April 7th, 2010
04:57 PM ET
4 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. Marcus

    Fact: It happened.
    Fact: It wasn't just about slavery, although this issue played a major role in the events that led to the Secession and the war that it followed.
    Fact. It was a long long time ago, it's history now folks.
    Fact: Since it's history, it HAS to be studied. And if it happens to draw some tourists more to that state, so be it. Historical landmarks exists all over the country, and they attract tourist don't they?
    Fact: Many Confederate figures are erroneously depicted as racists or worse due to the fact that they fought for the South (the Grey Ghost and General Lee are the most notorious examples). Again, the Confederation wasn't just about slavery.
    Personal opinion: I don't like McDonnell and when he does something really bad I won't be surprised at all, but I don't think that this was a 'faux pas' of his part. But he should have mentioned the slavery issue to be a fair game about everything about the matter since the Confederation 'should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians'.

    April 7, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Fez

    Hey Virginia how is that conservatism of yours working out? Just wait until next year after putting those republicans back in power

    April 7, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Say What?

    The Confederates tried to break up the United States of America, attacked the Union, and then got their butts whupped ... i.e. they lost.

    Time elapsed: fifteen seconds.

    So exactly why do they need a month?

    April 7, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Kelby

    yep, this moment clarity reason and treason was brought to you in part by:
    The constituents in the state of VA...why did you choose this guy over Deeds again?
    The GOP: We have been producing idiots like this since Bush Sr.
    And the letter C

    April 7, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. ConservativesAreBrainDead

    In other news, Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared May as "National Socialist History Month."

    "It is important for all Germans to reflect upon our nation's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Nazi leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the World War II, and to recognize how our history has led to our present," Chancellor Merkel's seven-paragraph proclamation reads in part.

    She quietly made the declaration after 65 years of previous administrations refused to do so.

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

    April 7, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Radar55

    Ok , Please Black folks in Virginia, do a reenactement of the slave trade. on every corner near he gov office hold up a confederate flag, while having a rope around your neck.

    Please, please do this for the remeberance of that history.
    Don't forget the big buck held between two horses.

    April 7, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. phoenix86

    Way to go!!!

    April 7, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Dang Yankee

    So, would it be appropriate for one of us northern states to proclaim a month of, "remember when General Sherman burned all you southerners' cities to the ground and gave Robert E Lee the smackdown?"

    I agree with LouieD, Confederate history amounts to Slavery, treason, and defeat. The confederate soldiers didn't 'sacrifice' anything noble; today they'd be regarded as the Hutaree.

    April 7, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Peter

    Are Republicans out to destroy the United States???

    April 7, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    People need to remember that Lincoln said that if he could have averted the Civil War without ending slavery he would have done so.

    People need to understand history, not just live in the headline of the liberal left.

    April 7, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Grundoon

    This guy is a complete TOOL!

    April 7, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Peter

    Lets vote to keep our country in one piece by voting out all Republicans this Nov! they have shown they have no real love for America!

    April 7, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. rdepontb

    Man-I used to live in Virginia, Fairfax, and do not remember ever running into this type of person. McDonnell doesn't just dare show his face in public-which someone with his views should _never think_ of doing-but he actually ran for public office!

    Is this what has become of my erstwhile, freedom-first state? Is this what has become of the Republican Party these days??

    Shall we set aside a week or month to honor all the tasteful art collected by those WW II losers? Shall we, maybe with a throw money down the drain day, honor Enron, Madoff, AIG for all of their hard work and the many, many families and lives they touched? Shall we? Really?

    April 7, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    I guess it will now be ok for the Germans to also celebrate the rise of the Nazi regime

    April 7, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Felly

    Where are all the Republican bloggers? I bet, you are all running away from this hot topic.

    April 7, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Ben

    I always find it funny that Republicans are the first to scream how unpatriotism people are, and yet supporting the confederacy is the most unpatriotic thing you can do. Competely hippocritical, but that is the republican party for you.

    April 7, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Please everyone who believes this IS wrong email the governor of Virginia, go to the state web site and click on "contact." I just did!

    April 7, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wow. ALL OF A SUDDEN we're celebrating the Civil War AND the Confederacy to boot.

    I have to admit, very subliminal.... and effective.

    This is yet ANOTHER rubber stamp for the militant, lunatic,bigotted to step further out of the closet and into the light of day.

    These so-called Governors are giving the unhinged amongst us yet another 'go ahead'. Let's see where their silent encouragement leads this nation.

    They so remind me of the Devil in the movie "The Passion of the Christ".
    They slither amongst us starting all types of mischief and mayhem, and then they sit back and watch.

    April 7, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    @Marcus

    OPINION: This SHOULD be studied, but NOT celebrated.

    April 7, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. ConservativesAreBrainDead

    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.

    Ah, kind of like declaring a History month for the Third Reich isn't about the Holocaust, nope, not at all. It's about studying the 12 years the Nazis were in power. Interesting.

    April 7, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    i've often herd Virgina is for lovers. Seems it's for a few fools too.

    April 7, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. raingirl2

    I do not believe that the southern states (where a lot of blatant hate rears it's ugly head frequently) will ever embrace Negro's,African Americans black people it is their hatred and bigotry that fuels the fire in this nation and insults and condemns everything done by the Obama administration. not because he is a dumb president but simply because he is a man of color their actions clearly demonstrates a continuation of the old south plantation mentality. They would rather lie steal and cheat perform acts of pedophilia,adultery, and gay bashing than to embrace truth and honesty. President Obama's administration has tried with every thing he has to bring together the voices of both sides of the congress but continues to be flogged by the inherent bigotry that embodies those who spew hatred death threats to various congressional members simply because in the capacity of their duties voted for yet another government entitlement just like medicare, social security and other government entitlements that many (most) of the angry screaming seniors enjoy today. Talking points,& lies have taken these people hostage and rendered them ignorant and deaf to hearing truth. the continuation of the confederacy IS about continuing the spirit and actions of the old southern sense of entitlement that they know what's best for the country.(white supremacy) Take a stroll through history and you will see the most egregious acts of criminal behavior comes from those who feel so entitled and points a finger of hate and bigotry toward people of color. this mean spirited behavior is one of the failures of racial growth in this country. I also believe one of the reasons for so much environmental disaster is that too many people harbor hate toward mankind who don't look like them that a supreme power has taken control and is destroying many who are caught in this spiral of hated that they either don't recognize or just don't care we are told that our deeds on earth comes back to us when we cross over to the other side eternally for many that will be ugly!. This is tragic that the history of these southern states will have to be destroyed by nature as mankind will never relent to the love of god as expected from all of to each other regardless of the hue of our skin..Self examination is good for the soul and should be practiced more often perhaps we would not point the finger of hate so often I don't believe we as a people will ever find racial peace but I pray for change of hearts daily.

    April 7, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Bill from CA

    Is he VA's Governor or Grand Marshall?!? I'm sure his klansman buddies will be pleased with this.

    April 7, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Stephen

    This has nothing to do with being Republican...

    "In the presidential election of 1860, the REPUBLICAN Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republican victory in that election resulted in seven Southern states declaring their secession from the Union even before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. Both the outgoing and incoming US administrations rejected the legality of secession, considering it rebellion."

    April 7, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Tom B

    Can we declare May "Only print what a politician says when he is not being a moron month" on CNN? That would be awesome... It would be hard to fill all the available space though and unless, god forbid, our elected representatives actually did some valuable stuff...

    April 7, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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