Originally created 04/22/00

Reminds readers of slavery history

With all the controversy about the Confederate flag flying over the Statehouse in South Carolina, I decided to re-read The Leading Facts of American Historyby D. H. Montgomery, first published in 1891.

As a reminder to those who think only the Confederate flag symbolizes slavery, slavery was introduced to the Eastern seaboard as early as 1619. Every leading nation of Western Europe participated in slave trade and by 1776 Negro slavery was prevalent in all of our thirteen colonies. Not only were Negroes enslaved, but also English orphan boys and prisoners of English wars.

Next I learned that South Carolina initially discussed secession in the early 1830s because of a protective tariff added to European goods to price them as high as goods our brethren to the North were selling us. Our beloved state together with other southern states deemed this to be unjust.

"States' rights" became an issue, although it was not new, for during the War of 1812, some New England states had discussed seceding from the Union. So, states' rights has been a hot topic for a long time, the general idea being that a state had the right to join the Union and therefore has the right to leave it.

Meanwhile, during the early to mid 1800's, there was great debate in Congress regarding the number of representatives for the states. The northern states were more populous than the southern, thus giving them more representatives.

If slavery were outlawed, the southern states thought they would lose their "voice" in Congress. Also during this period, the northern states had freed their slaves, while the southern states retained theirs through necessity. It was an economic decision.

The flag over the Statehouse is actually the Navy and Battle flag. The original (1861) Stars and Bars of the Confederacy contained three large, horizontal stripes or bars -- two red ones on the outside and one white one in the center -- with seven stars in a circle on a blue field in the upper left corner. The battle flag did not come into being until 1863...

The important thing is to keep in mind the words of the honorable Robert E. Lee: "Remember that we are one country now. Do not bring up your children in hostility to the government of the United States. Bring them up to be Americans."

P.A. Goad, North Augusta


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