Chronicles - July 17, 2000
by Joseph E. Fallon
Those Northern whites who love "the Stars and Stripes" but attack, or condone the attack, upon the Confederate Battle Flag are engaged in an act of self-righteous hypocrisy that will come back to haunt them.
The Confederate Battle Flag is incorporated into the State Flags of both Georgia and Mississippi, and was the inspiration for the designs of the State Flags of Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida. In its own right, the Confederate Battle Flag officially flies in an honorary position over the South Carolina legislature below the U.S. and South Carolina flags.
Opponents of the Confederate Battle Flag allege it is a symbol of slavery, treason, and sedition. They, therefore, demand it be expunged from the State Flags and prohibited from being officially displayed.
Other writers have documented how the Southern soldiers who fought under the Confederate Battle Flag did not fight to protect slavery — there were fewer than 350,000 slave owners in a population of more than 5 million whites — but to defend their families, homes, and States from a rapacious, invading army.
However, for argument's sake, let us agree that any flag associated with slavery, treason, and sedition should be banned from being officially displayed by the federal and State governments of the United States. When can we expect the official banning of "the Stars and Stripes"?
A far more compelling case can be made against "the Stars and Stripes" as a symbol of slavery, treason, and sedition than against the Confederate Battle Flag.
Before examining slavery, the allegations of treason and sedition should first be addressed. Treason is defined as an overt act in violation of the allegiance one owes his sovereign or state such as levying war against it, or giving aid or comfort to its enemies. Sedition is defined as incitement to commit acts for the purpose of overthrowing one's government. The American Revolutionaries were guilty of both crimes.
There was no legal right under British law for a colony to secede from the British Empire. The actions of the American Revolutionaries — from the Boston Tea Party, to publishing pamphlets calling for independence, to convening the Continental Congress, to taking up arms at Lexington and Concord — were treasonous and seditious. Their flag, "the Stars and Stripes", therefore, was a symbol of treason and sedition. Patrick Henry was most candid when he allegedly declared in his 1765 speech against the Stamp Act: "Caesar had his Brutus — Charles the First, his Cromwell — and George the Third — may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of fit."
But there is more. The revolutionaries in 1776 represented a minority of the population of the thirteen colonies — perhaps as little as twenty percent. So much for the American Revolution being a "popular" movement.
In many cases, to insure colonial legislatures enacted the "proper" laws, the revolutionaries often expelled loyalist members. So much for the American Revolution being a "democratic" movement.
Often, the revolutionaries simply established their own rival local governments. This second tactic was styled "dual power" or "double sovereignty" by the Bolsheviks who successfully employed it during the Russian Revolution. So much for the American Revolution being a model for the emergence of "democratic" governments elsewhere.
The revolutionaries rejected the British peace proposals of 1778, which, in effect, would have conceded most of their demands. Instead, they pursued their war against the United Kingdom with all its faults the most democratic government in Europe. To win that war, the revolutionaries solicited the support of France and Spain — two of the most powerful, anti-democratic regimes in Europe. So much for the American Revolution being a movement motivated by the principle of "liberty".
After the success of the American Revolution with the political independence of the United States officially recognized by London, "the Stars and Stripes" became the symbol for what is now termed "ethnic cleansing". An estimated one hundred thousand loyalists, colonists who had been faithful to the British government during the American Revolution, were forced to flee the new republic.
But "the Stars and Stripes" did not cease being a symbol of sedition even after the United States achieved its independence in 1783. Six years later, the first republic of the United States under the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union" was overthrown by the Constitutional Convention. The legitimate government of the United States did not authorize a new constitution. Its instruction to the Constitutional Convention was explicit "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation". Under Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation, no revision was legally permitted "unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterward confirmed by the Legislatures of every State."
Despite instructions and procedures, the Constitutional Convention, boycotted by Rhode Island, illegally drafted a new constitution, which unconstitutionally declared that ratification by only nine of the thirteen States was necessary for adoption. Many of the Founding Fathers of the first republic, including Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington, were among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. They were making a habit of engaging in sedition.
Unlike the British Empire in 1776, the right of secession was recognized as a constitutional right in the United States after 1789. The charges of "treason and sedition" against the Confederate Battle Flag — 1861 to 1865 — are, therefore, false. The right of secession from the second republic established by the U.S. Constitution was explicitly asserted as a reserved right of the States by Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island in their respective ratifications of that document. The other States acknowledged secession as a constitutional right when they accepted without any qualifications the ratifications of Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island. The constitutional right of a State to secede from the Union was taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The books used were Views of the Constitution by William Rawle, an abolitionist, and a friend of Franklin and Washington, which expressly affirmed a State's right to secede and Commentaries on American Law by James Kent, which implicitly acknowledged the reserved rights of the States. Historically, the most zealous proponent of secession was Massachusetts. Massachusetts, and other New England States, threatened to secede from the United States in 1787, 1796, 1800, 1803, 1811, 1814, and 1845.
Under Abraham Lincoln, it was "the Stars and Stripes", not the Confederate Battle Flag, that became the symbol of sedition in 1861. Lincoln overthrew the second republic of the United States established by the U.S. Constitution when he launched his war against the South. As the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the "Prize Cases, December 1862: "[Congress] cannot declare war against a State or any number of States by virtue of any clause in the Constitution... [The President] has no power to initiate or declare war against a foreign nation or a domestic State…Several of these States have combined to form a new Confederacy, claiming to be acknowledged by the world as a Sovereign State … Their right to do so is now being decided by wager of Battle."
"The Stars and Stripes" was the symbol of a regime that made arbitrary arrests, suspended habeas corpus, curtailed freedom of speech, press, and assembly. The number of political prisoners has been estimated as high as 38,000. The Legislature of Maryland was overthrown by Lincoln's military. The Chicago Times was among hundreds of Northern newspapers suppressed for expressing "incorrect" views. As late as May 18, 1864, Lincoln was ordering his military to "arrest and imprison…the editors, proprietors and publishers of the New York World and the New York Journal of Commerce."
Now to the issue of slavery. "The Stars and Stripes" symbolizes a country that was conceived and established as a slave republic. Boston's Faneuil Hall, "Cradle of American Independence", had been built by money from the slave trade. John Hancock of Massachusetts — President of the Continental Congress that issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 — was, himself, involved in the slave trade.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed, the institution of slavery was legally sanctioned in all thirteen colonies. There were, in fact, twice as many slaves in New York than in Georgia.
One of the grievances cited in the Declaration of Independence for the thirteen colonies seceding from the British Empire was London's policy of freeing the slaves. Or as the revolutionaries euphemistically phrased it — "excit[ing] domestic insurrection".
The defense of slavery opens and closes the American Revolution. Prior to the Declaration of Independence, revolutionaries overthrew the Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, because of his proclamation of November 7, 1775 freeing any slave who would fight to defend the government of King George III.
And in 1783 when the British army withdrew from an independent United States, at least 18,000 slaves freed by the Crown joined the British exodus. South Carolina lost as much as one-third of its black population.
During the war, itself, the revolutionaries allied themselves with two of the largest slave empires — France and Spain. In the latter case, "the Stars and Stripes" allied itself with the Inquisition.
Under the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1789, slavery constituted the basis for taxation and representation in the second republic. This new Constitution not only legally recognized and protected the institution of slavery, but that of the slave trade as well. The former was the South's peculiar institution; the latter was the North's peculiar institution.
The U.S. Constitution recognized slavery in perpetuity unless the Constitution, itself, was amended, while the existence of the slave trade was guaranteed for, at least, twenty years. Northern States held a monopoly on the lucrative slave trade. Therefore, when the slave trade to the United States was outlawed in 1808, the Northern slave ships, flying "the Stars and Stripes", simply smuggled the slaves into the country. As late as December 1858, a New York City slave ship smuggled several hundred slaves into Georgia. Under the protection of "the Stars and Stripes", Northern slave ships sold slaves to Cuba and Brazil.
But, it will be argued by Northern whites that the United States, or at least the Northern States, evolved. They became "free" States outlawing slavery, and, thereby, converting "the Stars and Stripes" into a Northern symbol of opposition to slavery and affirmation that "all men are created equal". Really?
What were the conditions of blacks in the Northern States of the United States? Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: "[T]he prejudice of the race appears stronger in the States that have abolished slaves than in the States where slavery still exists. White carpenters, white bricklayers, and white painters will not work side by side with the blacks in the North but do it in almost every Southern State…"
A number of Northern States, led by New Jersey, enacted laws forbidding free blacks from residing in their "free" States. Massachusetts passed a law to flog blacks that entered that State and remained there longer than two months. In 1853, the Constitution of Indiana declared that "no negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the state." That same year, Illinois, "Land of Lincoln", passed a law "to prevent the immigration of free negroes into this state". In 1862, while the Civil War was raging, the citizens of Illinois amended their State constitution declaring: "No negro or mulatto shall immigrate or settle in this state." In 1857, the Constitution of Oregon stated: "No free negro or mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of adoption [of this constitution]… shall come, reside, or be within this state."
Northern "free" States had already enacted laws disenfranchising their existing free black populations. New Jersey initiated this policy in 1808, followed by Connecticut in 1814, Rhode Island in 1822 and Pennsylvania 1838. By 1860, only five of twenty-four Northern "free" States allowed free blacks to vote. Immediately after the Civil War, laws to enfranchise blacks were rejected by eight of those Northern States.
Then there was the lucrative Northern business of kidnapping free blacks living in Northern "free" States and selling them into slavery. New York was a major center of this activity.
Between July 13-16, 1863, shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, New York City was the scene of one of the worst race riots in United States history, the infamous "draft riots", in which an estimated one thousand blacks, possible more, were murdered.
Northern whites will protest what about the Civil War? "The Stars and Stripes" was the flag of freedom. The war was a war to end slavery and establish racial equality throughout the United States. Really?
In his First Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1861, Lincoln reiterated his position: "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."
On September 11, 1861, Lincoln countermanded General Fremont's order freeing the slaves in Missouri. Eight months later, on May 19, 1862, he countermanded General Hunter's order freeing the slaves in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.
On August 14, 1862, Lincoln spoke to a delegation of blacks at the White House on his proposal that blacks should leave the United States and colonize some other land. His reason: "But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race…It is better for us both [black and white], therefore, to be separated… I suppose one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is that the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it… This is (I speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the case… If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter, much might be accomplished…The place I am thinking about for a colony is in Central America".
A week later, in a letter to Horace Greeley dated August 22, 1862, Lincoln wrote: "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that."
In his Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862, Lincoln urged Congress to adopt constitutional amendments to postpone final emancipation until January 1, 1900 and to ship "free colored persons, with their own consent" out of the country.
On February 3, 1865, at the Hampton Roads Conference, Lincoln and Secretary of State, William Seward, met official representatives of the Confederate Government to discuss terms for ending the war. Lincoln supported Seward's proposal that the Southern States quickly rejoin the Union so that the 13th Amendment — abolishing slavery — then pending before Congress could be voted down.
Northern whites will claim "the Stars and Stripes", nevertheless, became a symbol of liberty when Lincoln issued his own "Emancipation Proclamation" freeing the slaves. His Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave. It applied only to those areas of the Confederacy still in rebel hands. As Lincoln's own Secretary of State, William Seward, declared, with disgust, "We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them, and holding them in bondage where we can set them free." The Emancipation Proclamation stated: "all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforth, and forever free". Under its terms, slavery remained legally intact in the slave States that remained "loyal" to the Union — Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri — and in those portions of the Confederacy under Union occupation. When West Virginia, through the intervention of an invading Union Army, seceded from Virginia and was unconstitutionally admitted into the United States on June 20, 1863, six months after the final Emancipation Proclamation was issued, it entered as a — slave State.
The Emancipation Proclamation was a propaganda devise. As Lincoln explained to a delegation of clergy on September 13, 1862, nine days before his preliminary proclamation was issued: "I view this matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion." Lincoln countermanded the earlier emancipation proclamations issued by his Generals Fremont and Hunter because he believed their decrees would increase Northern opposition to his war. But with the demise of the Confederacy nowhere in sight, Lincoln then decided to employ "emancipation" as a military necessity.
His Emancipation Proclamation sought two objectives. Internationally, it was to dissuade the United Kingdom and France from recognizing the independence of the Confederate States of America. As Lincoln explained, the proclamation: "would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition." "Domestically", it was to incite slaves to murder defenseless white women and children on the farms and in the cities of the Confederacy, thereby, resulting in the disintegration of the Confederate Armies as individual soldiers abandon the field to return home to save the lives of their families. The Emancipation Proclamation was a call not for liberty, but for a race war and genocide. Lincoln admitted this to those visiting clerics in September 1862. He proclaimed: "I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy; nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South."
In issuing his Emancipation Proclamation as an incitement for slaves to massacre Southern white women and children, Lincoln was continuing his policy of deliberately violating international rules of war — rules that had evolved over the course of centuries to limit the scope of war's death and destruction. "The Stars and Stripes", under Lincoln, became a symbol of total war against the innocent. Food and medicine were declared to be contraband. Women and children, the sick and the elderly were considered legitimate targets of war.
Lincoln's policy was enunciated in "Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field" (General Orders, No. 100, 1863). Among the acts declared to be lawful were subjecting Southern non-combatants to the "hardships of war", starving Southern non-combatants, and bombarding places housing Southern women and children.
In a letter dated January 31, 1864, General W.T. Sherman elaborated on how all Southerners may be treated under these instructions. He wrote: "the Government of the United States has…any and all rights which they may choose to enforce war, to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their every thing…to the petulant and persistent secessionist, why death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of, the better". Six months later, June 21, 1864, Sherman added Southern white children to that "class of people…who must be killed or banished".
With this official license to kill and destroy, wanton destruction — including raping, pillaging, plundering, and arson on unprecedented scales — was unleashed upon Georgia and the Carolinas by General Sherman, upon the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by General Sheridan and upon the western counties of Missouri by General Ewing.
Under Lincoln, "the Stars and Stripes" became a symbol of political assassination as well. The instructions found on the body of Colonel Dahlgren after he and many of his men were killed in their failed raid on Richmond, March 3, 1864, revealed his mission was to assassinate President Jefferson Davis and the entire Confederate cabinet.
But, back to the issue of slavery. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation declared all the slaves in areas of the Confederacy still in rebel hands "forever free". But what happened to those "freed" slaves when they finally came under the protection of "the Stars and Stripes"? They were told by the North they could now "choose" their employers and that they must be "paid" for their labor. But in reality, "freed" slaves were often re-enslaved by the North under the fiction of a one-year work contract. Many slaves were forced to work on plantations operated by Northerners, or Southerners who had taken the oath of allegiance to the U.S. government. They could suffer a loss of pay or rations for acts of laziness, disobedience or insolence. They were often required to obtain a pass if they wished to leave the plantation. And they were subject to provost marshals who were employed to insure that the "freed" slaves displayed "faithful service, respectful deportment, correct discipline and perfect subordination". Other slaves "freed" by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation found themselves forced to build installations and fortifications for the Union Army.
What of the approximately 180,000 blacks, mostly Southern slaves, who rushed to join the Union army, Northern whites will ask? Did they not fight for freedom under "the Stars and Stripes"? Did they?
In May 1862, Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Chase received this report: "The negroes were sad…Sometimes whole plantations, learning what was going on, ran off to the woods for refugee…This mode of [enlistment by] violent seizure is repugnant."
In a communiqué to General Ulysses S. Grant, General John A. Logan noted: "A major of colored troops is here with his party capturing negroes, with or without their consent….They are being conscripted."
From Tennessee, General Rousseau to General Thomas: "Officers in command of colored troops are in constant habit of pressing all able-bodied slaves into the military service of the U.S."
From Virginia, 1864, General Innis N. Palmer to General Butler: "The negroes will not go voluntarily, so I am obliged to force them…The matter of collecting the colored men for laborers has been one of some difficulty…They must be forced to go,…this may be considered a harsh measure, but…we must not stop at trifles."
From South Carolina, August 16, 1864, General Hunter, (the same officer who had earlier issued an emancipation order that was countermanded by Lincoln) issued an order from the headquarters of the Department of the South at Hilton Head declaring: "All able-bodied colored men between the ages of eighteen and fifty within the lines of the Department of the South, who have had an opportunity to enlist voluntarily and refused to do so, shall be drafted into the military services of the United States, to serve as non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the various regiments and batteries now being organized in the Department."
From the Memoir of General W.T. Sherman; "When we reached Savannah we were beset by ravenous State Agents from Hilton Head, South Carolina, who enticed and carried away our servants and the corps of pioneers [i.e. laborers]…On one occasion my own aide-de-camp…found at least a hundred poor negroes shut up in a house and pen, waiting for night, to be conveyed stealthily to Hilton Head. They appealed to him for protection alleging that they had been told they must be soldiers...I knew that the State Agents were more influenced by the profit they derived from the large bounties than by any love of country or of the colored race."
As late as February 7, 1865, Lincoln wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel Glenn operating in Kentucky, that "Complaint is made to me that you are forcing negroes into the military service, and even torturing them".
This is the history of "the Stars and Stripes" those Northern whites who attack, or condone the attack, upon the Confederate Battle Flag choose to ignore.
If as these Northern whites demand the Confederate Battle Flag should be banned on the ground it is a symbol of a country which recognized slavery as a legal institution, what of "the Stars and Stripes"? The Confederate States of America existed for just four years. By the logic of their argument, "the Stars and Stripes" must be banned because it, too, is a symbol of a country which also recognized slavery as a legal institution. And not for four years, but for eighty-five years prior to the birth of the Southern Confederacy — and for more than half a year after that Confederacy had been crushed.
Northern whites should not dismiss the idea that "the Stars and Stripes" could be banned. In October 1996, in an article for The Atlantic Monthly, Conor Cruise O'Brien, called for the removal of Thomas Jefferson from the pantheon of American heroes because the author of the Declaration of Independence was a "racist". That same month, in the Washington Times, Richard Grenier, after comparing Jefferson to Nazi Gestapo chief, Heinrich Himmler, demanded that the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC be demolished "stone by stone". In November 1997, the black-controlled New Orleans school board had George Washington's name removed from a local elementary school because Washington was a slave owner.
Well, "the Stars and Stripes" was the flag of Washington and Jefferson. If official recognition can be withdrawn from two of the Founding Fathers, why not withdraw it from their flag as well? Such a demand, in fact, has already been made. "The Stars and Stripes" was temporally removed from two schoolrooms — one in California, the other in Michigan — in response to the demand of Third World militants who claimed that the flag was a symbol of "racism" and "oppression".
As Third World immigration undemocratically transforms the United States from a European-American majority nation into a European-American minority nation, the demand to ban "the Stars and Stripes" — because it is a symbol of "racism", "oppression", "white supremacy", "Eurocentrism", "exclusion", "intolerance", etc. — will grow.
If, or when, the "Stars and Stripes" is banned, Northern whites will have no one to blame but themselves. For in their unjustified attack upon the Confederate Battle Flag, they have provided the very arguments that most effectively undermine the legitimacy of "the Stars and Stripes".