Debunking Flood’s take on the Confederacy

September 12, 2017

There is so much disinformation in Mr. Flood's letter of Sept. 4, that it is hard to know where to begin to correct it. Let's start with the accusation that General Robert E. Lee was guilty of "treason."

The fact is, that the general was never charged with, nor convicted of, the crime of treason. Why? Because legally, and logically, none of those serving in the army of the Confederacy could have been found guilty of that crime. Why? Because they were foreign combatants.

They were not residents of the United States, when they waged war against the union. Therefore, the treason statute did not apply to them. The southern states had seceded from the union, beginning in December 1860. The Confederate States of America was formed in February 1861. Hostilities did not break out until April 12, 1861.

Mr. Flood compares General Lee with Benedict Arnold, who was a citizen of the United States, and an officer in its army. He was a man who feigned loyalty, while serving as a spy against his country for financial reward. He was a true "traitor." To compare what he did to the actions of men in service to the Confederacy is utterly ridiculous.

Mr. Flood goes on to say that, "Lincoln and the Union armies were fighting to save all of humanity from tyranny and despotism."

This statement is, logically speaking, nonsense. The Confederate states were fighting for their independence from the control of the federal government. They were not fighting to "conquer" it. Even if they had been doing so, the government of the Confederacy was far from a tyrannical or despotic one. It maintained, basically, the same form as that of the union, excepting that the individual states of the Confederacy were affirmed to have more rights than the union afforded its member states.

Mr. Flood then accuses southerners of "fighting for the right of people to own other people and to profit from their labor." He says this in an attempt to make his argument that slavery was the reason for the secession of the southern states. He even goes so far as to quote two sources (a line from the Mississippi secession document, and a line from a speech by Alexander Stephens) in an attempt to prove this point.

The problem with this is that it is not the truth. While slavery was an issue of the war for the Confederates, it was never the issue for the war. Some of the Confederate States ordinances of secession did not even mention slavery. Additionally, the Ordinances of Secession of some of the Confederate States of America were very extensive documents. They therefore dealt with multiple issues, so yes, slavery was sometimes mentioned among those issues.

Here is a link to the various states' secession documents, for anyone who is interested. Anyone who takes the time to read them in their entirety, will find States Rights to be quite a featured topic.

That was because States' Rights was the real reason for the southern states choice to secede from the union. Included under that banner were a myriad of grievances that included tariffs and taxation. Confederates made it clear that their fight was not about slavery.

It was about freedom.

Anyone who says that slavery was the reason for the war between the states does not know his American history.

Even President Lincoln, on multiple occasions, said that this was not the case. Most notably in: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, "Letter to Horace Greeley" (August 22, 1862), p. 388. In his mind, the purpose and reason for the war was, "to preserve the union" (presumably, no matter the cost). This fact is undeniable.

Later on, Lincoln himself attempted to make slavery the reason for the war (and was very successful in doing so) when he sought the support of northern abolitionists for his re-election.

Mr. Flood then attempts to connect the Confederate cause to present-day neo-nazis. This is like insulting the character and message of the original Christians of the first century, because some present day hate group is using a cross on their letterhead. The fact that some hate groups have co-opted Confederate symbols, in order to promote their own agenda, in no way reflects on the original symbolism of those items.

They symbolize freedom and courage, not racism.

Lastly, Mr. Flood concluded from a line in a letter from General Lee that he was against Confederate memorials. A closer reading will show that the general was actually saying that he believed that it was wiser for both sides to refrain from commemoration of civil strife. That is indeed food for thought.

Lawrence McSwain


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