The Confederacy makes up a sizable and interesting chunk of American history. Not only interesting but often regarded as admirable.  Admiration for the Confederacy’s brave struggle against great odds and its noble leaders has lasted for generations and is worldwide. Its admirers have even included some of the best of the men who fought against it.

Wiping the Confederacy from American history, a currently mobilised campaign, or dismissing it  by a shallow slogan like “treason,” is to make  our history  incomprehensible.  It is like omitting Winston Churchill from British history or Bolivar from Latin American history.

The present destruction of memorial works of art and digging up of dead Americans of other times  is an entirely trumped up crusade. It reflects no genuine public feeling. Has anybody ever been genuinely “hurt” by such monuments? I doubt it, but even so, uninformed emotions do not justify the government’s destruction of  other peoples’ history. The demand for such is the behaviour of Communists and jihadists who are demonstrating their political dominance–their ability to control what we know about ourselves and our past.

The Hate-Confederates  show their shallowness by ignorance of an essential element of understanding history–continuity. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals R.E. Lee and J.E. Johnston were the sons of officers in the American Revolution. President Zachary Taylor’s son, Thomas Jefferson’s grandson, and nephews of Presidents James Madison, Andrew Jackson, and James K. Polk were generals in the Southern war for Independence.  The families of Francis Scott Key and American frontier heroes  Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were Confederates.

In the line of continuity we might mention heroes of World War II like Patton, Puller, Nimitz, Buckner, Forrest, Chenault, and Audie Murphy—all descendants of Confederates.

Doesn’t this rather call into question the whole business which is a party-line attempt to make “treason” preempt the basic issue of the war–the nature of the Union. To make it seem as if the whole business had to do with benevolently freeing the black man from his evil enemies. Thus the history of America becomes merely a subset of black history.  It reduces all our history to the comic book level.

That is a false history. Lincoln’s government did not launch the largest military expeditions every seen in North America in order to free the slaves. That was “collateral damage.”

Such people never read the Constitution. Their ideas of it are shallow and emotional: what they would like for it to mean. It says “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in leveling War against them, or adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Something  which Lincoln was egregiously engaging in. Lee never gave an oath to defend the government and whatever gaggle of politicians had power. The oath required allegiance to the Constitution.

With the support of less than two-fifths of the people, Lincoln used the government to make massive warfare against a large number of the States and their people. Lee would have been a traitor indeed if he had made war on his own people–killing, looting, burning them out, and depriving them of their American self-government.

Of course, no serious charge of treason was ever pursued against Confederates even though Republicans had near total power at the end of the war.

Here is another point. During the American War of Independence, Edmund Burke pointed out to Parliament that “you cannot draw up an indictment against a whole people.” Millions of people fighting for self- government of their own societies under their own chosen leaders cannot be guilty of “treason.”

People whose knowledge is so shallow that they prefer virtue signaling to the complications of reality are not capable of being trusted with executive, military, or diplomatic power. I have looked up some of the generals now leading the hate-Confederate movement. These men are not graduates of West Point but of Northeastern colleges. None of them have ever been in harm’s way though they have chests full of medals. They are not soldiers but bureaucrats pure and simple. Although, according to the net worth reports they have become rich on a government job. Such leadership dooms a regime and may be working out that destiny as we write.

General Siedule, quondam professor of history at West Point, writes a book about himself and Robert E. Lee. That is like Joe Biden writing a book about “Julius Caesar  and Me.” It is juvenile, self-referential drivel without any relationship to real history.

The elimination of the Confederate memorial at Arlington reaches the height of historical ignorance. The jihadists claim that it gives a sanitized view of slavery. The fact is that the memorial was the first major art work to give respectful attention to African Americans and include them in the Reconciliation then going on.

There had been at least two monuments erected in the South in respectful memory of faithful servants. And many former bondsmen had contributed to the Confederate statues then going up, out of local patriotism or in honour of people they had actually known. It is the jihadists who don’t understand American slavery.

For the better part of a century Confederate memorials were considered a natural part of the landscape. They commemorate our people.

Someone has estimated that about one-fourth of the U.S. population has Confederate ancestors. If so, we are a stateless people, completely excluded from decision-making about our own history. We had no representation on the group who decided on the elimination of all Southern symbols from society.

Southerners are the only large group of Americans who can trace families back to the 18th century or earlier. And the only Americans who have a personal memory of early American history. I know what my forebears did in the American War for Independence and the Southern War for Independence. And I am not unusual for an ordinary Southerner.

We have no defenders of our people  in federal or state power. Only Republicans, shallow, slogan-centered, presentistic placeholders. The regime regards us as non-people. The other side of that coin is that we have no reason to love the regime that hates us or to serve it willingly as Southerners have done for so long.


Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews and is co-publisher of www.shotwellpublishing.com, a source  for unreconstructed Southern books.

16 Comments

  • Billy P says:

    Well said, sir. The last sentence says it all, too. It’s a shame that this country and its people have chosen to allow this evil destruction of the memorials to our dead and kick us as a distinct, long standing, foundational culture to the curb.
    Southerners have done their part and then some since the end of Lincoln’s war serving honorably in all wars since, paying the price in blood and dollars the entire way. But this country and its politicians of both R and D fame have chosen to dishonor the unwritten agreement made by those men of both sides who fought in Lincoln’s war. That goodwill, however much there was, has been destroyed and the wounds are reopened, at least they are for real southerners.
    It doesn’t make sense to defend this union anymore, not when it’s so obvious that the central government has become exactly what General Lee said it would; “aggressive abroad and despotic at home”.
    I would argue that recent recruiting challenges are telling. Those they kicked out for not taking the jab are now being asked to come back. The nation that so easily de-committed from those who were serving honorably but refused to take an experimental shot, now retracts its stance amid low recruiting numbers and asks for a re-commitment of those it maligned? Seems like a common theme. Why even entertain the request?
    And, between the Sodom and Gomorrah grade moral corruption infecting the military’s brass today and their relentless, politically expedient attacks of southern culture, heroes, monuments and names, I believe their woes will continue and it should.
    Maybe they can recruit in the future from those unpicked wealthy Yankee areas like Martha’s Vineyard, the poor region that recently argued it had no resources to handle a paltry 50 illegal immigrants.
    As you said, we are not represented. I believe Ron Paul may have been the last to actively defend the south and its traditions and that was a long time ago. Donald Trump did defend the name of General Lee, going against the political winds at the time, so I give him some credit as well.

  • Beau Brumfield says:

    I have stopped flying the American flag in front of my home. I served for 22 years in the Army, Iraq and Afghanistan. Lost many friends. I can no longer in good conscience fly those colors, and it makes me infinitely sad. We are unrecoverable at this point. I often wonder how many of us had these thoughts in the early 1860s?

  • Michael Martin says:

    This is the best piece I’ve read on Abbeville in a hot minute

    • David LeBeau says:

      Clyde Wilson is the GOAT. My goal is to read every thing that Clyde Wilson has written for The Abbeville Institute.

    • Richard Scott Farris says:

      Definitive magnificent Truth! “Truth, though crushed to earth–is still Truth.” DEO VINDICE [God Vindicates]

  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    We could all choose to have another child or to encourage our children to have children.

    We could live honorably and impart those qualities upon our descendants.

    We could throw away our television sets.

    We could throw away our credit cards and starve our enemies.

    These enemies… they don’t have children…they don’t have morality…they only have hate for what they can’t have…faith, family and friends.

    Good does not need evil…evil must have good. Do not enable evil to exist.

    Much as the covid scam is revealed daily, we will soon see the vindication of the Confederate Cause. Every time California declares itself a “sanctuary state” I chuckle at the irony.

  • scott thompson says:

    i guess a golden slave in new york near the golden bull to represent the selling south of the north and their maximization of profit. or a big metal 13 beside grants tomb as he only got rid of his inherited slaves until the 13th compelled him to do it.

  • Joe Bright says:

    I believe the underlying drive to cancel all remaining vestiges and memories of the struggle for Southern independence has nothing to do with slavery and the collectivist rhetoric of “racism” but the confederacy stands as the only example of a unified people struggling against supreme, centralized authority, against the tyranny of Washington. And they can’t have that, can they? They don’t want anyone concluding that Washington is the real problem, right now, today, and that that relationship must go.

  • GabrielleManigault says:

    Dr. Wilson, My question is what do we do about it? I KNOW, that if our Grandparents were still around not one Confederate statue would have been felled! I don’t know if it is because they would have surrounded Calhoun’s monument with their guns slung over their shoulder or because of their Character and resolve or whatever you call it that made people instinctively know that to behave with anything less than respect and obedience was not an option. I feel that we have fallen short of what that generation would have expected of us. Granted, times were different back then, but I can’t help but to believe that if ” Mr. Eddie” Manigault were alive today, along with his friend Mr. Tayloe in Virginia and his other contemporaries scattered across the South, regardless of the prevailing narrative of Southern hate, John C. Calhoun, General Lee, Generals Jackson and Forrest ect…would still be standing in all their Glory!

    • David LeBeau says:

      My GG Grandfather was under Manigault’s Battalion by way of Bridge’s Battery, LA Light Infantry. 1864-65.

      As I witnessed in New Orleans at the Jefferson Davis monument, NOPD dispersed the good guys, but when the bad guys who came to graffiti or display their hateful art, NOPD was told to “stand down.” In short, we have no political help. Plus, most respectable southerners no longer live in those once grand cities. Places such as Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Charlotte, etc…. those cities have been taken over by interlopers, vagabonds, the wilfully ignorant or otherwise.

  • Jeffersonian American says:

    The Flood Tide of lawful American citizens spanning multiple generations; elected and non-elected local, state and Federal legislators and bureaucrat officials of both Big Government Republicrats and Demicans varieties; Cultural Marxists entrenched in the media and entertainment industries; in addition to most of academia- all exhibit terminal signs of Confederaphobia and “Historic Ignorance on Fire” as it pertains to understanding the factual history of our original constitutional republic. This gaping “Historic Ignorance on Fire” fuels the continued spread of their collective Bigotry and Intolerance of the Very Worst Kind.

    And therein lies the Real Prejudice.

    Yet as a distinguished Abbeville classical scholar once shared, “The ultimate revenge against Tyranny is to live good and noble lives with our families, friends and loved ones- for even the Christians led good and noble lives during the fall of ancient Rome.”

  • Jeff Paulk says:

    Great article, Mr. Wilson. This frenzy of cultural genocide, in my opinion, stems from a total and complete lack of knowledge of our history. True history. Not that rewritten drivel which has been force-fed to generations of Americans since Occupation (Reconstruction). Academia, the media, Hollywood, and politicians all share the blame. If people would use just a little bit of common sense and critical thinking they would realize that the accepted narrative concerning the War of Northern Aggression is a fairy tale. The historically ignorant always say, “The North was fighting to free the slaves”. Yeah, all while the Union had slave states with more than 429,000 slaves, and admitted West Virginia (which was unconstitutionally formed) into the Union as a slave state during the war. “But Lincoln freed the slaves.” No, he didn’t. His Emancipation proclamation freed nobody. It was a war measure intended to cause a slave uprising, which did not happen, and to give the false appearance of waging a moral campaign so that England and France would not give aid to the Confederacy.

    What is not taught in our government indoctrination centers is that Lincoln illegally invaded the legally seceded South with soldiers who murdered, looted, burned, and raped their way across the South, all for the continued collection of unfair and unconstitutional tariffs. Had Lincoln not invaded, there would have been no war. Until more people learn the truth about our history, I fear this tsunami of cultural genocide against all things Southern and Confederate will continue. We are the only group of people who are not supposed to celebrate our heritage and history. The South gets all the blame for slavery, while it was the New England Yankees who worked the slave trade, while flying Old Glory high on their ships (which were built by slaves). More of us need to stand up and push back against this genocide by sending letters to our Senators, Representatives, Mayors, City Councils, and anyone else who might need to hear from us. Our Confederate dead cannot speak for themselves. We are their voice. Let us not be silent, but let us defend our heritage and our honorable ancestors who fought to prevent the very mess we are living in today.

  • Stephen Russell Stout says:

    “No serious charge of treason was ever pursued against Confederates” ??? I beg to differ. My father, b. Feb. 14 1928, >his mother, Ruth, b. 1887, >her mother, Elgivia Lee Holt Russell, b. 1855, >her father (Jackson Madison Holt), and her husband (John Byrd Russell’s) father: My great-great grandfathers, Russell and Holt, landowners and businessmen in NW Missouri, Nodaway County, joined up with Price’s army in Springfield, MO, along with my great-grandmother’s oldest brother, (Holt, killed at the Battle of Franklin, Franklin, Bedford County, TN). Upon their return to NW Missouri, both Mr. Russell and J.M. Holt were charged with treason. A Union officer was sent to Mr. Russell’s home to arrest him, and to arrange his execution. The young officer failed in that endeavor, but kept his promise to return with a large enough group to get it done. My Great-great Grandfather Russell narrowly escaped execution, only when his wife led the troops on a wild goose chase in the opposite of his direction. J. M. Holt was able to pay off Judge Shell with 300 acres of prime farmland, thus getting his charges dismissed. My father heard these stories directly from both of his mother’s parents, and then I read the exact same historical accounts in volumes at the Nodaway County Historical Society and Museum in Maryville, MO. So, perhaps you have a little different definition of what a “serious charge” of treason consists of. One thing is certain, however: the South seceded from the Union, not to preserve slavery, but to prevent the Union from crippling the Southern states, and keeping them from gaining too much power and wealth. The federal government wanted what the South had, and was putting on more and more pressure. It was never about “freeing the slaves”. That tale was spun just like the lies are spread today when people in government are overtaken with lust for wealth and power.
    But if the result of a charge of treason was to be execution, and you do not consider that to be serious, I might question just whose side you are on.

  • Sylvia Volkstadt says:

    My Great Grandparents were murdered by Sherman’s troops in Douglas county GA which was Sherman’s pivot point to turn east to Atlanta. My Grandfather was left an orphan at 2 years old. My great grandparents did not take up arms against the invaders but that did stop their murder. Our forebearers arrived in Virginia in 1742 and fought in the Revolution but apparently being proud Americans did not matter to Sherman and his troops. And, today they try to make me believe that having been born and raised in the South is akin to being a racist. I live my faith which tells me that all people were made by God and therefore, I believe that Dr. King was absolutely correct. All men/women should be judged by the content of their character.

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