Heritage or Racism: The Confederate Flag

By Ian Briggs
Staff Columnist

Few symbols are more hated and loved than the Confederate flag. Its meaning has shifted over the past 150 years and continues to change. Walk around campus and you can see the occasional Confederate flag on the pocket of a shirt or hanging in a dorm room. The question is what do all these flags represent: Southern heritage, outright racism, or just rebellion against authority?

The original flag of the Confederacy was not what we know as the Confederate flag today. It was the Stars and Bars, a flag that looked extremely similar to the U.S. flag. While Southerners did want to abandon the Union, they were reluctant to abandon their flag. The only problem was that in a battle they could not tell which flag was U.S. and which was Confederate, leading to some obvious problems.

The solution was the creation of two flags, one as the battle flag, and one the parade flag. The battle flag that was adopted is what we now know as the Confederate flag, the only difference being that it was square, not rectangle. The battle flag gained widespread popularity and was later incorporated into a new national Confederate parade flag.

After the war, organizations like the United Daughters of the Confederacy adopted the flag as their symbol. While the battle flag was never the national symbol of the Confederacy, it has come to be recognized as such.

White Southerners saw the flag as a symbol of heritage and dignity. The “good old boy” connotations are attributed to Ole Miss football games and to distinguish Southern troops during WWII from their Northern counterparts. As for hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, they did use the flag, but they did not give it its blatantly racist connotation. That emerged during the integration of Southern universities.

You can also blame the Dixiecrats for the racist implications of the Confederate flag. The Dixiecrats were a party made up of anti-integration college students who co-opted the flag as their standard. The image of Dixiecrats fighting the National Guard while waving Confederate flags became branded into the national psyche. And so, the flag became tied to racism.

Today, it’s handed out at rock concerts and is just as likely to be found in rural New York as sweet home Alabama. It’s no longer just a symbol of the South; it’s become part of the good old boy culture of guns, trucks, and country music.

So what does the flag stand for on this campus? Student Logan Murray, a proud Confederate flag owner, said it represents “standing up for what you believe in and honoring all who died for their country.” Student Kay Wicker, a non-flag owner had this to say: “I understand that it is viewed differently by different people, but on principal, it does bother me.”

While the Confederate flag may not be intrinsically racist, it represents the entirety of southern history, much of which was racist. There is a connection to racism and the confederate flag. People have the right to be offended, but they should not assume the motives of the person owning the flag, because it means something different to each person.

The Confederate flag has changed greatly since its creation and is likely to continue to do so. There may come a day when the blatantly racist meaning of the flag fades away along with the scars of integration. Until that day comes, the responsibility falls upon Confederate flag flyers to explain what it means to them. As for the rest of us, we should keep an open mind, about a symbol that has stood for so much to so many, be it right or wrong.

93 Comments

  1. The Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and treason. The CSA was a pro slavery insurection against the United States. It’s memory as something good has only survived because of the lost cause myth and the general misunderstanding about what caused the war.

    The Confederate States of America was a nation created to protect slavery and it’s expansion from the incoming administation of Abraham Lincoln, it’s founders said so vehemently. It’s vice president Alexander Stephens infamously said in 1861,

    “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    1. If the flag is not a symbol of racism, why did so many southern states incorporate it in their state flags after the brown vs the board of education decision?

      1. Because they were trying to distinguish themselves from the North. It was not tied to Slavery..it was not intended as such. Research the history objectively.

    2. LHL: you don’t know what ur talking about. If you slam the Confederate flag for being ‘racist’, then you need to condemn the US flag and all the Founding Fathers who owned slaves. You need to condemn George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Go ahead and find out what your “honest Abe” said about the black race and the ugly truth about him. Stop parroting what you hear on TV and think for yourself.

      1. Way to go EL. For those of you who scream that this flag is racist these days, go read a history book. Where are your complaints about all of Africa’s sovereign nations’ flags? They are the ones who first enslaved their own people. When contact was made with PORTUGAL, NOT AMERICA, the Africans offered their slaves to them as trade. THIS is how slavery became worldwide. I don’t see you standing at the UN screaming at them to take all of their flags down. Many of those flags were flying while those countries promoted slavery. Get off your high horses, stop making a big deal out of every little thing that even minutely offends you. Too bad there aren’t enough of MY people left in the Americas to make a huge stink about flying the American flags…you know, since we got decimated and relocated to mere acres of land and all. Blacks are free now and equals…what do my people have left?

      2. My son was given an in school suspension right before the Christmas holiday to be served when he returns to school in January for having 2 rebel flag hat pins on his cap which he carried into school to put in his locker till days end and having a rebel flag dog tag. The hat pins say Heritage not Hate. the dog tag which he was going to put in his shirt so as not to be revealed, he didn’t get a chance and before he even got to the security guard station at the front of the school he was stopped and escorted to the office by security, he was honored last month for being a hero in the spring for performing cpr on a gentleman at his work place. the school had him interviewed by the press for doing so. then suspend him a month later for wearing something that is dear to him. last year they gave him a hard time about wearing a crucifix his grandmother gave him before she passed away. where does ones freedom end. Should our children have some constitutional rights. i thought us as US citizens had the right to freedom of expression. I guess not. they said it was offensive, how can something that says heritage not hate be offenseve? should i try to fight this or is it a definate no win?

      3. The confederate battle flag is a representation of heritage in my mind. It represents our southern roots, kind hospitality, Sacred Sunday’s of family and church, proud history of honor, respect for family and our Alabama home.. I proudly fly my Battle flag everywhere and I’m just as happy fishing, at church, in my truck or at my black friends home all the same.. God made everybody (Southern folks first lol!!) equal. Hairy age not racism.. This was a free country until Lincoln unprecidented attack of his own country to recoup the 80% of federal income lost when the south legally left the union.. Roll Tide!!!!!

    3. The Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern heritage and Southern pride. Just because the south had slaves doesnt mean that all of them wanted slavery. most of the people in the war on the Confederate side did not even own slaves they were fighting because they wanted to preserve their culture that they were used to. so the Confederate flag is not a symbol of hatred and racism so if you are going to that ignorant than go ahead but the facts have been laid out right in front of your face.

      1. What part of the Southern culture where they looking to preserve other than slavery as the Union had no interest in ending ‘Yes Ma’am and Yes Sir’, pecan pie, beans-n-greens, grits, hooped skirts, BBQ or pickin and a grinnin?…ONLY slavery was on the table and it was debated on and on the table for decades before it became an all out war. Look into the history of Kansas after the 1820 Missouri Compromise FOURTY YEARS earlier!

      2. I am black and I agree anything can be made a big deal out of seeing that everything has some kind of history attached. I respect everything good about both flags and condemn everything wrong about it.I also understand it is a part of my history also. I believe both flags are really meant to unite us not divide us. I was born in79 and I remember a simple life a quiet peaceful life. I know history goes back further than I can remember, but why tarnish a history of a flag that had no control over the bad name it received over the good name it fought for.

    4. Wait a minute, see what your saying here is propaganda. the War did not start over the Slavery issue, it was a means that Lincoln and others used to gain moral support.

    5. I just got through reading several articles about this flag and have become highly upset by how many have said that it does not for slavery,racism,torture, murder, rape, and degradation of the African American population. I may not speak for all people, but I know I speak for myself and for my ancestors when I say that I will not accept the excuses made for “dear ol’ dixie”

      We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that flag takes away the right to happiness when it is displayed proudly for all to see.

      We have the right to freedom of speech which has an unwritten clause about using symbols as well, shown in the Skokie case, but in my mind, there are symbols that should not be displayed so proudly if the meaning behind the symbol has not been understood.

      People have their opinions about other races, religions and cultures, but have the option to keep them discreet. Unfortunately, we are a little too free in this country.

    6. The confederate flag is a symbol of southern pride, culture, and home. Just because you view it as a symbol for slavery doesn’t make it such. The confederates fought for their rights, their homes and families. The northern abolitionist wanted to portray us as dumb racist white supremicists. Which is WRONG. We have done nothing but stood for what we believed. So tell me you biased uneducated fool. What does your flag mean to you?

    7. Not all Confederates liked the idea of secession and slavery. Plus you can’t use slavery in this, because the North had slavery too. There were even blacks among the Confederates. Why would blacks fight alongside the Confederates? They did this because they were afraid of punishment for helping the Union. Some blacks helped the Confederates because they just wanted to stay loyal to where they were born. So, the flag isn’t a symbol of racism.

    8. News flash: if you read things called books you will learn that even Blacks owned slaves in the North and South. Ulysses S. Grant – your beloved Commanding General of the Union owned slaves. However, Robert E. Lee – Commanding General of the Confederate army owned 0 slaves. Abraham Lincoln did not go into his presidency with the aim of abolishing slavery, it became his mantra after tensions in the south rose. Slavery was in existence in the North and the slaves in the North were some of the last areas to completely free slaves. Good Ol Boy Abe did not want to free the slaves all at once due to an influx of uneducated, financially poor Blacks. Now for the South….we get all the hate for slavery because we were an agricultural society who benefited on slave labor. Oh wait, the manufacturing North also used slaves in factories. How much we choose to ignore is scary. Besides Blacks were not the ONLY slaves. Slavery was a worldwide institution and GB introduced slavery into America. Blacks in Africa sold slaves to traders. These slaves were war trophies from tribal battles. Also include in the list of slaves, young with boys of European descent and Asians. YES, there were white slaves as well. The Confederate flag so honorable held today (I have a big’ un on my truck) is the Battle Flag of Robert E. Lee. Guess what, the South had several military regiments that were predominantly free Black men who carried….the Confederate Battle Flag. L2History

  2. Ian,

    When you say ” The battle flag that was adopted is what we now know as the Confederate flag, the only difference being that it was square, not rectangle.” I must strenuously object!

    Being there was more than 1 Confederate Army in the field, flag patterns differed. The square battleflag originated in the Army of Northern Virginia under command of Robert E Lee. The rectangle was used as the 2nd version Confederate Naval Jack as well as by the Army of Tennessee under Joseph Johnston.

    My GGGrandfather served in the 41st Georgia Regt, and they used what you claim didnt exist. There were many other units who used that same pattern.
    http://www.fold3.com/document/279630817/ and also http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_oNrGEbZjtPo/TH1mVeVgYeI/AAAAAAAAD-o/G-5LtHazytk/s400/41st+Georgia.jpg

    Thanks

  3. The Confederate Battle Flag represented a people defending their homes and property from an illegal invasion, and an attempt to remove themselves from an overbearing, tyrannical government, and to return to the Founder’s constitution, which was being trampled then, as it is today. The South gets all the blame for racism and slavery, but there would have been no slavery without the yankee slave trading ships. And, the war was not about slavery, but the continued collection of excessive tariffs from the South, and forcing the South back into the union.

    NORTHERN BLACK CODES
    Seen as a threat to white laborers, blacks were widely disenfranchised in Northern States, especially during the 1850s and 60s. It was not until after the War that these so-called “black codes” showed up in the South. Free blacks not only had restrictions placed on opportunities to earn a living, but also upon opportunities for education, for the privilege to vote, and even whether they could legally reside in a given State (JRK p. 55-57, 77; CA p. 130; BBM p. 170-72).
    In 1851, the Indiana constitution was changed to state that “no negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the state […]” (JRK p. 55; BBM p. 171).
    1853 Illinois law prevented “the immigration of free negroes into this State.” In 1862 the citizens of Illinois amended their State constitution to say that “No Negro or mulatto shall immigrate or settle in this state […]” (JRK p. 55, 77; CA p. 130; BBM p. 171).
    Oregon’s constitution, adopted on November 9, 1857, stated that “[n]o free negro or mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside or be within this state […]” (JRK p. 55; BBM p. 172).
    New Jersey and Massachusetts had also placed similar restrictions on blacks (JRK p. 55).

    1. so glad someone actually studied in depth the whole picture of the Civil War instead of just keeping a closed mind and keeping to what middle school teachers teach in that the Civil War was sole based on The South rebeling because of the institution of slavery. It always bothered me that they only showed how The South was the “bad” “racist” part of the Country when in reality The North was just as bad. It just wasn’t economical for them to have slaves.

      1. They’re all dead and so are those slaves…

        Since the U.S. was not the first country nor the last country to have slavery and Africans were not the only race to ever be enslaved… why not have everyone pay? The Dutch were the largest traffickers in African slaves lets make them pay too, most African slaves were captured and sold to slave traders by other African tribes so blacks need to pay too. Spain enslaved the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, etc. so they need to pay. Rome enslaved people of every race so Italy needs to pay. Egypt enslaved the Jews so they need to pay.

        My point is that slavery was not just an American, Jew or Zionist shortcoming, it was practiced all over the world throughout history.

        If you wanna talk about reparations?

        Over 360,000 Union soldiers alone died in the Civil War, ending slavery was but one result. The way I see it, we’re all square, unless you want to pay reparations for the lose of their ancestors.

    2. the underlining truth is over the years of history the Confederate flg purpose evolved.. believe it or not the Confederate flag was one a symbol of peace in Australia. it was also a flag of war and independence as well as a symbol for the Ku Klux Klan, a symbol of senseless killings of millions of black people over skin pigment, or simply a symbol of southern pride. out of all these representations of the Confederate flag, unjustified murders of millions of African Americans over greed and power a long with being treated like livestock and living currency. ((YEEAAH)) THOSE ARE GOOD REASONS FOR PEOPLE TO SEE THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AS A RACES SYMBOL..

    3. Jeff P. YOU have it Correct. I learned that in School too! (in the 60’s and early 70’s) And have heard from people with Master Degree’s in History the same.

    4. My husband and I have flown the Battle Flag for many years. He died last year without telling me how to respectfully bury or burn the worn out ones. Does anyone know? Thanks

    5. The “Northern Black Codes”, as you call them, were actually responses to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Acts. It required Northern States to capture and return escaped slaves to Southern States. In response, many Northern States passed these laws that would dis-obligate them from enforcing it. If you violated the “overnight provisions”, a ‘Negro’ would be charged with a misdemeanor and be instructed to “leave the State.” But the law’s wording did not require the capture of the Negro, nor did it obligate the State to determine his status as Free vs Slave.
      While, on the surface, this legislation “looks racist”, it was passed, actually, to ensure that slaves be given better means to escape Southern slavery.

    6. This breakdown of the actual history of the Confederate Flag is by far the best I have read. And if people open their eyes to truth instead of mainstream media they will see that the Confederate Flag has far less dirt on it then the Flag being flown today. I love my Country but the Government the stars and stripes represents is by far guilty of far worse crimes against their people…. Too me the US Flag represents greedy dictators who keep the people scared of threats that have been created by them..We are herded along like cattle while they get rich and our rights are being slowly dissolved.

  4. La Raza, meaning THE RACE, can fly their Mexican flag for Hispanic pride. The Black Panthers can wave the African flag for Black pride. No one condemns them for it. However, when Whites wave the Confederate Flag for White pride, we are lambasted for it. Can you say DOUBLE STANDARD?

    1. Mexican flag isn’t Hispanic pride. There are many Hispanic countries, Mexico is only one of them.

      There is no such thing as an ‘African’ flag, although there is a Pan African pattern.

      Between the country of Mexico, and the Pan African Movement and the Confederate flag, only the CSA fought a war with the United States of America and attempted to secede from the union.

      Mexican Americans (not ALL Hispanics) waving their Mexican flags for pride and Black Panthers waving their ‘African flags’ (as you call them) are still celebrating their identity as Americans (especially African Americans, who culturally set themselves distinctly apart from Africans to the point of a mutual dislike between Africans and African Americans) while those waving the Confederate flag are celebrating becoming traitors to their country.

      Essentially, the problem with the Confederate flag is not a race issue but a loyalty one.

      However, when the day comes that a black person can proudly wave a Confederate flag without being laughed at (publicly or internally) than it will truly no longer have the racial connotations that it does.

      Double standard, indeed.

      1. My black boyfriend proudly wears confederate flag clothing and supports the flag 100%. It is not a symbol of racism at all. The North also had slaves. Slavery wasn’t what the war was about.

        1. Thank you summer for saying that. My teacher this year hates the rebel flag and the confederacy, so she’s trying to say that they’re the bad guys. I will never let her convince me.

        2. The war was about freeing the slaves but the Confederate flag was a southern pride thing not a hate thing. I mean it would look very strange if they both carried the American flag.

        3. Pretty sure the war was about slavery. Look at these Declarations of Succession when they admitted it was about slavery. The Confederate states admitted it was about slavery, the creators of the Confederate flags said the flag was the white mans flag (one of them them was also in favor of continuing the international slave trade). They enshrined slavery into their Constitution (Article 1 Section 9). To make matters worse the southern states raised the confederate flag in protest of integration, the civil rights act, and the voting rights act.

          http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/csapage.asp

      2. Go on ebay buy the rebel flag that has a photo of Obama and the word HOPE on it. It is no different than the NAZi adopting a symbol of piece for their symbol. yes the swastika was originally a symbol of piece. now we all view it as a symbol of an evil group and that is how we remember it because of these racists jerks who continue to use it wrongly. we can’t change the way others use symbolism’s but we can educate properly so as to maybe correct the views of others.
        I can’t believe the hate that stems from stupidity. I have seen racism both directed toward blacks and whites alike,. there is also racism against Islamic people because of those that attacked our country, is it right to hate all of them because of a group that is misguided and became killers.
        the native americans were also slave owned and are to this day controlled not in a jail or by chains. the yankee is the one who brought the slaves here, that sold and killed many blacks. and the Europeans who came over for religious freedom killed the natives and took their lands, which is worse? history has been distorted for many years. we should teach our children the truth as to what happened, the views of both sides of all the wars, and fights. and those of us who have been taught wrong views and wrong history maybe go back to school finding out the real history of this country of ours.

    2. I totally agree with you Walter. That is double standards. I was just listening the The song that Brad Pasley came out ” Accidental Racist”. The song also has L. L.Cool J. singing. I was listening to all of the controversy about it and the rebel flag. Some of these idiiots need a history lesson

    3. WOW… it was never created for white pride… and as it was said “fuck pride” (pulp fiction) sad that thats your identity

    4. TOTALLY AGREE!! I have many many African American friends. From elementary to high school to my life now. I proudly wave the Confederate flag in my yard, yet I’m not, nor will I ever be a racists! I fly it as a meaning of southern pride and my African American friends know that and or not bothered by it. It’s people who are so close minded and do not see it has evolved into something else that has nothing to do with slavery or racism!!!

  5. Mr. Briggs. As a loyal student of Southern History about The War of Northern Aggression, a Blues/Southern Rock musician and as a Confederate Re-enactor in the 10th Louisiana Co. C Infantry Regiment…

    I tip my hat to you Sir and Salute you for having written a piece where both sides of the equation have been referenced regarding the most beautiful Battle Flag ever conceived.

    Many thanks for having remained open minded and for having encouraged folks to explore, investigate and educate themselves in order to understand the true meaning of The Confederate Battle Flag.

    No everyone’s intent is linked to racism. Mine is to never forget and honor The Confederate Soldier, as a sign of rebellion against oppressing powers (I don’t take any crap from anybody whom wishes to trample me), such as the Federal Government. And of course because it is a forever symbol of The Good Ole’ Boys and Southern Rock n’ Roll Music.

    I appreciate your article very much.

    Much Obliged.

    Deo Vindice, Confederate Mike.

  6. It is not a racist symbol and anyone who says so is historically ignorant and politically biased. Fly it proudly and F anyone who doesn’t like it. We are about “diversity” these days, are we not??

  7. I agree with you. I live in Quebec province ( canada) i am a french speaking person and I know your southern history. It interest me: the southern flag reflects the culture of the south, and it past. We , in Quebec, are proud of our french tradition as southeners and dixieboys are for your country.

    What bother’s them is that, for wathever the reason, some officials want to take out the flag, a statue of a civil war vet or some official building names ( as ” confederate memorial of ,,, ) focusing on the ”racial issue” of the existence of the artefact or statue, or name.

    History is History, and trying to forget it is something wrong. Sure, there were racist in the civil war. But this was a political war, not a slavery war. I am not sure that every people who hold a southern flag today is a racist. Why holding a southern flag in a Lynard Skynard concert is a racist act ??? I personnaly like the southern flag. I have one in my bedroom for Years. We can buy it in any flea market around the country. It represent for me, and for a lot of people around the world, the rebellion against the authority, and the héritage of the South, as the AK-47 represents the ultimate tool of all the ”wars of Liberation” all over the world,,, ( i am not an arm activisit !!!)

  8. I am a student at our wonderful Washington College and am the proud bearer of a confederate flag. My flag hangs in my room and has been there the entire time I’ve been at college. I have heard many people say rude and ignorant things to those of us who fly this flag. It is assumed that we are racist bigots and ignorant rednecks. Now granted I might be a redneck, but I sure am not ignorant or a racist bigot. In fact I believe the people who don’t take the time to stop and understand another person’s views are ignorant. The flag does not inherently represent slavery. Granted there are many images of racist groups carrying the flag in their demonstrations, but that is because they themselves are misusing the flag as a symbol. I will not deny that the South has a long heritage of slavery, but that does not mean a symbol of the South is evil. In that sense would sweet tea and peaches be evil and racist because they are associated with the South? The Confederate flag is a misused symbol in the modern world and it must be remembered that it has been used in history for more than just a symbol of racism. For me it is actually patriotic. I hope people will just think about that when they see someone bearing the flag and not make quick and irrational judgments.

  9. Slavery is almost like genocide. Blacks were beat, killed, and treated worse than animals. They were breed to create strong off spring, raped, and oppressed in the name of Christianity, America, and what ever else made the oppressor justify the brutality. The flag is a representation of the intent of the group who honored it. It is a sad past that should never be forgotten and never relieved, only remembered to help us become better people, citizens and well rounded contributors of our community and world.

    It is not the same a “White Pride” unless they share similar origins. Everyone should celebrate their heritage and who they are but not at the expense of others. You want “White Pride” to be recognized as a non-racist movement? Then make it happen, create a flag, motto, mission etc. that is not derived from anything suggesting supremacy, racism, hatred. How comfortable are Jews with a Nazi flag? This is different you would suggest. Not really, go visit a Holocaust museum and then an African American museum with a slavery exhibit. Or better yet got to Africa and visit the forts. I am certain you have no idea how similar they actually where.

    To assume someone is sensitive or ignorant because they despise the Confederate flag is irresponsible. It is this thinking that continues to add insult to injury. It is this thinking that prevents our people/nation from going forward. This is why racism is still here we don’t see it for what it is and make excuses. Excuses are tools of incompetence which build monuments of nothingness and those who specialize in there uses never accomplish anything but excuses, excuses, excuses.

    1. Your full of it. As mentioned many times in posts above, this flag was a symbol of the war against our government. If anything, this flag is more a rebel flag. Had nothing to do with slavery or black people or whatever. This flag was simply a battle flag “The Confederate Battle Flag represented a people defending their homes and property from an illegal invasion, and an attempt to remove themselves from an overbearing, tyrannical government,” I’m not southern, I am neutral, however, I see that there are several good points, and I see that there are several bad ones… You have an invalid and pathetic claim here. Your claim is that people who fly the Confederate Flag are irresponsible… Sounds to me like your the one making excuses… Just because people believe what they believe does NOT make them incompetent, In fact I think people like you are the irresponsible and incompetent ones because you don’t seem to understand how people feel about this. Who are you to call people who choose history over racial claims as the reason they wave their pride to be from the south, or have love for the south, or whatever. You obviously don’t care about how others feel. Otherwise you wouldn’t have posted such disrespect. How about it was once an American Flag, Still is… You don’t have to fly it, it isn’t a racial symbol… It was only turned into one by people who don’t matter anyways. Big words aren’t needed for this, as simply put as possible… Confederate Flag, a symbol of Southern Pride. Not Confederate Flag, a symbol of racists… This flag had nothing to do with racism… Not a damn thing to do with racism… Even when racist groups and factions used it as such, they are incompetent as well, racism shouldn’t even be an issue anymore… there are more than plenty people in this country today who are ready and willing to risk their lives to save their african american best friend or relative. I’d gladly jump in front of a bullet to save my black uncle, all while wearing a confederate flag on my shirt. I know plenty of people who would do the same, confederate flag is a symbol of southern pride and I’m not even from the south.

      1. It is and was about slavery. You can twist it…dilute it and claim it anyway you want. It was and will always remain a war about slavery. If you have pride in your country then prove it. Fly the flag that presents all the states in America.

    1. That’s right John. If the blacks don’t like it,they are free now. They can go to there own place and fly there own flag and leave us southerners alone.

  10. The Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865 and led to over 618,000 casualties. Its causes can be traced back to tensions that formed early in the nation’s history. Following are the top five causes that led to the “War Between the States.”
    1. Economic and social differences between the North and the South.
    With Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became very profitable. This machine was able to reduce the time it took to separate seeds from the cotton. However, at the same time the increase in the number of plantations willing to move from other crops to cotton meant the greater need for a large amount of cheap labor, i.e. slaves. Thus, the southern economy became a one crop economy, depending on cotton and therefore on slavery. On the other hand, the northern economy was based more on industry than agriculture. In fact, the northern industries were purchasing the raw cotton and turning it into finished goods. This disparity between the two set up a major difference in economic attitudes. The South was based on the plantation system while the North was focused on city life. This change in the North meant that society evolved as people of different cultures and classes had to work together. On the other hand, the South continued to hold onto an antiquated social order.
    2. States versus federal rights.
    Since the time of the Revolution, two camps emerged: those arguing for greater states rights and those arguing that the federal government needed to have more control. The first organized government in the US after the American Revolution was under the Articles of Confederation. The thirteen states formed a loose confederation with a very weak federal government. However, when problems arose, the weaknesses of the Articles caused the leaders of the time to come together at the Constitutional Convention and create, in secret, the US Constitution. Strong proponents of states rights like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were not present at this meeting. Many felt that the new constitution ignored the rights of states to continue to act independently. They felt that the states should still have the right to decide if they were willing to accept certain federal acts. This resulted in the idea ofnullification, whereby the states would have the right to rule federal acts unconstitutional. The federal government denied states this right. However, proponents such as John C. Calhoun fought vehemently for nullification. When nullification would not work and states felt that they were no longer respected, they moved towards secession.
    3. The fight between Slave and Non-Slave State Proponents.
    As America began to expand, first with the lands gained from the Louisiana Purchase and later with the Mexican War, the question of whether new states admitted to the union would be slave or free. The Missouri Compromise passed in 1820 made a rule that prohibited slavery in states from the former Louisiana Purchase the latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes north except in Missouri. During the Mexican War, conflict started about what would happen with the new territories that the US expected to gain upon victory. David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso in 1846 which would ban slavery in the new lands. However, this was shot down to much debate. The Compromise of 1850 was created by Henry Clay and others to deal with the balance between slave and free states, northern and southern interests. One of the provisions was the fugitive slave act. Another issue that further increased tensions was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. It created two new territories that would allow the states to use popular sovereignty to determine whether they would be free or slave. The real issue occurred in Kansas where pro-slavery Missourians began to pour into the state to help force it to be slave. They were called “Border Ruffians.” Problems came to a head in violence at Lawrence, Kansas. The fighting that occurred caused it to be called “Bleeding Kansas.” The fight even erupted on the floor of the senate when anti-slavery proponent Charles Sumner was beat over the head by South Carolina’s Senator Preston Brooks.
    4. Growth of the Abolition Movement.
    Increasingly, the northerners became more polarized against slavery. Sympathies began to grow for abolitionists and against slavery and slaveholders. This occurred especially after some major events including: the publishing of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, theDred Scott Case, John Brown’s Raid, and the passage of the fugitive slave act that held individuals responsible for harboring fugitive slaves even if they were located in non-slave states.
    5. The election of Abraham Lincoln.
    Even though things were already coming to a head, when Lincoln was elected in 1860, South Carolina issued its “Declaration of the Causes of Secession.” They believed that Lincoln was anti-slavery and in favor of Northern interests. Before Lincoln was even president, seven states had seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

    Top Five Causes of the Civil War
    Leading up to Secession and the Civil War
    By Martin Kelly, About.com Guide

    1. Actually Rick, 🙂
      “Unquestionably the historical evidence is strong that some blacks – perhaps several thousand – did serve in the Confederate Army in unofficial, non-combat roles as servants, laborers, teamster, musician, cooks, etc. But the official record is very unsupportive that thousands of blacks served as official soldiers in the ranks of the Southern soldiers’ rosters.

      When we use the word official we mean that a black soldier would have been documented through the same paperwork process as a white man would have in terms of enlisting, mustering in or out, and perhaps applying for pension benefits after the war. It is this logistical paperwork process that leaves a trail for historians to study and interpret.

      But how strong is the primary historical evidence – letters, diaries, first-hand accounts, military records, etc., – that blacks served in combat roles for the South? It is an important question.

      Besides the fact that it is important to preserve accurate history it is also important to “get it right” when it comes to knowing who fought in the Civil War so that these individuals can be properly honored and their place in history duly noted. Some who favor a Southern perspective on the war, particularly defending the proposition that the South did not fight to preserve or defend slavery, have argued that thousands of slaves fought on behalf of the South thereby proving that they were generally supportive of the Southern way of life.

      Some people have suggested that as many as 30,000 blacks took on the uniform and actually fought for the South, but does the historical record support that amount? What exactly does the historical record provide us with any kind of confidence to be able to answer this question?

      In short, if one sticks solely to the historical record for primary evidence of the black soldier picking up arms and fighting for the South, one can only conclude that the support for such a claim is scanty at best – merely anecdoctal – and entirely unsubstantiated at worst. Instead of the widely claimed and purported number of 30,000 fighting black soldiers for the Confederacy, an honest look at the historical record leads one to the conclusion that as little as under a hundred to as many as several hundred blacks may have actually engaged in combat for the South during the Civil War by actually carrying and discharging a weapon. How to interpret that evidence – or lack thereof – is left to the professional and armchair historians to debate.

      It is widely accepted by historians that perhaps as many as 200,000 blacks served in the Union Army. That is a sizable number when one realizes that only 750,000 to 900,000 men even fought for the South during the entire Civil War. According to historian and Professor James I. Robertson, Jr., “Approximately 180,000 blacks served as Federal soldiers. This figure represents 9 percent of the North’s fighting force. One-third of the blacks (68,178) died in the service, with sickness causing thirty times more deaths than battle.” Soldiers Blue and Gray: p. 35.
      For the Union side at least, the historical record is fairly definitive and clear: we know that about 9-12% of the Union Army was filled by black troops, depending on if one goes with the figure of 180,000 or 200,000 black Union troops serving. Black Union soldiers participated in at least 41 major battles and roughly 450 smaller actions. 37,000 black Union soldiers died in the Civil War. Though early black troops were not aggressively deployed as bearers of arms, it is the case that by the middle of the war, at least, more and more black Union troops were entrusted to carry arms and to perform in combat action.

      CWG has discovered that historians and staff – notably Robert Krick – at Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park have sifted through about 100,000 soldiers’ records to see how many non-whites were represented. Non-whites could be blacks, Native Americans, and mulattoes. They found that only 20-30 non-whites were found out of 100,000 soldiers’ records. That is less than 1/300th of one percent. Taking into account that the following estimate involves more conjecture than a good historian would be comfortable with applying to acceptable methods of reliable historical inquiry, one can still get a fairly solid “finger in the air” estimate that if that same ratio of 1/300th was applied to the figure-range of 750,000 – 900,000 Confederates serving during the war from 1861-1865, then one could only reasonably conclude that, at best, between 250-300 black soldiers may have served in the Confederate Army, and of those an even much smaller percentage would have been entrusted to take up arms.

      This might seem surprising but a leading Civil War historian, Professor James McPherson, who won a Pulitzer prize for a Civil War book he wrote, has gone on record to say that of the more than 25,000 soldiers’ letters he has personally read over the years, he has only found evidence that perhaps 6-12 black Confederate soldiers were even mentioned.

      The reality is this, looking at the historical record itself when it comes to answering the question – did many black men, free or slave, take up arms for Confederacy – one can only confidently say that perhaps a few, maybe scores, did but anything beyond that is highly conjectural and suspect. The larger the number of fighting black Confederates grows by one who would purport that thousands, even tens of thousands of blacks actually carried arms and faced combat during the Civil War, the more any objective observer would have to wonder what his or her agenda really was.

      The best evidence that blacks even served in the butternut uniform as official soldiers is suggested by records related to some blacks serving in a regiment from Louisiana and one perhaps from South Carolina.”

      1. Lisa,

        confederate states did not muster black volunteers into military service, so you won’t find records.

        however, such creditable figures as Fredrick Douglass has acknowledged the contributions of black soldiers fighting for their states in a combat role. The first battle of Manassas also witnessed 2 artillery units from Lousiana one slave and one free men under Gen Thomas Jackson.

        One estimate is 65000 black soliders took up arms for the Confederacy.

        Had the war continued there could have been over 300,000 black soliders, fighting for the south and their freedom, (not cooks, musicians, suttlers or laborers).

        I think history tells us that the Union soliders were not always kind and thoughtful to the blacks, so it is not surprizing that even with restrictions to their combat roles so many blacks opted in to defend their homeland.

        1. Homeland.” took up arms “One estimate is 65000 black soldiers took up arms for the Confederacy.
          Really? I must have been a real vacation living the life of a slave? so much so, black soldiers decided to defend a country that did not belong to them. A real vacation. To add to the confederate flag conversation, America is a great country, The Confederate flag has many meanings to different people. I prefer not to use it as my Southern symbolic flag of choice, as I a fond of Betsy Ross design.

  11. If the war was fought to free the slaves, explain West Virginia. Slave holding counties seceding from Virginia (ironic). Joined the USA in1863 as a slave holding state, two year after the start of the war, and a year after the constitution of the Confederate States became effective, stopping the importantion of slaves. With all the laws of the Northern US states and territories , stopping blacks from living in those northern states and territories maybe the war was fought to stop the spread of the blacks, not free the blacks. There is a lot of documentation to support the thesis!

  12. i feel as though the uneducated portion of america that believes us southerners are rasist for flying the confederate flag should atleast have an open mind. i was born and raised southerner. I fly the flag on my truck every day and i love when people ask me why i do this. and i am educated enough to give them the a reason why. I truley hate the national government, we all do. i wish we could go back to the ‘ good ol days’

  13. You guys are taking this way too seriously. Everyone has their own opinion on the meaning of the flag and you fighting about it isnt gonna change it. I personally think that if someone is wavin a rebel flag around you shouldnt assume what their reason is. They could just be supportive of it because of freedom from government and all that. If you want to wave it for racism then go ahead. If you don’t then don’t. It’s nobodys business what people mean by it. its their opinion so deal with it. Either mind your own business or get over yourself. It has many different meanings. Believe what you want to you’re not the boss of others opinions. You’re full of shit if you think its only about racism. There’s hillbilly proud ppl that wld never think of it as supporting racism. Fuck off…

  14. Most African American folks where I live think that the confederate flag is racist. But when my friends try to explain to them that in fact, the war wasn’t fought over slavery but over the government taxing the south they get called racist crackers. And as bad as it pisses me off I try to keep my cool. In fact I do recall that most of y’all Yankees had slaves even Abraham Lincoln had them. He used the lame excuse that he wanted to stop slavery, when what he really wanted is the profit of the southern cotton profit. Lets get back to the topic, the kkk may use the flag but they also use the Christian flag as well. So that flag is racist too? In short all I gotta say for y’all is if my flag offends you, you need a history lesson!

  15. The southern flag to me represents States Rights…I am not denying that this flag can represent Racism, but I can choose what I want the flag to represent…If given the chose, I would side with the South in the civil war; but overall I would not choose a side, because the whole war was wrong (it could have been figured out in a non-violent way)! If me proudly waiving my flag is considered racist, then so be it…I can choose to waive whatever flag I want (I could waive a Chinese/Russian Communist flag around if I wanted to) so if I can waive those around, then I can waive the Confederate flag around…this is still America after all! On a side note, I live in Washington State (the state south of Alaska), and I am 1/8 African-American!

  16. There are many southern Blacks who have great pride in their southern roots but one would have a almost impossible feat to find a confederate flag hanging in the home of someone of African ancestry. It does not represent per se southern pride then does it. It represents oppression alright but not because of the government, but for a part of our country that not only did not want end slavery per law but wanted to celebrate it.

    1. You’re wrong. I’ve seen more Blacks with Confederate Flags than I can count in my part of Texas. Just because you do not see it in your area does not mean it does not exist. You believe in air don’t you?

  17. Great article. It never fails to amuse me that the same people who “know” that the Confederate Flag represents racism ALSO have no earthly idea that lobster used to be used for bait and to feed the very poor.
    BOTH of these things blow their minds, but only the first ever makes them angry. 😀

  18. I’m Southern through and through, card-carrying DAC and DAR. The only place I fly the Confederate flag is deep in my heart.

    For me, it’s a flag of great sorrow, death and monumental destruction. It’s tragic that it took war and violence to resolve the issues of slavery, economic and political power.

    Thinking about what my Georgia and South Carolina ancestors went through in the war and Reconstruction makes me feel very sad.

  19. confederate flag has come to represent racism and was hijacked by hate groups like the KKK much like the swastika was hijacked by the Nazi’s. It might have started out as honorable symbols but they are not anymore. To wave these symbols around when there is so much negative connotation surrounding them just means you are intolerant and ignorant. PERIOD.

  20. Reading opinions about the Confederate Flag as a result of attending a Lynyrd Skynrd concert where it was presented on stage. I don’t understand how the flag can be used as a symbol of pride. I felt some relief that I did not see skinheads, but felt I was surrounded by rednecks. I did not enjoy the performance after seeing the flag on stage; it was disturbing to me.

  21. I live in northern ny and I proudly fly the Confederate flag because it represents my hatrid for government and everyone who tries to take away my Second Ammendment Right. I find it funny how the few blacks who live where I live are ignorant enough to find the flag racist. Rednecks like me are often called “racist crackers” making them just as “racist” as whites. Another pet peave of mine is how blacks like to play the racist card to get their way, usually taking a completly harmless statement and blowing it way out of proportion. Ironically, many of the blacks who live up here are very unruly and are the cause of most of tye crime up here. Up here in northern NY I am proud to say I live in a small town far from the city and I fly the confederate flag and those who despise me for it can KISS MY COUNTY ASS!!!

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  24. Confederate flag is a sign of ignorant people who are racist it’s always some redneck in a pickup truck waving this shit around. I know for a fact racism still exists. I lived in both regions the north for 24 years and now the south my last 5 all I have to say is white people down here are less educated, trashy and most of them are racist!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Since the topic is about flags and the good or bad history behind them. I haven’t heard anyone mention the history behind the swastika (Nazi German) flag. It has faded away and no one can find the flag anywhere. There was bad history behind it and no one wants to remember it or think about. I believe most folks recognize the terrible history behind that flag and chose to put that history behind them. On the case of the Civil War, so-called “Southern pride” prevails in the south. But it’s all about ego and power in America. We can accomplish whatever we want to accomplish though. If America wants the Civil War flag to be a flag of bad history for America we can forget it too. It’s all about a choice: just like slavery and anti-slavery, North and South and all the rest. But one thing I do know about pride is that it comes before a fall. And the South did fall in the Civil War conflict just like Hitler did in WWI. It should be over for the bad history of this country but some folks cherish the bad history more than the promise of a great future.

  26. The flag was not intended to be racist. Neither was the Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa flags, and yet both are rightfully considered to be symbols of racism. Why should the confederate flag be any different?

  27. I am 69 years old and I feel that the Confederate Flag (battle or country) should not be displayed except in a museum. The Civil War was a tragedy for both sides especially since it was brother against brother in many cases depending on where the brothers resided, i.e. north or south … state rights is the excuse ,,, the south wanted to split from the United States and be another country and that is what that flag stands for ,,, a new nation that embraced slavery and would not tolerate obedience to our federal government, This continued hatred was demonstrated in the recent tragic shooting in South Carolina, a terrible hate crime, and there are pictures on the media showing the killer proudly showing the confederate flag prior to this incident. A nation divided cannot stand ,,,, It is 2015 and we “still” have extreme racism ,,, with all the problems we face with other entities and our economy it would be nice to put the past aside and truly be one nation under God!

  28. I am a northerner living in the south–anthropologist, historian. (Curator of a local historic house museum for 17 years.) What does the Confederate Flag Mean –to Southerners. It represents Southern History, Southern Culture, the Heritage of the South. What does the Confederate Flag mean to others (such as the Charleston shooter) –twisted, drugged, insanity. Is that a reason to ban the Confederate Flag?

    My answer: you can’t erase the South. A mile down the road from me there is a US Flag flying on a rural country road, among some cows in pastures and barns. Tucked beneath the US Flag, is the Confederate Flag. What does that say? It doesn’t say a thing about racism and bigotry. It says simply. You are driving through the Southern Blackbelt region. You are in the Old South. Pay attention and you might learn what it means to be a Southerner.

  29. On July 16,1864, Lincoln sent James R. Gilmore and Colonel James F. Jacques to discuss an exchange of prisoners and ask Confederate President Davis what conditions he would accept to end the war, to which Davis replied “Withdraw your armies from our territory, and peace will come of itself…We are not waging an offensive war…Let us alone and peace will come at once.” When asked if slavery was no longer an element in the contest Davis said “No, it is not, it never was an essential element.” and “We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for independence…”
    Lincoln stated that his reason for invading the South was to save the Union and in a letter dated August 22,1862, he wrote “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.” Revenues from the South were vital and he was determined to keep those revenues coming to the Treasury by any means necessary. Once when asked why he would not let the South go in peace, he replied “I cannot let them go. Who would pay for the government?” Further proof of this was in the New York Evening Post editorial which stated “…The revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states…the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on our government; the nation will become bankrupt…” Evidently, paying for their own programs was unacceptable, but looting the South was okay.

    The South had every right to secede and the causes for their secession were ideological and financial. Ideologically, the South wanted a more limited federal government as defined by the Constitution in which States’ Rights and individual rights held power over the federal government. Financially, the South had 10% of the wealth, yet it was paying 87% of the federal revenue because of the 1828 “Tariff of Abomination.” Outnumbered in the Congress, the South was being bankrupted and looted to finance the industrialization and infrastructure for the North.
    In summation, the Flag of the Confederacy stands for States’ Rights and individual freedom as envisioned by our Founding Fathers; it had nothing to do with the institution of slavery. I will continue to honor and uphold the ideals of the Confederate States of America and the flag for which it stands!

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams December 4, 1770

    .

  30. If people would research the history of this flag they would know it is not racist. i understand some people say that this flag offends them. The Black Panther Flag offends me…it represents Racism….the shirts that Say All Black Lives Matter offends me…does that mean we banned those as well. It can not be one way…

  31. The ignorance in some of the comments above is simply unbelievable. Unbelievable! Hundreds of thousands of Confederate soldiers? What are you smoking? The Confederacy didn’t even allow black soldiers until the last few months of the war, and only because it was a last ditch effort to avoid certain defeat. There were very few takers (scholarly estimates on the order of 200), since the slaves of course knew the war was almost over and they would soon be free anyway.

    As for the Southern states not seceding over slavery but over some vague, general belief in states’ rights, that’s simply untrue. It was no secret why the states seceded, because four of them issued official government documents stating in great deal why they seceded. Surprise! It was all about slavery. Here are some excerpts. Search on the text and you’ll find the whole thing.

    Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery, the greatest material interest of the world.”

    Georgia: “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.”

    South Carolina: “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery.”

    Texas: “maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery — the servitude of the African to the white race.”

    If you’re one of the people who have been making excuses for the Confederacy and you never heard about these documents, ask yourself why. It’s because you have been the victim of neo-Confederate propaganda. They’re feeding you garbage to try to justify Confederate pride that is really just thinly disguised racism. If you’re not a racist, don’t be taken in by them any longer. They rely on gullible people to believe and spread their lies.

  32. The confederacy and its true history has been distorted by people with zero knowledge of the facts,and with a totally inability to research and evaluate them This month i have published , Death before Dishonor and it will be available worldwide from 16th August.The book is an accurate account of the flag and the reasons for the war.It includes full references from the Library of Congress and .other national archive sites. It reveals the high number of black confederate soldiers that fought alongside their white comrades receiving equal pay and rations ,plus pensions at the end of their service. The book will of course be condemned by the ignorant and those with a political agenda,who will scream it is all lies,without one shred of evidence to back their view. That’s OK ,you cannot fix stupid and i will not try.Currently the book is available on pre-order from Kindle direct by following this link
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012RJN9HW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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