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. Tandy

    Please know that not all Virginians are like this idiot.

    April 7, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. bob

    the civil war was fought over states rights....the states wanted the right to own slaves! c'mon people...has history somehow slipped away and been replaced by whatever a politician says is history. think for yourself

    April 7, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Tom from Tx

    The hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper for the GOP. How can they have so many nut jobs in their ranks? This is pretty embarrassing for our country.

    April 7, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Scott

    Here's a call out to all Union states, let's celebrate General William Sherman this month for his courageous efforts which brought about the end of the confederacy and left the south in smoldering ruins. Celebrate by burning confederate flags everyday as a reminder of how General Sherman burned the and ultimately defeated the south.

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

    Article 1, Section 9, Part 4 of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America: No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

    The Confederacy was an evil institution founded on evil principles codified into law in its founding document. Not to address that evil in a declaration of a Confederate History Month is unconscionable.

    April 7, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. 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 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. Dianne

    @connie and diane Most slaves were captured by the white men who caqme in with guns and raided villages. Slaves were captured more than being sold by other Africans whom they captured in war. AWfricans didnot know the fate of their loved ones. You can put lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig.

    April 7, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. Price of The Confederate Flag

    Good for business you say Governor????

    You need to respect the blacks and other people that WILL NOT spend money in Virginia because of this.

    What Latino or Asian, or White [progressive] executive will not be relocating his/ her company to Virginia because of this action by you?

    April 7, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. Trav

    How do you neglect to mention slavery in confederate history month? That's like talking about the Holocaust from the Nazi standpoint. If this governor doesn't realize why this might be a little offensive to people he is out of touch with reality!

    April 7, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. Kay

    A Republican who wants to celebrate treason and home-grown terrorists - wow...that's a shocker!

    April 7, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. DennisK

    I must be getting old, because I'm no longer surprised when a politician does something abhorrant just for the sake of pandering to his supporters. What's on tap for May, Klan History Month?

    April 7, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. gary

    Great timing! We have just elected the first African American President and Virginia wants to celebrate the side in the war that was fought to keep slavery. On the other hand, I guess it fits with the anti-government tea party folks' way of thinking. When will we realize that these people (including the governor of Virginia) are fundamentally anti-American and the very opposite of real patriots. They betray the honor of soldiers today who are giving their lives to protect our country and its values.

    April 7, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  13. Papasan in AZ

    Soon to be followed by KKK Day, don't forget to hand out the ever popular White Hoods, and maybe you can have a Cross Burning contest too...

    April 7, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Tony U.S.M.C.

    This is a disgrace to the State of Virginia, to African Americans, Military African Americans and the rest of the United States, ever since President Obama became president the true prejudice colors of America has resurfaced and unfortunatly the republican party are setting a bad example for our youth and other countries, we invade other countries and tell them thier government is wrong and yet ours is just as bad, what ever happened to leadership by example. the republicans are sore losers who are only for the wealthy and the red necks of America.

    April 7, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Mr. Independent

    Liberals. The Governor is not saying to celebrate the War, its cause, or its results. Y'all are so PC programmed you'd change the truth about yesterday every chance you got if you didn't like it.

    Bravo Gov. McDonnell. Sticking it in the PC eye 😉

    April 7, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Sacrifice? You lost the Civil War. Nothing was good about the Confederacy and the so called "sacrifice" of rebel soldiers. What difference does it make, the war is over and you lost. Badly I might add.

    April 7, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. Patriot

    Just another Redneck domed to repeat the past. Congratulations Republicans...you just turned the clock back to 1859...

    April 7, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. Proud American

    The Civil War resulted in the deaths of 620,000 Americans over States rights, the right to legal own and sell slaves. 11 States declared secession before Lincoln took office. Both the out going administration, President James Buchanan and Lincoln's administrations rejected the legality of secession and considered it as a rebellion. Let's Celebrate treason. The Confederate States made the first attack on the US military at the military installation at Fort Sumter

    Civil War should be studied not celebrated, it was a shameful period
    in American history.

    By the way, Lincoln, was a Republican and Buchanan was a Federalist.

    April 7, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. ChasRobin

    Ah here we go again, the lefties wanting to revise history.
    Lets just ignore the bloodiest period in or history because we want to paint it racism.
    I'm not sure who said it and I should as it's historical but if we forget our history we will be condemned to relive it.
    The civil war years and the Confederacy should be well understood by all as to never allow for that kind of division or racism again.

    BTW There is such a thing as an African-American Conservative, I welcome their contribution each and every time I meet them along with our Latino, and Asian conservatives.

    Being anything other than white does not preclude you from knowing what right.

    April 7, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Kevin

    History is meant to be reflected upon and learned from. This is what the governor's proclamation is about. Nowhere in the above story did I see it reported that the Confederacy was to be celebrated and honored, but it was to be reflected upon. Those who wish to whitewash history and forget about all the negative aspects are the ones who are asking for society to repeat those terrible events from our past. Instead of forgetting that they happened, we should think about what lessons we can learn from them and how to apply those lessons to our lives today.

    April 7, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Chris in Va.

    Most Virginians took up arms not to protect the institution of slavery but to protect their families and property from marauding invaders. Lincoln himself stated that if he could preserve the Union without freeing one single slave he would do it.

    History is often skewed by the victors.

    April 7, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. sanitycheck

    You can't fix stupid. This proves it.

    April 7, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Kenisha

    I'm not blaming myself at all. I didn't vote for this NUT! I have already started organizing my events to be held on my HBCU campus here in VA. If he thought for ONE second we would be silent about this oh he was sadly mistaken.

    We are fired up around here about this!

    April 7, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. once upon a horse

    conservatives want to make fun of libs for complaining about such things, what they really need to be doing is blaming the IDIOT white supremists that took what was part of American history and turned it into a hate symbol. But of course they won't acknowledge that fact.

    April 7, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    Many German soldiers fought and died for their country in 1943.

    Let's honor them too!

    I mean if we're going to go ahead and honor treason why not the Nazis as well?

    April 7, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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