Home / davenoon / “The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict between life and death.”

“The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict between life and death.”


Well, sheeeeeeeeeeyit.  It’s Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Heritage Month again, so I suppose we need to remind people like Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell what the “shared history” of Virginia’s Confederate heroes actually entailed. Here’s a choice excerpt from a speech given at Virginia’s February 1861 secession convention by the South Carolinian John Preston, one of the Confederacy’s great apostles of disunion:

You may, as you are at this moment doing, centralize a coercive power at Washington stronger than the Praetorian bands when the Roman eagles shadowed the earth “from Lusitania to the Caucasus,” but you cannot come nearer coalescing the people of Virginia and the people of Vermont, the people of the St Lawrence and the people of the Gulf, than did Rome to make one of the Gaul and the Dacian, the Briton and the Ionian. No community of origin, no community of language, law or religion, can amalgamate a people whose severance is proclaimed by the rigid requisitions of material necessity. Nature forbids African slavery at the North. Southern civilization cannot exist without African slavery. None but an equal race can labor at the South. Destroy involuntary labor and Anglo Saxon civilization must be remitted to the latitudes whence it sprung.

Preston’s speech sent the audience at Mechanics Institute Hall into peals of ecstasy; Richmond newspapers praised his logic. He was unable to convince the delegation to vote in favor of disunion, but when it finally did so less than two months later, it did so entirely within the spirit of that February address. The fact that McDonnell is recognizing — and I think pretty clearly celebrating — the Lost Cause is at some level no better or worse than what Georgia or Mississippi does each year.  At the same time, however, Virginia’s importance to the entire history of the Confederacy means that, for McDonnell, hailing the state’s role in the Confederacy means hailing the state’s role in assuring that the entire nation suffered through a war that killed well over 600,000 people and took four years to conclude.  The state was, of course, critical to the lunatic aspirations of the Deep South planter class.  Its manpower, industrial wealth and agricultural resources (to say nothing of its geographic value, perched across the Potomac from the Great Bearded Satan) were essential to the mission of preserving the institution of slavery against the imaginary assaults being made against it by the miscegenationists in the Republican party.  Lacking Virginia, the Confederacy could easily have been choked to death by a prolonged naval blockade; of course, lacking Virginia on the Confederate side, the war would probably never have turned into an abolitionist crusade, so we can at least thank Virginia’s dead sons for that much — though I don’t suppose Bob McDonnell would appreciate the more self-defeating aspects of Confederate Heritage.

In any event, and for what it’s worth, I’m proposing that April be known henceforth as West Virginia Appreciation Month. Feel free to e-mail the Governor’s office and ask him to take a few moments this April to recognize the patriotism of those nearly three dozen Virginia counties that refused to make war in defense of white supremacy.

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  • Something missing in the “The state was, of course,” sentence.

  • prufrock

    Every time I see an example of Confederate worship, I am reminded how wrong George Patton was when he said, “Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser.”

    The Boys in Butternut and the Boys of Wrigley Field…proving WWII heroes wrong for more than a century!

  • News Nag

    West Virginia Appreciation Day is good. But how about We Whipped The Confederacy’s Butt Good (And Would Do It Again In A Southern Mouth-Breather’s Minute) Month instead, celebrated across the entire non-treason-in-the-defense-of-slavery country, as well as throughout the world, which no doubt continuously experiences relief that the drawling slackjawed Prussian American Southerners aren’t always in control of directing America’s current military forces to invade other countries.

    I’d much rather have a Kenyan Hessian in charge any day!

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      Yeeeaaah….except for that little problem with large chunks of the American officer corps coming from the south (and rural bumfuck USA in general).

      Just how many ROTC programs are there in the south?

      • Jason

        Screw them, the Civil War demonstrated that all you need is a loud drunk to show up and they all run like whipped dogs and snivel about their honor the whole way.

  • As a West Virginian currently living in Virginia I have to say that I appreciate the sentiment. One thing I find in both West Virginia and Virginia are these offensive bumper stickers that proclaim, “Heritage Not Hate”, with a Confederate battle flag in the background. When I see one of these I can’t help but think to myself, “Do these people not realize that the heritage of which they speak and of which they are so proud, is based on hate, or at the very least based on the misguided notion of a racial hierarchy? It’s sad, but despite southern apologists’ attempts to rewrite history, slavery was the very foundation of southern civilization, as was so eloquently elucidated in the passage above, and also in Alexander Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech”.

    • eric

      It’s especially annoying to find those stickers, and similar bits of pro-treason kitsch, in West Virginia (or, closer to home for me, in western North Carolina). Some people really have no understanding of their own local history.

      • Fats Durston

        Same here with the Western NC experience. At least I could chuckle to myself when the “If you ain’t a rebel, you ain’t shit” bumper sticker made the rounds. Yep, that’s about right, Mr. Shit.

        • ignobility

          I saw a man with a southern heritage t-shirt today, complete with Confederate flag. That was not too long after noting a skinhead with racist tatoos down both arms. Makes the NC mountains I call home a little less beautiful.

    • lou

      There was some controversy at a high school a few years ago where a girl originally from West Virginia showed up wearing a confederate flag t-shirt and was sent home. She claimed she was just “honoring her heritage.”

      Numerous letters to the editor pointed out she was betraying her West Virginia heritage by wearing that flag. Don’t know if she ever learned her lesson.

    • There’s also the fact that the fetish for the Confederate flag started during the Civil Rights movement — that’s when it was added to many state flags. If it was actually about proud heritage, it would have been celebrated in a positive way, but history shows the “heritage” it symbolizes is actually all about reacting to certain people getting uppity.

  • And by, “I have to say that I appreciate the sentiment”, I mean the sentiment expressed in West Virginia Appreciation Month, not the idea embodied in Confederate History Month or whatever the hell it’s called.

  • SqueakyRat

    I think we should go along with this Confederate History Month thing — and post/publish lots and lots of stuff about the real history of this “civilization.”

    • Hogan

      By their own admission, that civilization could neither produce its own sustenance nor pay people enough to produce it without routine massive coercion. What the hell kind of “civilization” is that, and why would anyone now feel inclined to brag about it?

      • Fats Durston

        Er, haven’t most civilizations routinely coerced masses of producers?

        • NBarnes

          Yeah, but most of them A) got better and B) don’t brag about it.

  • mds

    so I suppose we need to remind people like Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell what the “shared history” of Virginia’s Confederate heroes actually entailed.

    Oh, trust me, Bob McDonnell knows.

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  • It’s also notable that Confederate History Month is not, in fact, a long-standing tradition in Virginia. It was first established by George Allen, the first wingnut governor, in 1997. (Not the first Republican governor, of course; there were earlier Republican governors back in the era when Republicans were sane.)

    • socraticsilence

      Heck the last GOP gov. took the time to point out the elephant in the room.

  • Hickes01

    I nominate the Bottle Rockets “Wave that Flag” as the official West Virginia Appreciation Theme song.


  • Ed

    If it was actually about proud heritage, it would have been celebrated in a positive way, but history shows the “heritage” it symbolizes is actually all about reacting to certain people getting uppity.

    That sums it up well.

    Without defending McDonnell, I also note that a tendentious Good v. Evil characterization of the Civil War is unhelpful as history if not as propaganda. The southerners’ cause was irredeemably tainted by the evil of slavery but they weren’t imagining all their grievances, either. The war was not fought to end slavery, and it might well have ended early with the peculiar institution intact if Virginia had not seceded.

    This foolishness is good news for Obama. I’m sure Republicans with half a brain are wincing.

  • Anonymous

    All anyone has to do is read Alexander Stephens Cornerstone address to see that Slavery was THE reason for Southern and yes Virginia, Virginian treason. But lets just focus on Southern Celtic Heritage bullshit instead, Knuckledraggers waving the Stars and Bars.

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