Again, the Furman University, University of Tennessee, and Causes of the Civil War pages give many other period statements covering these themes and others. The reader is encouraged to surf each of these freely. While I have attempted to isolate a few of the repeating themes and provide introductory examples, few documents dwell purely on one theme, but will mix several.
If there is a conclusion to be reached, it is that dwelling on any single theme is insufficient. The themes intermingle and knot. Any attempt to dwell on only one or two motives is going to be simplistic, and thus inaccurate.
My own opinion? The southern invocation of the Declaration of Independence was valid. The northern threat to southern institutions, self-determination, culture and security was real enough. Liberty and Union are not one and inseperable; they are often in direct conflict.
Lincoln was attempting to both end slavery and save the union. His vision was extraordinary in keeping both objectives in view, and in realizing one could not be achieved without the other. While there are exceptions, the south was more often legally correct, while the north was more often morally correct. The tragedy is that once war begins, neither law nor morality will reign.
And the Battle Flag? Secession would never have occurred without the driving issue of slavery. It is to be expected, and is often noble, that a man will fight to defend his independence and way of life. This much is to be honored. However, the southern way of life featured slavery. The Battle Flag would never have been sewn, would never have felt the wind, if the slavery issue had not divided the nation. The Battle Flag in the eyes of those remembering real history stands for the entire policy and culture of the old south, not just the good parts.
Those who fly the Battle Flag in fun, and in honor of the past, should be ready to acknowledge and repudiate slavery and racism. Some neo-confederate and re-enactment groups are very active in rejecting and preventing use of confederate symbols by hate groups. This much should be applauded. However, the Confederacy as it ought to have been is not the Confederacy of history. If there are aspects of the southern cause which are noble and worthy of memory, so too of the northern cause. Remembering a rosy picture of one's own past is to be expected, but painting the other guy's motives and cause as improperly dark can only stir old hatreds. The old wounds, and the old causes, are not entirely closed. Truth seems required. If those who today wear the butternut wish to be seen at their best and most moral, they should be ready to acknowledge the best and most moral of those wearing blue.
For about three years, Recognizing the Battle Flag was posted on the web and ended as above. In that time I have come to worry less about memories of the Old South, and more about tensions abroad. The reasons for this concern are stated in Polyticks.
I was recently visiting a Sons of Confederate Veterans web site. They had a guestbook. Their webmaster invited opinions, claiming correctly that those who visit a Sons of Confederate Veterans web site have opinions. I posted the following.
Yes, I've an opinion. (See http://polyticks.com/CW/) Alas, I'm a damnyankee, and my opinion doesn't entirely mesh with yours. I have no objection to honoring the best of the southern cause, but if those who wore butternut are to be remembered at their best, those who wore blue deserve a similar courtesy. I'm also a bit concerned with the recently proposed US and UN international initiatives to enforce human rights worldwide. When damnyankees decide to impose their morality on other parts of the world, even if lead by a southern damnyankee, the results can get messy. Perhaps it should be done. I oppose genocide, racial cleansing and organized rape of minorities by invading armies. We have looked the other way and pretended not to see long enough. My ancestors opposed slavery in much the same vein. Still, sending damnyankee troops into the middle of someone else's ethnic troubles makes me a tad nervous. The lessons learned from previous attempts to impose morality by force shouldn't be forgotten, and shouldn't be distorted. People with good intentions caused the deaths, suffering, chaos, economic hardships and cultural upheaval of the War of Northern Aggression. Good intentions are not enough in war and politics.
If Recognizing the Battle Flag is biased towards a northern perspective, I would like suggestions of sites emphasizing the southern perspective. I am looking for scholarship. I have already found copies of dixie.mid and csaflag.gif.
I have received several dozen guests to this web site from the guestbook link. I have received no suggestions of sites documenting the southern position with scholarship. If sites are suggested, I will link to them. If you know of any, please e-mail me.