Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

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Ysabel Kid
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Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#1 Post by Ysabel Kid » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:47 pm

Well, those who have read my posts already know my answer to this. The article below is from one of my favorite authors and columnists, Dr. Walter E. Williams. And before anyone just says he is just another "old white guy from the south", he is an economics professor at George Mason University, has been the chair of that department, authored several books... and happens to be a black man from Philadelphia.

Were Confederate Generals Traitors?
By Walter E. Williams
Jun. 28, 2017

My “Rewriting American History” column of a fortnight ago, about the dismantling of Confederate monuments, generated considerable mail. Some argued there should not be statues honoring traitors such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, who fought against the Union. Victors of wars get to write the history, and the history they write often does not reflect the facts. Let’s look at some of the facts and ask: Did the South have a right to secede from the Union? If it did, we can’t label Confederate generals as traitors.

Article 1 of the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the war between the Colonies and Great Britain, held “New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States.” Representatives of these states came together in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a constitution and form a union.

During the ratification debates, Virginia’s delegates said, “The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” The ratification documents of New York and Rhode Island expressed similar sentiments.

At the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” rejected it. The minutes from the debate paraphrased his opinion: “A union of the states containing such an ingredient [would] provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”

America’s first secessionist movement started in New England after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Many were infuriated by what they saw as an unconstitutional act by President Thomas Jefferson. The movement was led by Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, George Washington’s secretary of war and secretary of state. He later became a congressman and senator. “The principles of our Revolution point to the remedy — a separation,” Pickering wrote to George Cabot in 1803, for “the people of the East cannot reconcile their habits, views, and interests with those of the South and West.” His Senate colleague James Hillhouse of Connecticut agreed, saying, “The Eastern states must and will dissolve the union and form a separate government.” This call for secession was shared by other prominent Americans, such as John Quincy Adams, Elbridge Gerry, Fisher Ames, Josiah Quincy III and Joseph Story. The call failed to garner support at the 1814-15 Hartford Convention.

The U.S. Constitution would have never been ratified — and a union never created — if the people of those 13 “free sovereign and Independent States” did not believe that they had the right to secede. Even on the eve of the War of 1861, unionist politicians saw secession as a right that states had. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical and destructive of republican liberty.” The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace.

Northern newspapers editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New-York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” The Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in extent.” The New-York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”

Confederate generals were fighting for independence from the Union just as George Washington and other generals fought for independence from Great Britain. Those who’d label Gen. Robert E. Lee as a traitor might also label George Washington as a traitor. I’m sure Great Britain’s King George III would have agreed.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#2 Post by BlaineG » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:05 pm

It happened. Now, turn loose of it. :roll:
BTW, I believe it's criminal to remove historical monuments no matter who or what they portray.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#3 Post by gamekeeper » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:36 am

The banning of statues and flags has very little to do with the war of Northern aggression ( sorry Blaine) :lol: it is just the pussies in the Democratic party having a hissie fit and trying to look like friends of the so called oppressed descendants of slavery.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#4 Post by vancelw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:30 am

There are more people enslaved today than there were in 1860. Human trafficking is at a peak.

People need to worry about the future and the now.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#5 Post by BlaineG » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:38 am

vancelw wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:30 am
There are more people enslaved today than there were in 1860. Human trafficking is at a peak.

People need to worry about the future and the now.
We expect Blacks to let go of the past. We tell them no one alive today is a slave, and nobody owns them (except the Socialist Poverty Plantation).
I sort of expect the same from the South. It's been over for way longer than Blacks were treated like doo-doo...
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#6 Post by octagon » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:26 pm

Wrong. Slavery (blacks) existed in US for about 250 years. Civil War has only been over for about 150 years. Your off by a century.

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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#7 Post by BlaineG » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:52 pm

octagon wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:26 pm
Wrong. Slavery (blacks) existed in US for about 250 years. Civil War has only been over for about 150 years. You're off by a century.
Respectfully, you're forgetting about the Jim Crow laws. I was growing up in the 50's and they were being treated like doo-doo until laws were changed in the 60s....
Besides, what was your point?
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#8 Post by Ysabel Kid » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:28 pm

Maybe because I wasn't born here (in the south), I see it differently. Having been raised in the north, I look at the issue with less emotion. The Civil War was NOT fought over slavery. Slavery was one reason, and the main driver in getting the populace of the north to volunteer, but it really came down to the south wanting to withdraw from the Union because its interests were no longer aligned with the north, and the north fearing the precedent this would set. You already had a growing number of central-government statists in government.

On the issue of slavery the south was, of course, dead wrong. I do believe it would have ended on its own within a generation, due to industrial advances, and it would have ended more peaceably - advancing race relationships about a 100 years. Blaine is right, you do need to consider the immediate century after the Civil War in context.

I don't know anyone here, whether they are transplants like myself (who came "home" in spirit) or multi-generational true southerners, who still belabor the War. That is bunk spread by leftist, especially northern leftists, as soon as the south went Republican and jettisoned the Democrats as they ran headlong left towards socialism. They use that little canard to keep blacks on their urban poverty plantations and voting as a solid 90%+ reliable voting block. Granted, the historically-literate do often think about the Civil War, the causes, issues, fight itself and aftermath, but if anything it is more to consider the continued movement away from individual liberty and states rights and towards central government statism.

So, in short, nothing to "get over" here - but plenty to learn from (and hopefully prevent in the future).
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#9 Post by FWiedner » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:38 pm

Any officer who resigned an active commission in the federal army to serve the confederacy was most certainly a traitor, because they not only turned their backs on their oath to serve, they also took the training and knowledge that they had gained from their previous service and delivered it to an enemy for use against the United States.

:|
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#10 Post by Ysabel Kid » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:24 pm

FWiedner wrote:
Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:38 pm
Any officer who resigned an active commission in the federal army to serve the confederacy was most certainly a traitor, because they not only turned their backs on their oath to serve, they also took the training and knowledge that they had gained from their previous service and delivered it to an enemy for use against the United States.

:|
I politely disagree. The same officers pledged to defend the Constitution of the United States. They felt the federal government had violated the same in depriving the union of sovereign states of their rights to self-determination. Looking back at the arguments leading up to the adoption of the Constitution it was crystal clear that the states felt they had the right to leave at any time should their interested conflict with the remainder of the states in the union. This was the implicit understanding until shattered by the federal government in the Civil War, which firmly set it on its current path of abusing the sovereign states to this day.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#11 Post by FWiedner » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:32 pm

What they "felt" was of no account and zero import.

They applied for and accepted commissions. When they turned their backs on the nation they had sworn to serve in spite of their personal feelings and absent political consideration for a 'better' cause, they became insubordinate and faithless officers. Traitors.

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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#12 Post by guido4198 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:54 am

This is an interesting question and should be considered without reference to slavery, African-Americans today or back "in the day", etc. as NONE of that bears on the question itself.
Coupla points come to mind.
1. I don't believe the Constitution as written and adopted prohibits the secession of a state from the Union. I fail to find anything within that document that says "Once ratified, if you try to leave this union, the rest of us can kill you". If it's in there, I would appreciate seeing a quote from that document.
In other words, I believe Lincoln's determination to preserve the Union by force of arms was an over-reach and unconstitutional.
2. That said then, I don't find it traitorous for an officer to resign his commission in the United States Army and enlist in the Army of the Confederacy.
I do believe it would have been traitorous if an officer served the interests of the Confederacy WITHOUT having first resigned from the U.S. Army.

Consider this:
An officer commissioned into the Imperial German army in 1918 finds the path his nation is on in 1940 ( or so...) to be unacceptable so he resigns his commission and moves to England. Is he a traitor if he enlists in the RAF in an effort to save Germany from the horrific path it is on..???

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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#13 Post by FWiedner » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:02 am

Maybe 'turncoat' is a more accurate descriptor.

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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#14 Post by Ysabel Kid » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:57 am

FWiedner wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:02 am
Maybe 'turncoat' is a more accurate descriptor.

:|
I don't think either apply. They were honorable men who knew the higher allegiance was to the very principles upon which the country was founded. They saw the government going down a path contrary to these principles, resigned (excellent point guido4198!), then joined the fight to preserve those principles.

Another example. Should a current military officer comply with an illegal order? I'm not talking about something they disagree with, but something patently illegal.

We've had this debate before on the international stage. "Following orders" was not an acceptable excuse for the Nazi SS. Nor should it have been.

At a certain point, one must prioritize the things one follows and holds allegiance to - and then have the honor to take responsibility for that decision no matter what. For me, as I suspect many others, God, family, country are all high on that personal list - higher than my own personal needs or desires. My honor is also high on that list.

I don't recall ever reading that the Confederate Generals, after the war, did anything to disavow their actions. They manned up and stood by their decisions.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#15 Post by FWiedner » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:22 pm

So your defense of these faithless officers is to compare the Civil War era federal government to the WWII era Third-Reich?

Abraham Lincoln was the nineteenth century incarnation of Adolph Hitler?

:roll:
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#16 Post by fordwannabe » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:44 pm

No offense to anyone here as this is a touchy subject even after 150 years. If you read the letters General Lee sent home to his wife you will find he was both a thinking man, and a man of honor. These decisions tore him up inside. Was slavery wrong yes, has been going on for at least as long as the old testament in the oldest book I ever read. Slavery was wrong at the time of Christ, was wrong at the time of Lincoln, and is wrong now. However please consider that you have made an agreement with your neighbors to have a voluntary community association for the good of all. Then all the sudden your association tells you now you are going to be paying super high association fees, and where before the fees you had an equal vote, now you get little to no vote. When you think about it after a time you decide you don't want to be in the association and tell them that. The decision from them is no you can't leave, and if you try, we will burn your house down and shoot your dog.hmm. Are you going to stand by and say ok? I believe men of thought, and honor would protect their homes, and family's from all threats both foreign and DOMESTIC. Seems I heard that somewhere. General Lee did not go into this willy nilly, he knew what this meant personally, to family, and to country at least that is the way I read his letters. My opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it. But what the hell do I know?
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#17 Post by Ysabel Kid » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:36 pm

FWiedner wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:22 pm
So your defense of these faithless officers is to compare the Civil War era federal government to the WWII era Third-Reich?

Abraham Lincoln was the nineteenth century incarnation of Adolph Hitler?

:roll:
I'm saying I love my country, but my government is not my country. When my government breaks its commitment to the country, following it is not an act of honor.

When I was growing up, my Dad used to say, over and over, "My country, right or wrong". It took me a while to understand what this really meant.
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Re: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

#18 Post by Ysabel Kid » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:37 pm

fordwannabe wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:44 pm
No offense to anyone here as this is a touchy subject even after 150 years. If you read the letters General Lee sent home to his wife you will find he was both a thinking man, and a man of honor. These decisions tore him up inside. Was slavery wrong yes, has been going on for at least as long as the old testament in the oldest book I ever read. Slavery was wrong at the time of Christ, was wrong at the time of Lincoln, and is wrong now. However please consider that you have made an agreement with your neighbors to have a voluntary community association for the good of all. Then all the sudden your association tells you now you are going to be paying super high association fees, and where before the fees you had an equal vote, now you get little to no vote. When you think about it after a time you decide you don't want to be in the association and tell them that. The decision from them is no you can't leave, and if you try, we will burn your house down and shoot your dog.hmm. Are you going to stand by and say ok? I believe men of thought, and honor would protect their homes, and family's from all threats both foreign and DOMESTIC. Seems I heard that somewhere. General Lee did not go into this willy nilly, he knew what this meant personally, to family, and to country at least that is the way I read his letters. My opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it. But what the hell do I know?
Well said.
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