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"Confederates: Were they traitors?" Topic


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marco56 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 9:05 a.m. PST

I guess most people consider them traitors but were they really as the Southern state governments felt they could legally withdraw from the union.Would like to here others opinions.My opinion is that they could withdraw from the union.
Mark

TNE230011 Jul 2020 9:55 a.m. PST

no
they couldn't

US Constitution
Article IV section 3

"New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."

to have done so legally would have required an act of Congress

marco56 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 10:07 a.m. PST

I'm a novice on this so I take it when West Virginia was created Congress passed this but I'm pretty sure Virginia's legislature didn't.
Mark

USAFpilot11 Jul 2020 10:24 a.m. PST

Not in their own minds. They were being loyal to their state. Remember, before the Civil War, the countries name was written "united States of America", with a small "u". Only after the war did people start writing "United States of America" and start identifying themselves as Americans.

In their own minds they did not betray their country (the state from which they were from), so they do not fit the definition of traitor.

USAFpilot11 Jul 2020 10:27 a.m. PST

Of course there are some who want to rewrite history and put it into a 21st century context with 21st century sensibilities.

TNE230011 Jul 2020 10:30 a.m. PST

I'm pretty sure Virginia's legislature didn't.

depends on which Virginia legislature you asked
link

JMcCarroll11 Jul 2020 10:34 a.m. PST

If the south had won the war!

"Union states: Were they traitors?"

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 10:55 a.m. PST

Traitors or Freedom Fighters, like those that did the same thing less than a century before.

Depends upon their and your point of view, I suspect.

As mentioned correctly, allegiance was to peoples' home states first, then the "Union"/nation.

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 10:56 a.m. PST

Let me make this clear from the outset, that I am not offering an absolute defense of the Confederacy nor the Southern cause. However, it is totally false that that those who fought for secession were enemies of the constitution. Most presidents prior to Lincoln (as well as most constitutional scholars prior to 1860) upheld the right of states to succeed from the Union. If one would examine the historical record, one could fill an entire book citing evidence to this fact. That said, let me just provide the opinion given by president John Quincy Adams (from the northern state of Massachusetts and son of our second president) when he spoke to an audience in New York (a northern state) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the the first president (i.e. the 50th jubilee of the U.S. Constitution)concerning the right of a state to succeed from the Union:

"With these qualifications, we may admit the same right as vested in the people of every state in the Union, with reference to the General Government, which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies, with reference to the Supreme head of the British empire, of which they formed a part – and under these limitations, have the people of each state in the Union a right to secede from the confederated Union itself.

Thus stands the RIGHT. But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several states of this confederated nation, is after all, not in the right, but in the heart. If the day should ever come, (may Heaven avert it,) when the affections of the people of these states shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give away to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association 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. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect union, by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the centre."

One can still find fault with Confederate generals (as well as Union generals) and the cause for which they fought; but they were not traitors to the Constitution -- so stop referring to them as enemies of the Constitution. It is long past time that people base their arguments on evidence and not simple emotion.

Article 4 Section 3 of the Constitution does not address the question of whether a state can leave the Union. It only addresses the question of how new states can form.

That said, I believe that in 2020 we are better off as a Union and that we can work through the difficulties that are plaguing our Union. To begin with, we need to stop poking each other and encouraging division and start focusing on those things that unite us -- like the love of our hobby. If people still want to talk politics, then we have a site for that: the Blue Fez; and I would encourage those who want to keep talking about subjects like the one on this thread to take it to the Blue Fez and let people on the other forums focus on true hobby related topics.

John Switzer Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 10:58 a.m. PST

+1 USAFpilot

As to TNE2300 citing Article IV that refers to the creation of new states not to states leaving the union.
The states left the union after holding state conventions and voting on the issue thus as USAFpilot stated "in their own minds they did commit treason.

mad monkey 111 Jul 2020 11:05 a.m. PST

+1 Kevin C.

Repiqueone11 Jul 2020 11:12 a.m. PST

This is actually pretty easy to judge.

Did any other Country officially recognize the Confederacy as a nation? No

Did any country accept the Confederate currency ( which was actually a promissory note and unbacked by any other value)? No, much of the very limited trade was in gold.

Did the officers that served the Confederacy break their oaths to defend the US? Yes

Did the Confederate states committ treason? Yes "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. -Article III of the Constitution" There were no penalties or legal strictures for refusing to join your state in treason. They were traitors from the first moment they fired upon US Troops.

Did contemporaries view the actions of the Confedracy as Treason? Yes. Certainly the Northern and Western States did, but so did many citizens of other countries which meant that none of them officially supported the Confederacy. Many citizens of the seceeding states also thought it treason. The civil war was essentially about two things: Slavery and its extension, and could states leave the Union? The war settled that issue. They could not, and the acts against the Union were prima facie treasonous.

The biggest single political error in US history was instead of following through with reconstruction, we chose the easy way out and, in the interest of getting the recalcitrant states back into the union, we looked the other way while violence, night riders, and lynching ran rampant in the South leading to Jim Crow- which is the most extensive affront to Constitutional values, the law, and the core principles of the Constitution in our history. We are living with that failure to the present day.

We certainly should not celebrate the Confederacy or the men who supported it all these years later in the public square. In textbooks, museums, and as a warning about the excesses of a dark and regretable past, certainly. But never as a source of pride or actions to be emulated. They epitomize the worst aspects of the American experiment, nothing more. The modern military realizes this and is ready to change the names of bases, remove the statues that commemorate these men, and ban the use of the battleflag that has so many evil and pernicious acts attached to it.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian11 Jul 2020 12:06 p.m. PST

People today don't have the same concept of loyalty to a region, state or locality. I was born in California, but I'm not patriotic about California or the Western States.

Some people in the ACW had to choose between loyalty to the nation and loyalty to their state (and region). They had to be 'traitors' to one or the other.

In my family's history, the Armintrouts were Virginians, but relocated to Ohio prior to the Civil War – thus, they fought for the Union. I imagine there was another part of the family that fought for the Confederacy, the branch that didn't leave Virginia.

marco56 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 12:06 p.m. PST

Didn't the Confederate officers that were in the US Army formerly resign their commissions?
Mark

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 12:26 p.m. PST

Touchy thing to discuss but from contemporary cultures (for example, the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Battle Cry of Freedom) the Northern public certainly thought so

Repiqueone11 Jul 2020 12:39 p.m. PST

Both of your statements offered as possible escape clauses overlook that they broke their oaths to nation and God, that makes resignations and fondness for their states moot. The US NEVER referred to them, or treated them, as anything but traitorous rebels. Lincoln quite cleverly induced them to fire first at Fort Sumter to put the onus on them, for not only firing the first shot, but closing the case on Treason. To be fair, in practical action, and to preserve reciprocity on prisoner exchanges, and the possibility of an eventual peace , the Union did not pursue charges against any military officers, just political leaders.

However, the leniency after the war, and the general acceptance of Jim Crow, has had a destructive effect for over 150 years on the nation and its peoples. It remains to be seen what the outcome of these events will be.

Lee49411 Jul 2020 12:55 p.m. PST

Any country that attempts to disavow it's history and rewrite it for present day political expediency is on a slippery slope to ultimate doom. I cite two examples, the Communists in Russia and the Nazis in Germany on the way to gaining power both tried to erase and rewrite their history. There are many days when listening to current events that I am shocked, dismayed, disgusted and embarrassed. Keep tearing it down folks. When there's nothing left you'll be sorry. Cheers!

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 1:03 p.m. PST

"With these qualifications, we may admit the same right as vested in the people of every state in the Union, with reference to the General Government, which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies, with reference to the Supreme head of the British empire, of which they formed a part – and under these limitations, have the people of each state in the Union a right to secede from the confederated Union itself.

"Thus stands the RIGHT. But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several states of this confederated nation, is after all, not in the right, but in the heart."

Kevin:
"With these qualifications," means that within those parameters he sets out afterward. However that wasn't his whole argument about the 'indssoluble link.' Either it is indissoluble' or it isn't. We can't look at their arguments out of context, particularly his whole argument and who he was speaking to.

Jefferson argued that states had the right to dispute or challenge any unlawful act by the federal government [based on the Constitution], but he didn't say that the states could leave. And when South Carolina threatened 'nullification' and to secede in 1833, there was a lot of pushback rather than simply saying it was their right to leave:

Madison wrote, denying that any individual state could alter the compact with Nullification:

Can more be necessary to demonstrate the inadmissibility of such a doctrine than that it puts it in the power of the smallest fraction over 1/4 of the U. S.—that is, of 7 States out of 24—to give the law and even the Constn. to 17 States, each of the 17 having as parties to the Constn. an equal right with each of the 7 to expound it & to insist on the exposition. That the 7 might, in particular instances be right and the 17 wrong, is more than possible. But to establish a positive & permanent rule giving such a power to such a minority over such a majority, would overturn the first principle of free Govt. and in practice necessarily overturn the Govt. itself.

A South Carolinian, many people expected President Jackson to side with South Carolinia Governor Haynes,but once the debate shifted to secession and nullification, he sided with Webster. On April 13, 1830, at the traditional Democratic Party celebration honoring Jefferson's birthday, Jackson chose to make his position clear. In a battle of toasts, South Carolinian Hayne proposed, "The Union of the States, and the Sovereignty of the States." Jackson's response, when his turn came, was, "Our Federal Union: It must be preserved." To those attending, the effect was dramatic. Calhoun responded with his own toast, in a play on Webster's closing remarks in the earlier debate, "The Union. Next to our liberty, the most dear." Finally, Van Buren offered, "Mutual forbearance and reciprocal concession. Through their agency the Union was established. The patriotic spirit from which they emanated will forever sustain it."

Jackson had the final word a few days later, when a visitor from South Carolina asked if Jackson had any message he wanted relayed to his friends back in the state. Jackson's reply was:

Yes I have; please give my compliments to my friends in your State and say to them, that if a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can reach.

Not all Presidents supported secession.

rmaker11 Jul 2020 1:07 p.m. PST

Didn't the Confederate officers that were in the US Army formerly resign their commissions?

Yes, most of them did. A few (Twiggs comes to mind) did not, and even performed acts that violated those oaths. Others, like Joe Johnston stayed on duty until they received confirmation of their resignations. Johnston, in fact, even actively repressed secessionist plots in his department – hardly the action of a traitor.

As to public opinion, the word "traitor" was thrown about rather wildly in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Newspapers regularly called opponents of their chosen parties traitors, and often used the term to refer to factions within their parties who didn't support the papers' chosen candidates.

Repiqueone11 Jul 2020 1:10 p.m. PST

Sorry, Lee, but no one is disavowing or trying to rewrite history! Quite the contrary, there is an effort to actually confront the history that is recorded and not the myths and fables of the Moonlight and Magnolias of the Lost Cause myth that dominated the teaching of US Civil War history for far too long. Until we come to terms with the facts of what occurred in this nation over its history we cannot achieve our promise found in the "Better Angels' of our nature" that Lincoln appealed to.

US Historians, especially in the Southern Universities, are doing that reappraisal of the documents and records right now, and, to their credit, they are dismantling the Gone With The Wind propaganda and replacing it with real, documented, history. It ain't pretty, but once we come to terms with a more truthful telling of our past, we might hope for a better future. There is no honor in living a lie.

Stryderg11 Jul 2020 1:43 p.m. PST

I guess you would have to ask someone who was actually there.

Legionarius11 Jul 2020 2:21 p.m. PST

Back then, like today, states rights are used to support all kinds of injustices. Slavery was the bottom line. The confederates were morally wrong.

duke177611 Jul 2020 2:46 p.m. PST

Repiqueone,

"Did any other Country officially recognize the Confederacy as a nation? No"
That is irrelevant.

"Did any country accept the Confederate currency"
I could start listing worthless currencies…

"Did the officers that served the Confederacy break their oaths to defend the US? Yes"

The oath circa 1830 was:
"I, _____, appointed a _____ in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Armies of the United States."

Notice the word THEM. It was changed in 1862 to IT. The states were viewed as States as in like how Germany or Canada is a State. The USA was a grouping of States, it was completely commonplace for citizens to view New York or Virginia as a State willingly aligned with other States, that had every right to leave, should they see fit.

I have sworn the current Oath myself. The constitution is what 9 judges decide it is. Which is something far from the founders view. The right of the judges legislating was a right they took, but that is a separate topic. Point being, an Amendment could be added tomorrow, for something absurd. Lets say Asians cant vote. Now suppose in fantasy land the judges do not fight the amendment. Should the Asian Pvt put any faith in his oath at all? No he should not because, the oath is worthless now, it has betrayed him.

"Did contemporaries view the actions of the Confedracy as Treason? Yes."

Remind me how contemporaries viewed the Spanish Civil War? Contemporaries and other nation states views are largely irrelevant. Whoever wins the conflict is ultimately usually accepted, and the losers are not.

"we looked the other way while violence, night riders, and lynching ran rampant"

According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched between 1882 and 1968 in the United States, including 3,446 African Americans and 1,297 whites.

The median year in those dates is 1925. In 1925 there was likely 112 million people in the USA. In other words there were 3.0 blacks lynched per 100,000 people.

For context, Washington-based Violence Policy Center showed that there were 7,014 black homicide victims in the U.S. in 2015, a homicide rate of 18.68 per 100,000 people among African Americans, compared with an overall rate of 4.62 per 100,000. For even more context, the murder rate in 1800 was 20 per 100,000.

Again that was in one year 2015, granted the population is three times larger today. Contrasting the lynching numbers were 3400 over over 80 years…Yes lynchings happened, and it was terrible. People are murdered then and today and it is also terrible. To say lynchings were rampant is I think a overreach.
I have run out of time, good day.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 2:56 p.m. PST

I agree that coming to terms with facts is important in the study of history. But what seems to be happening is facts are also being left out. Trying to wipe out the lessons and legacies of Lee, Jackson, and other Confederate leaders, and destroying and vandalizing statues commemorating the bravery and service of rank & file Confederate soldiers is as wrong as tearing down statues of Lincoln or Washington.

It is clear to us that they did not serve a moral cause, but it was not as clear to them as it is to us, 160+ years later.

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 3:04 p.m. PST

I like Lincoln's second inaugural wording.
"Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-men's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

It is clear that Lincoln thought the confederacy had the wrong and immoral cause. It is also clear that he understood that to rebind the nation into a whole would take a tip of the hat to those who fought on the other side. There are some that I aware of that committed war crimes Nathan Bedford Forrest for one. He stands with Eichmann in my eyes and should never be honored. Lee helped secure the peace with the surrender at Appomattox and went on to restore Washington University. "In response to the bitterness of a Confederate widow, Lee wrote, "Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans."" That sort of quiet leadership likely saved lives.
Only one of my ancestors was in the US at the time of the ACW. He was captured and spent his 18th birthday in Andersonville. On my wife's side her family dates back to Virginia into the early 1600's. SHe has a lot of ancestors that fought – none of them wealthy enough to own slaves. I think they were on the wrong side, but I cannot ascribe evil to them. Bill Anderson, Quantrill, Toombs yep

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 3:05 p.m. PST

McLaddie,

As I stated above, most (not all) presidents prior to 1860 (when they spoke on the subject) upheld the right of a state to secede from the Union. As you correctly point out Jackson was not one of these presidents. But Jackson was considered a controversial figure even in his own day and has remained a controversial figure ever since (Indian removal, packing the Supreme Court, etc.). Admittedly, being a controversial figure in and of itself doesn't mean that someone is wrong on every issue. Jackson, like Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and even Trump are all controversial figures who, despite their faults, made valuable contributions to our country. That said, Jackson then, as now, was considered an exception to the rule. As for Jefferson, just before his election as president, he drafted the Kentucky Resolutions which stated in absolute terms that sovereignty rested in the people of each state. Lincoln's campaign to retake the Southern states rested on the assumption that Southern states (including their people and resources) were property of the federal government and that the citizens of Southern states were not a self-governing people; thus, abolishing the primary notion behind the Declaration of Independence, that governments rest on the consent of the governed. In other words, Lincoln could be seen as a Hobbesian and those who fought for the South could see themselves as fighting for the principles of Locke, Jefferson, and the ideas enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.

As for the J.Q.Adams quote that I refer to above it is clear that the "indissoluble" link exist only in the heart, and as he noted "If the day should ever come, (may Heaven avert it,) when the affections of the people of these states shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give away to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association 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."

My point in making my arguments is to demonstrate that Southern soldiers could legitimately see themselves as acting according the the principles expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. That said, I believe that we are stronger as a country because the Union endured and and better as a people because slavery ended.

While I disagree with you concerning the interpretation, as to whether Southern soldiers saw themselves as acting on behalf of constitutional principles, I do appreciate the fact that you argue using reason and evidence. As long as people follow your example, and not just follow the emotion of the mob (a dangerous trait that characterizes extremists across the political spectrum), there is still hope that our current Union can endure. The one point that should unite all Americans concerning the Civil War, is that we never again want to repeat the bloodshed that accompanied that national tragedy. This is why I will caution everyone to take it down a notch. Thanks again McLaddie for your thoughtful arguments. You have demonstrated that reasoned dialogue still exist. Let us strive to never again stir the dangerous divisiveness of the mid-19th century. Instead, let us encourage J.Q. Adams "indissoluble Union" in our hearts. A good starting point is for us to stop picking at old scabs and start looking after our neighbors.

marco56 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 3:30 p.m. PST

A lot of opinions even today split whether it was legal or not to secede.People will still be debating this 100 years from now.
Mark

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 3:42 p.m. PST

Many arguments buried in this one. Secession was a bad cause, and secession for the perpetuation of slavery a terrible one. (I believe Grant's description was "about as bad a cause as might be imagined"--not that this is saving his statues.)

But a conflict of loyalties is a dreadful situation to be in. If the United States--or the United Kingdom--withdrew from the UN tomorrow, what would we call officers who sided with the UN to keep us in, regardless of the rights or wrongs of what caused us to attempt to leave? (And note the reverse: once the AWI was over, Loyalist officers sometimes continued to reside in the United States and even seek public office. There had been a conflict of loyalties, and now it was resolved.)

As noted, most Confederate officers either had never been US Army officers or had since reverted to civilian status. Those on active duty were generally careful to resign before taking up duties as state of Confederate officers, and no one seems to have thought at the time of treating them like Confederate politicians.

I would suggest confining "traitor" for rhetorical purposes to those who break their oaths while continuing to draw pay--Benedict Arnold, James Wilkinson, Alger Hiss and Edward Snowden come to mind for the United States--of those minuscule detachments which have enlisted in enemy armies in time of war. It keeps the numbers manageable.

Repiqueone11 Jul 2020 4:14 p.m. PST

Both of your statements offered as possible escape clauses overlook that they broke their oaths to nation and God, that makes resignations and fondness for their states moot. The US NEVER referred to them, or treated them as anything but traitorous rebels. Lincoln quite cleverly induced them to fire first at Fort Sumter to put the onus on them, for not only firing the first shot, but closing the case on Treason. To be fair, in practical action, and to preserve reciprocity on prisoner exchanges, and the possibility of an eventual peace , the Union did not pursue charges against any military officers, just political leaders.

However, the leniency after the war, and the general acceptance of Jim Crow, has had a destructive effect for over 150 years on the nation and its peoples. It remains to be seen what the outcome of these events will be.

marco56 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 4:57 p.m. PST

To me the people of those times considered their loyalty to their state to be paramount.They considered themselves to be citizens of their state.I believe this was stronger in the south.They did not break their oaths if they resigned.We of today considered ourselves as Americans but loyalty to their state was very strong back then.Just because the North considered them rebels dosen't mean that they legally were.
Mark

HMS Exeter11 Jul 2020 6:17 p.m. PST

The physicist Max Planck wrote:

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Scientific theory advances one funeral at a time.

It is perhaps not too far a stretch to argue historical perspective advances in much the same way.

I was born and bred on the notion which Shelby Foote characterized as "The Great Compromise." The south freely admitted it was good that the Union was preserved. The north freely admitted that the south had fought bravely for cause in which it believed. This was reinforced for me when I first visited Gettysburg and saw monuments to both sides standing together in equal regard. The historical perspective I was taught was that the war had been a bitter wound that had healed, with both sides finding common cause for a common sense of dignity.

For some years now I have heard rumblings that there was a revisionist viewpoint that all the rebellious southerners had, in fact, been traitors, unworthy of any honor, and that all remembrances of them should be excised. Now, every time there is a racial outrage, the pressure to remove symbols of the Confederacy gains traction. If I genuinely thought removal of a statue of Rogert E. Lee would somehow have averted a Minneapolis Police Officer's kneeling on any man's neck for 9 minutes, I would have been all for it.

Racism exists, separate and apart from monuments and flags, and will require meaningful, real world, solutions to address it. CTRL/ALT/DEL the Police. We can do better.

Were the Confederates traitors? Of course they were, if only in so far as the winners write the history. But in 1865 the victors chose a different path. The rebels were granted amnesty, something we might do well to remember as our fellows gather their paint and ropes and revisionist diatribes.

The war was over slavery, if only in so far as slavery was the font of southern wealth and power. The southern elites led the south into secessh to preserve their power. Some southern generals had been slave owners. Perhaps the other southern commanders were misguided to identify with state over country.

It bears remembering that, unless they plied the rivers or rails, most southerners had never been more than a handful of miles from their homes. Can we justly condemn the Confederate rank and file for choosing community over country? Judging the Taliban using a western perspective is folly. Judging 19th century people having a world view they had been spoon fed since birth, using a 21st century yardstick is the rankest hubris.

@Repiqueone

It should be remembered that the AWI was several years on before any foreign power recognized US independence.

You are 100% correct that the betrayal of reconstruction is a stain on our national character second to few I can conjur.

I am unsure the Confederate officers who resigned broke faith with God, and I think it presumptious to intrude into the province of the almighty. Whatever penance they owed to heaven has long since been meted out.

For years people have resisted the revisionists, citing the slippery slope. "If we remove statues to Lee and Davis because their efforts were to preserve slavery, won't Washington and Jefferson be next? They owned slaves." Within the past few weeks we have seen this borne out. The statues to Lee and Davis torn down gave way to Jefferson, then Washington, then Columbus, then to statues of Spanish officials in the southwest, and on to Grant. In Minneapolis a statue to Columbus was pulled down. In Madison, WI, a statue to noted abolitionist Christian Heg was felled. Heg died fighting for the Union. A nearby statue, dedicated to nothing more offensive than "Progress," was also pulled down. WT?

I would so like to paint the motives of the revisionists as a wholesome reexamination of the truth of the heritage of the civil war. But their narrative has become enmeshed with the rage politics of social injustice. Make no mistake, there is PLENTY of justification for rage.

41% of the country are the "good people" on the reverse slope of this argument. There may be people among the 55% who are similarly uncomfortable with the effort to demonize people whom we were raised to respect. I can guarantee there is at least one.

History, Sociology and Political Science have always been the handmaidens of forming a usable workable consensus of the American experience. Make no mistake, Repiqueone, if someone is monkeying with an interpretation of as vital an event as the civil war, they are trying to rewrite history.

They will probably succeed. More is the pity. Demographic trends do not favor the 41%. It will be ironic if Americans ultimately come to hold Rommel in higher regard than Lee.

I sense the wind turning and the viewpoint of the ACW in which I was raised losing favor.

In the Baltimore Harbor, one of the last warships present at Pearl Harbor, has for many years been a museum ship. The Coast Guard cutter Roger B. Taney. Recently, that name was removed because, as a Supreme Court Justice, he penned the Dred Scott decision. Taney inherited slaves from his father, but granted them freedom soon after. He died before the Civil War, but he has been villianized because his legacy offends current sensibilities.

I regret that decision. Im sure if will get a new name. Probably Alexander Hamilton.

The historical perspective in which I was raised is that the rebels took up arms against the northern refusal to honor their secession. To be sure, this was part and parcel of an effort to preserve slavery. Even by 19th century standards this was recognized as being misguided and wrongheaded. But they fought hard, and honorably within their ability to see the right. In so doing they ennobled their efforts and sacrifice, if not the reason for their cause.

Must we now take that from them? Must we now deprive an entire society of their perceived identity that derives from that heritage?

I do not think that enough of my generation have died off to give way to the new paradigm. In time we probably will.

Confederates, were they traitors?

Ask that question again in 10 years.

Festerfest11 Jul 2020 6:31 p.m. PST

Well…Glad we settled that. I was worried this topic would drag on and on.

Dn Jackson11 Jul 2020 11:45 p.m. PST

I'm going with; no, they were not traitors. Once their state withdrew from the union their loyalty was to their state first. Several states, Virginia among them, reserved the right to leave the union when they ratified the Constitution. Since the people who wrote the Constitution thought the union could be dissolved, I'll defer to them.

advocate12 Jul 2020 1:58 a.m. PST

If the AWI had failed, the Rebels would have been traitors. I'm afraid history is written by the winners, or those with an axe to grind.
In this case the answer is simple: Yes and No.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 8:27 a.m. PST

Exeter has a point. Historical perspectives do shift, and the alternative is stasis. And words shift meaning over time, though that's only troublesome for those of us who insist on reading old stuff.

But inconsistent word meaning is useless. Set aside the universities' recent attempt to install a meaning of "racism" which didn't include the racial bigots they approved of. Right now I'm hearing certain of our politicians using "treason" or "traitor" to describe behavior which they themselves have indulged in. At that point, discussion becomes useless. All you can do is check the official newspapers to see who's on the bad boy list today.

donlowry12 Jul 2020 8:51 a.m. PST

Haven't read all of the above, but I am reminded that in researching the Official Records I often see the Confederates referring to pro-Union citizens of their own states as traitors. Very ironic, in my view.

As for West Virginia, yes the Union-loyal citizens of western Virginia first declared the actions of the Secession Convention (and thus all subsequent actions of the state government) as contravening a rule that no change could be made to the state government without a referendum. Then they formed a reconstructed state government, that was then recognized by the Federal government as the legitimate government of Virginia. Then THAT state government approved the formation of the new state of West Virginia. All right and proper.

An East Tennessee convention tried it the other way and submitted a petition to the state government to be allowed to form a separate state. A committee of the state assembly considered the petition but took no action on it.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 9:06 a.m. PST

My point in making my arguments is to demonstrate that Southern soldiers could legitimately see themselves as acting according the the principles expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. That said, I believe that we are stronger as a country because the Union endured and and better as a people because slavery ended.

Kevin C:

I don't think there is any question that the Southern soldiers and leaders felt they had a legitimate right to secede. If they didn't believe it, I doubt that they would have fired on Fort Sumter.

And I agree with you:

I do appreciate the fact that you argue using reason and evidence. As long as people follow your example, and not just follow the emotion of the mob (a dangerous trait that characterizes extremists across the political spectrum), there is still hope that our current Union can endure. The one point that should unite all Americans concerning the Civil War, is that we never again want to repeat the bloodshed that accompanied that national tragedy. This is why I will caution everyone to take it down a notch.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 9:26 a.m. PST

Since the people who wrote the Constitution thought the union could be dissolved, I'll defer to them.

Dn Jackson:

Of course, they thought the Union could dissolve. They had watched that process taking place under the Articles of Confederation. The 5 years of the Confederacy saw the same governing problems of 'state soverneignty' taking precedence over the central government's efforts to prosecute the war.

That 'possibility' of dissolution was what motivated the states to gather for a Constitutional Convention.

And the arguments between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists mirror the arguments for and against succession later. Everyone was aware of the fatal weaknesses of a central government with no final say in government business… with nullification and secession always available to the states.

That is the reason there is no provision for states leaving the Union in the Constitution, while State Soverneignty [and the ability to leave the agreement] as well as a state's ability to nullify any federal government action or law was central to the Articles of Confederation. It is not surprising that the Confederate States of America returned to the Articles as their government's constitution.

Was it possible for the Union to dissolve? No one doubted that. That was the danger the writers of the Constitution were trying to address. Did a number of politicians see that as a State's right to leave the Union? Yes, particularly from those who followed the Anti-Federalist arguments against a strong federal government with final say over the states in very specific ways.

It all revolved around who had sovereignty/final say in government. Who had the final 'right'…

Any lingering questions of what powers the Federal Government could enforce or should enforce was resolved by the Civil War.

To suggest that the Constitution was written with some understanding that states had the right to secede overlooks what is written [and not] into the Constitution [compared to the Articles of Confederation] as well as the circumstances that created the perceived need for the Constitution.

RudyNelson12 Jul 2020 3:34 p.m. PST

The high brow debates listed here on many obscure issues is anexercise for the classroom.
It would mean nothing to the average southerner who had less than a sixth grade education.
There were several milestones which needed to be met for them to move on with living.
One was pensions to widows. Checks were paid by the State government started after reconstruction for CSA. Union survivors and widows were paid earlier by the Federal government.
Payment of past due land taxes was a big issue. Large numbers of county court houses mysteriously burned after the war.
The ability to vote for veterans were another issue.

rmaker12 Jul 2020 4:04 p.m. PST

The US NEVER referred to them, or treated them as anything but traitorous rebels.

That of course, is why the US hanged so many of them.

It is good to be King Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 4:36 p.m. PST

I got drafted in 1967, served in Vietnam as an infantrymen in 1968

Does that make me a Patriot?

Some chose to go to Canada or pay a doctor to give them some obscure reason for not being eligible for the Draft.

Does that make them a Traitor?

To me, that should make it difficult to look back 140 years and decide!!

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 4:43 p.m. PST

Some chose to go to Canada or pay a doctor to give them some obscure reason for not being eligible for the Draft.

Does that make them a Traitor?

No, just those who chose to fight against the USA. There are other terms for those folks.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 4:49 p.m. PST

It would mean nothing to the average southerner who had less than a sixth grade education.

Rudy N.:

That isn't quite true. The illiterates listened to those who could read rather than coming up with totally different reasons for taking up arms. There is a fascinating book What They Fought For 1861-1865 1995 where the author James M. McPherson reviewed over 1,000 letters of the soldiers North and South to find the ideas and reasons they had for fighting.

link

HMS Exeter12 Jul 2020 7:13 p.m. PST

@rmaker

"That of course, is why the US hanged so many of them."

Do you have informational sources on this? A cursory search I made turned up only 2.

Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian12 Jul 2020 10:01 p.m. PST

link


Here is the opinion of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in his testimony before Congress.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Jul 2020 7:41 a.m. PST

Were the Confederates traitors? Of course they were, if only in so far as the winners write the history. But in 1865 the victors chose a different path. The rebels were granted amnesty, something we might do well to remember as our fellows gather their paint and ropes and revisionist diatribes.

HMS Exeter:
I appreciate your sentiments and the effort at a balanced view. Were the Confederates traitors? Technically, absolutely. Did they feel justified when they seceded and fired on Ft. Sumter. Duh, of course they did.

Certainly John Hancock and Sam Adams knew they would be hanged as traitors if their efforts failed.

Were there many, many men from the South who fought bravely and honorably to uphold slavery and the Southern way of life. Yep.

They were granted amnesty, quite mild compared to the actions of other victors like the Austrians after the 1848 Hungarian and Italian revolts. Jeff Davis and Lee weren't hung or officers lined up and shot as the victors toasted each other with beer. [Toasting with beer is still avoided in Hungary]

However,amnesty doesn't include, much less require raising statues and naming government facilities honoring the traitors for their actions.

The Federal government didn't raise statues of Lee in federal building or name ships after Beauregard after the Civil War. Even the Confederate veterans raising statues on the various battlefields was questioned at the time, 1870s and only reluctantly allowed.

The heritage represented by all those statues, raising the stars and bars, naming forts and ships after Confederate officers by the government, both federal and state, first appeared in the 1890s and after in support of the Jim Crow laws and the resurgence of the KKK.

While it is true that the winners get to determine who are traitors, even the victors in the American Revolution knew they had acted traitorously. They felt justified.

I'm glad they felt that way. I can't say the same for the Confederates four score and seven years later.

donlowry13 Jul 2020 8:40 a.m. PST

By the way, in watching British TV shows here in the US, I sometimes see Confederate flags of various kinds mixed in with other flags when the Brits are doing a "Wild West" or other outdoor festivals.

RudyNelson13 Jul 2020 11:01 a.m. PST

Once the Confederate government passed a conscription law, the motivations for fighting shifted. Fighting became because you had to rather than wanted to.

Union cavalry probes and raids caused many neutral people join the local defense battalion or conduct daily squirrel hunting parties. If asked a wife would say her husband was out hunting supper. In actuality he was out watching Union patrols. Maybe even taking a shot or two if they came too close to a still or other supplies.
I had great uncles who fought on both sides. Some that fought for the Union were able to pay off land tax debt quickly. At least one never returned to Alabama but went west.

Dn Jackson13 Jul 2020 3:09 p.m. PST

"Any lingering questions of what powers the Federal Government could enforce or should enforce was resolved by the Civil War."

While practically true, that's roughly the same as saying 'since I was able to beat you up and take your lunch money, it was mine the entire time.'


"To suggest that the Constitution was written with some understanding that states had the right to secede overlooks what is written [and not] into the Constitution [compared to the Articles of Confederation] as well as the circumstances that created the perceived need for the Constitution."

As I pointed out above, some states reserved the right to leave the union when they ratified the Constitution. Obviously they felt the Union could be dissolved at any time. I'll defer to them on this question.

Dn Jackson13 Jul 2020 3:11 p.m. PST

"Here is the opinion of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in his testimony before Congress."

The operative word in this statement being 'opinion'. Just because he thinks a certain way doesn't mean he's right.

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