Robert E. Lee had to make a decision in 1861. Defend the Constitution or defend the Union? He made the correct decision to defend the Constitution. This makes him an American hero — not a traitor, as claimed by some who do not understand the ideas and concepts of government as established by Americas founding fathers. America was founded as a constitutional federal republic composed of a Limited Federal Government and Sovereign States. In 1861 the federal government of America was taken over by New England socialists, zealots, fanatics, and hypocrites who were driven by greed. They had a blatant disregard for the Constitution when it stood in the way of profit and power.
Former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee stated in 1866: “All the South has ever desired was that the union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved; and that the government, as originally organized, should be administered in purity and truth.”
Campaigns all across America have resulted in removing or suppressing Confederate symbols. The Confederacy has been the victim of one of America’s most successful smear campaigns. Certainly, part is due to the old truism “the victors write the history” and much is due to heightened racial sensitivities in our current era, in which the Confederacy, which lasted four years, is seen as the principal villain in North American slavery, an institution which lasted more than 200 years in both North and South.
There are more profound reasons for the extreme contempt heaped on the Confederacy. The dominant interpreters of American history have assigned antiquated concepts such as slavery, disunion, and state’s rights to the Confederacy to purify and transform America into a modern and progressive social democracy. Their efforts are only successful if one accepts the superficial view of history presented by the all pervasive supporters of the current American regime.
Much of the great intellectual foundation of the early republic, such as the Federalist papers and their anti-federalist counterparts, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, and the writings of John C. Calhoun (Disquisition on Government and Discourse on the Constitution and Government) are ignored in flagrant omission.
Why argue the Confederate cause 147 years after surrender? Why are Confederate principles and values important to the preservation of American liberty? Constitutional issues surrounding the secession of the Southern states; Lincoln’s destructive and brutal suppression of secession; criminal, corrupt, and immoral reconstruction policies; and post 1865 constitutional amendments are fundamental to understanding the erosion of liberty and expansion of Federal power.
The other facet is the Lincoln myth. The metamorphosis of a shrewd partisan operative into a national demigod sanctified violation of the Constitution as acceptable. If the great and good Abe Lincoln did it, it must be right. Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo defended an unconstitutional act by referring to Lincoln’s expedient violations of the Constitution. If Lincoln’s gross violations of the Constitution are justified, that gives a pass to later presidents, Congress and federal courts to do the same.
If Lincoln and the Union cause in the War for Southern Independence are axiomatically right, then all arguments for limited federal government and strict adherence to the Constitution will eventually fail. Those who believe that the constitutional compact of limited government is the essential characteristic of American liberty realize that freedom is not guaranteed by a taxing, regulating and war-mongering government. A vigorous defense of the Confederate cause as among the purest expressions of true American liberty and patriotism is essential. The founding fathers saw the Constitution as a contract between the states, not a sacred blood oath binding one to obedience to a national regime. Modern day liberals and conservatives both promote the use of federal force and confiscation to achieve their goals.
Subsequent history has shown that our Confederate ancestors were right. The modern central government is a swollen monstrosity, with its tentacles grasping into every aspect of our lives. The constitutionally limited government of the founding fathers died at Appomattox, Va., on April 9, 1865. Abraham Lincoln broke the original Constitution and Bill of Rights, and changed America from a republic to a socialist democracy. Day by day, America is becoming a fascist police state.
James W. King is commander, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 141 Albany.