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. ConservativesAreBrainDead

    Celebrating an attempted succession — and a succession in order to retain the right to own slaves — in a country that recently elected its first black President? What a tone deaf idiot this guy is.

    April 7, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. GOPBslapper

    Tomorrow he's going to suggest Germans celebrate all the contributions Hitler and the SS made to German culture. Followed by Pol Pot Month in July to celebrate the Slaughter of so many.

    April 7, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Rekha Kaula

    Remember and share history, sure. NOT MENTION SLAVERY – abominable. I will never forget the torture and turmoil my Virginia ancestors endured. And the ballot box will reflect that next election, Governor.

    April 7, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Poindexter

    I understand that many americans have ancestors that died in wars, and we have holidays celebrating many of these wars, honoring our dead soldiers. However, this war was about slavery. The south enslaved millions of people of african decent, raped them, killed them, worked them to death, and kept them from educating themselves. The point I'm making here, is that the Germans don't celebrate their Nazi ancestors, they are humble in their mistake. It is time for the south to rise again, and by that, I mean to be humble in their own mistakes.

    April 7, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. MikeH

    I'd say we may have get William Tecumseh Sherman on Ol' Virginny again, seems they forgot the lesson of 1865.

    April 7, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Sally

    Yea! This latest idiotic move by the newly elected Republican government will bring tourists to VA in DROVES!! I think Bobbie Mac was just getting tired of Cooch getting all the headlines. HOW EMBARRASSING to be a Virginian (I am one, God help me.)

    April 7, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Olivia, Atlanta

    "This defining chapter in Virginia's history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians,"

    Yeah, like the holocaust should be studied by Germans....... not glorified!

    Good point Kevin, Denver Colorado!

    This is the time when we also remember the infamous treason of Judas to Jesus and Gov MccDonnel wants us also to remember the treason by secession of Virginias to the U.S.

    This is not about the State rights, this is about the sugar coating "the slavery rights of pre-civil war virginians" which should be a reason of state shame and never honored.

    April 7, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  8. Doug - Dallas

    It's tragic that in this day and age, racism still exists and is so commonplace in everything we do! Virginians should be ashamed they elected that kind of racist as governor and so should the republicans although I'm sure Rush & Glenn are thrilled.

    April 7, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Hey – we're forced to celebrate black history month in February. Why not celebrate the Confederacy? Only bad thing about them is the fact that they lost.

    April 7, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. Ryan

    As far as I'm concerned Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee and 'Stonewall' Jackson are some of the greatest VILLIANS in American history.

    April 7, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. Joel Miller

    Redneck audacity! The Confederacy was a treasonous movement that fought against the abolition of slavery in the United States. If it was truly supposed to be about some objective study of Virginia history, they would have declared Virginia History Month rather than Confederate History Month.

    April 7, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. Independant Jane in Nevada

    If this month is dedicated to educating the people of Virginia about their history, and its consequences and the lessons since learned – great. It is a very significant part of that state's history, a very significant part of our nation's history.
    If it is used as a means of providing education, there should be no one who would complain. If it were a truthful depiction of the attitudes and tensions of the times, all decent people would reflect with sorrow and horror.
    So, let Virginia go right on ahead and have a whole month dedicated to that time in history when they chose to abandon our nation, in favor of rejecting a federal policy abolishing owning people as slaves. Let them shine light on the terrible ignorances of the day.

    April 7, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. k

    Liberals only want you to see history THEIR way. It took a lot of courage for the governor to make this proclaimation considering most American's are so politically correct they allow others to dictate their views and beliefs. Let's look back, let's study and better understand our history so we can better prepare for the future.

    April 7, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  14. Tim

    Dear people of the Commonwealth of Virginia:
    I do sincerely hope that the majority of the people of your great state do not condone the actions of your new governor. This is a very sad day for all of our states. Treason should only be recognized as an affront to all of our citizens, not recognized as a sacrifice of the traitors.

    April 7, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. Ron

    The ignorance of many is showing. The Civil War was fought because of the economy, not slavery. I suggest all who don't believe that actually study history. Hint: Industrialization. The industrialized North didn't want the South to become industrialized.
    Don't believe it? Then put forth some effort to find out the truth.

    April 7, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. Sisyphus51

    I think it took incredible courage for the conservative Republican governor to urge the citizens of Virginia to understand and reflect that the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War were utterly and tragically wasted in defense of the inhuman and indefensible practice of human slavery.

    And will a number of the commentators suggesting that seccessionist Virginia was merely defending abstract issues of state's rights or its economic interests unrelated to slavery just give it up. Those issues were in inextricably bound together with the issue of slavery. And finally, yes, Lincoln denied that he intended to end slavery, and the Southern states did not believe him!!

    April 7, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. Al

    Doesn't this governor realize that the Confederate Forces upheld the institution of slavery, and that that's offensive to many, many people? What the heck is going on in this governor's mind?

    April 7, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. Raphias

    To say all the Governor said, without one word about the savages of slavery, undermines his attempt to legitimize that era.

    The Confederates were people with a heritage-but with a core value that was abominable.

    His words prove that sometimes one should just keep their mouths shut and keep your thoughts to yourself! (Especially if your a politician)

    April 7, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. A.B.

    This man is morally tone deaf!! Does he not understand what the confederacy stand for?? Well I will him and everyone else:

    CONFEDERACY STANDS FOR RACISM, HATE AND OPPRESSION!!

    Virginia residents should school Governor McDonnell on the facts of the confederacy and how it affects people of color!!

    April 7, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  20. Len (Colorado)

    The GOP is really worthless. They can only preach hate and fear.

    The "Loud Minority" will not win in November 2010 or in 2012.

    The Silent Majority will vote in November and 2012. We will vote the GOP out and relect President Obama. We are tired of the lies and hate.

    April 7, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. Linda

    As so many have said, the South just can't seem to remember the conferates were the enemy of the USA. Then they lost the war. It's over. It's done. Let it go. Let's get on with life. I moved to the South 9 years ago from the North and am amazed at the hate and prejudice here in the South. It's no Bible belt in my mind. There are so many Baptist churches because the Baptists are always fighting and starting new churches. It is a sad state of affairs in the South.

    April 7, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. BlackBarbie

    They can Declare and Celebrate all they want, but nobody is going back to those days, I live in Newark, you want to try and enslave me ?, bring it on, I welcome your efforts...... but the outcome will very very different from what you think, I guarantee you that is a promise!.

    April 7, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  23. Ebony

    Yes, it is part of our history that should not be glorified in anyway!!! And those who say the civil war was not about slavery need to revisit their history books, I could have sworn the Confederacy was started to protect their rights to have slaves! So how is this not about about slavery? Yet, Gov. McDonnell doesn't acknowledge slavery as apart of their history!

    April 7, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Linda, Utah

    Well, Conservatives are excellent at "rewriting" history so "what slavery?" Hey, maybe the Governor and Lt. Governor can hold a lynching in the town square and all the Conservatives could come out for a picnic - you gotta love Conservatives.

    April 7, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  25. MSdemocrat

    What is he doing? The Republicans are doing a great job of energizing the Democrats and African-Americans. Every time I hear of some outrageous comment from the Republicans, it is followed by another outrageous comment! And these guys might control Congress in late 2010? Heaven help us all!

    April 7, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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