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. p24

    What a joke- How can anyone "forget" or inadvertantly "omitt" slavery when discussing the Confederacy. Yes, the gov says that the Confederacy is an mportant part of history, that it should be studied....perhaps someone had to give him a refresher course in history to remind him of the fact that the Confederacy was based on the preservation of slavery.
    I know some of you out there will attempt to hide the truth by telling me the war was over states rights, but please, do not insult my intelligence. If it was about states rights, it was about a states' right to keep slaves.

    I find this disgusting.

    April 7, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Laura Fullen

    I'm a West Virginian with both Union and Confederate ancestral relatives. Without a doubt, I'm proud of my Union ancestor and am deeply ashamed of his Confederate counterpart. My Union ancestral grandfather died in Andersonville Prison from disease, but my Confederate ancestral grandfather lived to a ripe old age. How fair is that?

    Laura Fullen
    Bridgeport, WV

    April 7, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. Brian L

    The Republicans want to show that the Civil war was a fight about states rights.

    Too bad they do not know their history..... The CSA trampled on more states rights than the Union did....

    "In an extraordinary three-hour speech to the legislature on the evening of March 16 [1864], the vice-president (Alexander Stephens) carefully outlined his position. Allowing Davis to make "arbitrary arrests" and to draft state officials conferred on him more power than the English Parliament had ever bestowed on the king. History proved the dangers of such unchecked authority.

    ....The Confederate government intended to suppress the peace meetings in North Carolina, he warned, and "put a muzzle upon certain presses" (i.e., the Raleigh Standard) in order to control elections in that state."

    April 7, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Justin

    McDonnell is not my kind of guy but I'll give him kudos for acknowledging the mistake and trying to make it right.

    April 7, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. 987c-turbo

    The first omission was a warning sign of the so-called "conservatives" leadership mentality. The guy might as well declared Nazi history month and then apologized about the Holocaust.

    April 7, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. abe

    What good is it after the fact.

    April 7, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. Caron in Studio City

    Confederate History Month? I guess if we have Black History Month then it's only fair that other Virginians have a month to recognize their history with Confederate History month?
    But why does including sensitive language about slavery make it any less sensitive for African Americans. And normally when you have a 'month' or a 'day' it is celebrating the good that happened in the past so that we don't forget it. It will be interesting to see what that good is during CHM.

    April 7, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. Ethan

    The DAMAGE has been DONE.

    The Republican Party has shown its true colors. Or should I say COLOR, singular. That being, white and white only.

    Nothing wrong with white people in general, but there is something MAJORLY wrong with ignorant racists and anyone who disputes that is equally as abhorrent.

    I, myself, am a Caucasian-American and I think McDonnell is a disgrace to this country.

    And while I'm here: Hey, Wolf Blitzer. Why did you fail to point out to Mr. Noun-Verb-9/11 that Iran is EXEMPT from the new nuclear policy? Was that an accident? Poor journalism? Both? CNN is a joke. Get your news elsewhere.

    April 7, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. Kevin Park

    Even I'm a minority, I honestly do not think that Gov. McDonnell meant to issue a racist statement. I think it was an honest omission on his part.

    April 7, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. Wyoming

    Sherman was right. Long live the Union. The Confederacy lost. Get over it.

    April 7, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Christie

    Gov. Racist:

    You do not get it! It is not about the fact that you left out the statement of slavery; it is about a history that is painful to remember. It is about how you can take away a group of people rights; like the gays and lesbians.

    It is about showing compassion for your fellow human beings!!!!

    April 7, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. George

    It is an absolute disgrace the citizens of the United States to see such a thing not only tolerated, but discussed as if it is just some story about some war. This Country should be outraged and should condemn this governer and his declaration. If anyone feels that those who fought to keep slavery, deserve any recognition or honor of any kind must be viewed as those who would like to see slavery reinstated. I feel the reality of an African American President has brought fear to those who feel that this country is thiers. These people forget that the native American Indians are the only people that this country truly belongs to. The people who feel this way are the same people who can not compete on a level playing feild and always has to have some advantage to compete. Typical behavior of a coward.

    April 7, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. LouAz

    Just slipped my mind at the moment. You betcha.

    April 7, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Texas Granny

    Just curious.... how come we so rarely ever recognize & acknowledge what the U.S. Government did to the American Indians?
    Yeah, somewhat off topic, I know. But then again...

    April 7, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. Tony

    I'm sorry Governor, the mistake you made was not in not mentioning slavery. The mistake you made was in celebrating a seccessionist movement that defended its right to sanction slavery.
    In other words you are celebrating slavery!

    April 7, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  16. Dan

    The whole thing was a mistake.

    April 7, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. garc

    No, he got it "right" the first time, like he got it right a few years ago when he said (in his THIRTIES, not a "youthful indiscretion") that working women and homosexuals were "destroying the family". Of course slavery is an afterthought to him. Poor people are, too. Did you know he's cut free breakfasts for poor kids in this state? They're not "real Virginians," I guess.

    April 7, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. Nuey

    Oh gee, I forgot such a little thing as mentioning slavery when proclaiming Confederate History month. This guy is a major tool.

    April 7, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  19. MikeH

    McDonnel is Republican scum. He intentionally didn't mention slavery, this whole thing is about stirring up white racism against an African-American President, and McDonel should be investigated for criminal acts off sedition.

    April 7, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. The GOP wants to take our country backwards

    Not mentioning slavery was an egregious error, but WHY is he honoring the confederacy, who treasonously attempted to seceed from the United State of America, in the first place? What a complete idiot.

    April 7, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. sopastey


    this is just this Ultra right wing concervative freak show showing his true colors.

    April 7, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  22. hotchimera



    April 7, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. mama panda

    I'd say he made two mistakes...issuing the proclamation in the first place, and issuing it with a "major omission." And both mistakes were intentional.

    April 7, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  24. mark


    Can't believe this guy. I just started small business in virginia. Now need to relocate. I didn't know we just voted in a bigot for Governor. I can't wait to vote him out. Apparently, he doesn't know how to govern social issues!!!


    April 7, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. Pat

    Well said. It is time for a conservative revival with individual liberty at its core.

    April 7, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
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