Why South Carolina seceded (in case you’re still confused)

Slave sale in Charleston, 1856

Slave sale in Charleston, 1856

Lee Bright’s bizarre view of history, and Prof. David Carlton’s related comment about South Carolina secessionists’ attempt to justify their action, remind me that it might be useful to place at your convenient disposal the original document itself.

We’ve all heard the absurd lie, from Confederate apologists, that the Civil War was not about slavery. We may hear it asserted next week, when lawmakers take up the matter of lowering the flag.

Just to make sure there is no confusion, I thought I’d share with you the full text of the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” In other words, I’ll let the secessionists themselves tell you what the war was about.

If you’d like to read a slightly shorter version, which leaves out the history lesson about the Declaration of Independence and the framing of the U.S. Constitution, you can read this one instead. It cuts to the chase, going right to the aforementioned “Immediate Causes.”

The document leaves no doubt as to why South Carolina was precipitating this crisis. For those of you who prefer numbers to words, I’ll provide these:

  • The document mentions some form of the word “slave” (“slaves,” “slaveholding,” “slavery,” etc.) 17 times. That’s the number I found in one quick pass through it; I may have missed some.
  • It refers less directly to slavery 9 other times, with such phrases as “person held to service or labor,” “fugitive,” “servile,” “right of property” and “persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens.”

But go ahead and read the whole thing, and let me know if you’re still confused.


55 thoughts on “Why South Carolina seceded (in case you’re still confused)

  1. David Carlton

    Excellent! I’ve made a point for years of drenching my students in the documents, notably the Declaration of Immediate Causes and a wonderful set of transcripts of the debate over secession in Georgia edited by William Freehling and Craig Simpson, which includes speeches by ardent secessionists and by unionists such as Alexander Stephens (later VP of the CSA, but a lot of unionists were conditional). I’ve found neo-Confederates over the years to be quite good at debunking myths about the relation of the Union cause to slavery, thinking that showing that the Union didn’t initially go to war to free the slaves demonstrates that the war wasn’t about slavery. But of course it was, because the war grew out of secession, and secession was about slavery. And neo-Confederates are astoundingly ignorant of what the secessionists actually said they were doing.

    1. guest

      James McPherson put it the most succinctly:
      While the Union did not go to war to end slavery, the South did go to war to preserve it.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, the rest of the sentence is important, because those people think THEY are the ones who know history, and the rest of us are the ignorant ones, somehow brainwashed by Yankee propaganda.

        Or, nowadays, it would be “liberal” propaganda, because that’s the current bogeyman for so many of them.

  2. Burl Burlingame

    What’s amusing is that the conflict really was about state’s rights — the rights of the northern states to shut down slave marketing and trafficking within their own borders. The south didn’t like that.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Shelby Foote, on what he thinks of Klansman appropriating the Confederate Flag:

    “I tell them to their faces that they are the scum who have degraded the Confederate flag, converted it from a symbol of honor into a banner of shame, covered it with obscenities like a roadhouse men’s room wall”.

    Shelby Foote on the Confederate Flag: (in 1970):

    “It’s still mainly abused and absurdly defended. And I understand blacks’ feelings when they see the Confederate flag. The real villains are Southerners who knew what that flag truly stood for and allowed yahoos to carry it. We should have stood up and said that those people ought not be allowed within 100 yards of the Confederate flag, let alone use it as a symbol for all they were doing. But we didn’t.”

    Just food for thought. I have more thoughts (of my own) coming, but they will be in the form of a link.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I feel Shelby’s pain.


      As much as I like to think of my forefathers’ courage and honor, the problem with the flag started before the Klan and others appropriated it.

      It was the flag carried and followed into battle by my ancestors, but they fought for the wrong side. The profoundly wrong side.

      It’s not that they had a choice, or if they did, it wasn’t much of one.

      It’s not their fault they were born in the South rather than the North, and that they lived in a time when one’s “country” may well not have extended conceptually beyond one’s state’s borders.

      So I don’t blame them. This is not about moral judgments against men who did their best on the battlefield.

      But this is unquestionably true: Their cause, whether they had much choice whether to serve it or not, was the wrong one.

      And even if not one single white supremacist had waved the flag between 1865 and 2015, it would still stand for defending the institution of slavery. That is inescapable.

      So, the notion that the flag would be innocent and harmless if not for all those rednecks using it in the cause of Jim Crow just does not hold up.

      God rest my ancestors. I honor their courage, their willingness to serve their communities in the ultimate manner. But I do not honor their cause, and that flag inevitably does.

      1. bud

        I could say the same thing about the soldiers who served in the United States army who waged an exceptionally wrong-headed and immoral war in Iraq. But we don’t have the non-stop discussion about flying the American flag. Why? Because the American flag is a symbol of values that we generally agree are worthy to honor. The same argument could be made about the Confederate flag. Although I don’t agree with it I do understand that many view the particular flag flying beside the Confederate war memorial as merely a symbol of the valor and devotion of the soldiers and NOT the underlying cause of the war. And unlike the soldiers in Iraq they actually were defending the soil of their country and not some enigmatic, wrong-headed notion of “clearing swamps” or spreading freedom and democracy.

        Next week we will remove the flag from the statehouse grounds and I’m fine with that. But this really should be handled with a referendum rather than a few men and women who happen to occupy a political office. This is an issue for all the people to decide. If removing the flag does end this debate then perhaps some small measure of good will come from all this of time and mental effort over a symbol. But if the debate extends to street names, monuments and other things related to the Confederacy then this whole episode will be nothing but a waste of time and money.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          The American flag is the sovereign flag. That’s different.
          If you want to fly an alternative flag, be it the Confederate flag or a rainbow flag or a Black Power flag or a My Little Pony flag, you are making a particular statement beyond basic patriotism.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            If anyone does propose to fly a My Little Pony flag at the State House, please let me know, so that I can start fighting it NOW.

            Of course, I have at least one granddaughter who would claim that it honors her heritage…

      2. Kat

        But it is more likely than not that your ancestors never even marched under the Confederate flag. In the Civil War this was one of many flags flown, this one was a naval flag. The Confederate flag didn’t become a symbol of the south until the 1960s when the south was angry about the civil rights movement, they CHOSE this particular flag as a symbol of anarchy and defiance, they chose it to represent repressing rights of African Americans specifically. That is why it is the symbol it is today, not because of the civil war, but because of the civil rights movement, and this flag was definitely on the wrong side of that battle as well.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Actually, Kat, the flag flying on the state house grounds IS the one that most South Carolinians served under — the square battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. The historical sticklers involved in the 2000 compromise, such as Glenn McConnell and John Courson, made sure that THIS time there would be historical accuracy. (And then McConnell undid that by moving to have the historically accurate heavy cotton flag replaced with a nylon version, that not only was less likely to fade, but far more likely to be visible in the slightest of breezes.)

          You’re thinking of the rectangular flag that flew atop the State House until July 1, 2000, which was rectangular, and therefore more closely resembled either the naval jack, or the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee.

          1. Norm Ivey

            I think the St. Andrew’s Cross motif was a central design element of many flags, often serving as the canton of the flag. We recently visited Gettysburg, and in the museum there, the battle flag was represented again and again for various armies. In many cases, the square canton was all that survived of the larger flag.

  4. Harry Harris

    Any who ignore that the flag was placed on the Capitol dome to defy and protest the civil rights movement and US integration laws are either deluded or simply trying to mislead. I was already a young adult, raised under the racist culture that flag was and is used to represent. I waved it and purveyed its attending attitudes. Thanks to God, he called me away from all of that. I never look back except in some sorrow for those (including some of my own family) who can’t let the flag and the sentiment that attends it go.

    1. guest

      In his book For Cause & Comrades. Why Men Fought in the Civil War, James McPherson largely dispenses with this argument.

      1. Mark Stewart

        Here is your author’s own words from this book: “Yet for Civil War soldiers the group cohesion and peer pressure that were powerful factors in combat motivation were not unrelated to the complex mixtuore of patriotism, ideology, concepts of duty, honor, manhood, and community or peer pressure that prompted them to enlist in the first place. And while the coercive structures of army and state were key factors in sustaining the existence of the Union and Confederate armies by 1864, these factors could not have operated without the consensual support of the soldiers themselves and the communities from which they came.”

        He also added this interesting nugget: “it is true that a disproportionate number of conscripts, substitutes, and (in the Union army) bounty men came from the ranks of small farmers and unskilled laborers. So did a disproportionate number of deserters in both armies. And studies of American soldiers in World War II and Korea found combat performance to correlate positively with social class and education.”

        Anyway, what was your point, Guest?

        1. guest

          The point?
          That just as it is impossible to divorce Confederate symbols from the Confederate cause they represented, it is likewise impossible to divorce the typical southern soldier from the cause he served. Whether enthusiastically, merely wittingly or unwittingly – it makes no real difference.

          As for the rest, please re-read chapter 8, particularly pages 108-110. The following stands out:
          “Although only 20 percent of the [Confederate] soldiers avowed explicit pro-slavery purposes in their letters and diaries, none at all dissented from that view.” – p. 110

    2. scout

      I read this after my post below. I think we are saying similar things. But even if defending their family and people was the primary motivation for some, which I think is quite possible, do you think they were unaware of the larger issue. Do you think they were not aware of what those documents said. I have some trouble giving them a complete pass because they did make the choice to fight under that flag presumably knowing what those documents said. I still think we can find another way to honor them.

    3. bud

      Bryan, well written piece about the reasons Confederate soldiers fought. I especially agree with the comments that trying to persuade people about the wisdom of taking down the flag by lecturing them about the causes of the war (slavery) is ineffective.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        The states rights argument derives from the Reconstruction, I believe, on through the Civil Rights Act. That is when the South suddenly didn’t want the feds telling them what to do. The war was fought against the northern states’ right not to return fugitive slaves.
        I have no doubt that some who wave the flag are indeed honoring fallen ancestors who fought out of a sense of duty, much as I doubt many who fought in Vietnam really cared about South Vietnam per se, but were simply doing their duty. However, we cannot ignore that so many view the “southern way of life” as white supremacy or perhaps, to put it less militantly, as white privilege. The maid bringing sweet tea to the ladies on the veranda while the yard boy works. Sure, it was sweet for those privileged.

    4. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bryan, a couple or three thoughts (and the rest of y’all will need to go to Bryan’s blog to know what I’m responding to):

      First, I agree with you completely about why individual soldiers fought — or rather, with the point that their motivations were not cut and dried. There’s always a disconnect between the reasons a nation goes to war and the reasons individual soldiers fight. At the most fundamental level, in combat, the soldier fights mainly for the man next to him. Anyway, I don’t see your post as inconsistent with what I posted above.

      As for “going on about the reasons for secession,” I hope you’re not talking about me. How many times have I written about the flag without getting into that? I posted this one, brief post on the eve of the debate for the simple reason that I’ve heard the lie about the war not being about slavery too many times. And having just read that nonsense from Lee Bright — so far the one guy we all know is likely to speak against removing the flag — it seemed a good moment just to lay the lies to rest. Now, when the big lie comes up, I can simply refer people back to this post. It’s a resource. Also, until I read this, between 15 and 20 years ago, I didn’t know that there was anything out there so stark, so naked, in declaring the cause of secession. Before that, I thought my understanding of the war being about slavery was one of my intuitive reasoning things — that through the gestalt effect, the thousands of things I knew about what people did and said back then added up to that. I thought that people who were less intuitive might legitimately have trouble coming to that conclusion (one of the starkest lessons I learned from studying Myers-Briggs types was that the people I had the hardest time agreeing with were those who were not intuitive). Well, this just swept that all away for me. And it seems to do so for others I show it to. So I saw this one short post as useful.

      Finally, as you know, I DO approach opponents on the point of honor, because it is something that (atavistic creature that I am) I value as they do. That flag flying there is, to me, an extreme dishonor to my ancestors who served the Confederacy. It’s why I post such things as “The Conquered Banner.” I need to get Tom Hall to share with me the comments from Wade Hampton about furling the flag that he read at the rally two weeks ago. That might be helpful. If only Marse Robert had spoken clearly on the issue. That might have cleared up all this nonsense long ago.

      Also, on the point of honor… I’m the guy who started the ball rolling on the “sovereignty” argument back in the 90s. I didn’t want to argue back and forth on what the flag meant or what the war was about, because I didn’t think we’d ever have a meeting of the minds on that. So I argued that having a battle flag — not even a national flag — that represented a defunct political entity flying over our current seat of government was a lie, and completely illegitimate. As I put it then, “a false statement of sovereignty.” As abstract as that was, a lot of people took that up, and it became fairly central to the discussions that led to the “compromise.” In fact, the flag supporters were essentially using my argument in moving the flag to the monument, as a memorial and no longer a statement of sovereignty. The NAACP tried saying after that that it was STILL in a position of sovereignty, but of course it wasn’t. The supporters had used my argument to maneuver around those of us who wanted the flag GONE.

      So on the one hand, I feel a little bit good that I helped in my own small way to get the flag off the dome. And I feel really bad that I may have had something to do with it ending up at the monument…

      1. Scout

        I don’t think you should feel bad. I think the only way this could happen was in steps, and that step then was progress. Maybe now we are ready for the next step. I had never looked directly at the original documents until very recently and was also very surprised to see how explicitly slavery is referenced as the cause. All my life I’ve heard so much about state’s rights and economic reasons, I figured there must at least be room for interpretation if so many people gave these reasons credence. But actually, it is just overtly stated that it was about slavery. I think most people have no clue what is in those documents. They are just repeating oral traditions born out of rationalizations and guilt, in my opinion.

  5. scout

    I looked this document up and read it and those of the other states about a week ago. They all make it explicitly clear that it was about slavery. And there is also Alexander Stephens’ cornerstone speech which leaves no doubt that at least for some the war was absolutely about slavery. It is not surprising that modern day hate groups would adopt this flag. There are white supremecist ideas in these documents. My family is very southern. My fifth great uncle signed that document above. I have grown up hearing all sides of this. I have no trouble seeing that it was absolutely about slavery, and it was absolutely wrong. My grandmother would be horrified to hear me say that if she were still here. I think that saying it was about states rights or the economy were the south’s way of trying to reduce the cognitive dissonance created by being a christian people who also held slaves. Maybe now the South is beginning to come out of denial. Maybe. I get that for many individual soldiers who were not slave owners and did not write those documents, that is not what it was personally about for them. I think we can find other ways to honor those guys.

    1. Bob Amundson

      Elitism and the ability of the elite to co-op the counter elite. This dynamic is an issue challenging all political systems across time.

  6. Perry Stewart


    This is all perfect but you set up the knockdown for killing the speciousness of the whole “states rights” thing without taking the shot.

    The phrase “states rights” does not appear in the articles.

    The South had no interest in a ‘states rights’ defense of slavery, a right they claim as a state would just be a right that another state could take away. Slavery was already ensconced in the Constitution, that is where they claimed the right from, that is where they most wanted to see in protected.

    At the time of the war, the only interest the South had in “states rights” was denying them to states that had claimed they had the right to enact laws that allowed them to violate enforcement of the Federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Again, the articles don’t call them ‘states rights’ by name, but they do enumerate exactly which states they felt had violated the Constitution by enacting laws that they had exceeded their rights as a state.

    “It was States Right’s!”
    “Yes, It was the States Rights to allow Slavery!”

    This argument takes you to the proper destination, “Slavery”. But it tells you nothing at all about the situation that existed before or during the war.

    Any true historical interest in that argument comes from its use as one of the earliest planks in the “Lost Cause Myth” and it’s position near the forefront in every major period of Civil War revisionism since.

    Let me fix that argument for you in the context of the actual Civil War :

    “It was Slavery!”

  7. linda rogers

    I actually sent this document as an attachment to an e-mail I sent to Mr. Bright the other day. Apparently, he doesn’t care to read it or thinks it’s a liberal trick.

    1. Barry

      Lee Britht knows, but he doesn’t care.

      He also knows most of his supporters won’t read enough to know he is full of baloney.

  8. Perry Stewart

    Brad, I read back through and saw your comment on Nullification which suggests a second, but no more fortuitous line of Inquiry into the relevance of “States Rights” to the discussion.

    A generation before the war, after the passage of the Federal Tariff Law of 1928 John C. Calhoun advanced an unprecedented notion of absolute state sovereignty, that States, through the 10th amendment retained the rights of nullification AND secession.

    At the time of secession, nullification was long dead and they still didn’t use the phrase “States Rights”, but they certainly needed and used Calhoun’s right of the State to secede in order to do so.

    So using this concept of “States Rights” we have a new argument:

    “It was States Rights!”

    “So you’re suggesting that the REASON for secession, was an idea that was denied by the founding fathers, and controversial at best, flat at wrong at worst, since the very moment Calhoun imagined it.
    A reason that still bitterly divides some to this very day, is one of the most contentious points of the entire war. And the disposition of which determines whether our “good southern boys” were imperfect men of conscience or were traitors each and every one.
    You’re saying that REASON for secession was just because of the idea that you could secede. Are you sure there was nothing else?”

    Viewed in this context, “States Rights” have nothing to do with any “Why” of the war. They are only the “How” or the actual mechanism of the secession itself.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Of course. I was simply reacting to the assertion that states’ rights only became an issue after the war. The South had for a long time asserted the importance of state sovereignty. And why? To protect slavery.

      I was simply saying that the argument wasn’t invented out of whole cloth during Reconstruction. It had its antecedents. That in no way changes what secession was about.

      1. Perry Stewart

        thanks, for responding. I never thought you were suggesting the above argument, I was trying to help “pile on”.

      2. Perry Stewart

        Brad, I’m not trying to argue with you, but I’m trying to understand. Thankfully, I didn’t do it here, but I did in fact post that the argument (that secession was over the South’s States Rights) was created out of whole cloth (yes, those words) in the earliest incarnation of the “lost cause myth,” and if I’m steering people wrong I’d like to stop. Now, I know the words, States Rights didn’t just spring into existence after the war. It’s just the use of that particular argument I’m after, It looks like I may need to read Calhoun’s absolute sovereignty business, I could definitely see where it COULD fit in there. The thing is, it seems like it’s an either/or sort of thing, if you’re just going to assert an absolute right to slavery no matter what anybody else thinks or does, you don’t need to secede. But that’s definitely not the way things went down.

        We’re there opposing factions at the secession convention arguing the other way?

        I’ve been strongly influenced by the arguments of James W. Loewen, if that’s any help:
        “Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded over states’ rights. Yet when each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights. In its “Declaration of the Causes Which Impel the State of Texas to Secede From the Federal Union,” for example, the secession convention of Texas listed the states that had offended the delegates: “Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.” Governments there had exercised states’ rights by passing laws that interfered with the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Some no longer let slave owners “transit” across their territory with slaves. “States’ rights” were what Texas was seceding against. Texas also made clear what it was seceding for — white supremacy:”


        1. Perry Stewart

          It occurs to me that this just might be a difference of opinion of the meaning of “whole cloth”, I think I’ve made it through all of the information you’ve been kind enough to provide. and it seems sort of obvious that people would say, “Well of course we have the ‘States Right of Supreme Sovereignty’ to do whatever we want.”

          I just wondered how close to the start of the war that justification was used, or if there was any serious debate about it. For me, if Calhoun said in ’34 ‘”Well of course, if our backs are up against the wall we will claim Sovereignty, and do what we want.”
          There’s your argument, it wasn’t just invented out of thin air, maybe not “whole cloth”,

          I guess for me, it’s not so much the argument itself, but where they put it. From my study, to try to place an argument that it seemed very few or none at the time were having as the central argument for secession, when there was actually a very different argument going on ….. that feels like whole cloth to me, even though all the little pieces already existed. Was it always just a “fallback” position or did they ever try to make the case?

  9. Perry Stewart

    I thought I had hit all the “States Rights” points to be made, but I finally read the Lee Bright piece and he presents a slightly different scenario.

    Instead of saying, “It was because of States Right’s,” he is presenting the Flag itself and saying that IT represents “States Rights.” While countering with “Yes, a State’s right to allow Slavery” is a powerful response, I don’t believe it’s correct because of the reasons I gave above. I suggest the following:

    “The Flag means State’s Rights! and Constitutional Liberties!”

    If that flag mean’s “State’s Rights”, it historically means exactly two and only two rights: the right of nullification and the right of secession, both of these questions have been decided with finality long ago, you have neither of these rights. “Constitutional Liberties” is just something new, you or somebody else is trying to tack on.

  10. Bart

    In all too many ways, we are still fighting the Civil War and I will never understand why. We are assigning our present to the past and trying to impose the current social and political atmosphere to an era not one of us lived through. We may read about it, study it, discuss it, and write essays about it but until we live it, all we have to offer is still our opinion.

    After reading the secession documents, it occurred to me that the average Southern soldier had no idea of what was in it. Like so many who have never actually read the Constitution, studied it, or understand it, the same can be said for the soldiers from the South and the North who fought and died in the Civil War. How many Southern men do you honestly believed read or understood the secession documents? Does anyone honestly believe mass copies were made and distributed to the schools in the Southern states so the students would understand why the states were seceding? Do you believe that at the end of the day, the family sat around the dinner table discussing the events going on in Washington or political circles?

    How many had more than an elementary education and the ones with a college or university education were few and far between. Only the elite could afford to send their children to college and the average Southern or Northern male or female received just enough education, if any at all, to read and write at what we would consider today at maybe a second or third grade level.

    The general population of America at the time did not travel far beyond what was familiar except for the adventurous ones who settled the West. Taking a trip much further than 10 – 100 miles was the exception, not the rule. Just how worldly can one get by staying so close to home? Any elites out there who care to dispute this fact of life during the time? However, in our haste to pass judgment, we make assumptions about what “we” would do based on our time, not theirs. I searched for an appropriate quote and the only one I could find that adequately describes the way of life during the 1800s is the following: “You can’t discuss the ocean with a well frog – he’s limited by the space he lives in. You can’t discuss ice with a summer insect – he’s bound to a single season.”
    ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

    There were still Union states where slavery was still legal until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and many Union soldiers deserted because they refused to die for the sake of freeing a black slave and many Confederate soldiers deserted because in their opinion, they had no reason to fight because their conditions were not any better than what the slaves had and why should they die for white plantation owners.

    I have reached my conclusion long ago and find the current discussions and attitudes are still creating divisions among what are normally reasonable people. People who refuse to let it go and continue to offer their own opinions as if it is going to change the minds and opinions of the hard core. Just like any other issue, the hard left and the hard right are not going to budge and it will take sensible people who are willing to do the right thing to actually do the right thing.

    The flag needs to come down now, not later. There should be no need for the legislature to even have a debate about whether it should come down either. Put a motion forth, vote on it, and remove the flag. What is so difficult about that?

    My family on my Dad’s side did fight in the Civil War and not because of slavery, it was exactly what Bryan said, they were defending their home. My family did not own slaves yet they fought for the Confederacy.

    When I read negative comments about US soldiers fighting in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else, it angers me because most of them do it because of a belief in America and the desire to defend our country whether the enemy is on our shores or not, they believe it is their duty. The Civil War soldier’s reasons were much the same, whether they fought for the North or South.

    But when race hustlers from both sides keep it alive, we all lose. When we give them the attention they desire, we all lose. It is time for us to stop being losers and acknowledge this was a terrible time in our history and move on. If we can’t, then it is a sure sign this nation will never heal and the divisions will continue and be exploited by both sides.

    1. Perry Stewart

      “There were still Union states where slavery was still legal until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation”

      And AFTER too.

    2. Perry Stewart

      “The flag needs to come down now, not later. There should be no need for the legislature to even have a debate about whether it should come down either. Put a motion forth, vote on it, and remove the flag. What is so difficult about that?”

      Where are you from? If you’re from South Carolina you really need to start paying attention. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but in it’s own way, it’s hysterical, thanks for the laugh.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        Bart is well known on this blog for his thoughtful comments that bring together research, personal experience, and analysis, and I am always glad to read his comments. His point, Perry Stewart in your quoted excerpt, is that the bill will be short not that the issue isn’t controversial (c.f. today’s Cindi Ross Scoppe: “THE TASK OUR Legislature faces this week is as simple and easy and as complex and difficult as any it has faced. It might be more important than anything it has done in living memory”).

        1. Perry Stewart

          Thank you for suggesting the Scoppe piece. She perfectly expresses my exact position. I’ll try to better express my opinions and leave the sarcasm at the door in the future. Sorry, again, Mr. Bart, the “no discussion” part struck me as an idea that I’ve seen coming from far off places. I was obviously wrong.

      2. Bart

        Mr. Perry,

        Not only do I live in South Carolina but my roots probably go much deeper than yours by a long shot. I am well aware of the issues at hand and do stay informed. But, if my comment provided a hysterical laugh for you to enjoy, then it was well worth it. Any time a person steeped in ignorance is able to laugh, it makes the world a better place for that brief moment in time. At least their brain is in neutral and cannot do harm.

        The legislature can do this in one hour if they choose to do so and that is not being uninformed, it is understanding that if the will is there, nothing will stand in the way. An up or down vote that reflects the majority of the legislature and the citizens of South Carolina is not the same as trying to solve the problem of untying Gordian’s Knot.

        Maybe I am not the one who should start paying attention.

        1. Perry Stewart

          Fair enough, I apologize. I agree that in the eyes of the world it would be the absolute best thing to happen.

          I have no desire to watch this devolve into something leaving SC as the butt of every joke in the world by mid-week, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility that it might happen.

          That said, I don’t believe taking it down with no discussion is the best way to take it down in the eyes of South Carolina, this is such a big issue that even though I disagree with them, I believe the supporters deserve a chance to get their say. My ‘hilarity” comes from my belief that it unimaginable to me that they won’t take it.

          I really hope it can stay respectful and not veer into crazy or ugly, but I believe many South Carolinians will be dissatisfied with the decision if they feel they were completely shut out, and create new animosities.

          I apologize again for my flippancy. I do believe we’re on the same side.

    3. Scout

      I would like to know more about what the experience and knowledge of the typical soldier was. I don’t doubt what you say about the literacy level and travel experiences of most but still I wonder how it all fit together with real events for real people. I agree the educational/literacy level of most was probably quite low, but how engaged were they in events. Did they seek out somebody in their community who could read to get news. Just because they couldn’t read themselves doesn’t mean they were necessarily uninformed. What were they told by whom and what did they think about it before they actually decided to march off and join up.

  11. Harry Harris

    Glad to see the flag likely being taken down and moved. I pretty much see it as an easy target for a group of politicians unwilling to face the more politically dangerous issue of tighter gun restrictions. The swarm of guns and the attending worship of violence we are steeped in keeps us vulnerable to unthinkable killing by a variety of actors. We each want to hold high our own favorite subset of the ten commandments as long as we append to “Thou shalt not kill” the caveat “unless thou feelest justified.”

    1. Brad Warthen

      Harry, the flag needs to come down because it needs to come down, period. Not because gun control is hard to do, not because, as Bud would have it, we’d rather deal with this instead of Medicaid expansion.

      There’s no either/or here. Taking down the flag probably has no effect on an issue such as Medicaid, but if it has one, it’s likely a positive effect, not a negative one.

      Get the flag down. Work on those other things as well, of course. But get the flag down. Do not past up this historic opportunity to do so…


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