I've a lot of family history, as everyone does. Perhaps what is different is that I know much of it. It was recorded, and diligently kept by members. My father's father was French Canadian from Bedford, Massachusetts, and he could trace his first ancestor who arrived in Canada from France in the 1600s. My father's mother was a North Dakota Blackfoot tribeswoman. On my mother's side, I have Italian, Welsh, Socttish, Irish, German, Albanian, and Greek roots. Ancestors of my mother fought on both sides in the Civil War. Her father came from the Midwest during the Dustbowl to California, just like the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath
, and before that, his ancestors came from Ohio and Tennessee.
However, one thing that unites so many of my more recent ancestors and family members is service in the military. My father spent twenty years in the Air Force. His father spent thirty years in the Navy and fought in World War Two and Korea. My other grandfather was a Marine in World War Two. Two of his sons fought in the Army in Vietnam.
And all of them despised the Confederate flag as a symbol of traitors...of people who could not solve any problems within their nation as citizens, and quit on it...then took up arms against it to defend slavery.
I grew up myself in the military, and thus had occasion to meet many, many people from many, many places, in the US and abroad. This meant I got to know other Americans who spoke of the War of Northern Aggression
, not the Civil War. People who stated it was fought over states' rights, not slavery.
Pray tell, what rights were those states fighting to keep?
The Dred Scott
Supreme Court decision proved the lie of those words. The rights of Northern states and the people within them to live peaceably and not be kidnapped and re-enslaved in the South were violated by that decision. That's right--northern states with no slavery had black citizens who were abducted by Southerners they'd escaped from, and were brought back to the South, against the laws of those northern states. So much for states' rights...at least, the rights of Northern states.
As far as whether slavery was a reason for the war...just read the articles of secession the seceding states.
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.
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. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.
The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the Constitution, and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in regard to the Northwestern Territory.
Seems like the people of Mississippi felt that slavery was the big reason even before the US Constitution was written.
Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?
I live in California, and have spent most of my life here. Our attorney general, in 1942, was one of the prime motivators in rounding up and placing Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps. This is an action to rightly be ashamed of. Fortunately, this same man managed to understand the grave obscenity of his actions, and managed to do better in the future, when he motivated the other members of the Supreme Court to rule unanimously against segregation in Brown vs Board of Education
. This man was Chief Justice Earn Warren. He accepted his failure in the past, and did something for freedom in the future.
I had ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, and I am ashamed of them for it. However, flying the Confederate battle flag doesn't represent sitting on the stoop drinking mint juleps. Its very creation was as a symbol of white supremacy. Its heritage is that of a slave-owning feudal system of inhumanity. It was carried by and defended by men who were terribly fearful of sinking below free blacks in the pecking order of their society...a fear that was fed by their own masters, the very same masters of the slaves--the wealthy ruling class of the South. That flag fell into justified neglect until it was reintroduced by the forces of segregation and racism in the 1950s. If it symbolizes anything else to you, you need to straighten yourself with history and see it for what it is: a symbol of racism and of traitors to the United States of America who fought and died to keep other humans in bondage so that a small group of whites could maintain their wealth and power like the nobility of old.