April 7th, 2010
06:53 PM ET
13 years ago

McDonnell: Not mentioning slavery was 'a mistake'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/07/art.2bob0407.gi.jpg caption=" 'The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,' Gov. McDonnell said in a statement Wednesday."]
Washington (CNN) – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that his recent proclamation designating April as Confederate History Month "contained a major omission."

Earlier: McDonnell names April Confederate History Month

"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed," McDonnell said in a written statement. "The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of 'profound regret' for the Commonwealth's history of slavery, which was the right thing to do.

McDonnell also noted that while Virginia had been the Capitol of the Confederacy, it was also the first state in the nation to elect an African-American governor. "America's history has been written in Virginia," McDonnell said. "We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility."

In his statement, McDonnell also announced that additional language regarding slavery will be added to the proclamation.

Prior to McDonnell's announcement, his Democratic predecessor issued a statement slamming the Republican governor.

McDonnell's original proclamation, "disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation's wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation," said former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Popular Posts • Tim Kaine • Virginia
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Of course

    No one cares. Just ignore him.

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

    Gee, what's the problem. 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.

    That was the intended message of the proclamation, right?

    April 7, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    To honor the Confederacy with a "history month" is as offensive as the Germans honoring the Nazis with a history month! We do learn about the Confederacy in U.S. history books. That's enough.

    The Confederacy stood for enslavement, racism, the destruction of our Union, which are nothing to celebrate!

    Governor McDonnell, what you have done clearly states that you agree with all that the Confederacy stood for.

    April 7, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  4. Tisha

    I just e-mailed Governor McDonnell and went off. I am a VA resident and it was a smack in my face to find out that this man was going to celebrate slavery. He is HORRIBLE!!!

    April 7, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    After reading the new statement, what is there left to celebrate about the Confederacy? Is succession some form of patriotism to these self proclaimed patriots?

    April 7, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. The real truth from Chicago

    'Oops!! It was just a simple mistake. I didn't know people would care so much. I mean, slavery is over and blacks have all the rights now." This Gov. is an idiot. Its funny how the right makes stupid statements and then claims to have 'mistakenly omiited' something. This is the type of thing that makes minorities very distrustful and even angry at many whites out there. There are a whole lot of good whites as there are good people of all stripes. But, this does not help with those relations.

    April 7, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. Eddie B.

    This guy is trying to take Virginia back to the good old days of segregation and inequality. He outlawed anti-discriminatory laws for state employees and schools. How dare he have a month to honor the Confederacy which is a clear sign of pain for this nation when slavery was at the heart of this war? What does he expect that the whole state walks around with Confederate flags and dress in Confederate army uniforms with parades and everything?!?!? Can you imagine the pain and discomfort it will cause to African-Americans?

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

    Confederacy month? They were traitors and should not be honored. They wanted to divide our nation and waged war upon it.

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

    Slavery – in any form – is an abomination. That said, slavery did not lead to the Civil War in America. Lincoln was very clear that if he could keep the Union together with slavery, he would be all for it. He also favored the mass migration of slaves to the newly acquired Panama territory. Slavery / Human Rights only became an issue in the Civil War, when Lincoln- already in a very poor position militarily -needed more money from the northern elite, and used the visceral issue of slavery to achieve that goal.

    There was a time that to ascend to the office of Governor, one would at least have a modicum of eduction and critical thinking ability. A knowledge of history would be nice. This statement is no different than Palin stating – to Glen Beck of all people – that George Washington was a founding father ( he was not) and that he gave the government back to the people ( which he did not do at all, when he went back to his plantation – complete with slaves)

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

    No Bobby, it is the people of Virginia who are feeling like they made a mistake.

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

    The Confederacy was composed of traitors to the United States. Don't try to make it into something romantic. The Confederacy would have destroyed this country as we know it if they had won the war.

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

    I stand by my original posting: And this is the darlin of the Republican party. Didn't the GOP say a few weeks ago that this would be their man in 2012? WOW THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES!!! For the first time in my life, I'm not proud of America...and I'm a twenty-plus year veteran. My service appears to have been in vain. I can say one thing that the Conservatives do/did right...they supported the NRA and I sure do carry mine and am a proud supporting member of the NRA. I suggest the rest of my liberal friends to do the same...given all the revolution and take-back-OUR-country talk the right wingers are doing. Also, remember what Malcolm Little said 'Protect yourself by any means necessary'.

    April 7, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. A.B.

    Finally, McDonnell gets it!! He apologizes!! The residents of Virginia and the NAACP schooled the governor on the facts about the confederacy. The confederacy can be discussed as history in public discourse, but it is notthng to be proud of or to be celebrated. In fact, all Virginians should be ashamed of this history, condemn slavery and race hate and vow to be a society that values the freedom, equality, and rights of everyone regardless of race.

    April 7, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. Fitz In Texas

    There has been slavery since the beginning of time all over the world.

    While slavery in our country was bad, and lets not forget many white souls lost their lives fighting slavery in the civil war, slavery is not unique only to the black community in this country.

    April 7, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. Larry

    This country will be great again when we overcome racism......plain and simple.

    April 7, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. Boisepoet

    Gotta love it when Repubs get called on their racist tendencies; they are quick to issue retractions and addendums to their previous statements. He knew exactly what he was doing the first time.

    Face it...the Republicans wholly accepted the old South Democrats who couldn't stand the march of progress that called for desegregation and repeal of Jim Crow laws; now they resemble those that once stood for racism.

    April 7, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. Mike in NYC

    You'd think the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of white soldiers, without which abolition would never have taken place, would go a long way toward erasing that "stain."

    Expressions of gratitude from blacks for that irreparable loss are still forthcoming.

    April 7, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. Jerisquared

    As a Virginian, I can tell you with absolute certainty this moron's omission was no mistake. His apology comes from the backlash he received when he opened his big mouth. Let's just pretend our state wasn't built with tobacco money on the backs of slaves, then maybe it will just go away. Reminds me of a Texas Governor omitting Thomas Jefferson. Abysmal!

    April 7, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  19. rdepontb

    This is how thoughtfully prepared the Governor is when signing major statements? This is how his staff prepares his materials? This is the type of treatment given all of Virginia's many important matters?

    Mistakes are made every day. But someone on your staff has to read these things more than once. You have to read them yourself. You have to ask questions and verify just what in heck is being asked of your that's so important it needs your signature.

    April 7, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  20. Peter

    Dear Gov history will judge you as being on the wrong side of history! When you take the side of treasonous felons....simple you lose!!!

    April 7, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  21. Harlequin

    Too little, too late.

    April 7, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Steve in Denver

    Your mistake wasn't failure to mention slavery. Your failure is being a bigot. Your failure is the efforts to celebrate those misguided souls who wanted to secede from the union and break apart the country to be able to keep cheap labor.

    Your failure is you are a hateful man, who celebrates a very dark part of our history.

    April 7, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. Harry

    McDonnell's being born was a mistake. The Confederacy commited TREASON... and that is suppose to be recognized as sacrifice??? Maybe next year he'll issue a proclamation honoring all TRAITORS to the USA over the years. Bennedict Arnold; David Dodd, (Confederate); come to mind. We can now add Bob McDonnell to that list also.

    April 7, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Lee--Atlanta

    It continues to amaze me that we get so wrapped up at the actions of these republican or tea party supporters in terms of the racist actions they are taking right now. The governor knew exactly what he was doing, and I believe he intended to offend the president, but ended up offending the people in his state both black and white. In this political environment this was intended to be divisive.

    April 7, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. Jeff, NY and DC

    The Governor seems sincere enough and we should take him at his word.

    April 7, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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