Confederates Weren’t Traitors

Professor Williams’ argument (“Naming Commission Historian Rationalizes Name Changes in Campus Talk,” news, May 14) that the Confederate soldier is odious because he committed treason when killing Union soldiers collapses at its premise. He was not a traitor. First, almost 300 officers left the Federal Army during the secession crisis and 270 joined the Confederacy. None were charged with treason. Second,…
Philip Leigh
May 29, 2024

The “Confederates Were Traitors” Argument is Ahistorical

Supporters of the Erasure & Destruction Commission, aka Renaming Commission, are fond of displaying their ignorance regarding the legal framework of the United States under the Constitution. Never is their misguided misapprehension more evident than when they declare that the Confederates were “traitors”. The charge is so unarguably counterfactual as to be absurd. While forgiveness (not forgetfulness) should be our…
Lloyd Garnett
May 4, 2023
BlogReview Posts

The Right Side of History

A review of Robert E. Lee: A Life (Random House, 2021) by Allen Guelzo “How do you write the biography of someone who commits treason?” asks historian Allen C. Guelzo in his new book Robert E. Lee: A Life. It’s a bit of an odd question for a historian to ask. Sure, treason is a terrible crime. But so are…
Casey Chalk
November 23, 2021

Is Secession Treason?

And they, sweet soul, that most impute a crimeAre pronest to it, and impute themselves…Tennyson, from Idylls of the King (1) The US Supreme Court, in Texas vs. White, ruled that secession from the Union was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, in 1869, wrote the majority “opinion of the court.” His opinion was not that of Thomas Jefferson, the…
H.V. Traywick, Jr.
June 3, 2021

Was Secession Treason?

Recently an acquaintance of mine remarked that the Confederate statue in her hometown should be removed from its present place of honour and relocated to the Confederate cemetery which is presently (and sadly) in a state of neglect. The statue should be moved, she said, because while the boys who fought and died during the Late Unpleasantness deserve to be…
Earl Starbuck
September 18, 2020

They Were Not Traitors

A typical calumny directed at Confederate soldiers is that they don’t merit commemoration because they were traitors. It is a lie for two reasons. First, the Confederate states had no intent to overthrow the government of the United States. They seceded merely to form a government of their own. The first seven states that seceded during the winter of 1860-61…
Philip Leigh
September 16, 2020

Of Apostates and Scapegoats

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat…
H.V. Traywick, Jr.
August 27, 2020

Confederates Were Not Traitors

Confederate statue critics increasingly argue that the monuments should be torn down because they honor traitors. Among such advocates is Christy Coleman, CEO of the Richmond’s American Civil War Museum. While the most common response to her interpretation is to argue that secession was possibly legal, but a more compelling point is that President Andrew Johnson pardoned the soldiers no later than…
Philip Leigh
November 13, 2019

Was Lee a Traitor?

Were Robert E. Lee and the Confederates “traitors” who violated their oaths to the Constitution and attempted to destroy the American nation? Or, were they defenders of that Constitution and of Western Christian civilization? Over the past 158 years those questions have been posed and answers offered countless times. For over a century since Appomattox the majority opinion among writers…
Boyd Cathey
June 18, 2018