Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog


Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 20, 2016

Small items that don’t warrant full posts of their own:


  • Please welcome to the world of Civil War blogging Matthew Stewart, of The War Bureau.
  • Al Mackey has put up an interview with Tony Horwitz, author of the 1990s best-seller Confederates in the Attic. Horwitz’ depiction of the fringier elements of the “heritage” community, done back in the olden days before anyone ever imagined things like Facebook and Twitter, has held up pretty well.
  • The first season of Mercy Street comes to an end on Sunday evening. It has its problems, but its fictional story is better grounded in historical events than a lot of what gets passed off as non-fiction documentaries. I hope it gets picked up for more episodes.
  • The Virginia Flaggers put up their eleventy-third Confederate Battle Flag the other day, this one dedicated to Wade Hampton, who abandoned Columbia, South Carolina to Uncle Billy Sherman 151 years ago this week without a fight. This flag is located on I-95 south of Petersburg, across the highway from the Bexley Mobile Home Park.
  • Just when you got to where you could say, “Texas Board of Education” with a straight face again, along comes Mary Lou Bruner.
  • Do you suppose this proud Texas flagger understands that Sam Houston was a Unionist who opposed secession, and accurately predicted disastrous defeat for the Confederacy?
  • Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last weekend, after three decades on the nation’s highest court. Although Scalia prided himself as an “originalist,” who insisted on reading the Constitution as he thought the Founders did more than two centuries ago, even he believed the legality of secession was a long-settled issue.
  • It’s a lot of fun watching the heritage crowd argue about whether a native-born Canadian or a New York real estate mogul from Queens are the most supportive of Confederate symbols.
  • Meanwhile, a poll taken back in December showed Governor Nikki Haley with an 81% approval rating among likely South Carolina GOP primary voters, and 84% among self-identified Tea Party supporters. Looks like the odious Kirk Lyons is gonna need a lot more airplanes.


Got any more? Put ’em in the comments below.




18 Responses

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  1. KB said, on February 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    It is laughable that Scalia, or anyone else for that matter, thinks the question of the constitutionality of secession was decided by war. If constitutional disputes are to be decided by war, then we surely don’t need a Supreme Court. We just go to war each time there is a dispute. His answer is patently ridiculous. I also note that he did not point to the specific provision in the Constitution which makes secession unconstitutional. But in fairness to Scalia, there is no provision in the Constitution which makes secession unconstitutional. And there never has been.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      “If constitutional disputes are to be decided by war, then we surely don’t need a Supreme Court.”

      That’s true. But Scalia’s view on the matter is interesting because, of all the justices in recent memory who might be thought to be sympathetic to unilateral secession, Scalia was that justice. He believed he knew the minds of the Founders, and what they intended. And he wasn’t buying into it.

    • Jimmy Dick said, on February 20, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      He also did not point to any provision in the Constitution that made secession constitutional. However, we can point to the ratification debates as well as Madison himself about what many Founders thought regarding secession. They for the most part thought that once the states joined the union under the Constitution it was permanent. Why include secession for something that was permanent? It was only later when Jefferson needed to score political points that he brought up the compact theory and secession. Even then Jefferson seemed to reject those ideas during his two terms as president. Madison would reject them as well as did the SCOTUS in the early 19th century.

  2. KB said, on February 20, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    ” He believed he knew the minds of the Founders, and what they intended. And he wasn’t buying into it.”

    But he didn’t say that. He simply said that the war decided the matter. He made no mention of the Founders or any constitutional language of the Founders which made secession unlawful. And if reference is to be made to the Framers, they surely did not intend, or provide for, war settling constitutional disputes. That’s what the federal judiciary is for. Right?

    • Andy Hall said, on February 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      He didn’t offer an opinion either way about what the Framers intended in terms of secession.

      “And if reference is to be made to the Framers, they surely did not intend, or provide for, war settling constitutional disputes. That’s what the federal judiciary is for. Right?”


  3. Bill Underhill said, on February 20, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you for this post. After reading the various links, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. After spending 10 winters in Florida, it was always a relief to get back to sanity. I always enjoy your blog.

  4. KB said, on February 21, 2016 at 1:39 am

    Welcome to Dixie. Don’t stay long. And remember, we are always very glad to see you leave.

    And nowhere does the Constitution express a law of permanency and perpetuity. Absolutely nowhere. Which is ironic, because the Articles of Confederation did explicitly declare a law of perpetuity. But Madison and the framers ignored it anyway, thereby establishing a clear precedent for the right of separation (unless, of course, you count the colonial separation from the British Empire as the precedent). And the question of separation and secession was never litigated before the Court. Never.

    • Jimmy Dick said, on February 21, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      The Constitution does not say anything either way, but that’s not the end of the story. What did the Founders say? What did they write down? What was their version of the Constitution and the intent behind it? Why put secession in it when secession was not envisioned? Patrick Henry said flat out in the Virginia ratification debate that once a state joined this union, it was permanent. No one, NO ONE, disagreed with him and he was on the Anti-Federalist side of that argument.

      You can say whatever you want to say, but to say Madison and the framers ignored it is erroneous. Madison firmly stated in very clear terms at several points in his life that secession was not possible. Now, if you want to ignore the facts, that is your choice. But don’t say the Founders were silent on the issue because they definitely were not.

      Ever hear of Texas v. White, 1869? It was after the Civil War, but it dealt with secession. The official position of the Supreme Court is that the Constitution did not permit states to unilaterally secede from the US. Therefore, until another case comes before the SCOTUS and they rule differently, the case is closed.

      • KB said, on February 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm

        Actually, it is the end of the story. The Constitution, and absolutely nothing else, is the supreme law of the land. As for “what they wrote down”, well, once again, it’s called “The Constitution of the United States”. And to repeat, it does not declare a law of perpetuity or prohibit a state from withdrawing from the union. If, as you falsely claim, it was the intent of the framers to establish a perpetual union which prohibited a state from seceding from that union, they were required to say so (as they did in the Articles of Confederation). But they did not (as you readily admit).

        As for “Texas v White”, I am afraid you are quite wrong there too. “White” most certainly did not litigate the right of secession. Rather, Salmon Chase simply made an appallingly dishonest obiter comment which actually proves my point. Indeed, so desperate was he for a prohibition against the right of secession, he actually used the law of perpetuity from the Articles of Confederation. Proving, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that if there was a law of perpetuity in the Constitution he would have used it to renounce the right of secession. But alas, there is no such law. The states had, and still have, the right to secede if they wish.

        • Jimmy Dick said, on February 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm

          So, you reject the facts regarding the Constitution and instead repeat yourself. You also disagree with the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court in his majority report and reject his finding which is the legal interpretation of secession in the US.

          Looks like the only thing you did was deny reality to meet your delusional fantasy.

          Andy, are we dealing with another one of Caldwell/Reed/Austin/Tybalt’s many aliases? If so, time to close up shop on this thread and ignore the sound of the broken record.

          • Andy Hall said, on February 21, 2016 at 11:22 pm

            “Andy, are we dealing with another one of Caldwell/Reed/Austin/Tybalt’s many aliases?”

            Yes, so it appears we are.

        • bob carey said, on February 22, 2016 at 8:57 am

          The Preamble to the Constitution states “in order to form a more perfect union” which means improvement of the existing union, the Articles, which as you state mentions perpetuity. The reason the Constitution doesn’t mention secession is because it didn’t have to, as it was understood what union meant.
          Secondly, the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. These amendments were passed in order to rectify the flaws in the Constitution which caused the Civil War, nowhere in these amendments is secession mentioned, therefore it was not necessary to declare secession illegal because once again it was understood that it already was.

  5. Foxessa said, on February 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Alas that blog is unreadable due to white type on a very-light-to-white background.

  6. Bill Underhill said, on February 21, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Perhaps off-topic buthere is Cruz’s comment on Trump’s view of the removal of the Confederate flag in Columbia.

  7. RE Watson said, on February 22, 2016 at 6:10 am

    Looks like the War Bureau blog could be good. However, with my old eyes, I need black on white. The picture backgrounds, especially “white,” make the white words disappear. Too bad.

  8. Leo said, on February 23, 2016 at 11:09 am

    I’d like to offer up this as an item. Things are getting really heated and nasty here in Mississippi regarding the state flag. The Clarion Ledger ran an article today showing one of of the entries they received in a design a new flag contest. The flag shows a cartoon image of a “black caricature”

    Here is the text to the article if you are unable to view it:

    If you want to know why so many people think we need to change our state flag, look no further than the photo above. This was an entry to our contest asking readers to propose new state flag designs. I’m sharing it because I want people to see the shocking crap that still exists, that some people in our state still believe to be “funny.”

    It’s one of the most despicable things I’ve seen in a long time. We had a few despicable entries and some accusing us of stirring the race pot. One person went as far as to say that if we’d just shut up about the flag that “all the blacks would shut up about it too.”

    We need a new state flag every Mississippian can look at and be proud of. We don’t need one that is clearly divisive, not to mention offensive to many.

    It was disappointing to see Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, back away from his earlier declaration that Mississippi needed to change its state flag. Instead of exemplifying courage in the face of possible political retribution, Gunn joined other state leaders kicking the can down the road and saying, “Let the voters decide.”

    That’s fine. Let the voters decide. But if we get this kind of crap submitted as a contest entry, just think of the nastiness that will arise during a campaign to change the state flag.

    Our lawmakers can stand up and do what is right — which is to unite the state under a banner that appeals to all Mississippians — or they can continue to allow our state to be divided by a symbol that has become synonymous with racism. The history of the symbol be damned; only a fool would say today that society does not associate the confederate symbol with the legacy of slavery and racial divisiveness.

    And if you don’t believe me, take a look at that photo above. Tell me that’s not racist. Tell me that something as simple as a drawing contest should raise anyone to draw such an offensive image. Tell me that the defense of any symbol — in this case the confederate symbol — should stir such racist expressions.

    Then tell me our current state flag has nothing to do with race.

  9. Erick Hare said, on February 23, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    The white print on the War Bureau is annoying, but if you simply highlight the text it is readable.

  10. Dave said, on February 23, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    I struggled to read it too but I discovered that if you click on the title of the articles it takes you to a different page with black on white print.

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