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. Rich

    Okay, good way to alienate half your population instantly. Why not re-enact Appomattix while your at it and have the Confederates win..???

    April 7, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. Andrew

    Just so everyone know, the Civil War wasn't faught because of slavery. It was faught because the North wanted to tax imported Europeon goods that the south (mostly NC and SC) were buying, instead of buying the poorer quality goods mad in the north.

    Heck, even Lincoln said Slavery wasn't the issue! The only reason VA joined the Civil War was because the Lincoln asked Lee to form and lead an Amry THROUGH VA into the South. The Civil War was faught over states rights and NOT Slavery... PS I live in NY!

    April 7, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. lance corporal

    ah republicans...... let's celebrate an attempt at secession, let's celebrate the slavery of a race, let's celebrate going to war in a refusal to do what's right, let's celebrate an attempt to destroy amercia and it's greatness, ya know I used to crap in my pants, it's part of my history but I see no need to cling to it

    April 7, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Ballance

    It boggles my mind that folks in the south apparently never got the message that states rights or no, certain policies (slavery) are unacceptable. Yet they still want to associate themselves with the side that lost that argument long ago. Why so intent on celebrating a bunch of losers?

    April 7, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. William

    Why is anyone proude of the Confederacy? They fought for States Rights, to do what, promote Slavery? Promote Segregation? Promote Homophobia? Promote denying people a Modern Civilized Health Care System?

    The Confederacy was indeed the first home-grown terrorists killing more Americans than in any other war in our history – for what? Slavery? Bigotry? Hate? Discrimination?

    The Republican Party is indeed nothing more than KKK waiving their Confederate Flag and fighting for the top 2 percent like they fought for the slave owners. Disgusting!

    April 7, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Kelby April 7th, 2010 5:05 pm ET

    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

    Thanks Kelby, I really, really needed to read that!! roflmao!

    April 7, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. zanny

    Marcus – it did happen and it is studied but there is no honor in it. As a lifelong southerner, what part of the Civil War am I suppose to be celebrating??? There were brothers fighting brothers. It is a period of history that economically ruined the south and there are many areas of the south that still have not recovered. Sherman marched through Georgia destroying everything in his path. Does Georgia need to celebrate General Sherman month? When you have an idiot governor of Texas talking secession along with Tea party people who are so openly racist, this is just a movement to provoke. If we did mot have a black President and he was mot a Democrat, this would never happen. Keep in mind, this is the governor who in his thirties wrote a thesis about how women entering the workforce caused a major economic problem. Do we celebrate Vietnam month?? Korean War month? Lots of Virginians were involved in those. This is what it is – a slap on the face to the President and the Democrats pure and simple and I am afraid there is more to come.

    April 7, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Cheny

    I love this! If I have to stomach Martin Luther day and Black History month, then this seems only fair.

    April 7, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. jeff jackson, alabama

    O.K.....If we are going to censor history let's
    do this : Close Gettysburg battlefield park and
    never have guided tours there again. After all, the
    Civil War was a terrible event in our history and we
    just need to forget all historical events that ever
    Does that make sense ? NO!
    Do we learn from history ? YES
    Should we forget about World War Two ? NO
    Some people make a political issue about
    History is important .You don't sweep an event
    as big as The Civil War under the rug.

    April 7, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Congratulations Virginia. You reap what you sow. Is it too early to start a recall?

    April 7, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. cc

    A note to the Virginia Governor, as well some Tea Party members, according to the Constitution, secession was and is TREASON.

    April 7, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. avatar

    The true definition of an IDIOT

    April 7, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Charlie in Maine

    Wow. I know there is a scorched earth policy against Obama but it is pretty low to be honoring the last Slave Country in North America. The Condeferacy was defeated once. I say if they want to regroup we should seriously consider letting them go this time.
    (only kidding. then we would really need a fence)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Lucky to be American
    Proud to be a Democrat

    April 7, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Patrick - NY

    Don't know why I continue to be surprised by the amount of vitriol that spews forth every time someone mentions the War Between the States.

    The entire country, like many others, has a history in which slavery pays a part. Making the South the whipping boy for the whole country's sins is as unfair and divisive as it is dishonest. States like Virginia and North Carolina had a fraction of the slaves that the deeper South did. The further North you went, the less the slave system made sense, due to weather and topography, etc... so let's not have a sense of moral superiority over the North abolishing the institution earlier than the South.

    This is bolstered by looking at census records from the times when slavery was abolished in Northern states. Following abolition in such states, the black population disappears. This is because the grand moral northern abolitionists sold them to Southerners!

    More Virginians died in the War Between the States than in EVERY OTHER SINGLE WAR THEY SERVED IN COMBINED. Let's think about context. Let's think about the tens of thousands of Virginians who gave their lives against what was to them, in absolute terms, a foreign enemy invading their land.

    The Founding Fathers were slave owners too. Let us be glad our Nations eyes have been opened since those days, but still acknowledge and remember what good these men did, even while failing to understand their own evils. Judge not, etc...

    April 7, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. acudiva

    Okay, the answer is simple...he did this for tourism. So...
    Boycott Virginia!!! Don't visit there and see his tourism dollars crumble...

    April 7, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. A Kickin' Donkey

    You lost the war. Let it go.

    You will not succeed in revising history and making the Confederacy noble.

    30% to 40 % of Virginians during the Civil War were Black. I hardly think that majority of Virginians want to celebrate the rape& enslavement of people that was American Slavery.

    Take the black folks and add ant least 1/2 of the white people and I'll bet most people don't want to revisit the Confederacy

    April 7, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. No Need

    So I'm just curious would it be necessary for germans to have a nazi month so that they could remember the sacrifices of their leaders and recognize how its led to their present?..

    April 7, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Scottyrw

    I think we should repeal and replace the Republican Party and most of the Southern States! They need to either join the Union or move to another country!

    April 7, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Melissa

    Gesh. And Repubs are wondering why they are loosing touch with the majority of Americans...

    April 7, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Travis In Colorado

    The Civil War was not about slavery, it was about state's rights. It was about soldiers on both sides fighting for what they believed in. It is about time that someone gave credit where credit is due. Thank you governor!

    April 7, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    PS – to all these people claiming that the Confederacy was not about Slavery but rather about State's Rights and the Economy, you are all delusional apologists. The "state's rights" they were fighting for was to continue to have their "economy" and "way of life" based on keeping black people as free slave labor. The Confederacy = Racism.

    April 7, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. John

    Even if the Civil War wasn't all about slavery, which I would concede as true, the major purpose of it was secession. You know, leaving the country. The very definition of being unpatriotic. Using violence as a legitimate means of political debate. Even if slavery was not an issue at all, this would still be a disgrace.

    April 7, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. John Smith

    I believe that the confederacy , was a important part of our history. We share many common values with the confederacy but not all. Many confederacy soldiers fighted for a better America.

    April 7, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. CEvans, Texas


    I enjoyed reading your posting...Well said, and so the truth!!!

    I to pray for the hearts of our fellow Americans to change!!!

    Too much hatred and evilness!!



    April 7, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. Mark

    Hey NO NEED, you can't compare Nazi's to Confederates. You must be one of those people that compares Obama to a Nazi, same messed up thinking. I think is appropriate to acknowledge the Confederacy for the good and bad things the war stood for.

    April 7, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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