April 7th, 2010
04:57 PM ET
5 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. Sisyphus51

    Question for Governor McDonnell: Exactly how was Virginia defined in this "defining chapter in Virginia's history"? It was defined as one of the defender's of a state's right to permit slavery.

    The Virginia Ordinance of Seccession proclaimed in part : the Federal Government having perverted said [constitutional] powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States.

    Of course, some Southerners like to call describe the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression, despite the South's initiation of armed conflict.

    And when will we ever learn that the courage of individual soldiers can never turn a immoral war into a moral one.

    April 7, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Richard Larson

    Will we all wake up someday and find that all of the former states of the confederacy have decided to follow the revisionist movement that hes resulted in Texas completely turning its back on the facts relating to the past? Will propaganda again be the message delivered in our schools relative to the confederacy like it was for the "Red Threat" during the 40's and 50's? Will a new McCarthyism devolve from the current "Tea-Party" movement that exists only to attempt to deny the fact that Barack Obama is in fact a United States Citizen and has legitimately been elected President of all Americans? Must good moderate people have their rights as Americans devalued by a Fascist Right who seek only to impede the course of history as this country becomes more representative of the people who live here than of the "White-Master Class" that ruled for the first 150 years of our existence despite their deminishing numbersand the inexorible course of history?

    The Fascist-Right Wing Republicans cannot comprehend, it seems that their ineptitude electorially has cost them dearly, Why? Because they cannot bring themselves to understand that history and time wait for no man. People and movements evolve, they rarely regress for very long before they are overcome by events stronger than their movement. My advise, get a grip, reject regression, and find a way to make a moderate-conservative political movement that embraces immutable change and find a positive way to engage in the political process and become relevant again.

    April 7, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. TrueAmericanEagle

    As a 16yr military servicemember and a proud citizen of the United States of America, I find it sad that VA or any state has a month celebrating 4yrs of attempted mutany. No matter how some historians, uneducated southerners, modern day bigots cloaked under the spirit of "Conservatism" or Fox news package it, the Civil War was over money that fueled by slavery for the South. In the end, the South got their rear ends handed to them and have slowly recovered since then. I think VA's governor should spend the tax payers money/time/resources on other things like Jobs, Education, Healthcare instead of a War that divided our nation.
    " One Nation Under God........"

    April 7, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Luke Brown

    Yo Bob, the Civil War was a rebellion against the United States of America because we Southerners needed slaves.

    We lost that particular war. Exactly what is it that you want to honor in all of that? Courage and sacrifice are wonderful values ... but not when they are offered up for the wrong cause.

    Bob, let's admit it. It's over. They won. Time to move on.

    April 7, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Dave

    Celebrating Confederate History Month? In other words, this is a celebration of a bunch of treasonous bigots who thought it was alright to enslave an entire race of people based on the color of their skin. This is no different than Germany celebrating Nazi History Month.

    April 7, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. R.B.

    Though I am white, and not black, I think this is a national outrage! All Americans should be outraged that the Confederacy and what it stood for should be commemorated in 2010?!!! Shall we commemorate treason??? Slavery??? Ethno-centrism??? Bigotry???

    I hope the federal goverment and all patriotic Virginians will investigate how Virginia is becoming radicalized under this GOP Governor.

    April 7, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard!
    Part of the stae's history? A BRIEF part of its history!
    If honoring a time brought about by slavery is the best this man can do to honor the state's storied history, it's time to reconcider him as a leader.
    So Virgina thinks honoring slavery is OK, but healthcare for millions of Americans should be a court action. You tell me who the carzies are!

    April 7, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. For Real

    Gov. Robert McDonnell want me to celebrate people getting lynching. The only thing that I think the confederate left the US was hate. Hate groups beclause people want to own people or felt they were better than people because of skin color. The Gov needs to be impeach now. He his help promote hate. I am trying to stay away from hate, but these hateful idots may bring it out. Let me pray.

    April 7, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. lovable liberal

    And Republicans will still whine that African-Americans won't vote for them.

    April 7, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. President Obama could walk on water and the Party of NO would still complain that he left footprints!

    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.

    The Civil War was about "states' rights" to continue slavery.

    .

    April 7, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. James from NJ/Dubai

    Anyone who actually believes that the civil war was about slavery is severely mistaken and if anything it shows that our education system is in poor shape.

    Most experts agree that Lincoln only issued the Emancipation Proclamation to garner international support and further isolate the South.

    I'm not trying to diminish the effect of the civil war, it did help destroy the institution of slavery. Nor I am saying that slavery is in any way good, but it must be understood that slavery played a minor role in the initiation of the civil war and that it only became a larger issue when Lincoln manipulated it to gain favor for the North.

    Please please please read a history book and find some primary sources on the issue.

    April 7, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Jann in Denver

    A redneck with power = danger to the U.S.

    April 7, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Anthony In Miami

    The reason why people hate when you play the race card is because a major percentage of the time, you're right! Oh, and let's not forget on April 19, gun rights advocates by the thousands are going to be as close as they can to Washington DC bearing arms in a stance to support the owning of a weapon. Even though, it's already been proven that nobody has threaten their right to bear arms. How about this for a tv news hour: Gun activist in Virginia during the state observed Confederate History month clashes with upset African-Americans from Washington DC at state line in gun fire. This is what this country is headed to! If people don't ratchet back from where we are, bad things are lurking. And as much as we're trying to make race not an issue, it is! My heart breaks for my country because majority rule is not about dominance rule. All I hear is take back the Congress and the White House. It's starting to sound like, by any means necessary. Please, for the love of God, stop it while you're ahead!

    April 7, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Recreator

    This person should be ashamed of himself. Promoting a month dedicated to the history of bigotry and slavery. I do not think he has the right, even as governor of his state, to make this statement. He does not take into account the feelings and thoughts of his population. I would hope that other Republicans would speak out against this blantant act of racisim.

    April 7, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Dianne

    What does the rest of the world really think about the USA? All that talk about equality, freedom, and democracy, these are great talking points but it is not reality. Before preaching to the rest of the world, the USA needs to put all that talk into practice. This so called man is governor of a state of the USA. What an insult to the African American soldiers who have died, been injured supporting democracy and equality in Iraq and Afghanistan. What an insult and injury to those fine African American men serving the USA. Tell me the res it.t of the world, "What do you think of this socall man"? If we donot remember the past, we are doomed to repeat. There isn't any glory in slavery nor their supporters.

    April 7, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. Ann

    I know that not everyone from the south is an idiot rascist but man on man I can't believe how many still have their white hooded suits, starched and ready to parade around in.....get a clue GOP. This guys should be tarred and feathered.............Virginians, speak up to this idiot!

    April 7, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. Johnny DC

    The Civil War wasn't about slavery, it was about economy. For any of you (I'm guessing none here) that took honors or AP American History in high school, or any American History class in college, you'd have known that by now.

    Failure to study or honor the history of the Confederacy because of slavery is synonymous to Germans refusing to examine their own centuries of history because of the Holocaust. Get it? I'm guessing you still don't, sheep.

    April 7, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. Greg

    LET'S CELEBRATE SLAVERY VIRGINIA!!! They can re-enact ripping blacks backs open with whips and impregnate the woman. Such a glorious time in American history to celebrate. How about condemning it instead.

    April 7, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  19. Andy from NYC

    It was an important era for Virginia and all the other Southern States. The Confederacy should be remembered historically just like the German people should remember the years during Adolf Hitler's reign as chancellor and Frenchmen and women should remember Napoleon Bonaparte's reign as emperor. Those who choose to forget the past are bound to repeat its mistakes. Even the Chinese are regretful of the cultural revolution. Let the people of Virginia show their regret. To treat Confederacy in any other light, embellishes obnoxious realities still prevalent in our society.

    April 7, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  20. H.C

    The media pretends not to know the underlined motive behind all the retroic involving the Tea Party movement. All americans are not racist, and all Republicans are not racist....BUT!! We still have a very big problem in America concerning issues of race and justice. Since the end of the 1960's we have been living a lie that suggests racism is over in this country. Saddly, men like Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck lead the way using media outlets like FOX to spew hatrid, violence and un American behavior. Our children have very few good role models in America .....what a shame! what ever hapened to beaing leaders of the free world. We sure don't act like it!!

    April 7, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. candylou

    oh so proud, my governor is a DINK! but then those of us who didn't vote for him, kinda already knew that.

    Fact is no one in this state could live here without a thorough working knowledge of our history as confederates, my gawd one of those civil war history placards can be found every few miles...

    states rights hey? tell me... how many other states rights did we fight for? beside the right to own and sell humans for the betterment of our gentile economy? There must have been tons more, lets start a list???

    Abolitionists fought as confederates? Really, how interesting I bet ya trot that one out just before saying... very few people actually even owned slaves anyway and then seguy to the ever popular, the owners treated their slaves really well and it was a good life for them, better than they had it in Africa....

    Tell ya what, the south would have loved and supported a strong central federal gov, had it done what they wanted... rule that all new states were slave owning states and censor mail from the North to black abolitionist manterials

    April 7, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. SD, Michigan

    How can you "reflect" upon any aspect of the Civil War/Confederacy, if there's no mention of slavery? Are you kidding me?
    Then let's have a "WWII Nazi Germany month" without mentioning genocide and the atrocities and casualties....
    OMG.

    April 7, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. Sisyphus51

    Corrected version.

    Question for Governor McDonnell: Exactly how was Virginia defined in this "defining chapter in Virginia's history"? It was defined as one of the defender's of a state's right to permit slavery.

    The Virginia Ordinance of Seccession asserted the following as justification for seccession: the Federal Government having perverted said [constitutional] powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States.

    Of course, some Southerners like to describe the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression, despite the South's initiation of armed conflict.

    And when will we ever learn that the courage of individual soldiers can never, ever transform an immoral war into a moral one.

    April 7, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. CONNIE

    I agree with Kevin the confederate is part of american history it is 1/2 of the civil war. Just like the blacks can remember and honor all their important part of their history why can white people do the same. It doesn't mean any one is going lynching for anyone. It is time people accept it and remember black africans sold the black slaves to the white americans.

    April 7, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. Thanh

    The country is plagued with so much hate on all different levels, and he wants to make April Confederate History Month? While we're at it, let's have a Tory History Month in Massachusetts as well.

    April 7, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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