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Historical Ignorance and Confederate Generals
Townhall.com ^ | July 22, 2020 | Walter E. Williams

Posted on 07/22/2020 3:14:43 AM PDT by Kaslin

The Confederacy has been the excuse for some of today's rioting, property destruction and grossly uninformed statements. Among the latter is the testimony before the House Armed Services Committee by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley in favor of renaming Confederate-named military bases. He said: "The Confederacy, the American Civil War, was fought, and it was an act of rebellion. It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution."

There are a few facts about our founding that should be acknowledged. Let's start at the beginning, namely the American War of Independence (1775-1783), a war between Great Britain and its 13 colonies, which declared independence in July 1776. The peace agreement that ended the war is known as the Treaty of Paris signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay, and Henry Laurens and by British Commissioner Richard Oswald on Sept. 3, 1783. Article I of the Treaty held that "New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States."

Delegates from these states met in Philadelphia in 1787 to form a union. During the Philadelphia convention, a proposal was made to permit the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, rejected it. Minutes from the debate paraphrased his opinion: "A union of the states containing such an ingredient [would] provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound."

During the ratification debates, Virginia's delegates said, "The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." The ratification documents of New York and Rhode Island expressed similar sentiments; namely, they held the right to dissolve their relationship with the United States. Ratification of the Constitution was by no means certain. States feared federal usurpation of their powers. If there were a provision to suppress a seceding state, the Constitution would never have been ratified. The ratification votes were close with Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts voting in favor by the slimmest of margins. Rhode Island initially rejected it in a popular referendum and finally voted to ratify -- 34 for, 32 against.

Most Americans do not know that the first secessionist movement started in New England. Many New Englanders were infuriated by President Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which they saw as an unconstitutional act. Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, who was George Washington's secretary of war and secretary of state, led the movement. He said, "The Eastern states must and will dissolve the union and form a separate government." Other prominent Americans such as John Quincy Adams, Elbridge Gerry, Fisher Ames, Josiah Quincy III, and Joseph Story shared his call for secession. While the New England secessionist movement was strong, it failed to garner support at the 1814-15 Hartford Convention.

Even on the eve of the War of 1861, unionist politicians saw secession as a state's right. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, "Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical and destructive of republican liberty." New-York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): "If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861." The Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): "An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil -- evil unmitigated in character and appalling in extent." The New-York Times (March 21, 1861): "There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go."

Confederate generals fought for independence from the Union just as George Washington fought for independence from Great Britain. Those who label Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals as traitors might also label George Washington a traitor. Great Britain's King George III and the British parliament would have agreed.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: confederategenerals; confederatestatues; constitution; declaofindependence; decofindependence; greatbritain; robertelee
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1 posted on 07/22/2020 3:14:43 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Amen to that.

We do not teach our kids this anymore but it was tremendously distressing to hear a US general spout such bs.


2 posted on 07/22/2020 3:22:30 AM PDT by Adder ("Can you be more stupid?" is a question, not a challenge.)
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To: Kaslin

Deo Vindice


3 posted on 07/22/2020 3:23:26 AM PDT by LeoWindhorse
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To: Kaslin
Dr. Williams is wiser than General Millie. 🇺🇸
4 posted on 07/22/2020 3:27:47 AM PDT by Laslo Fripp (The Sybil of Free Republic)
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To: Kaslin
Those who label Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals as traitors might also label George Washington a traitor.

In the eyes of Great Britain, Washington was a traitor. Or wasn't Williams aware of that?

5 posted on 07/22/2020 3:38:56 AM PDT by DoodleDawg
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To: Kaslin

“Confederate generals fought for independence from the Union just as George Washington fought for independence from Great Britain.”

Had the 13 Colonies lost the war of against Great Britain, the charge against George Washington would have been treason.

The Confederacy lost the war against the United States, the charge of treason against the principal Confederate leaders, is not unreasonable to consider.


6 posted on 07/22/2020 3:42:25 AM PDT by Bull Snipe
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To: Kaslin; BroJoeK; OIFVeteran; rockrr; DoodleDawg

This history lesson by a patriotic Black man is a must read.


7 posted on 07/22/2020 3:42:28 AM PDT by jeffersondem
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To: jeffersondem
This history lesson by a patriotic Black man is a must read.

Is it now?

8 posted on 07/22/2020 3:43:27 AM PDT by DoodleDawg
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To: Kaslin

the ratification of the constitution was not the moment these independent states joined together, they had already done that years before by ratifying the Articles of Confederation.

history is written by those who ultimately succeed. So we ignore the articles.

We’d be ignoring the Declaration too if GB had put down the insurrection in their colonies. Our true independence came when GB lost the will to continue the fight with their superior resources, perhaps Yorktown is the closest thing to the actuak moment we achieved independence.


9 posted on 07/22/2020 3:43:32 AM PDT by ChronicMA
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To: Kaslin

President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Defense of Robert E. Lee....

August 9, 1960

Dear Dr. Scott:

Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.

Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.

Sincerely,

Dwight D. Eisenhower


10 posted on 07/22/2020 3:44:58 AM PDT by scpolitician
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To: Kaslin
"Confederate generals fought for independence from the Union just as George Washington fought for independence from Great Britain."

What an obvious but brilliant point.

11 posted on 07/22/2020 3:45:31 AM PDT by Psalm 73
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To: Bull Snipe

“Had the 13 Colonies lost the war of against Great Britain, the charge against George Washington would have been treason.”

And the Declaration of Independence, in advance, cut the ground from beneath any such charge by the King: “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant . . .”


12 posted on 07/22/2020 3:48:11 AM PDT by jeffersondem
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To: Bull Snipe

Uh...yes it is unreasonable.

It was discussed and rejected at the time.
See: https://www.civilwarprofiles.com/grant-protects-lee-from-treason-trial/


13 posted on 07/22/2020 3:58:24 AM PDT by Adder ("Can you be more stupid?" is a question, not a challenge.)
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To: Kaslin

The Confederates were more American than the Yankees. They were defending the founding principles. Their cause was ultimately a second American Revolution.


14 posted on 07/22/2020 4:06:13 AM PDT by UnwashedPeasant (Trump is solving the world's problems only to distract us from Russia.)
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To: Kaslin

All of the Confederate soldiers were given amnesty including, after some controversy, Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy and a West Point graduate. Confederate soldiers were allowed to receive pensions, albeit funded by their respective states. Calling them traitors today is revisionist history. They were pardoned by President Johnson.

There was an effort at the end of the war to come together as a people. At the end of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural speech, he said,

“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 all nations.“


15 posted on 07/22/2020 4:07:25 AM PDT by kabar
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To: Adder
It was discussed and rejected at the time.

If you read the Surrender Document and the Parole Document neither specifically protects the rebel soldiers from treason charges after the rebellion. But Grant did believe that such protections were implied and he was willing to go to the mat to protect Lee and others. It was a most honorable position to take, and Johnson eventually came around to that way of thinking when he issued his amnesty proclamations.

16 posted on 07/22/2020 4:09:08 AM PDT by DoodleDawg
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To: scpolitician

Great find. It should be disseminated widely.


17 posted on 07/22/2020 4:10:58 AM PDT by kabar
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To: Kaslin

Bkmk


18 posted on 07/22/2020 4:11:34 AM PDT by sauropod (I will not comply.)
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To: UnwashedPeasant
The Confederates were more American than the Yankees.

Were they now?

They were defending the founding principles.

Which were?

19 posted on 07/22/2020 4:11:42 AM PDT by DoodleDawg
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To: jeffersondem
And the Declaration of Independence, in advance, cut the ground from beneath any such charge by the King...

Did it now?

20 posted on 07/22/2020 4:12:34 AM PDT by DoodleDawg
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