Why do some people still fly the Confederate flag? | HistoryNet MENU

Why do some people still fly the Confederate flag?

2/14/2013 • Ask Mr. History

Why do some people still fly the Confederate flag?

Thank you,
Teri Bennett

Dear Teri,

There is no one pat answer for the continued flying of the Confederate flag—it depends on what it means to the individual. Some insist on flying it alongside the Stars and Stripes (preferably with the number of stars it had in 1861-65) to represent the opposing sides at historical site dedications, and of course it’s a necessity for gray or butternut-clad re-enactors. In that context it may be flown out of respect to the soldiers who died for their cause, whether one agrees with it or not (especially if one had family in the gray ranks). Others, however, attach their own social or political agenda to it, such as the Ku Klux Klan, and various Nazi groups who have done much more to associate it with racism than the original Confederates may have had in mind—often concealed under the catchphrase of “Heritage.” For others, the “Rebel battle flag” represents any rebellious, irreverent or anti-PC act, and sometimes it’s simply flown to provoke a reaction or get attention. And then, inevitably, there are those who fly it simply to be jerks.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History



10 Responses to Why do some people still fly the Confederate flag?

  1. Ed Hamilton says:

    I think you should have mentioned that what most people consider the Confederate flag is really a battle flag. The ‘real’ Rebel flag is entirely different.

  2. Jay Moore says:

    A well reasoned answer, so different than what is so often thrown up. Thank you.

    I have absolutely no use for those who have, to quote you \attach[ed] their own social or political agenda to it, such as the Ku Klux Klan, and various Nazi groups who have done much more to associate it with racism than the original Confederates…\

    My great-grandfather and his six brothers all served. Two were killed (Gettysburg), at least one other was wounded, at Petersburg.

    My grandfather, the youngest, enlisted in a Home Guard unit when he turned 15, as Sherman was \Marching Through Georgia\. Right through their county. He was defending their home. BTW, None of my family owned slaves. They were \dirt farmers\ with no dog in that fight.

    If I choose to ever fly a Confederate flag, it would not be the Battle Flag, but the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy, for the memory of those men. and the sacrifices they and many others made.

  3. Ken Oxenrider says:

    What do I think about the Confederate flag flap? By K. Steven Monk I think that very few people today even know what that flag stood for. No,

    it did not stand as a racist symbol for the KKK as that group did not even exist when countless thousands of Southern men laid down their lives

    for it. Nor did it stand for Nazi-inspired white supremacy, as the man who brought that German political group to power had not even been born

    at the time that countless thousands of young, Southern boys spilled their blood on the fields of Gettysburg. And no! They did not spill their

    blood on that field of battle and innumerable other fields for the right to own slaves, as 95% of them couldn’t even afford the common necessities

    of life, let alone slaves. It was only the other 5% of the Southern population, the rich Southern planters, that could afford that as well as the

    luxuries they enjoyed. At the time of this great conflict, slavery, as an institution, was on its way out in the South. So why did so many poor,

    common, white (and even black) working boys lay down their lives for a tattered red, white and blue cross of stars? The answer to that becomes

    rather obvious when you consider what the war they fought and died in was all about. And no! It was not a Civil War. There was nothing civil

    about the carnage of hundreds of thousands of American men blowing the guts out of each other. It was a war of aggression: the aggression of a

    omnipotent, Washington-based political power who had as its agenda the subversion of a group of states who had decided to rescind their

    ratification of that power’s right to rule, an act which, under the constitution that they ratified, they had the right to do. In other words,

    Southern Americans, in this most Uncivil War, were fighting for the same thing that Americans fought for at Valley Forge: they were fighting for

    their freedom. That’s what the stars and bars meant to them. That’s why so many of them went to their graves defending it. That’s why

    If you seek an offensive flag, look no farther than the thirteen-stripe United States flag. Under that flag, hundreds of thousands of Africans were

    transported to slavery in the New World in the 1700s and 1800s. (No Confederate-flagged ship ever made a slaving-run.)Under that flag, an Army

    Order (General Order No. 11) was issued 17 December 1862 forcibly removing all Jewish people from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky. (No

    Confederate authority ever practiced anti-Semitism.)Under that flag, thousands of men, women, and children were systematically hunted down

    and killed, and other thousands forcibly removed from their homelands and relocated to less-hospitable environs in the 1800s for the shocking

    offense of being Native Americans/Indians. (No such actions ever occurred under a Confederate flag.)Under that flag, thousands of American

    citizens were placed in concentration camps in the 1940s for the heinous crime of being of Japanese ancestry. (No concentration camps were ever

    built or operated under Confederate authority.)Moreover, that flag is the favored flag of the Ku Kluxers — anti-blacks, anti-Semitics, and anti-

    Catholics. See http://pointsouth.com/csanet/kkk.htm for pictures. So: The thirteen-stripe United States flag has been used against blacks, Jews,

    Native Americans, Japanese, and Catholics. I wonder when will someone call for its removal? (Clifton Palmer McLendon) “The sole object of this

    war,” said Grant, “is to restore the Union. Should I become convinced it has any other object, or that the Government designs using its soldiers to

    execute the wishes of the Abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the

    other side.” -Democratic Speaker’s Handbook, p. 33 The War for Southern Independence was fought for the same reasons as the Revolutionary

    War. True history is not taught in school.

    This is a repost of a comment by cwipaulk – 4/28/2012 1:59 PM
    The problem here is that Yankee propaganda has been taught to everyone, starting during Reconstruction. No CSA flag ever flew on the slave-

    trading ships; it was Old Glory. The South did not secede in order to perpetuate slavery; it was on the way out, and only a small percentage of

    Southerners owned slaves. Lincoln waged his treasonous and unconstitutional war to force the seceded states back into the union for the

    collection of revenues. The South was furnishing about 85% of the revenue, and getting very little in return. Most Northerners were in favor of

    letting the South go, but Lincoln said, “Let the South go? Let the South go! Where then shall we get our revenues?!” Lincoln shut down numerous

    newspapers and imprisoned the owners who disagreed with his waging of an illegal war. To refute the oft-repeated lie that the War for Southern

    Independence (commonly but erroneously called “The Civil War”) was fought over slavery, I need only mention the Corwin Amendment —

    proposed by Congressman Thomas Corwin of Ohio, passed by Congress 2 March 1861, and endorsed by Abraham Lincoln. That amendment

    read: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any

    State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” If the seceded States had

    wished to perpetuate slavery, they had only to re-join the Union and ratify that amendment. They did not because they seceded to escape an

    overweening, all-intrusive big government, the same reason that thirteen States seceded from Britain in 1776, Mexico from Spain in 1818, and

    Texas from Mexico in 1836. The Confederate Battle Flag represents a brave and proud people (black and white) who were defending their homes

    from an invading army. Those who think anything else have swallowed the Yankee Kool-Aid. Do your own research. Learn the truth.

    • B Nixon says:

      100% historically accurate. Don’t expect today’s PC droids to research the truth. The Federal Union invaded the Confederate States of America for the same reason the Russians are trying to conquer Ukraine: abundant natural resources. “Where then would we get our revenues?”, indeed.

      Why did the illustrious “Emancipation Proclamation” exempt slave-holding states in the Federal Union? Dr. Goebbles would greatly admire the totally senseless racism propaganda which has been spoon fed as revisionist history for over 150 years.

  4. WT Sherman says:

    because they are racists. The battle flag did not appear, apart from the Klan, until the civil rights movement. Then, like now, white southerners fly the flag to show what they think of blacks and Yankees.

  5. Ben Kangas says:

    The reason that no confederate flag-bearing slave ships ever made a run across the Atlantic was because the international slave trade was abolished before the founding of the Confederacy. It is the same for the treatment of Native Americans and the Japanese. The United States of America undeniably committed these atrocious acts, and those previously Confederate States are part of the United States. If they were opposed to this treatment of foreign peoples, maybe they should have spoken up against it. Lastly, the Civil War did not get its name from civility, but because it is the term for a war between brothers.

  6. Dave F says:

    I think it also pertains to people who love country music, which i do. Good ole fashioned country music music actually started in the south.
    That’s another reason!!

  7. Denise says:

    That of course is your own opinion. Everyone is intitled to it. Obviously the deaths of the innocent church goers was the best opportunity for politicians to pounce on the flag like vampires. They couldnt care less about the victims. It is amazing how the majority of people are quick to jump on the band wagon. I doubt if most of those who agree even knows the history and truth about not only the battle flag but that the north owned slaves and still did so several years afterward. So if they want to remove statues of confederates then statues of lincoln and northern generals and anything representing to them removed including the american flag. Of course all you hypocrites will say oh no. How phoney you are and hypocritical. Blacks who know history about the civil war dont like lincoln neither. So, I do NOT agree with the ignorance , racism and stupidity of all who think the battle flag represents slavery. I and thousands more are proud to fly them and even though they have been removed from state grounds individuals will continue to fly them and more will begin. So get use to it. It’s not going out of sight but that is always possible with the government we now have. If you fools dont think they cant continue to take your freedoms think again. The majority of americans are fools.

  8. Pete Pasha says:

    One of the main reasons some Americans still fly the Confederate battle flag is as an expression of dissent. Contextually this flag symbolized the greatest dissenting opinion in national history: succession and civil war at the cost of over 500,000 American lives. The modern American citizen, within social and legal constraints, is still encouraged by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution to freely express his or her disagreement with government office, agency, policy, and law. The Confederate battle flag then acts as a dissenting expression for a dissatisfied American citizen. As to the battle flag’s historical association with a regional militant political entity favoring slavery, I should like to remind the well-intentioned public that, until 1861, the American national flag was also a symbol of slavery.

  9. Allen says:

    I second Ben Kanga’s emotion… Also
    Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states’ rights — that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery.

    On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” It noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” and protested that Northern states had failed to “fulfill their constitutional obligations” by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states’ rights, birthed the Civil War.

    South Carolina was further upset that New York no longer allowed “slavery transit.” In the past, if Charleston gentry wanted to spend August in the Hamptons, they could bring their cook along. No longer — and South Carolina’s delegates were outraged. In addition, they objected that New England states let black men vote and tolerated abolitionist societies. According to South Carolina, states should not have the right to let their citizens assemble and speak freely when what they said threatened slavery.
    True, the vast majority of people doing the fighting for the south did not own slaves and their personal reasons for going to war were as varied as they were noble, but they fought on behalf of a government that started a war for the express purpose of retaining the right to own and destroy men women and children in the name of wealth and commerce.

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