Flag Bashing


Meet the new flag, which is pretty much same as the old new Iraqi flag. It's been revamped to dampen criticisms that it looked too much like the one for the most successful country in the Middle East.

From the Calgary Herald's account:

The new design was more or less the same as the one announced earlier this week: two blue stripes along the bottom with a yellow stripe between them, and a crescent above them in a white field.

But the stripes and crescent were a considerably darker shade of blue than the original version published in an Iraqi newspaper, which showed the stripes as being light blue. Many said the light blue stripes were similar to the light blue bands on the Israeli flag.

Some religious students complained that nobody should have messed with the old Iraqi flag, adopated in the early '60s when the Ba'ath party took over the country. The students were particularly upset that the line "God is great" has disappeared--this despite the fact the line was added only in 1991, shortly before the first Gulf War.

And meanwhile in Georgia, confederate flag sympathizers are starting to understand the international brotherhood of those forced to live under banners they find uninspiring. (For an interesting take on the use of Confederate imagery in official state symbols, read this piece by the Cato Institute's David Boaz).

And in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederate States of America, brave school students and their parents are demanding their right to represent their proud heritage--you know, the one that sold other human beings as slaves. "This is my heritage," one parent said. "I, along with my children and everyone's else children, deserve to know where they came from and be proud of where they came from." Censorship issues aside--I think schools should allow as much free expression as possible--that heritage, especially as figured by the Confederate battle flag, which emerged in state-sanctioned contexts in the post World War II era as a response to desegregation efforts, is problematic, to say the least.

NEXT: Arabist Revolt

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I don't know that much about American history to opine on wheter slavery would have gone the way of the dodo by the 1860's anyway, but I know something about Brazil's.

    Slavery wan't abolished down here until 1888. Before that there were several laws which slowly ate away slavery's powers -- sons of slaves were born free, the elderly were free when they reached the unlikely (and to their owners', useless) age of 60, things like that. Slavery collapsed in Brazil, for all I know, more and more because it was impossible to mantain after so many of its neighbors abolished it.

    Btw, my state here in Brazil tried to secede in 1835 and lost a bloody ten-year-long war. Our anthem is still their old anthem, and silly secession ideas are somewhat popular, even if quite unlikely, well beyond the extreme-rightists that seriously want to have Rio Grande do Sul split from Brasilia's central government.

  2. Dang, before I go:

    I didn't see "nations/colonies in the Americas". How bout the whole world including European colonies, and not just "in 1860"?

    Oh, Jon H., the jerkstore called and they're fresh outta you.

  3. Mo,

    I agree. If fact, that's one reason I put Croat/Serb in my analogy (full disclosure, I'm 1/2 Croat. I have no particular hatred toward Serbs despite comments I heard growing up).

    At any rate, that's one thing I like about being a midwesterner--at its best, its a combination of the best New England and the upper south has to offer (due to 19th Century settlement patterns) and can cut across "traditional" ethnic lines (color, etc.). At its worst...well.

    I could see western states and the Pacific Northwest also developing into distinct ethnic groups, again, given time.

  4. WAtching the Nuggets play the timberwolves in Denver the other night (Wolves in blue jerseys) reminded me of iraq and their new flag.

  5. Kent and RC are playing, Hey look over there. But RC is right about one thing, many Americans died fighting to to end slavery. They were cut down by the hundreds of thousands by those flying the rebel flag.

    The history of the American South begins in 1608, and continues to the present day - nearly 400 years. The confederate flag flew over that region for approximately 1% of those years, during the period when its politics and culture were dominated by a faction devoted to waging war agains the United States in order to continue the expansion of slavery. It again became popular in that region during the fight against the integration of public schools, and the expansion of suffrage to black people.

    I believe that there is a lot more to the history of the south than those two political movements, tough I suppose in 150 years, there will be proud Russians who fly the hammer and sickle to proclaim their pride in their heritage. I further suppose that such an act would correlate closely with a certain political outlook.

  6. Jimmy Antley,

    "Suffice it to say that my statements on the causes for that war are correct."

    Because you say it is? *chuckle* Now that is an interesting argument. BTW, if you had really read that much on the subject you would be able to cite at least something I suspect.

    "Also, please put up the rest of one of the states' seccession documents."

    Why? Again, if there is something in them which works against my argument you do it; I'm not required to make arguments for you.

    "So, your Fogel text doesn't mention slavery in Africa, then? Hmmm??"

    Yes, because its about slavery in the United States! If you want to know about slavery in Africa please see:

    Orlando Patterson, "Slavery and Social Death"

    John K. Thornton, "Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World"

    David Eltis, 'Precolonial Western Africa and the Atlantic Economy,' in Barbara L. Solow, ed., "Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System"

    Boubacar Barry, "Senegambia and the Atlantic Slave Trade"

    Paul E. Lovejoy, 'The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa: A Review of the Literature,' "Journal of African History" 30 (1989), 365-94

    Robert M. Baum, "Shrines of the Slave Trade: Diola Religion and Society in Precolonial Senegambia"

    "Many of the blacks taken as slaves by Yankee and European slave traders were sold to them by Africans."

    And? This is well known; why people treat this as if it were some sort of astounding "new fact" is beyond me. When I mention slavery should I also go into a lecture on the trade to the Muslim world; or the slave trade of the Vikings (they were keen after the Irish paticularly), or the Roman slave trade, or the slave trade of the Indians in British Columbia, or around the "great slave lake" in Canada?

    Those "Africans" who sold other "Africans" into slavery didn't view themselves as "selling Africans" BTW; they were selling people from other ethnic groups, just as Viking "Europeans" sold Irish "Europeans" into slavery. The notion that they are specially culpable for "selling other Africans" into slavery is thus laughable. Especially given that even in the West that slavery wasn't a problematic institution for anyone aside from a small minority of people until the late 18th and early 19th centuries (just over two hundred years ago in other words).

    "How could they not have slavery there then?"

    As I recall, I qualified my statement by geographical locale - the Americas specifically.

    "And did France just have a lull in slavery around that year, or what?"

    No, slavery has been illegal in France and French possessions since 1842; though, like in Britain, African slavery was never important institution in the metropole.

    "Tell me why that book is contrary to other history texts."

    Can you tell me what texts it is contrary to? BTW, it should be noted that "Time on the Cross" has been subjected to withering attacks since it was published in the 1970s, yet it (and the works that followed it by Fogel) remains one of the most important texts in the field of American slave studies.

  7. Jennifer,

    Calling them "traitors" is begging the question. Whether the states had a right to secede is precisely the issue in dispute. See
    Chapter 1: The Ultimate Source of Sovereignty

    joe and thoreau,

    I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place on this thing. I'm a firm believer in the right of secession, and I used to display a Confederate Flag for that reason. But I have no sympathy whatsoever for the ruling class of planters who actually led the movement for secession. It should be self-evident that state policies are made in the interest of a ruling class; and it should also be obvious who the ruling class in South Carolina et al were. Slavery may not have been the direct cause of the Civil War, but the economic interests of the slaveocracy were surely the main force behind secession.

    Even in the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s, when N.C. came close to secession over the tariff, the point of it all was the economic interests of the fire-eating slaveocracy.

    So while I strenuously deny that secession was "treason" or "rebellion," or that the federal government has constitutional authority to compel a state to remain in the union, I find the Confederacy a weak reed to lean on in support of those principles.

    These facts, along with the realization that the Battle Flag was resurrected mainly as an appeal to pro-segregation sympathies in the '50s, (not to mention the fact that the Confederate States were *states*), compelled me to retire the colors some time ago. If I ever see a Bonny Blue Flag for sale, or any other symbol of secession less associated with the redneck religion, I might consider buying it.

    That being said, I still have a strong sympathy for the poor whites who fought federal troops, not to defend the planter aristocracy's slaves, but because "y'all are down here." And I'm glad the state I live in seceded, not over Lincoln's election, but only in response to his call-up of federal militia after Fort Sumter. The northern tier of Confederate states, who initially voted against secession, but seceded over a federal attempt to coerce the original seven, have the most plausible claim not to have been fighting "over slavery."

  8. Kevin-

    I too have great sympathy for Joe Schmoe Southerner who got stuck carrying a rifle in defense of the slaveocracy. However, as you pointed out, a lot of people suddenly discovered a great interest in their "heritage" (and Joe Confederate) when desegregation became an issue. So I don't know how many people waving the rebel flag are really all that interested in the ancestors who got stuck fighting that war.

    In any case, the symbols have been tainted, and I agree with your observation that a better way to honor them would be with a less tainted symbol.

    Perhaps most importantly, however, there's a big difference between identifying with one's ancestors (most of whom were too poor to own slaves) and waving the flag of a government that sanctioned slavery. When people are eager to take up the flag of that gov't, and when the urge to do so became most fervent in response to racial desegregation, discussions of tarriffs seem rather ancillary.

  9. Yes, KC, the Confederate cause was one of the foremost examples of the term "Rich man's war, poor man's fight." How this leads you to support the symbol of that rich man's war eludes me.

  10. Kevin Carson,

    It probably should be noted that around four hundred thousand Southerners (white and black) fought for the Union in the Civil War.

    Indeed, Richard Freehling in "The South versus the South" argues that the anti-confederates played a critical role in defeating the Confederacy; and that mass desertions and those who avoided the Confederate draft were also critical.

    Also other works:

    "Secession Debated: Georgia's Showdown in 1860"

    "Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836"

  11. Kevin Carson,

    BTW, I should have stated 450,000; that is out of a total population in the Confederacy of approximately 9 million (five million white, and four million black slaves).

    Also, other authors have noted that as some 150,000 black slaves from the South fought for the Union, the Civil War was much an open slave revolt as it was a southern rebellion.

  12. Kevin Carson,

    If one thinks about that 450,000 number, and one assumes that only males fought (a good assumption), and that the Southern population was half-male (4.5 million people), this means that 10% of men eligible to right in the South fought against the confederacy. And this of course would be an even higher precentage of able-bodied men - throwing out boys and old men. Such a percentage might rise to 25% under that scenario.

  13. joe,
    I guess I missed the rules of the game I am supposedly playing.

    I understand your point, but I think quite a few things in the UK are named after Scots who fought English rule; the Scots ultimately lost, too. Also, there are quite a few black kids attending schools named after people who considered them subhuman, but who were not part of the CSA. I did not see many black kids in the website below, but there appeared to be a few:


    I wouldn't be happy about the name of my school if I were them. Actually, I wouldn't be happy about going to a school with that name regardless of my color.

  14. RC: One quibble with your, "Hundreds of thousadns of Americans died to free the slaves." The war wasn't about slavery, so you can't say Americans died to free the slaves. Americans died to keep the Union, freeing the slaves was tacked on in the middle and was a major bonus. Either way, African-Americans would've been free in the United States, the war just decided their fate in the South.

    JB: Do you know how many slaves fought for the South? Not a snarky question, just genuine interest.

  15. Mo,

    Its a legitimate and interesting query.

    There has been some scholarship on the issue; and of course it requires one to define the term "fought for" (the same is true for the Union, as until 1863 most blacks were on grave detail); as much as I know there may have been a few thousand (or as many as only a few dozen). It also depends on how define blacks - there was a regiment in Louisiana of free blacks who were mustered early in the war, but eventually the regiment changed sides (though how many of the original members did I cannot say). Anyway, its a far more complicated question because the bureaucratic documentation is more sparse than for the Union side. However, I would argue that from what I have read a few thousand at most may have actually "fought."

    Now tens of thousands or more blacks were in support roles - cooks, grave diggers, medical assistants, etc. Indeed, given that the southern economy was so dependent on slave labor, this was also a negative factor for the South, since they were using the "productive elements" of their economy to prosecute a war instead of keeping their economy going.

  16. "...which emerged in state-sanctioned contexts in the post World War II era as a response to desegregation efforts, is problematic, to say the least."

    Recently, I read a well known blogger denegrate libertarians for claiming a cultural heritage from the founding fathers when their real heritage is more accurately traced to the Anarchists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The blogger in question made a number of errors in this assertion, the first of which was presuming that his historical account of my motives could ever outweighed my self-identified cultural heritage.

    Who are you to tell someone else what their motives are, where they derive from, historically, and then disqualify someone else's rights on that basis?

    I think it likely that post World War II era southerners rediscovered their 19th Century cultural heritage when confronted with desegregation, but even if opposition to desegregation is the only thing that the Confederate Battle Flag represents to southerners (and it isn't), that is not sufficient cause for local government to supress free speech.

  17. I do feel sorry for southern soldiers who got sucked into fighting for "our side" against "their side," and I think the battle flag, that symbol of their comrades, is the appropriate one for their monuments.

    Of course, there are about a zillion times as many monuments to the politicians politicians-cum-generals who are responsible for putting them into that situation, as to the poor bastids themselves. Rich man's war, poor man's fight.

    Confederate Trivia: there is a statue to every confederate soldier of general rank, except two, commissioned by the DCV. Those two both came out in favor of voting rights for black people after the war.

  18. Joe-

    Undoubtedly it's merely coincidence that those 2 generals never got statues....

    (Note: Adherence to libertarian orthodoxy requires me to express complete confidence that slavey was in no way, shape, or form related to the Civil War. I assume no liability for any mishaps that may occur if orthodox ideology does not correspond to reality.)

  19. Was it really worth a war that destroyed an entire country (or potential country I guess), and killed hundreds of thousands just to transform blacks from slaves to quasi-slave "sharecroppers?"

    If the south could have seceeded peacefully then the north, if it really was anti-slavery, could repeal the fugitive slave law immediately and escaped slaves could be welcomed to the "free" north. (Of course many norhtern states had laws preventing blacks from even living in that particular state)

    On a sidenote, if southerners who rebelled were traitors, then I assume the colonists who rebelled against Britain were also traitors. Correct?

  20. I think there is some historical relativism at work here.

    When they're talking about Sheridan attacking white civilians in the Shenandoah Valley, modern historians typically mention it as an unfortunate example of early modern warfare, but when referring to Sheridan's attack on Native American civilians, only months after ravaging the Shenandoah Valley, many of the same historians will use the word massacre. This betrays their bias. Modern historians like Native Americans of the 19th Century but they don't like whites in the Shenandoah Valley of the same period.

    As a direct result of this bias, I suspect that many of you just can?t muster compassion for the distorted image of white southerners that you?ve been spoon fed. Not enough to even defend their righ to free speech.

    Imagine, if you will, that your father is a farmer. He has left to fight a war, but before leaving he charges you with keeping the farm afloat and taking care of you mother and your sister. One day, a string of refugees appear on the road that passes your farm. They tell you that there's an army headed straight toward your farm, that this army is targeting civilians, that they're raping all the women, they're murdering all the men and they're burning every farm to the ground as they pass. Would you join a force to go fight such an army as it approached?

    Would it change your mind if I told you that the leaders of the army were against slavery?

    Oh Ken, how can you call them farmers? They owned slaves! They were slave owners!

    According to this link, http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl?year=860#SLAVEHOLDERS, less than 10% of the white male population in Virginia owned slaves in 1860. (52,128 slaveholders divided by 528,842 white males) If you weren?t among the ten percent, would you be willing to volunteer to fight in favor of slavery? I know I?m not willing to volunteer to fight for oil today.

    But that?s probably not a good analogy because no one today would suggest that it?s okay to slaughter civilians in order to set a people free.

  21. Confederate Trivia: there is a statue to every confederate soldier of general rank, except two, commissioned by the DCV. Those two both came out in favor of voting rights for black people after the war.

    I'm gonna guess that one of them was Patrick Cleburne...but to be honest, I'm not even sure if he reached general rank. He's a pretty interesting guy, was an Irishman who got his experience keeping order during potato famines, didn't yield an inch to Sherman at Chattanooga, and then allowed Bragg to set up defenses at Dalton, GA, with his "masterful rear guard action" He proposed arming blacks and the higher-ups didn't like that, and he was continually overlooked for promotions, so if they didn't make a statue of him (if he was a general) I wouldn't be surprised.

  22. My neck is probably the brightest red of anyone posting on this board. However, I want to lose my Alabama accent and sell my truck whenever I see an interview with a Confederate flag sympathizer.

  23. thoreau,

    I agree. That's why I took down my flag. I sympathize with those fighting to repel the invaders 140 years ago, not with the bigots of 50 years ago.


    I wrote my whole comment to explain why I *rejected* the Confederate flag. I defend the right of secession.

  24. "... you know, the one that sold other human beings as slaves." Uh, yeah, Nick, does that mean the American flag then. I seem to recall that the big slave markets were in Boston, Mass, with some in New York City. The slaves were brought over in Yankee ships to the North, as part of some type of trading triangle (Britain, the Caribbean islands, and the US) involving slaves, run, and (somebody help me here ..)

    It's called the "Rebel Flag", and I think it's something to be proud of, as no other states have since had the guts to tell the US Feds to "fuck off", in so many words. You'd think a libertarian would appreciate that, but I don't know about Nick.

  25. Oops,

    WAS: "run"

    S/B "rum"

  26. Jimmy,

    You'll note that I talk about the heritage, not the pieces of cloth (pace Charlie Daniels, flags *are* rags). I direct your attention to the Charles Oliver review linked to in my post, which makes the strong case that the antebellum Southern penchant for telling the feds to fuck off came about only after it started to become clear that the feds would no longer enforce slavery.

  27. Nick, I should have read the article itself (I do most of the time). I'll take a look.

    It may be true (your last sentence). As much as slavery is wrong, the war did not start over that. (Pretty obvious, as Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was made 2 years into the war, when it looked like a "quagmire" ha, for the North.) Originally, the problem was both tariffs on cotton and the fate of new states to the Union (whether slave or non-slave)

    Nonetheless, by firing cannons on Ft. Sumter in April 1861, South Carolina was indeed telling the feds to fuck off.

  28. Jimmy,

    The North--and Lincoln--clearly did not begin the war as a way ending slavery, though that became one of its major justifications and effects. However, the South, which as you point out, started the shooting, was always clearly fighting the war to maintain slavery and the social order upon which it was founded.

  29. Jimmy,
    The third element is molasses. Being proud of Southern opposition to central authority is fine. That doesn't mean that we should incorporate the "rebel flag" into state flags or fly it over the state capitols.

    Slavery in the United States didn't end until after the Civil War and Lincoln wasn't exactly enamored with the limitations of the Constitution. However, the CSA had a few shortcomings of its own and lost the war to boot. We can champion limited government without clinging to the flag of a country the independence of which was never recognized by any major country.

    I don't think anyone on this forum is saying you shouldn't be able to display the rebel flag on your personal property. Personally, I grew up oblivious to any symbolism associated with the flag. I just think there are more important (and current) issues to be dealt with and we need to end our obsession with the Civil War. We really look a little silly to the rest of the country.

    I know we can go 'round and 'round about the "real" cause of the Civil War, but didn't Confederate leaders consider emancipation, sensing that the slavery issue was preventing British recognition and possible support (beyond the covert support already being provided)? Of course, if losing the war also meant emancipation and defeat seemed imminent without foreign support ... .

    I saw a rebel flag painted on the wall of a Swiss bar years ago. I asked a Brit who lived there what the flag was about. He said that the locals had no idea what the flag even was - it just "looks American."

  30. The Confederate battle flag is an important symbol of my heritage as a Dukes of Hazzard fan! No liberal Yankee is going to take that away from me!

  31. Ken Shultz,

    While, your statement is correct that 10% did own slaves, generationally and familial it is incorrect; as the wives of those men, their children, etc. were also slave owners, even if their name was not on the deed. Taking into account such factors, the figures turn out to be more like 50% or more lifetime experience of ownership or use through a family member.

    Furthermore, Southern governments, even of the border states, were dominated by slave owners; indeed, in the "deep" states as I recall from one historian (and I can find the author and title if you are interested) not one Governor from 1800-1860 was not a slave owner, and the state legislatures were dominated simimlarly - indeed, the elections were gerrymandered so as to grant far more seats to slave owning areas than areas of a state where slave owning was not as common. Southern slave owners protected their property and way of life in many ways - like all elites have done historically.

  32. Kent,

    Agreed. I was thinking more of individual displays of the rebel flag. Whether to leave it on top of the statehouse should be left to a vote by state residents.

    However, the flag's symbolism of resistance to authority is something to be proud off. This makes me feel that almost all state houses today are not even worthy of displaying the flag, as they kiss Uncle Sam's butt any time they are asked.

  33. BTW, if you look at a state like South Carolina, where indeed there were over 50% as slave, its not difficult to see how important any threat - real or imaginary - would be to that state's white-owning population. Indeed, not simply an economic threat, but mortal - they could conjure images and nightmares of St. Domingue for example.

  34. Ken, yes, rich man's war, poor man's fight. I'm sure the corpses in grey were even more than 90% non-slaveholders. But let's be realistic, most Union troops were not killed by lone farmers popping off with pappy's rifle from the farmhouse. Most southern soldiers joined out of patriotism, traditional values, sense of adventure, and the lofty sounding political goals, completely unrelated to slavery, that the evil bastards who sent them off to die put in their heads to protect their own interests.

    Kevin, the flags you say you might fly are those representing the political movement that put the poor bastids Ken describes in their miserable situation.

  35. Preach it, Brother Jimmy! The flag opponents have been just as silly. When the flag over the capitol was an issue in Montgomery, one state legislator stated that it was the most important issue facing the state's Black residents. Yep, far more important than teenage pregnancy, the high rate at which young Black males kill each other, and the way the socialized insecurity system funnels wealth from them.

  36. I went to school in Hampton, Virginia, proud home of "Jefferson Davis Junior High School." My question concerning the Confederate flag on government buildings, and schools named after prominent Confederates, is this: why give such honor to traitors?

  37. "...the most successful country in the Middle East."

    The United Arab Emirates? 🙂

    Jimmy Antley,

    Read the statements on seccession by the various states; nearly every one mentions slavery and the protection of "property" as a primary reason for rebellion. Indeed, all the discounting of such occurred largely AFTER the war ended. Your "moonlight and magnolias" brand of history (which is what dominated the hiistorical scholarship from the 1890s onward) was discredited in the 1950s.


    As I recall, the Confederate Vice-President (Thaddeus Stevens?), stated that such a program of emancipation would destroy the reason d'etre for the Confedercy.

  38. Portion of the Georgia Declaration

    "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."

    Portion of Mississippi Declaration:

    "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."

    Portion of the Texas Declaration:

    "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?"

    Portion of the South Carolina Declaration:

    "In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

    The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: 'No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping 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 service or labor may be due.'

    This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.


    The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.


    For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms [emphasis in the original] of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that 'Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,' and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction."

  39. I just love it when a self-proclaimed Frenchie lectures us Americans about slavery.

    After the Brits outlawed the slave trade, many of the slave ships were French-flagged; the French were perfectly happy to tolerate and profit from slavery long after the Brits, for one, outlawed it.

    If the French ever went to war to abolish slavery, I'm not aware of it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in that cause, so spare me your sanctimony, JB.

  40. Saying that the Civil War had naught to do with slavery is rather disingenuous. Yes, in reality the war was caused by "economic factors" or "debate over new states in the Union," but all of THOSE problems were directly caused by slavery!

    Imagine if I cut you with a knife. You don't
    bleed to death, because the doctor stitches you up but alas, the stitches become infected and you die. Is it accurate to say, "He died because of infected stitches, NOT because of a knife wound?" I don't think so, and that's basically the rationale offered by those who say the Civil War was not caused by slavery.

  41. R.C. Dean,

    Who is lecturing you about slavery? BTW, one wonders what my nationality has to do with this discussion?

  42. R.C. Dean,

    BTW, I was directing my comments to a person, not to an American, or a German, or a Thai, etc. So why you throw the nationalistic gloss onto my statements is not easy for me to see.

  43. Jean Bart,
    You may be right about what the VP had to say, but Alexander Stephens was the VP of the CSA. Thaddeus Stevens was an abolitionist who wanted to treat the former Confederate states as "conquered provinces."

    I must have missed the lecture or the sanctimony in Jean Bart's voice. He was just addressing the comments of others in this thread. I often disagree with Jean Bart's comments, but he seems to know his history.

    I graduated from law school at Washington & Lee University - named after two traitors, only one of whom was successful in his treason.

  44. R C Dean: That was one of the most pathetic ad hominem attempts I've seen in some time. You're really showing your desperation when you try to claim that _quotations_ are invalid because the person quoting them was French.

  45. This may be the new flag of Iraq.

    A ghostly banner, looking nowhere
    nearly at home as when hanging
    from a halyard of the Love Boat.
    It is anemia; its colors already ran.
    Gone the red, black, and green.
    Also comes in frayed dish towel or

  46. R.C. Dean,

    It should be noted that the outlaw of the slave trade in Britain did not end slavery in the British colonies; indeed, it was not until the early 1830s that this occurred. Furthermore, after the 1830s Britain instituted the "indenture" system in many of its colonies; which was merely slavery by another name. Hundreds of thousands of Indians and other Asians were coerced into this system over the course of the 19th century, and it was only the effort of Indians that ended (indeed, much of modern Indian nationalism springs from these efforts to end the indenture system). France ended slavery in its colonies in 1842 (it had been banned in the 1790s, but Napoleon brought it back and fought and lost a war in St. Domingue - after the British had done the same thing - to re-institute it there); however, our treatment of the colonial populations we ruled over was really no better than what the British did.

    I suppose if your point is that no country is without sins, well, that is obvious; if your point is that I am somehow trying to disparage Americans exclusively, then you are wrong. Perhaps if you took those bigot glasses off you would see this.

  47. "Saying that the Civil War had naught to do with slavery is rather disingenuous. Yes, in reality the war was caused by "economic factors" or "debate over new states in the Union," but all of THOSE problems were directly caused by slavery!"

    Jennifer, I didn't say the war between the states had "naught to do with slavery", but it's not what started it. Your analogy is correct up to the doctor part - at that point the guy rubs dirt in the wound, and an infection starts.

    Let me put it this way. Slavery in America (probably not French colonies or places like that) would have ended not that much longer than the 1860's for various reasons. I know, that doesn't help whoever was a slave at that time, but I'm just stating an opinion. Secondly, the US government definitely did not start a war effort based on abolition of slavery. Lastly, if the North had not try to strangle the Southern way of life with tariffs the war would not have happened. And, I'm not defending the planation/slavery way of life, but you should keep in mind that most Southerners, and most Southern soldiers (Johnny Rebel) never did own any slaves.

    And Jean, put in the rest of the seccession documents, not just part of it - at least for one state, like South Carolina.

  48. Jimmy,
    The Confederates were no stranger to using federal power to get what they wanted. They only brought up states rights when it suited their ends. They wouldn't even allow their citizens to have the freedom to do with their property (like freeing them) as they wished. This is also true with the Southern states and the Jim Crow laws. They had no problem using the federal goverment to get what they supported, but then they cried "states rights" when it came to giving liberty to their citizens.

    I have no problem with people wanting to display the rebel flag. Let's not pretend that they were fans of limited government. If I want a flag representing anti-government rebellion I can be proud of, the Gadsden Flag is good enough for me.

  49. KentInDC,

    Yes, I was sure I was wrong with the name of the Vice President; thankyou for the correction.

  50. I think people who want to fly the Confederate Flag should be able to, so long as they are subject to a new law, the "Fugitive Cracker Act", under which African-Americans could capture them, bring them home, and put them to work without pay.

  51. Kent in DC-

    You're right about Washington being a "successful" traitor, but consider this--had we lost the American Revolution, do you think kids in England woud be attending George Washington Junior High School today? No.

    A lot of black kids go to Davis Junior High (or Middle School, as I think it's called now) and I can hardly blame them for being furious. I personally would be pretty ticked off if I had to attend a school named after a guy who thought of me as legally equivalent to cattle.

  52. Jimmy Antley,

    "Slavery in America (probably not French colonies or places like that) would have ended not that much longer than the 1860's for various reasons."

    France outlawed slavery in 1842.

    In 1860 the only nations/colonies in the Americas that still allowed slavery were Brasil, Cuba and the United States.

    Finally, slavery in Cuba and the U.S. were in full swing and quite profitable by 1860 (the same can also be said for at least some areas of Brasil); the notion that slavery was about to collapse was eviscerated by the cliometric and economic history of Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman in "Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery." (It also eviscerated the U.B. Phillips and Stanley Elkins school of thought which stated that slaves were a tabula rasa upon which their masters wrote.)

    Indeed, if you look at their (Fogel and Engerman)ten "principal corrections of the traditional characterization of the slave economy," number ten is:

    "Far from stagnating, the economy of the antebellum South grew quite rapidly. Between 1840 and 1860, per capita income increased more rapidly in the south than in the rest of the nation. By 1860 the south attained a level of per capita income which was high by the standards of the time. Indeed, a country as advanced as Italy did not achieve the same level of per capita income until the eve of World War II."

  53. Jimmy Antley,

    And what exactly would full citations do to benefit your argument? Can you point to anything specific which mitigates against the statements that I posted? If so, then I suggest that you post them.

  54. Nice to know my fellow Americans can put aside an event whose participants have been quite dead for over a century and get on with life. Unlike those "unreasonable" Israelis and Palestinians (or Brits, and Irish...or Serbs and Croats...or....) The only thing more irritating than a southerner who can't let it go is a fellow northerner who can't either.

  55. BTW, the list above from Fogel and Engerman comes on p. 4-6.

  56. Ah, you can always count on H&R posters to mount a vigorous defense of the Confederacy and explain why slavery really wasn't the reason for the Civil War. Nothing says freedom like people fighting a war to maintain slavery!

  57. WLC: I'm convinced that if there was ever a historical event that led to the dissolution of the US, the Yanks and the Rebs would become a major dividing line. Maybe a couple hundred years later they would be considered different "ethnic groups".

  58. Nope Jean, I don't have citations. I've read a large amount on the war between the states and US history in general. Suffice it to say that my statements on the causes for that war are correct. Also, please put up the rest of one of the states' seccession documents.

    So, your Fogel text doesn't mention slavery in Africa, then? Hmmm?? Many of the blacks taken as slaves by Yankee and European slave traders were sold to them by Africans. How could they not have slavery there then? And did France just have a lull in slavery around that year, or what?Tell me why that book is contrary to other history texts. I'll leave it to someone else, as it's too nice out right now ....

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.