The Confederate Statues Speak for Themselves
Defending the indefensible on Tuesday, President Donald Trump traveled back in time to deploy the "both sides do it" talking point to explain the Civil War. Providing air cover for white supremacists, Trump declared "you had some very fine people on both sides," apparently including "many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee."
But as I first documented after Dylann Roof slaughtered 9 innocents at Mother Emanuel AME Church in that cradle of secession Charleston, South Carolina, the leaders of the Confederacy were not "fine people." And we know this, because they told us so.
The 54th Massachusetts or Davis, Lee and Jackson? For patriotic Americans, there's only one choice.
There's no mystery as to why we're not discussing whether a banner of slavery, secession, treason and racial supremacy should ever be displayed over public buildings, parks, cemeteries and other sites. The Southern whitewashing of American history--aided by dubious text books and an army of Confederate monuments built at an accelerating pace during the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's--has been sadly successful in transforming their fight to own humans into a noble "heritage." To remove the Confederate flag, its supporters still argue, would be a "Stalinist purge" and an act of "cultural genocide" because, after all, that banner simply represents "a heritage thing, and we're all proud of our heritage."
If so, what better way to understand the Confederate heritage than consulting with some of the people who created it?
South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, defending the "positive good" of slavery, 1837:
"If we do not defend ourselves none will defend us; if we yield we will be more and more pressed as we recede; and if we submit we will be trampled under foot. Be assured that emancipation itself would not satisfy these fanatics: -that gained, the next step would be to raise the negroes to a social and political equality with the whites; and that being effected, we would soon find the present condition of the two races reversed."
Resolution of separation by North Carolina delegates to the 1844 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church:
"We believe an immediate division of the Methodist Episcopal Church is indispensable to the peace, prosperity, and honor of the Southern portion thereof, if not essential to her continued existence we regard the officious, and unwarranted interference of the Northern portion of the Church with the subject of slavery alone, a sufficient cause for a division of our Church."
Southern Baptist Convention, explaining its separation from the American Baptist church, May 1845:
An evil hour has arrived...In December last, the acting Board of Convention, at Boston, adopted a new qualification for missionaries, a new rule viz, that: "If anyone who shall offer himself for a missionary, having slaves, should insist on retaining them as his property, they could not appoint him." "One thing is certain," they continue, "we could never be a party to any arrangement which applies approbation of slavery."
Mississippi Declaration of Causes for Secession, 1861:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin...we do not overstate the dangers to our institution...
Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, in his "Cornerstone Speech" of March 21, 1861:
The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution...
Our new government is founded upon...its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article I, Section 9, (4):
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article IV, Section 2, (1) and (3):
The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.
No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs, or to whom such service or labor may be due.
Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article IV, Section 3, (3):
The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.
Mississippi Senator Albert Gallatin Brown, 1858:
"I want Cuba, and I know that sooner or later we must have it. If the worm-eaten throne of Spain is willing to give it for a fair equivalent, well--if not, we must take it. I want Tamaulipas, Potosi, and one or two other Mexican Stats; and I want them all for the same reason--for the planting and spreading of slavery."
Southern Punch, 1864:
"'The people of the South,' says a contemporary, 'are not fighting for slavery but for independence.' Let us look into this matter. It is an easy task, we think, to show up this new-fangled heresy -- a heresy calculated to do us no good, for it cannot deceive foreign statesmen nor peoples, nor mislead any one here nor in Yankeeland. . . Our doctrine is this: WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED, and for the preservation of other institutions of which slavery is the groundwork."
Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, after the slaughter of hundreds of surrendering black Union troops at Fort Pillow n Tennessee, April 1864:
"It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners."
Chant of Confederate troops at the Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864:
"'Spare the white man, kill the nigger!"
General John Bell Hood, refusing Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's request for the evacuation of civilians from Atlanta, September 12, 1864:
You came into our country with your army avowedly for the purpose of subjugating free white men, women, and children, and not only intend to rule over them, but you make negroes your allies and desire to place over us an inferior race, which we have raised from barbarism to its present position, which is the highest ever attained by that race in any country in all time. I must, therefore, decline to accept your statements in reference to your kindness toward the people of Atlanta, and your willingness to sacrifice everything for the peace and honor of the South, and refuse to be governed by your decision in regard to matters between myself, my country, and my God. You say, "let us fight it out like men." To this my reply is, for myself, and, I believe, for all the true men, aye, and women and children, in my country, we will fight you to the death. Better die a thousand deaths than submit to live under you or your Government and your negro allies.
Howell Cobb, President of the Confederate Provisional Congress and Major General, on Robert E. Lee's request to arm slaves for the Southern armies:
"You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the Revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong."
Confederate General Robert E. Lee, 1870:
"Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles."
Confederate Colonel John Mosby, the officer most cited in Lee's dispatches, 1894:
"I've always understood that we went to war on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about. I've never heard of any other cause than slavery."
Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, 1881:
"Nothing fills me with deeper sadness than to see a Southern man apologizing for the defense we made of our inheritance. Our cause was so just, so sacred, that had I known all that has come to pass, had I known what was to be inflicted upon me, all that my country was to suffer, all that our posterity was to endure, I would do it all over again.''