Cahoon: The Union and the Myth of the Righteous Cause, Warts and All

Halford Ryan is at it again with his recent one dimensional interpretation of why the Confederate soldier fought. (“Confederate warts and all,” December 30 commentary.) He challenges Virginia Flaggers and SCV to respond to what he considers embarrassing questions.

 I am here to respond and to remain at the service of anyone who still believes in The Myth of The Righteous Cause and the nobility of the Union Army destroying the southern states as conquered providences.

Let’s lay some facts on the table. The Civil war was caused by secession. Secession had multiple causes including fear of instant emancipation.

For the deep South, this brought out legitimate of fears of the Santo Domingo effect and the Nat Turner revolt, both where whites were slaughtered.

Ryan either forgets or is unaware of Southern efforts toward ante bellum emancipation that were botched by the likes of William Lloyd Garrison. For years leading up to the war there had been a moral recognition and multiple solutions proposed by the South. Slavery was immoral, inefficient and would ultimately die out.

Not mentioned are Lincoln’s racists quotes that he was simply fighting to restore the Union and wanted all blacks freed and sent back to Africa.

How about that for warts and all. This is the great Myth of The Righteous Cause

 White supremacy flowed from the mouth of Lincoln and every American, north and south. To assign it only to the Confederate Battle flag when we see the KKK parading in Washington DC with the Stars and Stripes is the ultimate hypocrisy.

Ryan’s credentials imply as a teacher of Southern oratory he surely must have used statements from 1861 political leaders as published in Southern newspapers. Recent election results testify to the credibility of the press and politicians.

Not heard from are the common soldiers. I suggest one listen to them, Union and Confederate as they tell you why they fought. It was not to end slavery…it was over the rights of states to secede.

 Slavery later became incidental and many Union soldiers threatened to mutiny because they had no intention of fighting for emancipation.

Let us dispatch the mixed-race issue (I find the term mulatto degrading) in America. Miscegenation began at Jamestown and has continued through today with no stigma attached to the couple or children now. If Ryan would like to do some big-time shaming, he should go back to 1787 and start removing all vestiges of Thomas Jefferson from UVA.

Jefferson and many others, were committing no crime using their property as they saw fit. Miscegenation took place in the North, on the frontier with Native Americans, forcibly with Union soldiers invading the South, with indentured female Scots Irish slaves and recently within any country where the American military has been stationed.

 Virginia’s ordinance of session and the convention proceedings, clearly state that we voted to stay in but warned Lincoln against coercing other states. On April 15 Lincoln called for Virginia to furnish our militia for his control. On April 17, we withdrew the powers granted to the federal government and left the Union as we warned we would in our ratification June 26 1788. Contrary to Ryan, it does not say emancipation is the prime reason.

The right to secede when an individual state believes the Federal government is acting against the best interest of a particular state is THE STATES RIGHTS that seems to elude superficial history students who wish to depict every Confederate soldier as fighting to preserve slavery. Other rights were tariffs to finance infrastructure projects that benefited the North.

Also, there was a self-righteous arrogance building up in the North by those who wanted instant abolition but did not have to live with its consequences. Ryan may wish to read the Black Codes of Northern states which in many cases prohibited blacks from residing in their states.

As we close our defense of VA Flaggers and SCV, who will be in Lexington on Lee- Jackson day, I would challenge Ryan to cite the highways or streets we have illegally closed with unauthorized marches. Tell me how many riots, burning of automobiles and looting of liquor stores in which we have participated, although our freedoms were abridged and our legitimate heroes’ statues spray painted.

In spite of hate rhetoric in Ryan’s article, race relations stumble forward. Yes, there are enlightened blacks who march with us. It is pathetic that true history is there for the reading but hate is so much easier.

John L. Cahoon
Roanoke, VA
Member, Sons of the American Revolution, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Virginia Flaggers

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