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If Secession Was Illegal - then How Come...?
The Patriotist ^ | 2003 | Al Benson, Jr.

Posted on 06/12/2003 5:58:28 AM PDT by Aurelius

Over the years I've heard many rail at the South for seceding from the 'glorious Union.' They claim that Jeff Davis and all Southerners were really nothing but traitors - and some of these people were born and raised in the South and should know better, but don't, thanks to their government school 'education.'

Frank Conner, in his excellent book The South Under Siege 1830-2000 deals in some detail with the question of Davis' alleged 'treason.' In referring to the Northern leaders he noted: "They believed the most logical means of justifying the North's war would be to have the federal government convict Davis of treason against the United States. Such a conviction must presuppose that the Confederate States could not have seceded from the Union; so convicting Davis would validate the war and make it morally legitimate."

Although this was the way the federal government planned to proceed, that prolific South-hater, Thaddeus Stevens, couldn't keep his mouth shut and he let the cat out of the bag. Stevens said: "The Southerners should be treated as a conquered alien enemy...This can be done without violence to the established principles only on the theory that the Southern states were severed from the Union and were an independent government de facto and an alien enemy to be dealt with according to the laws of war...No reform can be effected in the Southern States if they have never left the Union..." And, although he did not plainly say it, what Stevens really desired was that the Christian culture of the Old South be 'reformed' into something more compatible with his beliefs. No matter how you look at it, the feds tried to have it both ways - they claimed the South was in rebellion and had never been out of the Union, but then it had to do certain things to 'get back' into the Union it had never been out of. Strange, is it not, that the 'history' books never seem to pick up on this?

At any rate, the Northern government prepared to try President Davis for treason while it had him in prison. Mr. Conner has observed that: "The War Department presented its evidence for a treason trial against Davis to a famed jurist, Francis Lieber, for his analysis. Lieber pronounced 'Davis will not be found guilty and we shall stand there completely beaten'." According to Mr. Conner, U.S. Attorney General James Speed appointed a renowned attorney, John J. Clifford, as his chief prosecutor. Clifford, after studying the government's evidence against Davis, withdrew from the case. He said he had 'grave doubts' about it. Not to be undone, Speed then appointed Richard Henry Dana, a prominent maritime lawyer, to the case. Mr. Dana also withdrew. He said basically, that as long as the North had won a military victory over the South, they should just be satisfied with that. In other words - "you won the war, boys, so don't push your luck beyond that."

Mr. Conner tells us that: "In 1866 President Johnson appointed a new U.S. attorney general, Henry Stanburg. But Stanburg wouldn't touch the case either. Thus had spoken the North's best and brightest jurists re the legitimacy of the War of Northern Aggression - even though the Jefferson Davis case offered blinding fame to the prosecutor who could prove that the South had seceded unconstitutionally." None of these bright lights from the North would touch this case with a ten-foot pole. It's not that they were dumb, in fact the reverse is true. These men knew a dead horse when they saw it and were not about to climb aboard and attempt to ride it across the treacherous stream of illegal secession. They knew better. In fact, a Northerner from New York, Charles O'Connor, became the legal counsel for Jeff Davis - without charge. That, plus the celebrity jurists from the North that refused to touch the case, told the federal government that they really had no case against Davis or secession and that Davis was merely being held as a political prisoner.

Author Richard Street, writing in The Civil War back in the 1950s said exactly the same thing. Referring to Jeff Davis, Street wrote: "He was imprisoned after the war, was never brought to trial. The North didn't dare give him a trial, knowing that a trial would establish that secession was not unconstitutional, that there had been no 'rebellion' and that the South had got a raw deal." At one point the government intimated that it would be willing to offer Davis a pardon, should he ask for one. Davis refused that and he demanded that the government either give him a pardon or give him a trial, or admit that they had dealt unjustly with him. Mr. Street said: "He died 'unpardoned' by a government that was leery of giving him a public hearing." If Davis was as guilty as they claimed, why no trial???

Had the federal government had any possible chance to convict Davis and therefore declare secession unconstitutional they would have done so in a New York minute. The fact that they diddled around and finally released him without benefit of the trial he wanted proves that the North had no real case against secession. Over 600,000 boys, both North and South, were killed or maimed so the North could fight a war of conquest over something that the South did that was neither illegal or wrong. Yet they claim the moral high ground because the 'freed' the slaves, a farce at best.


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KEYWORDS: dixielist; zzzzzzz
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1 posted on 06/12/2003 5:58:28 AM PDT by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
*yawn*

Are we fighting the Civil War again?
2 posted on 06/12/2003 5:59:08 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (Tip the Pizza guy!)
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To: stainlessbanner
BUMP
3 posted on 06/12/2003 6:03:28 AM PDT by Aurelius
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To: shuckmaster
Dixie Ping!
4 posted on 06/12/2003 6:04:59 AM PDT by TomServo (Free Illbay!!)
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To: sheltonmac
Ping.

5 posted on 06/12/2003 6:08:31 AM PDT by JohnGalt (They're All Lying)
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To: Aurelius
Land-O-Lincoln ping

First Republican President ping

6 posted on 06/12/2003 6:08:56 AM PDT by Darheel (Visit the strange and wonderful.)
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To: Aurelius
Didn't the Civil War end some time ago?
7 posted on 06/12/2003 6:09:45 AM PDT by conservativemusician
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To: Constitution Day
Dixie Ping!!
8 posted on 06/12/2003 6:12:29 AM PDT by TomServo (Free Illbay!!)
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To: *dixie_list; azhenfud; annyokie; SCDogPapa; thatdewd; canalabamian; Sparta; treesdream; sc-rms; ...
Good Follow Discussion from the recent Jeff Davis threads:
9 posted on 06/12/2003 6:13:01 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Aurelius
Moving on...
10 posted on 06/12/2003 6:14:06 AM PDT by Zavien Doombringer (Private 1st Class - 101st Viking Kitty.....Valhalla.....All the Way!)
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To: Aurelius
Note the following comments about Union that were made back in the 19th century by non-Southerners:

"Union depends for its continuance on the free consent and will of the sovereign people of each state, and when that consent and will is withdrawn on either part, their Union is gone. A state coerced to remain in the Union is a subject province and can never be aq co-equal member of the American Union." 1860, newspaper editorial from Maine.

"The Union was formed by voluntary agreement of the States; and in uniting together they have not forfeited their nationality....If one of the states chooses to withdraw from the compact...the Federal Government woul dhave no means of maintaining its claims directly either by force or right." de Tocqueville, in DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA. de Tocqueville, although a Frenchman, was considered to be one of the foremost experts on American government.

I mention these simply because there are posters on this site who admantly hold the position that there was nothing voluntary about being in the Union, and that NO state ever had a right to secede.
11 posted on 06/12/2003 6:16:16 AM PDT by ought-six
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To: ought-six
[T]he individual states of the American Union . . . could not have possessed any state sovereignty of their own. For it was not these states that formed the Union, on the contrary it was the Union which formed a great part of such so-called states."--Adolf Hitler

The Northern supporters have strange allies.
12 posted on 06/12/2003 6:26:52 AM PDT by steve50
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To: ought-six
It's an academic exercise only. Regardless of whether the states had rights to secession (which can only be implied), the "Union" went to war to prevent it. So, you can say the North was wrong, but it doesn't matter much now, does it?

The shame, I think, is that so many men died fighting the inevitable. Had the South successfully separated, I believe there would have been a reunion within 50 years, if only for economic reasons.

13 posted on 06/12/2003 6:35:27 AM PDT by Mr. Bird
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To: Aurelius
Grand Old Partisan! Walt! You're on, boys--post something bitter, irrational, and hate-filled to contribute to the conversation.
14 posted on 06/12/2003 6:36:47 AM PDT by Capriole (Foi vainquera)
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To: Aurelius
I'm Texan. Some of my ancestors fought for the South.

That said, I consider the issue closed.

Southern Culture is just fine by me, but re-fighting the late unpleasantness is getting to be a waste of bandwith.

15 posted on 06/12/2003 6:38:57 AM PDT by LibKill (MOAB, the greatest advance in Foreign Relations since the cat-o'-nine-tails!)
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To: Aurelius
Had the federal government had any possible chance to convict Davis and therefore declare secession unconstitutional they would have done so in a New York minute.

But the Supreme Court did declare secession as practiced by the southern states unconstitutional in 1869? Didn't Mr. Benson do any research in this?

16 posted on 06/12/2003 6:42:42 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: conservativemusician
Didn't the Civil War end some time ago?

In my garage I have two bricks that are all that's left of a fine family home in the Shenandoah. That house belonged to my people until Sheridan's men burned it. They also dragged a kinswoman of mine from her childbed and gang-raped her when she had recently given birth. Her injuries were severe. These events had implications for my family that have lasted to the present day. Under these circumstances it's sort of hard to simply forget the War.

With this background, maybe you can understand the mental set some Southerners have. It's understandable that many of us of Southern heritage wonder about the rights and wrongs of the War, try to figure out how it came about, and try to comprehend what justice was, what God's will was, how we should feel about our ancestors. That combination of confusion and righteous anger at injustice form the basis for many of the discussions of the War on this site.

In addition, you know, we feel our culture under attack from the centralization of the federal government as well as from left-wing influences. Many of the best aspects of Southern life and culture are being lost along with the bad. For some of us, discussing the War is part of an attempt to rekindle Southern pride and fight off the forces of destruction that began to attack us in the late 1850s and continue to do so today.

17 posted on 06/12/2003 6:49:22 AM PDT by Capriole (Foi vainquera)
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To: Non-Sequitur
"Didn't Mr. Benson do any research in this?"

I can't read Mr. Benson's mind but I would assume that he considered it irrelevent. Mr. Benson was concerned with what was the case in 1860 and up to the time of Davis' release in 1867. The 1869 decision had no relevence to that. The 1869 opinion on secession merely provided a convenient way for the Chase court to protect a favoured moneyed interest. It has no relevence to the larger question of the right of secession.

18 posted on 06/12/2003 6:56:53 AM PDT by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
I have read "The South Under Siege" and found it to be a very excellent book. I recommend it to all people to learn what transpires in the United States and why things are as the are now in the South.
19 posted on 06/12/2003 6:57:54 AM PDT by southland
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To: conservativemusician
"Didn't the Civil War end some time ago?"

If you don't know the answer to that, I think you'd better go back and study some history.

20 posted on 06/12/2003 6:59:32 AM PDT by Aurelius
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To: TomServo
BUMP!


21 posted on 06/12/2003 7:00:06 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: Constitution Day
Back at ya, buddy!!


22 posted on 06/12/2003 7:06:21 AM PDT by TomServo (Free Illbay!!)
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To: Non-Sequitur
Must have been an activist court!

The only reason to relive any of this is to educate and enlighten. I find that most opinions from both North and South are formed by osmossis--from the "feel" or "climate"
gleaned from snippets of reading, Hollywood's depictions,
conversations, etc.

While Jeff Davis is much maligned in many circles, he was considered a moderate of his day and his highest passion was reserved for his belief in states-rights. His last speech on the floor of the US Senate, as Sen. from Mississippi, concerned states rights and he received a standing ovation. Both No. and So. had a firm belief in states rights, which has been obliterated by so much fed. govt. control.

A real irony is that Davis was Secretary of War seven years before the War and completely updated the Union Army with the latest guns and equipment. Also, he did not seek to lead the South. His West Point and soldier's background, together with his exp. as Sec. of War and Senator made him about the only possible choice for the South and leading it was a pretty thankless task in many ways.

vaudine
23 posted on 06/12/2003 7:09:14 AM PDT by vaudine
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To: Mr. Bird
"It's an academic exercise only. Regardless of whether the states had rights to secession (which can only be implied), the "Union" went to war to prevent it. So, you can say the North was wrong, but it doesn't matter much now, does it?"

That's basically what I was thinking.

Okay, presume the South had a Constitutional right to secede. The minute they do so, they are a foreign country with a foreign government (who fires the first shot, even!), and then the US Congress can legally declare war on them - occupy the land - and bring those states back in once the war is won.

I suppose you could argue they morally shouldn't have done so, but I don't think there are any Constitutional issues involved.
24 posted on 06/12/2003 7:13:29 AM PDT by Kingasaurus
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To: vaudine
That's a great point vaudine. Davis was a highly respected senator, but moreso, his politics were moderate. Firebrands such as Rhett, Wigfall, and Yancy led the pack, but found common ground in Davis.

Davis didn't actively seek or campaign for his position, it was a matter of duty; answering the call for service. Those screeds that call him traitor are simply don't know their history, or subscribe to a simplified view of the creation of the Southern Confederacy.

25 posted on 06/12/2003 7:19:27 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: conservativemusician; stainlessbanner; wardaddy
"Didn't the Civil War end some time ago?"

yes it did, but separatist movements have never gone away in America.....a couple of years ago in Washington,DC petitions of secession were circulated in 2nd Ward....those folks were so disgusted by the DC city government they wanted to pull out and join Maryland....I wonder how many folks who criticize the South are home schoolers?...I'm sure they don't think of themselves as "traitors" to the school system.....they just want to go a different way in peace.

Good luck to all!

Stonewalls

26 posted on 06/12/2003 7:22:34 AM PDT by STONEWALLS
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To: Aurelius
Every state in the Articles of Confederation seceded from that Confederation when they ratified the Constitution. So it was ok to secede from the Confederation but not the new government?
27 posted on 06/12/2003 7:24:22 AM PDT by rcofdayton
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To: Capriole
Thanks for your post. Well written. Deeply felt.
28 posted on 06/12/2003 7:36:00 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: Aurelius
I've considered the War in this way. An abused wife, who is no angel herself, chooses to leave her abusive husband. The abusive husband, being stronger than the wife, and after inflicting grievious injury, forces her to return home to continued abuse.
29 posted on 06/12/2003 7:47:35 AM PDT by D1X1E (Liberal...someone so open-minded that their brains have fallen out.)
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To: D1X1E
"I've considered the War in this way. An abused wife, who is no angel herself, chooses to leave her abusive husband. The abusive husband, being stronger than the wife, and after inflicting grievious injury, forces her to return home to continued abuse."

Many Northerners would add the caveat that the husband forces the wife to stay in the house so he can keep her from abusing the kids, which she had been doing contunuously. Buying and selling them, even... ;)
30 posted on 06/12/2003 7:52:26 AM PDT by Kingasaurus
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To: Lunatic Fringe
"Are we fighting the Civil War again?"

One can always hope.
31 posted on 06/12/2003 7:53:27 AM PDT by Tauzero
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To: stainlessbanner
Thanks!
32 posted on 06/12/2003 7:59:09 AM PDT by annyokie (provacative yet educational reading alert)
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To: Capriole
Well said. Thank you.
33 posted on 06/12/2003 8:02:38 AM PDT by annyokie (provacative yet educational reading alert)
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To: Kingasaurus
"Many Northerners would add the caveat that the husband forces the wife to stay in the house so he can keep her from abusing the kids, which she had been doing contunuously. Buying and selling them, even... ;)"

A better analogy in this particular case would be that the husband's primary motive in forcing his wife back was to retain control over her paycheck.

34 posted on 06/12/2003 8:04:55 AM PDT by Aurelius
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To: Lunatic Fringe
Are we fighting the Civil War again?

Oh, I reckon that can likely be arranged....

-archy-/-

35 posted on 06/12/2003 8:05:36 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Lunatic Fringe
Are we fighting the Civil War again?

History scares ya huh?

Historophobia?

36 posted on 06/12/2003 8:09:30 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Californians are as dumm as a sack of rocks)
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To: vaudine
The only reason to relive any of this is to educate and enlighten.

Two very good reasons.

37 posted on 06/12/2003 8:09:55 AM PDT by FairWitness
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To: Kingasaurus
I suppose you could argue they morally shouldn't have done so, but I don't think there are any Constitutional issues involved.

Except, perhaps in the case of Texas, whose status of prewar statehood was accomplished via particularly legally shaky means, and if not valid, more appropriately should have reflected its status as a seperate nation allied with the Confederacy rather than as a state within it. Accordingly, the postwar occupatrion there and *restoration* of its status as a state of the Union may also rest on a foundation of legal sand.

-archy-/-

38 posted on 06/12/2003 8:10:56 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Publius6961
History scares ya huh?

Historophobia?

Nope, that would be if the affected were afraid of history to such an unreasonable degree as to constitute an illness. Hatred of the subject would be Historiomisophia.

-archy-/-

39 posted on 06/12/2003 8:13:28 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Kingasaurus
Okay, presume the South had a Constitutional right to secede. The minute they do so, they are a foreign country with a foreign government (who fires the first shot, even!), and then the US Congress can legally declare war on them - occupy the land - and bring those states back in once the war is won.

Yeah, these southern slave holding yahoos want to seceed and then continue to claim Constitutional protection. But by seceeding they become a foreign power no longer covered by the US Constitution, and by attacking US fortifications, they become a hostile foreign power. Because their slavery system was immoral, they are an immoral hostile foreign power.

Then they get their butts whipped, the immoral institution of slavery is immediately overthrown -- and they have been calling the "whaaaambulance" ever since.

40 posted on 06/12/2003 8:13:44 AM PDT by jlogajan
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To: Capriole
Well said.
41 posted on 06/12/2003 8:14:52 AM PDT by Corin Stormhands (http://wardsmythe.crimsonblog.com)
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To: Tauzero
"Are we fighting the Civil War again?"

One can always hope.

Nah, you'll never get slavery back, as much as you thirst for it.

42 posted on 06/12/2003 8:18:20 AM PDT by jlogajan
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To: Aurelius
A better analogy in this particular case would be that the husband's primary motive in forcing his wife back was to retain control over her paycheck.

Except in this case all the seceeding states complained first and foremost about the loss of their beloved institution of slavery.

It's funny how you neo-confederates always try to reinvent history to forget the south's main war cry was the protection of slavery.

43 posted on 06/12/2003 8:20:49 AM PDT by jlogajan
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To: jlogajan
" Nah, you'll never get slavery back, as much as you thirst for it."

Rather, it'd be a chance to end slavery.

But hey, I understand many people, like you, don't find the manacles chafing.
44 posted on 06/12/2003 8:23:26 AM PDT by Tauzero
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To: Zavien Doombringer
cooool graphic!
45 posted on 06/12/2003 8:26:18 AM PDT by honeygrl
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To: Kingasaurus
'Many Northerners would add the caveat that the husband forces the wife to stay in the house so he can keep her from abusing the kids, which she had been doing contunuously. Buying and selling them, even... ;) '


Don't even start. The North was just as guilty in that regard.
Using your analogy, the 'husband', if abusive, is more likely to abuse the kids than the abused 'wife'. The North would have lost greatly in tarifs and agriculture were the South to secceed. The Damn Yankees weren't as noble as you might think, nor the South as evil.
46 posted on 06/12/2003 8:26:36 AM PDT by bk1000
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To: jlogajan
'Then they get their butts whipped, the immoral institution of slavery is immediately overthrown -- and they have been calling the "whaaaambulance" ever since'



Obviously a flaming revisionist liberal expounding on what he has been told instead of researching the facts.
47 posted on 06/12/2003 8:31:15 AM PDT by bk1000
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To: Kingasaurus
Thank you for your feedback King.
Certainly the abuse of the "children" ie: the buying and selling. SHOULD have been a motivating factor in the husband's decision to punish the wife. However, the fact that the husband's family also practiced and condoned this abuse at varying times, tends to make one question the husband's true motives.
48 posted on 06/12/2003 8:32:55 AM PDT by D1X1E (Liberal...someone so open-minded that their brains have fallen out.)
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To: Capriole; Chancellor Palpatine
In my garage I have two bricks that are all that's left of a fine family home in the Shenandoah. That house belonged to my people until Sheridan's men burned it. They also dragged a kinswoman of mine from her childbed and gang-raped her when she had recently given birth. Her injuries were severe. These events had implications for my family that have lasted to the present day. Under these circumstances it's sort of hard to simply forget the War.

I take it, then, that you support slavery reparations to African-Americans.

49 posted on 06/12/2003 8:36:28 AM PDT by Poohbah (I must be all here, because I'm not all there!)
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To: Capriole
"Grand Old Partisan! Walt! You're on, boys--post something bitter, irrational, and hate-filled to contribute to the conversation. "

I thought Walt was still in Time-Out.
50 posted on 06/12/2003 8:39:14 AM PDT by honeygrl
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