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. CEE

    The confederates fought for states rights to own slaves, that's the southern way, there's nothing like free or cheap labor.

    April 7, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Jerry P

    What an absolute IDIOT! Funny how only white folks don't see what the confederate flag really stands for!

    April 7, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. playsindirt

    This is very thinly veiled racism. Earth to Virginians – your forefathers died fighting for the right to own other human beings. Have you no shame? Why would you want to glorify that? It's like Germany celebrating Nazi month for pete's sake.

    April 7, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. Andrew

    For the Record, by the time of the Civil War, less than 1 in 1000 southerners owned A slave...

    April 7, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Most Republicans - Wrong about everything, Wrong for America (and GW Bush was the worst President ever)

    I can't decide whether this guy is a racist or just really stupid. Hey. Maybe he is a stupid racist.

    April 7, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. Tajalle

    To honor the contributions of an army who gave their lives in the pursuit of the destruction of our republic is insane. I do understand that people's families fought and died for what they believed, but the majority of the South at the time were slaves who wanted no part of this war or slavery. It is the equivalent of honoring loyalist who sided with England during the American Revolution, or honoring Americans who spied for the Nazi Party during WWII. In my classroom the Stars and Bars are an insult to the nation and the rallying cry that "The South shall rise again..." is black stain on the nations character.

    Michael Tajalle

    April 7, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  7. Cynthia in Canada

    As a Canadian, all I can say is "wow". This is unbelievable.

    I used to love traveling to Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas.
    I used to think "what beautiful country".
    I don't know if I can stomach spending my tourism money there now that I know how many racist, bigoted and nasty people still live there.

    April 7, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Ken in NC

    I think the citizens of this country have found someone they dislike more than Obama..

    April 7, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Jerseygrl88

    States' rights baloney!

    Question: What were the Confederate states afraid the federal gov't was going to do with all its mighty power??????

    I don't know.....maybe........ABOLISH SLAVERY?

    Gotta love that states' rights argument....so noble...

    What's next, a month to celebrate Japanese internment during WWII?!

    April 7, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  10. Gerry NH

    When you make a month for such things as Asian history month, black history month, Hispanic history month you are trying to make people aware of this not necessarily celebrate it. The company I work for has a awareness for something each month. It is actually informative.

    April 7, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  11. Virginia

    Yes, this is Virginia, the home of Pat Roberson and the Falwell dynasty. McDonnell is an embarrassment. He was elected ONLY because he is a Republican, not because he had the best qualifications. Our beautiful state has become overrun with pro-gun, anti-Obama, pseudo-Christian morons who can't think for themselves and who believe anything that they hear on talk radio. It's so sad to me. Virginia used to be for lovers, but now it seems that the new slogan should be "Virginia is for Haters."

    April 7, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. Bijoux6

    The Confederacy lost a war it started. The war cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. The war was fought to preserve an immoral system, slavery. When the war ended supporters of the Confederacy murdered the President of the United States.

    I do not understand what there is to take pride in.

    April 7, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. John

    This is nothing but a presidential hopeful pandering to the racist south. Trumping up this states rights bull and not even mentioning slavery. States rights were in the constitution so they wanted to apply that to slavery as well, too bad...

    At least we can say he understands the intelligence level of his audience.

    April 7, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. Craig

    After so many World events, the descendents of a peole fleeing persecution who settled here enslaved and killed others and killed and corraled the original inhabitants of this continent continue to inflict unimaginable horrors by continuously denying the past with such shameless behavior. Countless societies have moved forward including Europe. As a vet and having lived abroad it saddens me that we have only moved a few steps and the remainder of the civilized world is leaps and bounds ahead. Those same descendants committed some of the most vile acts including genocide and this person who calls himself a leader chooses to honor the wrong doings instead of turning the page. I hope he's reborn as a slave in an alternate reality with those meories of him being a Governer, lets see if he still holds those same principles. Governer your moral compass is in the latrines.

    April 7, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  15. Heritage not Hate

    Confederate History Month is to acknowledge the turmoil experienced by both the Union and CSA, not to celebrate it. Many lives were lost on both sides. Also, in the constitution, states are allowed to seceed. The liberals are thinking it is a celebration of slavery, but it is really to commemorate the lives lost and remember the tragedys of 1861-1865.

    April 7, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  16. P in Colorado

    The motion is an attention grab, and a suck-up to the far right Tea Party wingnuts. None of this would have come up with April as "Civil War Rememberance Month" or just "Civil War Month."

    April 7, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. surfsup

    Why? Why? Why have confederate month? Because the Republicans still have the civil war going on. Don't you all remember the tv show "Dukes of Hazard". McCain and Palin consider this the best television production America can produce. Shoot baby shoot! Drill baby drill! My dog has more communication skills.
    So sad to see so many people get sucked in to all that crap instead of working together to improve America!

    April 7, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. OBS.

    This is Bob McDonnell's speed alright. He is as close to signing a law making slavory legal again as any gov. of today. He's a two faced politician thats for sure.

    April 7, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  19. Cara

    If this was truly about celebrating history why not call it Civil War History Month instead?

    I just noticed that he's now going to add language regarding slavery to the order . . . he has a habit of having to back peddle and fix things after he does them.

    I live in VA and I certainly didn't vote for him, but now I'm going to have to put up with him for four years, heaven help us.

    April 7, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. Lauren

    Thank God! It's about time! Some of you might deem this racist but that only shows how ignorant you are. This is part of our heritage. Not all Confederates had slaves nor agreed with it. Study your history a little bit more and understand it was about states rights. You know that thing Obama is taking away now? Every other culture can have a month to celebrate, but God forbid whites have one. People want discrimination to end and for everyone to be colorblind, but you can't have that when few are chosen and others are left out. Accept the past and embrace the future

    April 7, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Chuck

    I agree the War of Northern Aggression, War of Independence, and the Civil War should be studied but it is also a point of pride for many Southern and Northern families. If you are unaware that is both white and black families. To celebrate the heroic efforts of men and women in a struggles one side for independence on the other to maintain a right to tax imported and exported goods. The accepted, at this time in history, of enslaving men and women was popular in the North as well as the South. History also bears out that the “instruction” of slavery had already begun a natural death in the Confederacy and presumed the North would follow.
    It was not until Gettysburg that Lincoln saw using slavery as a hot poker to thrust into the conflict. Quite frankly I am always amused at the way some people use any emblems of the South during those years as their style to advance a one sided out dated very predigest agenda.

    April 7, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. In Denver

    The South will never rise again. Unless they give up this past, it will never happen. Wait and see.

    April 7, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  23. Kieth from Virginia

    In reponse to "the conferacy is not about slavery it is about states rights vs federal."

    Yes, the confederacy was about states rights. Specifically the right to OWN PEOPLE. These were zoning restrictions and water rights that were being fought over.

    April 7, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. James

    Wow im moving back to Virginia......... It is ok to have black history month, but not Confederate history month "interesting."

    April 7, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  25. Katy

    The War Between the States was about the right to seceede. Lincoln only wrote the Emancipation Proclamation after Gettysburg. The South became a battleground. Every home was a "hospital", every woman, a nurse. The destruction affected both Back and White. We remember their suffering. TODAY there is STILL SLAVERY IN THE WORLD. LOOK TO EDUCATING YOURSELF.

    April 7, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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