January 31, 2001 - Latest opinion at bottom of page regarding the Georgia
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It has become evident that the children of this great nation have been misled by the educational system and news media regarding the South and it's heritage. How sad it is to me that the Governor of Georgia proclaimed April as Southern Heritage Month and not a single television or radio station (to my knowledge) presented anything on the subject. Based on media coverage, it would seem that the white pioneers of the South never existed or are not worthy of notation.
I am a true southerner and a proud descendant of veterans of many wars encountered by this nation. Wars that my ancestors engaged in include The French and Indian War, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The War for Southern Independence, The Great War, and World War II. Some of my ancestors fled France fearing the Catholic revolt, some fled England for freedom OF religion, while others came to this continent in pursuit of their happiness. I am proud of my Southern ancestry and resent anyone trying to minimize or chastize them. To some readers, this page may seem to be a racist attempt at reinforcing the ideologies of the Southern plantation owner. I am neither racist nor do I condone slavery. I have many ancestors that fought for the Confederacy. However, my 3rd Great Grandfather gave his life on the battlefield in Bull's Gap, Tennessee only miles from his homeplace. He was an East Tennessean and a member of the United States Cavalry. One of his brothers-in-law was a spy for the United States and was murdered at home by Rebels during the Christmas Season. Tragically, another brother-in-law fought in the Confederate Infantry.
Most of my ancestors settled in the mid-Atlantic region before heading southward while some were native to this continent. My veins flow with the blood of the first settlers and pioneers of this great nation - some were members of the House of Burgesses in Virginia. President Thomas Jefferson's wife was my aunt, many generations removed. While a few of my ancestors were wealthy and possibly owned slaves, most were poor and illiterate farmers. They believed in God, honesty, hard work, fairness, and independence. They readily took up arms to defend their country's beliefs - some giving their lives for their great nation. My forefathers believed in Honor and Duty, which appear to be politically incorrect in today's society. Our Nation was family to them, and was to be defended by whatever means necessary.
Though our nation has encountered wars, conflicts, and battles that, looking through history's eyes, may be shameful, we cannot and should not as a people, condemn nor disregard the intentions of our forefathers. Only a generation ago most children were spanked in public, whipped, and harshly disciplined. Should we condemn, disown, or ignore our parents for their actions? One must not judge too harshly those of another time, environment, or seemingly immoral action. Should we forget President George Washington or President Thomas Jefferson because they embraced slavery? The same argument should be made for the flying of the flag of the Confederate States of America. To some the Confederate Battle Flag, which in most occurrances is an incorrect rectangular shape, represents a war for slavery. To the true southerner, the flag represents heritage and respect for our ancestors. To me, the flag is a reminder of the potential danger of an uncontrolled government.
Most of my ancestors of early to mid 1800's resided along General William T. Sherman's route from Atlanta to Savannah. In July of 1864, General Sherman sent a group of cavalrymen known as Gerrard's Raiders from Decatur to Covington to destroy rail lines and bridges. However, they also plummaged the farms, houses, and stores along the way. They stole food, clothing, and goods from farms and sometimes burned them as well. Four months later, General Sherman struck out for Savannah. His northernmost wing ravaged my ancestors' lands again, which, by the way, were being kept by women and children for the most part. One must also remember that many Southerners were Loyalists; that is, they were against secession and the war. How could any civilized government condone such actions against innocent people? After the war, the area was controlled by Federals, a term used for the military, for nearly 10 years. Should this be forgotten? It is my duty, and with honor I must say, to insure that my children and their children learn of and remember our heritage.
Many of today's United States citizens cannot comprehend someone fighting for what appears to be a terrible cause. Most Americans consider the "Civil War" a fight over slavery, which unfortunately, is reinforced by most school history books. Many historians have documented the political fever of the time, the anti-slavery movements, and various other issues. However, most authors have missed the deep rooted meaning of the war. The war was a very personal war; a war pitting brother against brother, father against son, and uncle against nephew. One should remember that the "Civil War" infantryman was more than likely poor, uneducated, a farmer, and without slaves. So why would poor farmers with no slaves risk death over slavery? It is difficult, indeed, to comprehend the extent of their loyalty. But, perhaps, we should consider the location and circumstances of the time. Our country had secured it's independence from England only about 70 years prior to the war. We successfully defended our nation against English aggression less than 50 years prior to the war. Less than 30 years had elapsed since the terrible "Trail of Tears" - the forced relocation of the Five Nations to the mid-western plains. Most of the South was still frontier with few railroads. Indian trails and rivers were the primary routes of travel. Most plantations were located in the flat lands and along rivers. The hilly regions were occupied by small farmers. When the threat of seccession arose, there was a definite line of demarcation among the Southerners - the low-lander plantation owners versus the high-lander poor farmers. Many areas of the South had similar lines of demarcation - the best example being the highlands of Virginia "splitting" to form a new state - West Virginia.
There is no doubt that Southern Secession was initiated by the slavery issues of the southern states and the new territories being settled out west. Most of the politicians of the South were aristocrats and more than likely "owned" slaves. There was great debate over seccession - the State of Georgia's legislature had to take numerous votes before passage. At first the debate was about slavery and state's rights. Then the issue broadened to sovereignty. The majority of legislators succumbed to the view of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness as legislated by each sovereign state, not the "rights" determined by the federal government. Therefore, the issue became "Why is it 'Illegal' for a sovereign state to withdraw from the Union?" The Northern States, in the most part, believed that the "Union" could never be broken and that the Republic could exist only by maintaining the "union of states."
Most people consider the secession and the war as synonomous. The true southerner knows better. The seccession brought about a new country, not a war. The Confederacy knew that the United States was better equipped militarily and had more men. Why would a new nation risk losing it's wealth and people? The soverign nation - The Confederate States of America - had no reason for war at the outset. They were busy writing a Constitution, establishing a monetary system, and establishing a new government. Their firm beliefs in limiting a central government was included in their Constitution - limits on national powers, terms of office, and written soverignty of states (which was never included in the United States Constitution). The Confederacy was a nation independent of The United States of America. All ties had been broken. However, President Lincoln was concerned about the many forts along the seas and rivers of the South. He believed that the forts, both the land and improvements, belonged to the United States. The Confederacy believed that the forts belonged to the Confederacy. President Lincoln sent naval vessels and troops to take control of the forts. There was an apparent stand-off in Charleston, South Carolina - the naval vessels of a foreign country standing watch over the Confederate manned forts of the area. Noone knows who fired first, but a battle ensued. The Confederate States considered the United States' actions as an act of war, no matter who fired first. The Confederacy believed that the United States vessels were violating their national waters and had no right to enter. The engagement in warfare by the United States of America was an outrage to the Confederacy.
General Robert E. Lee did not embrace slavery, but believed that duty to one's state and nation outweighed one's personal beliefs. Knowing the horrors of war, he reluctantly agreed to become the leader of the Confederate Armies. General William T. Sherman wrote in his memoires that he had no feelings toward slavery; he was fighting to "save the Union." He believed that no state had a right to withdraw, or secceed, from the United States. Slavery did not become a key issue in the war until President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation several years after the start of the war, a measure to rekindle a fighting spirit and purpose for the war.
no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of
slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right
to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
Abraham Lincoln. March 4, 1861
thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission,
and offer my sword to the other side."
General Ulysses S. Grant
One last item that I must inform you about..... The NAACP, since 1991, has actively campaigned for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag (and all other humane references to the Confederacy). In 1991 a Resolution was passed at the National convention for the NAACP which is included below. It refers to the "Confederate Flag and State Flags containing the ugly symbol of idiotic white supremacy, racism and denigration..." I consider the Resolution as offensive, racist, disrepectful, and incorrect historically...
Resolution Abhorring the Confederate Battle Flag on State Flags
WHEREAS, the tyrannical evil symbolized in the Confederate Battle Flag is an abhorrence to all Americans and decent people of this country, and indeed, the world and is an odious blight upon the universe; and,
WHEREAS, African-Americans, had no voice, no consultation, no concurrence, no commonality, not in fact nor in philosophy, in the vile conception of the Confederate Battle Flag or State Flags containing the ugly symbol of idiotic white supremacy, racism and denigration; and,
WHEREAS, we adamantly reject the notion that African-Americans should accept this flag for any stretch of imagination or approve its presence on the State Flags;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the national Office of the NAACP and all units commit their legal resources to the removal of the Confederate Flag from all public properties.
Approved 1991 NAACP
Hopefully, this web-page has shed a little knowledge and understanding about being a Southerner, and in particular a Proud Georgia Rebel. Raise the Confederate flag with honor to our forefathers and their families "Lest we forget."
On the evening of October 9, 2000, FOX Cable had a short story regarding the Confederate Flag situation in the South. A poll was taken over the internet and due to the high demand, their web server crashed. The following morning I logged onto their website to view the results. To my surprise the results of whether the Confederate Flag should be removed follows:
I then emailed FOX the following:8.3% - Yes, the flag should be removed
91.2% - No, the flag shouldn't be removed
0.5% - Not sure
Subject: Confederate Flag
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000 08:44:39 -0400
From: Dennis Norton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Your report last night regarding the Confederate Battle Flag may have been enlightening to the majority of Americans, but to the true Southerner, the report was very superficial. Our educational system has misled our children for many decades and our news media continues the misinformation. There are several issues at hand: 1) The NAACP, 2) The cause of the war, and 3) The southerner's feelings toward the flag.
In 1991 the NAACP adopted a resolution regarding the removal of the flag. The resolution begins by stating "WHEREAS, the tyrannical evil symbolized in the Confederate Battle Flag is an abhorrence to all Americans and decent people of this country, and indeed, the world and is an odious blight upon the universe...". It is evident from the wording of the resolution that the NAACP is attempting to crystallize the "African-American" people into a unified hate group against Americans and American institutions that exhibit the flag and other Confederate symbols. To quote Mr. Walter Butler, per your report, "... we hate the Confederate symbol." Not only has the flag been under attack, but all references to the Old South leaders are being erased. Streets, schools, and towns named after former slave owners or prestigious leaders of the Confederacy are systematically being renamed.
Additionally Mr. Butler stated, "The war was about
owning slaves." Mr. Butler is either uneducated, brainwashed, or
intentionally misleading his brethren. The war was started by President
Lincoln's decision to control former Federal properties, such as forts,
waterways, etc. Most of our children today believe that the Confederacy
was formed after the Fort Sumter incident. However, the independent
nation of The Confederate States of America had already been formed and
to function as a sovereign nation. If the war was about slavery why did President Lincoln state on March 4, 1861, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." And why did General Ulysses S. Grant state "If I thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission, and offer my sword to the other side." Slavery did not become an issue until 1864 with The Emancipation Proclamation, which only freed slaves in the Confederate States. Slaves in Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and parts of Louisiana, for example, would remain slaves until their Owners freed them.
So what does this have to do with the Southerner's
feelings toward the flag? Until very recently the South has been
denigrated for decades by Northerners. We have been labeled as idiots,
uneducated, incestuous, slow, and so forth. However, our Southern
ancestors had critical roles during the formation of our Nation and many
became Presidents of the United States. We are proud of our ancestors,
including slave owners President George Washington and President
Thomas Jefferson. We are not
proud of the institution of slavery. Nor are we proud of The United States of America for forced removal of Native Americans from the Deep South, and for slaughtering defenseless women, children, and the elderly during the Indian Wars. Many of us in the South have native blood, though our fathers and grandfathers had to conceal their ancestry in order to attend public schools. Nor should Americans be proud of Generals Gerrard and Sherman for their burning of farms, foraging, and stealing of personal properties from those along the route to Savannah in November of 1864. Many women, children, and elderly along this route were left to starve and freeze to death during the upcoming winter. Their crops were destroyed, their meats stolen, and their animals carried away. As the Native American should never forget, nor be forced to forget, their misfortunes, the Southerner should never forget their plight. Most of my ancestors of the time resided along the infamous route of destruction.
So, what does the Confederate Flag mean to me?
It is a reminder of the pain and suffering my ancestors endured during
their attempt of becoming a sovereign nation. It is a reminder
of what a "civilized" United States government can do to the helpless.
It is a reminder of how terrible war can be. The true Southerner
does NOT believe, as proclaimed by Mr. Chris Osborn, "... the South's
Confederate Flag is an emblem of culture and heritage, a reminder of the
Rebel troops who
defended the South in the American Civil War." The war was not a Civil War and the flag is no more an emblem than the United States Flag is. Mr. Osborn is another victim of our nation's success stories of the misinformed.
Descendant of Northern and Southern soldiers
UPDATE January 31, 2001
New Georgia Flag Prior Georgia Flag
Now that the dust has settled from the Battle of the Georgia Flag, what was obvious to many is becoming a reality. To enlighten those not familiar with the events taking place prior to the change, the following is a brief summary.
The State of Georgia has on several occassions attempted to redesign the flag. The latest true attempt in 1991 with the guidance of then Governor Zell Miller. The state legislature had heated debates and killed efforts for the redesign. Many of the legislative advocates were not re-elected to office. Thus the issue had been quashed for fear of another voter retalliation.
In late 2000, black leaders in the Atlanta area threatened to boycott events, including the NCAA basketball tournament to be held in Atlanta until the Confederate stars and bars are removed from the state flag. Some have estimated the lost revenue of this single event as $50 million. The NCAA responded by querying different cities as to their ability to host the event. This enlivened the business leaders into an active campaign to redesign the flag.
Shortly after the first of the year, Governor Barnes met behind closed doors with a few select business owners, blacks, and whites of the area. Their purpose - to design a new State Flag. Within a couple of weeks the proposed flag design was revealed to legislators and public alike. For some unknown reason, state political leaders were not privy to the closed door meetings and witnessed the unveiling simultaneously with the public. The governor declared the new design as a great compromise allowing all Georgians to unite and to put the flag issue behind them. The strong arm tactics of the governor and reportedly political favors forced the State House of Representatives to debate, vote, and subsequently approve the flag within one week of the unveiling. The House had hoped to force the Senate to vote later in the week, but due to details in state law, the vote was postponed until the following Tuesday. After about 2 hours of debate, the Senate approved the new design 34 Yea to 22 Nay.
So what was obvious to many? The methods used by the governor to expedite approval raised many questions. First of all, why not use a systemmatic approach? Determine if the voters should decide the issue in a state wide referendum. If not, have the legislature vote on whether the flag should be redesigned. If passed, the legislature would then establish a design committee to receive input from the voters of the state. Provide a few designs that can be reviewed and then finalized based on public comment. Could it be that the governor was afraid that the public did not want a redesign? Could it be that governor had other ulterior motives? Perhaps...
According to at least one state senator, numerous deals were being finalized prior to the vote. Many promises for endorsing new legislation, aid to localities, and other such behind the door meetings had been taking place. One instance of such a possibility has already surfaced. According to a newspaper article, the state will have to fund approximately $250,000 for replacing the old flag at all government buildings, schools, and other related facilities. The current flag manufacturer, The Flag Place, has been contracted to produce the official state flag until November 2001. On the Monday prior to the flag vote, the flag manufacturer was notified by the state that his company could continue producing the flag if he submitted a letter stating that the company would maintain the same terms and conditions of his current contract. Such letter was then forwarded to the state. Two days after the company's initial contact with the state procurement manager and the morning following the flag redesign approval, the company was notified by the state procurement manager that the contract to produce the new flag will be opened up for bidding. It will be interesting to see what company is awarded the new contract. It will also be interesting to see how the state can justify voiding the contract with The Flag Place.
Another obvious issue was the black leadership's role in the redesign. If the stars and bars were so revolting to them, why would they endorse the new design? The stars and bars are still there, only much smaller. However, the stars and bars remain. Prior to the vote on the design, Martin Luther King, III stated that the new flag was a great start. What did he mean by that? Most true southerners knew exactly what he meant. This is step one in a very calculated effort by the NAACP to rid the South of all references to the Old South. Remember the South Carolina flag situation? The stars and bars must be removed from atop the State Capital Building the black leaders demanded. A compromise was reached allowing the flag to be raised adjacent to a Confederate Memorial. But now there is a movement to remove the flag from the grounds of the Capital. A similar scenerio has already occurred in Atlanta. Shortly after the passage of the redesign of the flag, Martin Luther King, III stated in a television interview that he now hopes that someone will begin the campaign to remove the small stars and bars.
It is unfortunate that our state legislators have been
duped. Hopefully the voters of this great state will wake up and
insure that our ancestors' sacrifices are not discarded. Many streets
have been stripped of their names, being replaced with black leaders' names.
Schools are being renamed; even some towns' names are being targeted.
Unite everyone before it is too late!!!
our Southern Soldiers lay in unmarked graves.
Visit Southern Soldiers Remembrance Fund
to learn how you can help preserve their role in our nation's history!