April 7th, 2010
04:57 PM ET
8 years ago

Virginia governor declares April as Confederate History Month

'It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, . . . ,' Gov. McDonnell's proclamation reads.

'It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, . . . ,' Gov. McDonnell's proclamation reads.

(CNN) - For the first time in eight years, Virginia's Republican governor has issued a proclamation declaring April as Confederate History Month in the state, drawing criticism from Democrats and a civil rights group.

"It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present," Gov. Robert McDonnell's seven-paragraph proclamation reads in part.

He quietly made the declaration after two previous Democratic administrations refused to do so.

"This defining chapter in Virginia's history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians," the governor's proclamation reads.

It does not mention slavery.

"I wish he would have followed the examples of Gov. [Mark] Warner and Gov. [Tim] Kaine, but obviously he has declined to do so," state Sen. Don McEachin, a Democrat, told CNN affiliate WWBT. "I also find it interesting that while he issues his proclamation, there's no mention of slavery."

The Virginia chapter of the NAACP also condemned the proclamation, The Washington Post reported. The group did not immediately return phone calls to CNN.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans asked the governor to declare the month Confederate History Month. Virginia seceded from the union on April 17, 1861.

Brandon Dorsey, a spokesman for the group, told CNN Radio that Confederate History Month isn't about slavery or race, but about studying the 4-year history of the Confederacy. He said it will also help draw visitors to the many Civil War battle sites in Virginia, helping to boost tourism.

"The proclamation's main goal is to call attention to the fact that there is Confederate history in the state of Virginia, of course, across the South. It's simply a tool to expose individuals to that history. It's not a mandate in any way. It's a symbolic gesture."

He said the group doesn't consider the history of the Confederacy or Virginia's Confederate History Month racially divisive. "It's not meant to discriminate against anybody," he said.

He said that the Confederacy wasn't about continuing the institution of slavery, but that it was really about the states' rights vs. the rights of the federal government. He said there were abolitionists in the group.

Other Southern states have issued similar proclamations for April. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Bob Riley declared April, the month the Civil War began, as Confederate History and Heritage Month. The statement condemns slavery.

Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Popular Posts • Virginia
soundoff (287 Responses)
  1. jbakaregit

    We told you Virginia.

    His thesis revealed everything you needed to know about him, written at the tender & impressionable age of 34. He put on that moderate cloak, and as soon as he got in, well...

    Hopefully Virginia you'll survive until 2014 when he leaves office. At the rate he's going, you'll be seeing the 14th century again.

    April 7, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. Barbara Independent in NY

    The Confederacy fought AGAINST the United States. The neanderthal governor of Virginia is honoring TREASON. The governor has said that he's sorry he forgot to mention slavery. Really?

    April 7, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. Thirsty

    Man I lived in Stone mountain Ga where there is a whole park dedicated to the conferderacy and black people go there all the time. That seemed kind of strange to me when I thought about it but I guess people don't really think about it like that, they are just going to the park. It amazes me, its like they have this mountian with conferderate soldiers riding on horseback flying the conferderate flag chiseled into the side of the mountain. The confederacy lives in the hearts of many in america they are proud of it (go figure) they still lost though, let them remember it however they want

    April 7, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. usualone

    Everything this guy does that is made public speaks of one who lives in the past. Thank goodness we moved from Virginia, a lovely state that will be going back to the Civil War times with the actions of this governor. Where are the educated folk of that state and when will they speak out in defining terms?

    April 7, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. Joebrown

    I knew this guy was a wolf in sheep's clothing when I first saw him. Another fake, bigot Republican.

    April 7, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. Bruce

    And this is the darlin of the Republican party. Didn't the GOP say a few weeks ago that this would be their man in 2012? WOW THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES!!! For the first time in my life, I'm not proud of America...and I'm a twenty-plus year veteran. My service appears to have been in vain. I can say one thing that the Conservatives do/did right...they supported the NRA and I sure do carry mine and am a proud supporting member of the NRA. I suggest the rest of my liberal friends to do the same...given all the revolution and take-back-OUR-country talk the right wingers are doing. Also, remember what Malcolm Little said 'Protect yourself by any means necessary'.

    April 7, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Maria

    The Governor chose April to declare Conferate History Month because that is the month that Virginia voted to repeal its ratification of the U.S. Constitution – thus secede. So we are celebrating treason against the USA. The Confederacy – Confederate States of America (CSA) – is separate from The South or even The Civil War. Establishing the CSA was an act of treason and the 11 states that joined were conducting acts of treason. I'm a Virginian and I'm not proud of anything associated with the CSA.

    April 7, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  8. Alberto, California bred

    What's the big hubbub about Confederate History Month? Each month is some sort of history month if you'll check your calendars. Where was the outcry about Hispanic History Month, when it seems that all we see and hear about when immigration reform is discussed is pictures of Mexicans jumping the border fences or crossing deserts and rivers? If the confederacy was so bad for America(ns), and the Union was the good guy, why isn't anyone screaming about the Andersonville prison camp? Americans are repeating history today because they have not learned anything about our past. Ask your children what they learned in civics class recently. (What? is civics) president obama is splitting the country in 2010 as much as the country (as it existed) was split at the beginning of the Civil War.

    April 7, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. IThePerson

    So, what's wrong with that? The Confederacy was simply asserting its right of self-determination and political sovereignty, nothing more. You know, like Tibet, Chechnya, and other liberal darlings? They're all instances of secession (a completely legitimate concept). There is nothing inherently racist about it (although the brainwashed statists will tell you otherwise).

    April 7, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  10. Travis In Colorado

    This is only right and fair, if I have to put up with Black History Month and Martin Luther King Day, then certainly we can tolerate Confederate History Month. After all, the Civil wasn't about slavery, it was about state's rights.

    April 7, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. Lori says we Dems need to stop allowing the Repubs to determine elections. They don't beat us in numbers!!! Let's rise up & vote!!!

    Virginians, you got what you deserved.

    April 7, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. DCKID

    Ok Fine! The civil war was not all about slavery. It was, in fact, about mostly white southerners struggling to retain their states rights. It just so happens that the most important right they were trying to retain was the right to own slaves. Also, there is another important aspect of American history which does not get a lot of attention. One of the reasons that slavery ended was because slave revolts were becoming more brazen and more frequent throughout the south. White people we being murdered like you would not believe. You don’t see very many black people trying to force the state or federal gov. to foment a John Brown day or a Nat Turner month.

    April 7, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  13. Livin' the good life

    OK,...anyone interested in Virginia history can go to the local library, but, to "declare" something such as a "proclamation", [when] there's no mention of slavery" I feel, is misleading and "rooting" to cause outrage. Where are the INTELLIGENT leaders of our society besides the ones currently performing FOR the American people, NOT dividing us! It is time we stop the HATE! Beau Colby

    April 7, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. PL, VA

    Welcome to Taliban State of Virginia. Stop fighting in Afghanistan because YOU ARE TALIBAN without beards. With what is going on in the country now, the only different with Taliban is that their movement is lead by men and in USA it is lead by some women and men. Don't try to change somebody else when you act the same way. Sheila Johnson should be proud of her candidate!

    April 7, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. ben

    I say get rid of the black history month and the confederate month.

    April 7, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. Debby

    Slavery was all over then even in the Northern States at the time so why not let him honor soldiers and yes there were black confederate soldiers to.

    April 7, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. Harry

    Republicans just can't stop showing their true colors. They try and whitewash their agenda; but their evil, prejudice intentions end up bleeding through like a stain. No wonder... since most are just stains upon their communities and fake faiths.

    April 7, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. Richard

    I think perhaps many of you are missing the point. I am not in favor of the republican ideals, however.... There were many people who fought for the south who believed in what they were fighting for. By todays standards that thinking was wrong for the most part. But was not our American Revolution a civil war? Were the patriots who fought for our independence fighting for a cause they believed in? The difference is that we (the US) won in the 1700's and thankfully the CSA lost in the 1800's. This does not mean that those who fought were not brave and stood up for what the believed in.

    April 7, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. jdh

    as far as celebrating treason goes...we celebrate treason every 4th of July

    April 7, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    The ONLY good to come from the Civil War was the freedom of Slaves.

    The death of 620,000 Americans was evil.

    The "state rights" the Confederates were fighting for, was the right to own human beings!

    April 7, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. southernLA

    Wow you people are real idots. Just because a group of people hate or don't understand the history of the South does not mean it should not be studied.
    I live in South louisiana and I wish our Gov was that brave.
    The Civil War is a major part of the souths history and If we have a Black histoy month then we should have a confederate history month.
    People can wish all the want but you cant erase history so embrace it and go on.

    April 7, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. JumboVanderbilt

    Just because something is bad, you can't sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. The greatest lessons are gleaned from history. Highlighting the Confederacy for a short time clarifies to our children how fragile our democracy is, and how everything possible must be done to protect it. It reinforces in their minds the wrongness of human slavery. It's a dark chapter in our past. It should be brought to the attention of everyone, once a year, for the moral and political lessons it teaches.

    April 7, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. Richard

    The South's gonna do it again?!?!?!


    This way we can kick their stupid butts AGAIN!

    April 7, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. KC

    Vietnam was a shameful time in US history as well. Should we not celebrate those times either?

    April 7, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. Harry

    McDonnell's being born was a mistake. The Confederacy commited TREASON... and that is suppose to be recognized as sacrifice??? Maybe next year he'll issue a proclamation honoring all TRAITORS to the USA over the years. Bennedict Arnold; David Dodd, (Confederate); come to mind. We can now add Bob McDonnell to that list also.

    April 7, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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