be fairly representative of modern neo-Confederate opinion.

Anderson believes that the Civil War was a holy war between an orthodox Christian nation (the South), a view widespread in the neo-Confederate movement, and what he feels was an un-Christian and heretical North, as he explained in a series of articles in the Confederate Veteran as Chaplain-in-Chief of the SCV. This explains some of the passages of his speech at the Arlington Confederate Monument.  In his speech Anderson explains regarding the monument:

… It reveals and concentrates in beautiful, rugged bronze nearly every idea that a true Southern historian, theologian, statesman, and patriotic citizen could present about the religion, culture, morals, economics, and politics of a civilization from out of which the Confederate States of America evolved. The monument captures the ideals and accomplishments that still existed at the end of the War for Southern Independence. Thank God it does not depict the beginning of the Reconstruction Era, the most disgusting and destructive period in United States history from which the South has never really recovered.

Anderson goes on to note Washington’s presence in bronze:

It depicts George Washington on horseback with the Latin inscription DEO VINDICE, which means, “God Vindicates.” Southerners believed under the Constitution they had the right to secede if they were being harmed by a tyrannical government.

To Anderson, as to other neo-Confederates today, the Arlington Monument exists to glorify the ideas of the Confederacy, which he sees as the ideas of the neo-Confederacy.

Anderson goes on to explain, correctly, the meaning of the main inscription on the monument, “Victrix causea Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.”  This is a line from a poem Pharasalia by the Roman poet Lucan, used to represent Lincoln as a tyrant and the North as tyrannical.  Fr. Anderson explains:

Victix causa, “the winning cause (or side)”, referring to Julius Caesar’s inordinate ambition and his lust for total power and control, is compared with President Lincoln and the Federal Government’s desire and power to crush and destroy the South. Next we read diis placuit which translates “pleased the gods.” In this context, gods are with a small “g” and refer to the gods of mythology; the gods of money, power, war and domination, greed, hate, lust and ambition. Next we come to the noble climax of this quotation, sed victa cantoni which translates “but the losing side (or cause) pleased Cato”. Here Lucan, the poet, refers to Pompey’s fight to retain the old conservative, traditional republican government of Rome. Even though Pompey was defeated by Caesar’s greater military power, his defeat, nevertheless, pleased the noble Cato. And here, of course, Cato represents the noble aims of the Southern Confederacy. The South fought politically to maintain the Constitution which had guided her safely for eighty-seven years. She merely wanted to be left alone and governed by it. The aggression-minded totalitarian Northern government would not permit that and so she pleased the gods of abolitionism, transcendentalism, utopianism, state centralism, universalism, rationalism and a host of other “isms.”

Anderson here denounces abolition, the anti-slavery movement that ultimately led the United States of America out of the moral evil of slavery, as an evil itself.

Sending a wreath to the Arlington Confederate Memorial Monument enhances the prestige of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization with a long history of racism from praising the Ku Klux Klan in the early part of the 20th century, to publishing articles against the Civil Rights movement in the Civil Rights Era, to promoting neo-Confederacy today. When the president of the United States of America enhances the prestige of this monument and of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, he strengthens a group working to set back America’s progress in race relations. 

Finally, in 2009, the main speaker for the annual observance at the Arlington Confederate Memorial is Ron Maxwell, director of the movie “Gods and Generals,” whose neo-Confederate meaning he made clear in an interview in Southern Partisan. He also has written expressing his fear of Hispanic immigration leading to civil war in the notoriously racist Chronicles magazine, the organ of the ultra-right Rockford Foundation.

For the president of the United States of America to send a wreath to the monument this year would contribute to providing Ron Maxwell with a more prestigious setting for his speech. It would aid and abet the ongoing use of presidential prestige and this monument for their neo-Confederate agenda.

We ask you to break this chain of racism stretching back to Woodrow Wilson, and not send a wreath or other token of esteem to the Arlington Confederate Monument. This monument should not be elevated in prestige above other monuments by a presidential wreath.

Sincerely yours,

Last NameFirst NameInstitutionBiographical Information (for identification purposes only)
AlexanderShawn LeighLangston Hughes Center, Kansas UniversityAssistant Professor African and African American Studies, Interim Director, Langston Hughes Center
AttieJeanieLong Island UniversityAssociate Professor of History
AyersBillUniversity of Illinois, ChicagoProfessor of Education
BarberDavidUniversity of Tennessee, MartinAssistant Professor of History
BlakelyAllisonBoston UniversityProfessor of European and Comparative History; George and Joyce Wein Professor of African American Studies.
BridgesRoger D.Rutherford .B. Hayes Presidential CenterExecutive Director Emeritus
BrownJoshuaThe City University of New YorkExecutive Director American Social History Project/ Center for Media and Learning, Professor of History, Ph.D. Program in History, The Graduate Center.
BurtonOrville VernonCoastal Carolina UniversityBurroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University. Formerly he was Director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (ICHASS) at the University of Illinois, where he is Professor of History, African American Studies, and Sociology. He is also a Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), where he is Associate Director of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, he is Executive Director of the College of Charleston’s Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World.
ChristieThomasLincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NebraskaMulticultural Administrator
DavisSimoneMt. Holyoke CollegeProfessor of English
EwertGeorge Former Director of the Museum of Mobile
FarleyJonathanInstitute fur Algebra Johannes Kepler Universitat LinzTeaching and Research Fellow
FellmanGordonBrandeis UniversityProfessor of Sociology
FinkLeonUniversity of Illinois, ChicagoDistinguished Professor. Director of WRGUW (Graduate Concentration in the History of Work, Race, and Gender in the Urban World)
Department of History
FinkelmanPaulAlbany Law SchoolPresident William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law
GundakerGreyCollege of William & MaryProfessor of Anthropology
HagueEuanDePaul University, ChicagoProfessor of Cultural Geography, editor of "Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction."
Hayes-BautistaDavid ESchool of Medicine, UCLAAuthor of numerous articles on  Calfornia Hispanic history
HicksDavidVirginia TechAssociate Professor of History and Social Science Education
JacksonKenneth T.Columbia University, NYCProfessor of History and Social Sciences
JenningsMatt H.Macon State CollegeStudent
KatznelsonIraColumbia University, NYCRuggles Professor of Political Science and History
KennedyRoger G.National Museum of American History (ret.), National Park Service (ret.)Director Emeritus, National Museum of American History, Former Director, National Park Service
KeyBarclayWestern Illinois UniversityAssistant Professor of African-American History
KeyDeWayneMars Hill Bible School, Florence, Alabama 
KnappPeterVillanova UniversityProfessor of Sociology
LeibJonathanOld Dominion UniversityAssociate Professor of Geography
LoewenJamesUniv. of VermontProfessor Emeritus of Sociology, Univ. of Vermont; author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me," "Lies Across America," "Sundown Towns," etc.
LoveDavid, A.CommentatorColumnist at www.blackcommentator.com
McPhersonJamesPrinceton UniversityProfessor of History
MillerWillaim LeeUniv. of Virginia 
MitchellDonSyracuse UniversityProfessor of Geography
MizellLindaUniversity of Colorado at BoulderAssistant Professor, School of Education
MurrayPaulSiena CollegeProfessor of Sociology
NietoSoniaUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstProfessor Emerita, Language, Literary, and Culture
OwensDeirdre CooperUniversity of MississippiAssistant Professor of History
ParentiMichael On advisory boards of Independent Progressive Politics Network, Education Without Borders, the Jasenovic Foundation, New Political Science, and Nature, Society and Thought. Author of many books in political science.
PhillipsMichaelCollin College, Plano, TexasHistory Professor,  Author of "White Metropolis" 
RoismanFlorence W.Indiana University School of LawWilliam F. Harvey Professor of Law
SchmeeckleMariaIllinois State UniversityAssociate Professor of Sociology
SebestaEdward H.Independent researcher. Editor of "Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction," University of Texas Press. 
ShabazzAmilcarUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstProfessor and Chair of the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies
SinhaManishaUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstAssociate Professor of Afro-American Studies and History
SleeterChristineCalifornia State University Monterey BayProfessor Emerita,  College of Professional Studies
SowaMaureenBristol Community CollegeProfessor of History
WebsterGerald RaymondUniversity of WyomingChair, Department of Geography
WhiteGeorge, Jr.York College, CUNYAssistant Professor of History
WienerJon University of California, Irvine; The Nation MagazineContributing Editor at "The Nation"; Professor of History at UC-Irvine. 


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Richard Williams - 11/25/2009

Regarding Ms. Bass's comment, are any of you "scholars" familiar with the term "metaphor?" Or, are you just playing childish games?

Bill Vallante - 6/3/2009

Sebesta can stay home and draw all the "anti neo confederate pro democracy" flags he wants.


Few thinking people will worship in his "Temple of Democracy".

And Loewen can continue to run around the country looking for more "Sundown Towns" and for racism under every rock he comes across.

Frankly, we do not care. Obama sent the wreath but had he had chosen not to send it, life would have still gone on for those of us who consider that monument to be important.

Nothing that malcontents like these two and their army of "signers" ever do will change that.

In the interest of brevity on this board I'll simply give y'all a link and let my "letter to the agitators" speak for itself.


Brooks D. Simpson - 5/31/2009

Ms. Bass, please explain exactly what you meant.

Keyser Soze - 5/30/2009

If we are to condemn Lincoln for racism then shouldn't we do the same for Jefferson Davis, Robert Lee, and Stonewall Jackson? Not to mention Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and God knows how many others.

Linda Lee - 5/27/2009

I can't make you believe the truth. Here's another good one;
"The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? Literally nothing....It is very clear that the South gains by this process, and we lose. No---we MUST NOT "let the South go." ----Union Democrat , Manchester, NH, February 19, 1861


Larry Cebula - 5/27/2009

The trouble with your quotes, Linda, is that it is difficult to tell which are real and which are made up. The "let the south" go quote is clearly made up.

Linda Lee - 5/26/2009

Why silly me, I forgot the NAAC(as in colored)P. Talk about isolating and segregating one's self. And we are the racist??

Linda Lee - 5/26/2009

"Friend of black people," is racism? It is the blacks that continually segregate themselves and change their names every few years. Let's see, we still have the United NEGRO College Fund, Miss BLACK America, BLACK Entertainment Television, African American this and that. And the worst one of all,their rap songs that call themselves NIGGERS and HOES. Why is it the white man is always racist?

Linda Lee - 5/26/2009

Perhaps Ayers, being an old friend of the president, thought he could call in a favor. Wonder how the Rev. Wright feels about it? Silly me, he damns the whole country.

Linda Lee - 5/26/2009

How about some more Lincoln quotes?

"But for your race there could not be war. It is better for us both, therefore, to be seperated." Aug 14, 1862

"Such separation must be effected by colonization, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it." June 26, 1857

People who know no history claim to be offended by the Southern Battle Flag, yet cross their heart and pledge alligience to a flag that flew over slavery for 400 years.

Larry Cebula - 5/26/2009

Ah, I see that you identify that as Lincoln to the Virginia Delegation--but where is it printed? What is the original primary source document where the quote is found?

Larry Cebula - 5/26/2009

Sorry for not being clear. I meant this quote:

When asked, "Why not let the South go in peace? Lincoln replied, "I can't let them go. Who would pay for the gov't?"

Linda Lee - 5/26/2009

Let the South go? Lincoln to the Virginia delegation March 1861

Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing gov't.......US Rep Lincoln Congressional Speech 12-1-48

I will say then... Speech in Charleston, Ill Sept 18, 1858

I have no purpose.... First Inaugral Adress

Linda Lee - 5/26/2009

which quote? I do believe I have them all. What is a neo-Confederate?

Richard Williams - 5/26/2009

Well, President Obama ignored this request (prank). Thank you Mr. President.

Donald Wolberg - 5/26/2009

I believe it must be the same Mr. Ayers, the self-confessed but now "retired" terrorist. Who else would admit to that name? One wonders if Mr. Ayers has tenure, and what the criteria for tenure at his institution "of higher learning," must encompass. It is odd that Mr. Ayers' view of Confederate history has any place in any discussion that should be rational.

Donald Wolberg - 5/26/2009

It is odd that those who use terms such as "friend of black people" fail to realize their own racism by the simplistic use of the "classification" based on race. What is alo odd is the failure of context of history as it was, and the players on THAT stage characters in the drama of the time. Without this understanding, there is no history, onle a political rant of the now, and the discussion is made meaningless.

Terry Klima - 5/26/2009

It's not a perfect world and at the time there was indeed a right to own slaves. One can argue the morality of the issue but at the time, slavery was legal.

In a contemporary context, one could similarly argue the morality of the Roe vs Wade decision and the Right to Choose. However, under existing law, abortion is legal.

If a society deems moral objections to a specific law as it exists, then it is incumbent on that society to see that the law is changed accordingly by due process.

Bruce Henry - 5/26/2009

None of the state secession declarations complain about the rights of states. James Loewen is wrong again.

Some of the State declarations complain the Northern states had violated Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution. Well, the Northern states did violate it. That is just a fact.

But no one, other than James Loewen, thinks that the states have the right to violate the Constitution.

Get a copy of it. Read it. Especially the Tenth Amendment. Then you can figure out what rights the states reserved and what rights they did not.

So where does that leave us? One could argue that South Carolina left the Union because the federal government did not enforce the fugitive slave clause.

But that argument would imply that the people of the Palmettto State were awfully stupid. After all, even if they were getting only 25% enforcement inside the Union, outside of it they would have gotten exactly zero.

Larry Cebula - 5/25/2009

Linda Lee, can you give me a source for that Lincoln quote? I can only find it on some neo-confederate and white supremacist web sites. It does not appear in Lincoln's Collected Works that I can see. I think it is made up.

Some Guy - 5/25/2009

It's a shame that so many comments are removed. The scholars who signed this petition seem to fall into the trap so amny uneducated people fall into. They seem to believe that the Civil war was all about slavery. In fact, had this civil war really been fought about slavery, President Lincoln would have issued his Emancipation Proclamation prior to, or immediately after the declaration of war. That proclamation was delayed for many months, then only issued as a means to weaken the South.

It is a shame that educators are trapped in the same sort of ignorance as the common people.

Aside from their position on slavery, the real objectives of the Confederacy were right, and noble. That one single issue, slavery, tarnished the rest of their stance, but it certainly did not poison their cause.

State's rights were NEVER meant to be subject to the whims of a federal government.

As for slavery - it was on the way out, anyway, due to economic reasons. The very same reasons that ended slavery in the rest of the world. Slavery could and would have been abolished in the south within another decade or two, with or without the civil war.

I am proud that Obama observed the tradition of honoring the Confederate memorial. I am just as proud that he sent a wreath to the memorial honoring blacks who fought in the Civil War. I'll differ with Obama on other matters, but here, Obama demonstrated his superiority to all the scholars who signed the petition.

Agapi Skouros - 5/25/2009

Dear professors.
Why stop at half measures?
Let’s dishonor them all.

Let’s see. All American Patriots were traitors to England, many were slave traders and many were slave owners. Let’s dig up their graves, grind up their bones and throw them to the winds. In 1789 the French Jacobins did this to their despicable ancestors, re-using grave-stones as paving stones in Paris.

The Washington monument? Tear it down. Washington owned slaves. Think of the stones that could be quarried from that Obelisk? Maybe enough to build a monument to Political Correctness. We could call it the altar to Loewen-Behold.

The Jefferson monument? Tear it down. Jefferson owned slaves.

Monticello, Montpelier, Ashlawn and The Hermitage? Sell the houses and their contents at auction. Their occupants were all slave owners. Better still, burn them to the ground. Why tolerate any lingering domestic monuments to a slave-owning past?

Statues to Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts and Connecticut? Smash them to pieces. Didn’t the New England colonists perpetuate genocide against the Native Americans who were the prior occupants of that land?

The Maine Monument? Come on. All historians know that was a trumped up incident to start a war with Spain. Tear it down.

The VietNam Memorial? Some of the older signers of this sanctimonious letter were reviling US servicemen and women as they returned from Vietnam in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Weren’t these veterans called baby killers and war criminals? Mr. Ayers actually plotted to kill American soldiers at the Pentagon. Tell us the truth. What would you really like to see done to that memorial?

What a state of consternation this bunch of petty tyrants must be in on this Memorial Day! President Obama kept with tradition, kept with compassion and reconciliation, kept faith with Lincoln’s better angels of our nature and did indeed have a wreath lain at the memorial to the Confederate dead.

The signers of this creepy grave desecrating letter have marked only themselves as the ones deserving of no wreaths, no eulogies and no fond remembrance.

Misha Mazzini Griffith - 5/25/2009

This is indeed why we should study history--do develop critical thinking skills through the examination of evidence. As a European historian, I have almost an entire shelf devoted to the re-examinations of 20th century German history. If I was an Americanist, I would hazard to guess my resources on the Civil War would dwarf that.
I think we are best served by open and rational examination, not by banning the material or screaming invectives at one another. However, a big part of this story is, as you rightly pointed out, the "identity" factor. And we can see by the extended commentary on this letter, this issue is a very hot forge.

Daniel Bruno Sanz - 5/25/2009

Yes you are correct, I was wrong about the details of Hitler's path to power.

But my larger point is the same.

Misha Mazzini Griffith - 5/25/2009

Except that the "northern culpability" in the international slave trade was moot after 1808--the year it became illegal for anyone to import a person into the United States for the purpose of slavery.
I find it fascinating that the southern sympathizers wave the bloody shirt of "states rights" every time this issue arises, yet they fail to enumerate what those "rights" were. Mainly because they do not want to mention that one of those rights was the right to own slaves. Let's not get too hung up on picking and choosing which rights to honor and which to disallow.

Gary Ostrower - 5/25/2009

This long thread reminds me of the truth of that good Mississippi novelist who wrote that "The past is not dead. It's not even past."

Misha Mazzini Griffith - 5/25/2009

Since this is a website devoted to history, I think we should uphold some minimal standards regarding facts (analysis is a different matter). Hitler was not elected Chancellor in 1932--President Hindenberg appointed him Chancellor on January 30, 1933 after the conservatives and the NSDAP won a majority of seats in the Reichstag. Hitler was later elected with a majority after such chicanery as the burning of the Reichstag in February, 1933 and the banning of all communist and socialist political parties in the wake of the fire.

Misha Mazzini Griffith - 5/25/2009

Uh, Josephine, you do know this is a public forum, and you just made a death threat under your name.
This kind of ridiculous hyperbole has no place in a scholarly discussion.

Terry Klima - 5/25/2009

So it appears that you believe Federal laws are merely suggestions, and that it is within the purview of the individual States to pick and chose which laws they follow. However, any suggestion that the South had a legitimate basis upon which to secede is somehow anathema to your views

I find it interesting that the north's culpability is completely excused, considering it was the northern shipping interests that made fortunes engaging in the despicable International slave trade?

James W Loewen - 5/25/2009

"It is a historical fact that the south didn't rebel over slavery. That was the least of their concerns."

Well, no it isn't. I have read EVERY document by EVERY convention, legislature, etc., from EVERY state that seceded. They are ALL ABOUT SLAVERY. To be sure, several (SC, MS, TX, etc.) do complain about states' rights. Did you notice that? They COMPLAIN about states' rights. They oppose states' rights, and they tell you which states and which rights upset them.

Daniel Bruno Sanz - 5/24/2009

Your points are well taken. Washington, Jefferson and B. Franklin were all slave owners and hypocrites. They beleived in segregation and practiced ethnic cleansing. In 1857 Dred Scott settled the question about the status of Negroes: they are not citizens of the US or any other country and have no human rights any more than sheep, horses or mosquitoes. So, Jefferson Davis and the CSA had a point, and so do you.
Now in 2009 we have to decide what kind of country we are today and going forward. Who are we? Thats the real question. Do we honor the Confederacy because its ideology was, as you correctly pointed out, rooted in the founding of the republic as a nation built on slavery and ethnic cleansing?
Hitler was elected Chancellor in 1932 by a majority of German voters and most Germans supported Fascism and a racial supremacist ideology. So, should Germans be proud of their heritage and honor their WWII dead today? No, they do not, they are eternally ashamed of their actions and the swastika and "Heil Hitler" are illegal in Germany today. What would the world think if the current German Chancellor laid a wreath honoring Klaus Barbie, Goebells, Hitler, the SS and the millions of German soldiers who enslaved and murdered millions and brought the utter destruction of Germany while they "carried out orders" and "defended the Fatherland"? Is that who Germans want to be?
Americans need to learn their own history and ask themselves the same difficult questions.

Ben Boyd - 5/24/2009

My letter to President Obama:

Dear President Obama:

I am pleasantly suprised that you have had the courage and good sense to pay no attention to the message from the group of self-appointed "academics" urging you to cease the long-standing tradition of honoring the Arlington Confederate Monument. You have done the honorable thing and rightly honored those soldiers who so bravely fought against great odds to defend their homeland against invading armies intent on their destruction. For this, I and many others thank you.

Ben Boyd

Ben Boyd - 5/24/2009

There are many first-hand accounts of the intentional burning of individual homes in South Carolina and particularly in Columbia at the hands of Sherman's troops. Sherman made it clear he intended to wreak vengence on South Carolina and particularly Columbia, where the secession convention met. He specifically had no compunction about wanting to make sure his troops burned the church where the convention was held. More than half of the city was burned to the ground. There are also many accounts of assults by the yankee troops on people of the state, both white and black. The modern day revisionists tend to overlook these facts today.

Alfredo Ramirez - 5/24/2009

Is this the gang of historians that couldn’t shoot straight? Here’s what I was able to find in less than ten minutes on Google:
"Gods and Generals is the greatest Civil War movie I have ever seen, and I have seen them all.”
James I. Robertson, Jr. Alumni Distinguished Professor in History, Virginia Tech

On Maxwell’s own website is this quote from a longer essay entitled
Beyond the Myths:

“The starry cross of the Confederacy is at the center of a roiling controversy. Protesting crowds want it removed from State Capitols, vociferous groups insist on keeping the flag flying. The Saint Andrew's cross embedded in this emblem can be seen as a symbol for the cross roads and cross currents of American history. To many Americans, both black and white, the flag is like a dagger to the heart, a painful reminder of the worst of America's past injustices and persisting racial prejudices. To others, mostly but not all white, the flag inspires pride in a heroic past, it stirs, even in Lincoln's phrase, the "mystic chords of memory" for gallant and fearless warriors fighting for their independence. Each side finds it difficult to appreciate the genuine feelings of their counterparts or to be able to reconcile the one viewpoint with the other. Few other icons inspire such passionate and mutually exclusive responses.”


Then there’s this quote from an interview in the Washington Times:
“…I assiduously keep my own politics out of the work. Now I am who I am, and my deep philosophical view of life is going to come through in every choice I make - how I write the script, what I choose to emphasize, how I cast it, shoot it, edit it. I don't deny that. But there is nothing in this film that is overtly manipulated. That's just not the role of the filmmaker.
The movies that have moved me the most, and helped shaped me as a human being are movies which pose questions. The motion picture is a terribly awkward and inadequate medium in which to answer questions. As soon as you try to answer questions, especially the big questions of life, it makes us uncomfortable as an audience. It veers into agitprop and propaganda very quickly.
The great films pose questions. You can pose little questions, you can pose big questions. This film poses the big questions. It is a meditation about patriotism and the sense of duty: What do you love enough to defend? To fight for? To kill for? These are big questions, questions being faced by our country and our fellow citizens right now, in a different context.
I try to keep contemporary politics out of it, because contemporary politics has nothing to do with the people in this story. The people in this story live in the 1860s, not in the year 2003, and it is my responsibility as a filmmaker to go where they live, not take them where we live. That would be a complete waste of everybody's time and money.
I must take the audience into their moral universe. And then, paradoxically, once you are in that conflict in the 1860s, understanding them in that place where they live, then we understand ourselves in the modern era better. If all I tried to do was make those 19th-century people stick figures to represent us, we wouldn't believe any of it…”
Complete interview at:

Then, in searching for references to his position on illegal immigration, I found this April, 2006 open letter to President Bush:

“…Working as I do in Civil War history, I have had to explore the ugly depths of the American institution of slavery, and have been privileged to work alongside civil rights leaders and specialists in African-American history. For this reason it troubles me that we appear today to be importing a second virtual slave class of low-wage workers who are hired to replace or displace less-educated or privileged Americans -- including the very descendants of American slaves.
I agree with you that "no child should be left behind." But that is precisely what immigration advocates are doing to the children of America's working class -- by flooding the market with workers from a desperately poor country, who depress the wages of high school and even college graduates…”

Complete op-ed at:


Yeah, this guy sounds like a real neo-confederate. Get the tar and feathers!
Any Junior High School student could do a better job of research than James W. Loewen and Edward Sebesta.
Their intentions are obvious and dishonorable. They don’t want anyone to know Maxwell’s actual statements or positions – all the easier to malign, libel and discredit. Luckily for America and for our collective memory, Maxwell’s movies will continue to enlighten and entertain beyond the day when no one even remembers the insignificant signers of this small and mean spirited letter.

Phil Magness - 5/24/2009

It should be noted that while not all signatories of this petition support the removal of historical monuments, a significant number of them do and may see this petition as a stepping stone toward that purpose

Mr. Sebesta, the primary co-author of the letter, is among them and has publicly advocated the removal of Confederate monuments on his website. It is therefore not unreasonable to suggest that he is using this occasion to advance an agenda of monument removal, even though other signatories may not.

Mr. Sebesta's position is particularly unfortunate because if one steps past the politics of the Confederate statue at Arlington however briefly, and considers it as a piece of artwork and history in itself, it clearly should not be subjected to such a campaign. It is among the more aesthetically appealing statues at Arlington. It was also sculpted by Moses Ezekiel, a historically significant American artist with many famous works to his name in the United States and in Europe. To remove it, and of that I have no doubt for it to be the ultimate intent of Sebesta and some other signatories, would be a greater tragedy for that reason alone than anything to be accomplished by the political message you hope to send by this petition.

Linda Lee - 5/24/2009

Have you ever studied tariffs? When asked, "Why not let the South go in peace? Lincoln replied, "I can't let them go. Who would pay for the gov't?" Lincoln himself said, "People everywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing gov't, and form a new one that suits them better." Chief Justice Chase siad after the war, "If you bring these leaders to trial it will condemn the north, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion." John Quincy Adams said, "If the day should ever come when the affections of the people of these states shall be aliented from each other, the bands of political associations will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies, and far better will it be for the people of the disunited states to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint." And your god Lincoln said, "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races." He also said, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery." I had kin fighting for our beloved Southland, which was INVADED, and yet not one owned a slave.

Linda Lee - 5/24/2009

Confederate Soldier/Vietnam Vet

Oh fair, young men with thoughts now stilled,
your farms are gone, and we're now skilled
in changing channels on TV,
in teaching kid's black history;
of killing children before birth,
unwanted children have no worth.
Depopulation is their goal,
we call it funded birth control.

Oh fair young men, who gave their life,
a man takes man to be his wife
and prayer should never have a part
in cleaning up a child's heart.
We're taxed on this and taxed on that
and never question all the fat
that goes to countries we should corn,
but fill their barns with wheat and corn.

Oh fair, young men that went to war,
if we were brave we would restore
the jobs for us, take back the con,
bring back our factories from Taiwan.
tomatoes here would overflow,
not ship them in from Mexico.
We'd have our farmers grow them fresh,
and pass a law to speak english.

Oh fair, young men who gave their all,
who had the courage, faced the call
to fight for victory in their land,
be unafraid to take a stand.
They've gathered people in their group,
given land to U.N. troop.
Our Constitution is denied,
it's U.N. law that's now applied.

Oh fair, young men who paid the cost,
we're going down, perhaps are lost,
but still we stretch out friendly hands
to Europe, China, other lands.
We feed their people, pay their bills,
let them in with all their ills;
A Christian nation? Very odd
our schools can not talk of God.

Oh fair, young men, we fast forget
though Pearl Harbour smolders yet,
and sells us things we used to make;
our enemies by no mistake
will hold the knife up to our throat,
and as we die, they smile and gloat,
they pick our pockets and pretend
that we need them and their our friend.

Oh fair, young men, how could you know
just how far down that we could go,
drugs and porn, and casual sex,
MTV and Malcolm X.
The U.N. flag is flying high
and we can't wait to spend and buy
some junky trinket from Hong Kong,
while schools teach that you were wrong.

Terry Klima - 5/24/2009

Perhaps you can explain why the US Military Academy at West Point was using A VIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA by William Rawle, LL.D.as a textbook. The book advances the belief that secession was perfectly legal. Rawle was considered one of the foremost Constitutional scholars of the time.
Is it any wonder that so many Confederate Officers, who attended West Point, believed their primary loyalty was to their State?

Phil Magness - 5/24/2009

For all the fuss surrounding this petition, it is interesting to ask "Would Lincoln himself send the wreath?" I don't believe any serious historian would answer anything other than "yes," regardless of their personal feelings about the monument. That almost a century's worth of Lincoln's successors have indeed done just that is reason enough in itself to ignore this petition and consider it a counterproductive attempt at provocation for the sake of making a largely meaningless political statement.

The signatures on this petition also display bad judgment on the part of some of the more noteworthy signatories. A simple review of the names quickly reveals that they vary widely in stature, and more than a few of them are *not* credentialed scholars at all. That this latter designation includes the letter's principle co-author, Edward Sebesta, is particularly telling.

Actual scholars such as McPherson, Finkelman, and Miller have damaged their own credibility and displayed a lapse in judgment by lending their names to this effort, quite probably under the mistaken perception that Loewen's name gave it credibility. Unfortunately for McPherson, this is not the first such lapse in judgment involving the likes of Sebesta. Several years ago he appeared on a radio interview with Sebesta and caused a minor row by endorsing the latter's condemnation of the Confederate museum in Richmond, which holds one of the most highly-regarded Civil War artifact collections in the nation.

One would hope that McPherson had learned from his past encounters with Sebesta. Evidently not, and now a handful of otherwise reputable Civil War scholars have repeated this mistake and drawn themselves into association with Bill Ayers for added measure. It all goes to show why serious historians should steer clear of these silly attempts to make a political statement.

Karen Ann Richards - 5/24/2009

James W. Loewen and Edward Sebesta vye for the brown shirt award of 2009. James McPherson must be in his dotage to lend his otherwise respectable name to this collection of far left loonies.
I'm not a particular fan of Ron Maxwell's movies, but did these pseudo-intellectual thugs actually watch Gettysburg and Gods & Generals? If they had, they would have seen and heard the most articulate pro-Union and anti-slavery arguments made in any film in the past one hundred years of movies. Of course, this group of close-minded so-called historians can't get past his sympathetic and historically accurate presentation of Southern officers like Robert E Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
Maxwell must be accustomed to ad-hominem attacks, but the chilling effect this might have on young artists, young historians and young filmmakers cannot go unchallenged. Shame on the signers of this letter for seeking to diminish free speech and shame on James McPherson for agreeing to wear this brown shirt of infamy.

Terry Klima - 5/24/2009

Sic Semper Tyrannis, Mr. Loewen, stems from a proposal of George Mason at the Virginia Convention in 1776. He proposed the Latin phrase as a befitting motto for Virginia. Subsequently, it was incorporated into the Commonwealth of Virginia's seal.

If one wishes to be viewed as an historical scholar, one must research and state facts accurately. Clearly, espousing the Booth connection as the source of the phrase is disingenuous or indicative of insufficient research. .

Terry Klima - 5/24/2009

I found Edward Sebesta and James Loewen's letter demonizing the Confederacy biased, historically inaccurate and full of gross generalizations.

However, a degree of comic relief was provided upon viewing the list of scholarly signatories. In particular, I noted Bill Ayers, Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Could this be the same Bill Ayers who was a leader of the Weather Underground, an organization that espoused terrorism and had members convicted of participating in the bombing of Federal buildings?

From a historical perspective, Mr. Ayers apparently takes issue with the South exercising its right of secession, while embracing the radical and extremist views of the Weather Underground.

Josephine L. Bass - 5/24/2009

Obama will observe Confederate Memorial tradition despite petition
Deseret News

South was ruled by the north | 9:23 p.m. May 23, 2009

The biggest statement Obama can make is that the actions of the Confederacy aren't as simplistic as some would have us believe. It is a historical fact that the south didn't rebel over slavery. That was the least of their concerns. The issues leading to civil war were economic, and states rights.

If we were to think of this in modern terms.

It would be like a President being elected based on the platform that he is going to teach some states a lesson by imposing higher taxes on them while at the same time lowering taxes in other states.

Breckenridge got 72 electoral votes compared to Abe Lincoln's 180 and Abraham Lincoln won didn't win a single southern state yet he won the election.

Breckenridge won 11 states all of which were in the South while Lincoln won 18 all of which were in the north except for California and Oregon in the west but even if Breckenridge had won Oregon, California and the other southern states won by Stephen Douglas and Bell he would still have had only 127 electoral votes compared to Lincoln's 173.

So the north decided every election.

Lawrence Milton Fafarman - 5/23/2009

It is actually a multi-racial monument -- it includes a sculpture of a black Confederate soldier.

The monument's presence in the foremost national cemetery is a symbol of peace and national unity. We need to set a good example for places in the world where internal strife is going on.

Bruce Henry - 5/23/2009

Well, here's a proposal from an editorialist at the Washington Post. Your bigoted co-author denounces it as "disappointing." I think it is a great idea:

"President Obama, why not send two wreaths? One to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington Cemetery and another to the African American Civil War Memorial in the District, which commemorates the 200,000 black soldiers who fought for liberation from slavery in the Union armed forces. Here is an opportunity to remind us what real reconciliation, in this day and age, would mean. Send two wreaths with one common message: that the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slaveholders should recognize each other's humanity, and do the hard work of reckoning with the racial divide that is slavery's cruelest and most enduring legacy."

Bruce Henry - 5/23/2009

Oh, and by the way, read Lincoln's First Innaugural. He promises a constitutional amendment so that the South could hold slaves forever. With the South out of the Union both houses of Congress passed that amendment with the requisite two-thirds majority. And three states ratified it. Did that bring the South back into the Union? No.

And if you think that Jefferson deserves his reputation as an antislavery advocate, you should try reading some of the many books and articles published by the fifteenth signature on the list: Paul Finkelman.

Bruce Henry - 5/23/2009

From the British point of view Washington and Jefferson were traitors. The only real difference betweeen Washington and Lee is that the latter lost.

Do you think that setting of bombs in the Pentagon during the Vietnam war counts as treason? If you do then the third signature on the list above comes from a traitor.

And very few post-war Southerners joined the klan. Lee certainly did not. In fact, the biggest klan group in history was in Indiana in the 1920s.

John Connally - 5/23/2009

I am a northerner, born and bred. During my formative years and throughout my collegiate experience, I accepted as gospel that many of the stories of wanton destruction and carnage from Sherman's March was just southern hyperbole. I always believed that if there was some truth to it all, so what, they deserved it. The south perpetuated a cruel and inhuman system of involuntary servitude through a minority of plutocrats, they seceded from the union, they convinced the majority of their population (non slave holders) that their fight was noble, and they brought on a violent war that killed hundreds of thousands.

Over the past couple of years, I decided to trace my roots through genealogical research. One branch happens to come from Tennessee, with Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina origins. In trying to discover information on my earliest ancestors, I discovered the records in over a dozen counties (in the three previously mentioned states) going back no further than 1864. These include birth, marriage, and death records, along with land deeds, civil court files, and church records. In reading the correspondence and diaries from the Civil War generation residents of these counties (found in several prominent university archives), I found many overlapping references to federal troops under Sherman's (or some underling of his) command firing the town. I guess it's possible that all these individuals got together, burned their own buildings, and decided to say that federal troops did it in all their personal correspondence and diary entries, but that sounds a little thin. I have no doubt that some supply depots, factories, and other structures were torched by locals to prevent them from falling in federal hands. However, torching their own homes, city halls, libraries, universities, and churches does not make any sense. Many of General Sherman's orders to his subordinates from that campaign are also quite illuminating.

I now feel some sympathy for those southerners. Many towns lost an entire generation of young men and more. Many also lost much of their local identity as their institutions burned. Most were not slave owners and most were just as racist as northerners - by contemporary standards.

Also, if you believe we reserve all our ferocity for nonwhites in our military engagements, try imagining the horror the citizens of Hamburg and Dresden experienced during the firebombing of their cities during WWII. It was much more destructive than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Dr. Loewen, you criticize others on this thread for ignoring the complexities of the issue. Please heed your own advise.

Daniel Bruno Sanz - 5/23/2009

Your logic is faulty. Dont use Washington and Jefferson, who warned in his letters that slavery must end lest the wrath of God destroy the nation, as alibis for traitors to the United States who would destroy the Union to continue holding Africans in chains in perpetuity under white supremacy. Once defeated, the bitter traitors became terrorists: the Ku Klux Klan. There is no place for them , or nostalgia for them, in our country today.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

Give me a break. I can recognize a stalking-horse. If the tallest monument in our most prestigious cemetery "implies that the humanity of Africans and African Americans is of no significance[,]" then the real problem is not a silly little wreath.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

You said the document says "NOTHING about states' rights, except to oppose such...." You were and are wrong.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

True. And to other Civil War monuments? Of which there are at least 2,000?

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Scholarship on the "path of destruction" indicates that particularly in Georgia, more destruction was caused by Confederate defenders than by Sherman's men. Moreover, there were almost no crimes against persons. Compare to ANY of our wars against nonwhite peoples!

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Did the poster mis-read our petition? Does it say anything about removing the monument?

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

So, Loewen is wrong? Well, let's quote the document. Of course, it does claim the right to secede. But most of it, as its title implies, is concerned with giving REASONS for secession. Not ONE of these reasons has anything to do with states' rights, EXCEPT to OPPOSE them. The convention takes pains to name the states and the rights that prompt them to secede: "We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused for years past to fufill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own statutes for the proof.
The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows:
“No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another..." Then it goes on: "The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the acts of Congress, or render useless any attempt to execute them...."
I rest my case with the document. Or with Texas's ordinance of secession, which says the same thing. Or Mississippi's. Or ....

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

If they are good enough to rest at Arlington, they are good enough to receive an ephemeral wreath from our president. And if the commemoration of slaveholders is wrong, then we as a nation will have to tear down the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Monument. No thank you.

John Connally - 5/22/2009

Since everyone is applying contemporary values to historic events, how can one say that Sherman’s March to the Sea does not qualify as a war crime? I have read the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly," “intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects,” “attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives,” and “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected" all used in defining "war crimes." I discovered this interesting story at http://www.alabamaheritage.com/vault/UAburning.htm while working on some genealogy:

- Librarian Deloffre pleaded for the library. Surely this one building could be spared. Colonel Johnston agreed that it would be senseless destruction to burn one of the finest libraries in the South. Hurriedly he scrawled a message to General Croxton asking permission to spare the building, noting that it had no military value. No record exists of the conversation between Johnston and the professors as they waited for a reply, though Dr. Wyman later described Johnston as a “man of culture and literary taste.”

When at last the courier returned, the general’s answer was disheartening. “My orders leave me no discretion,” wrote Croxton. “My orders are to destroy all public buildings.”

What happened next has become a part of the University of Alabama’s mythic fabric. It is said that Colonel Johnston, lamenting the destruction of such a fine library, decided to salvage one volume as a memento. Perhaps he sent one of his aides, or perhaps he sent Librarian Deloffre, or perhaps he went himself, to take one book from the library. The book saved was an English translation of The Koran: Commonly Called The Alcoran Of Mohammed, published in Philadelphia in 1853.

Federal troops then began throwing flaming combustibles through the open door of the Rotunda and onto the roof. In a matter of minutes, the building was engulfed in flames. The raiders then turned their attention to the other buildings, and soon almost the entire campus was ablaze. One witness recalled years later that “as I looked in astonishment, the flames from the tall buildings reached far above the tree tops.” The University cadets, from their position on Hurricane Creek, eight miles away, could see the billowing smoke…

Because the University of Alabama was destroyed so near the end of the war, one can easily imagine a scenario in which the University survived unscathed. Indeed, on the day following the burning, General Grant, several hundred miles away, told General Sherman, “Rebel armies are now the only strategic points to strike at.” But the University did not escape unscathed, and the events of April 3-4, 1865, set back the course of higher education in Alabama for decades. With no dormitories, classroom, or public buildings, little money, and no library, the University of Alabama started over. –

How many churches, city halls, libraries, and universities were burned during Sherman’s March? This goes well beyond my frustrations in tracking southern branches in my family tree. The destruction of a people’s cultural institutions definitely qualifies as a war crime.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

Loewen is wrong again. Sebesta began his career as an "Anti-Neo-Confederate" by trying to get a Dallas park to take down a Robert E. Lee statue. The third signer on the list, Bill Ayers, began his career as a terrorist by blowing up a monument to Chicago police officers who died in the line of duty. That real historians like McPherson and Finkelman would associate themselves with such people shows a lapse of judgement.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

Sebesta's petition states that "This monument should not be elevated in prestige above other monuments by a presidential wreath." In reality, the president has traditionally sent wreaths to the Maine memorial, the Spanish-American War memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

The Constitution does not say that a state cannot leave the Union. The Tenth Amendment says that "[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." You figure it out.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

"Sic Semper Tyranus" means "thus always to tyrannts." The phrase occurs on the flag of Virginia and the great seal of Virginia. George Mason, one of greatest founding fathers, suggested its placement there. The only people who should find the notion chilling are tyrannts and those who support them.

Bruce Henry - 5/22/2009

Loewen is wrong. The South Carolina Declaration justifies the idea of state sovereignty. It demonstrates that the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Treaty of Paris, and the Constitution of the United States all support the sovereignty of the states. Anyone who reads the document can see that.

Richard Williams - 5/22/2009

Nor here.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

April 7 to 15 WERE "the 'Final Chapter of the Civil War Days.'" Many DID "sacrifice in this great struggle.” No quarrel there.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Secession is not a "Constitutional right." I looked. Even Buchanan, a member of the pro-slavery wing of the Democratic Party, agrees with that conclusion.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Sherman's march to the sea was not a war crime. A little scholarship, please!

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Sic Tyranus stems from the phrase John Wilkes Booth shouted seconds after he murdered Pres. Lincoln, of course, leaving out the word "semper." Neo-Confederates today sell t-shirts and bumper stickers with this slogan. It is a chilling notion, to identify with Booth.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Lincoln was indeed a racist. He was also an anti-racist. The world is more complex than these two folks believe.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Amen to the last sentence. Plus, the memorial is monumentally wrong (sorry) in its history, as our petition notes.

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Of course the signers of this petition have no desire to remove the Civil War from our history. Many of us have spent years (decades in some cases) writing about precisely that war. We do not even advocate removing this monument from Arlington. We do suggest stopping the silly practice of singling out this memorial for presidential honor. Did the poster mis-read our petition?

James W Loewen - 5/22/2009

Mr. Mullis needs to read ANY of the declarations of secession, beginning with South Carolina's. They are all about slavery. They say NOTHING about states' rights, except to oppose such, and they list which states and which rights upset them and prompt them to secede. The document is readily available: "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union."

Daniel Bruno Sanz - 5/21/2009

As then Senator Obama remarked some time ago, the only place for the Confederate flag is...a museum. As for the KKK and neo-Confederates, we will send them south...to lockdown in Gitmo!! Ha-ha-ha

Richard Williams - 5/21/2009

Well Larry, my 3 great-great grandfathers fought because their home was invaded. None of them owned slaves. Did all the men who fought in Vietnam go to prevent the "domino effect?" I'm sure that's what every soldier had on his mind when he joined or was drafted. Yeah, just keep repeating that until you believe it.

Secession, though perhaps not the smartest thing the South could have done, was not treason. Any layman can read the founding fathers and realize the Union was entered into voluntarily by the states with the understanding they could also leave voluntarily.

Secession was not original w/SC. As you well know, several New England states threatened to secede decades before any Southern states did.

I honor my ancestors' bravery, sacrifice (2 of them served time in Union prisons), and love of their native sod.

You don't speak for me, or for them, sir.

Larry Cebula - 5/21/2009

One hundred and fifty years ago most of the slave states mounted a rebellion to preserve slavery--or as they said, to protect their property.

They were defeated. Some fought very bravely for this bad cause, some less so. Stirring speeches were made, though most of them begged the question. Much blood. Eventually most of the southern soldiers gave up on this bad cause and went home and the forces of the United States won. Slavery was abolished.

So what exactly are we supposed to honor about the Confederacy? Their devotion to slavery? Their embrace of treason?

Every nation and every region has good and bad in its past. We can honor the heroism of southern soldiers who fought in the nation's wars from the Revolution to Afghanistan. We can celebrate southern arts and literature, southern cuisine, southern hospitality. We can honor the south for the many things which are honorable about it.

But the Confederacy is not one of those things. It is a shameful episode that should be not be forgotten--nor honored.

Richard Williams - 5/21/2009

In 1990, Douglas Wilder, a Democrat and the Nation's first black governor, proclaimed April 7 to 15 the “Final Chapter of the Civil War Days,” recalling “those who sacrificed in this great struggle.” His document praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as President Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Also, Wilder did not remove portraits of Lee and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson from his office while he was governor from 1990 to 1994.

Josephine L. Bass - 5/21/2009

AMEN! Sic Tyranus

Josephine L. Bass - 5/21/2009

I agree, and the Kevin Levin is one of their ilk! They are in to present ism, South Bashing, and hatred of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy. Levin is born in the North teaching students n VIRGINIA! Keep your eyes peeled for him and let him have it with both barrels.

Josephine L. Bass - 5/21/2009

Dear Dr. Kearney Smith, I wish that you would dig even deeper and find the sources for this: Somewhere I saw a letter or memo that Lincoln had written to one of the Governors, OH, IL or IN that they should not worry that blacks would be coming their way, that he Lincoln, would make sure they were bottled up in the South.

That the South was treated as a colony of the NE after the war up until WAR II when they needed us to fight their war has many references, I would like to see this chronicled.

We Confederate Southern Americans, the descendants of the First Revolution and founders of this country have done more than was asked of us and still they hate us. They hate us because we believe in the Constitution and uphold its ideals.

jean allen - 5/21/2009

The rebels who caused the bloody rebellion (refer to post by Conally) were not the Confederates, who had the legal right to secede.
The rebels were Lincoln and his supporters who refused to honor the Constitutional right of secession. Lincoln rebelled against the Constitution and caused the unnecessary deaths of 700,000 people.
Sherman and his troops carried out war crimes against Southern civilians (black and white): looting, raping, maiming and killing. The bloody rebellion was caused by the tyrant, Abe Lincoln.

Donald Wolberg - 5/21/2009

The wonder of America is that freedom to express views that may be brilliant or boringly absurd (as the letter/petition documented here). Many of the revisionist tendency lack an ability to allow that freedome of expression they claim for themselves; one must nite the presence of an "aging and retired terrorist" in the list of signers that indicates the character of the letter and its intent. What more extreme enemy of free expression and opinion can there be than someone who would use fear and the threat of death to crowd out others' rights to hold any views they wish?

In hitory, context is the shaper of fact--cintext does not change fact, but makes sense of it. One only has to read the statement by Senator James Webb on the memorial and its significance to him to place this "letter/petition" in the context that it deserves. Whatever Mr. Obama does or does not do with regard to the monument, matters little. One must, howebver, always wonder that supposed "scholars" too often seem to miss the mark when it comes to tolerance, never mind an effort to understand.

Neil Alexander Walker - 5/20/2009

Love them or hate them, the English-speaking, Christian, Anglo-Saxon freemen of the southeast of America had a right to self-identify as a single ethnic group and fight for their own country. Whether or not the Federal government, which has been responsible for MANY more atrocities than any Southern army, should acknowledge the valour of its one-time foe is a different question. The letter and its too-big-for-their-breeches signatories are just another example of folks in power trying to destroy history. The South had a justifiable cause; it might not have been a worthy cause for someone who would like to see a nation without a white, Anglo-Saxon majority, but it was certainly a sensible cause for those who fit that category. You don't have to malign the South and pretend that it was the one committing war crimes (think Sherman's march to the sea for the Yankee example of benevolence in war) in order to say that you just don't like the Southern cause and wish that everyone felt the same.

Edmond Dantes - 5/20/2009

Though this letter provides some interesting trivia, I think it serves as yet another blemish on the academy. I wonder if future historiographers will mock these highly politicized petitions with the same vigor used by current academic historians to mock the stupidity of the masses.

Richard Williams - 5/20/2009

For another view from a prominent Democrat and Obama supporter, check this out:


Valerie Hughes Protopapas - 5/20/2009

Frankly, I agree wholeheartedly with the signatories and, in fact, I hope that they are successful in keeping Obama and his sycophants far away from the Confederate memorial.

The dishonorable, corrupt, malignant, tyrannous and wicked cannot “honor” anything and this whole group starting with the Fraud-in-Chief right on down to the signatory “scholars” - pseudo “historians”, over-the-hill terrorists and purveyors of “the acceptable (i.e. fraudulent) version of history - are incapable of bestowing ANY noble attribute. Remember, it is just as praiseworthy to be despised by the despicable as to be admired by the admirable.

Indeed, the SCV, the UDC and the LoS should establish a cordon of good Southern men and women around the monument to make absolutely sure that no politician or leftist academician gets anywhere near it! I sincerely hope that your noble dead are spared the attentions of the present government. Let them go and honor Lincoln, a man who deserves the praise of the hypocrites, grafters and murderers.

Rodney B. Combs - 5/20/2009

Those who signed the letter are referred to as scholars. Pardon me while I laugh! I won't bother trying to present any historical facts since these myth-loving "scholars" and their kind are so deeply programmed with Marxist propaganda. It would go in one ear and out the other. And, frankly, I would also prefer that Hussein not lay a wreath at the Arlington Confederate Memorial. It's a place of honor and he would be out of place there.

Kearney Smith - 5/20/2009

While we are stopping politically incorrect ceremonies, we should stop honoring Lincoln.

Lincoln is mistakenly credited with being a friend of black people. But Lincoln did not believe in racial equality. Many times in his political career, he makes his position on the matter of race and slavery quite clear.

Discussing the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, he said: "[When slave owners] remind us of their constitutional rights [to own slaves], I acknowledge them, not grudgingly but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the claiming of their fugitives."

In debate with Douglas in 1858 at Ottawa, Illinois, Lincoln said: "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a 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. I have never said anything to the contrary."

Lincoln repeated these beliefs several times . In his First Inaugural Address in 1861 he said he had no "purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery, in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Instead Lincoln dedicated most of the speech to denying that States could legally secede from the Union by arguing that the Union was older than the Constitution.

Lincoln's "solution" for black people in the United States was to colonize them back to Africa. He toyed with several plans to do that, which prompted William Loyd Garrison, the abolitionist, to denounce him: "President Lincoln may colonize himself if he choose, but it is an impertinent act, on his part, to propose the getting rid of those who are as good as himself."

The Emancipation Proclamation was confessed by Lincoln himself to be a political move during the war to keep England and other European countries from recognizing the Confederacy as a separate country. The Proclamation did not apply to States which were loyal to the Union where it would have meant that slaves would actually be freed, but to the states of the Confederacy where Lincoln had no control over the matter. Lincoln's own secretary of state William Seward, mocked the Emancipation Proclamation by saying, "We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.'"

Lincoln's preoccupation was preventing the dissolution of the Union, not freeing the slaves. In a letter to Horace Greeley, he said that if some slaves could be freed to save the Union, he would do that, and if the Union could be saved by not freeing any slaves he would do that.

Kearney Smith, Ph.D.

John Connally - 5/20/2009

While we're at it, let's urge the President not to honor American soldiers who fell in the Iraq War (since it's an unjust and illegal, imperial occupation), the Vietnam War (for the same reasons), and World War II (forced Japanese-American internment; the targeting of citizens at Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki).

You get pathetically stupid letters like this when "educated" people decide to apply contemporary value judgments to EVERYTHING in the historical record. Do the authors honestly believe that all Confederate soldiers were vile racists? Were they hoping to perpetuate a system that only benefited a select few in that southern plutocracy? How would ending this wreath tradition strengthen the President's goals for unity? Would the ending of this tradition by an African-American President strengthen race relations in this country? Would continuing this tradition convince us all that the Confederate cause was a noble cause? Maybe we should sanitize the monument, so it’s not so politically incorrect.

The only reason the President should reconsider sending the wreath is that those who fought for the Confederacy took up arms in a bloody rebellion against the American government.

Jonathan Dresner - 5/20/2009

HNN does not remove comments unless they violate our stated policy on comments and conduct. This includes the requirement that commenters use real names, instead of pseudonyms. That was the reason that one comment was removed. I'll see if I can restore the second, but the HNN comment system isn't very flexible in that regard.

John D. Beatty - 5/20/2009

Nice one. We'll remember that.

robert charles halliday - 5/20/2009

It appears that the editors of this site only post comments that they consider agree with their point of view. Shame on the "educators" and shame on those that still harbor intollerance, racism, and ignorance of our history. Mr Obama, please overlook the ignorance and bigotry of the "educated". Place the wreath of honor on the Confederate memorial. They too were Americans. President Reagon, while in Europe, placed a wreath on the graves of the fallen German soldiers. We are all Americans and as such, we should be above intollerance and bigotry. Shame on the "educated".
Semper Fi
Doc Halliday
Semper Fi

Shirley Rob - 5/20/2009

I wonder what/who will be blamed for racial tensions when all reference to the Civil war is removed from our history?

Will the next "project be for the removal of all reference to Dr. King from history? After all without the Civil War what could anyone find to complain about?

Lorraine Paul - 5/20/2009

There was supposed to be two comments regarding this article. Where are they? I hope to goodness that two snivelling mouth-breathers did not post anything offensive.

Just wanted to express solidarity with the signatories to the above letter and wishing you all every success.

John Mullis - 5/19/2009

Dear Mr.President,

In my brigade of the SCV Sons of Confederate Veterans we are well represented by African Americans as well as Hispanics,there is no etnic distintion in membership as these "learned" people proclaim.The Confederate government was fully intergrated from Horace King a former slave who became the architect of the Confederate navy,Judaha Benjiman a Jew who held many cabinate post in the Confederate government,Chief Stan Watee who was a Confederate General as well as African American officers yes officers in the Confederate military.This can be verified by the Official Records War of Rebellion 1861-1865 Library of Congress as well as The Official Records of the Confederacy.The credibility of these learned people is on the line and in order to have a truly diverse nation the people of the south demands that people such as these who signed the petition should be publicly abmonished by the placing of the wreath and honouring the dead.The monument was designed by a jewish graduate of VMI who was also a Confederate veteran.Lastly after the war the northern states were still allowed to retain thier slaves until the passage of the 13th amendment.The secession was over states rights for only 7 percent of the population in the south owned slaves even the black population owned slaves Re: official cencus 1860.Lastly President Jefferson Davis adopted a black child legally through the courts during the war which this raciest group of learned people fail to mention.The south is in fact diverse please show your support as well as your compassion by showing the world what a great man you truely are by placing a wreath at the monument.

Robert E. Lee - 5/19/2009

[Comment removed due to pseudonym use.]