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Rebel-flag column 'mostly wrong'
Letter to the editor

Editor, Regarding the Confederate battle flag, Tom Crawford gets it mostly wrong in his opinion piece in the Coastal Courier of July 15.

Contrary to Crawford’s assertion that “it was the Confederacy that attempted to destroy America by starting a war that killed more than
300,000 U.S. soldiers,” the states of the Confederacy merely asserted the right to secede that was reserved by all states at the time of their ratification of the Constitution. (The right was explicitly written out in the ratification documents of Virginia and two Northeastern states.) The real reason for the terrible loss of life on both sides was the decision by Lincoln to invade a sovereign nation and contest the right of secession.  

Why did the Southern states withdraw? Many have said that it was the Republican threat of a unified state which eliminated limited, local government. This view seems to be confirmed by statements of Northern Unitarian Moncure Daniel Conway. He said, “So far as the old Union is concerned, the only arms now defending it are in the South.” And later, he said the issue was “a rebellion vs. a revolution.” The South was in rebellion; the North, hopefully, was conducting a revolution. If not, then the North was “actually in the same relation to the South that George the Third so lately held toward itself.”

Some have suggested that attempts by Northern representatives and the federal government to prevent Southern ports from becoming tariff-free initiated the entire conflict. The loss of income from increased imports into tariff-free Southern ports would have meant less money for pet internal improvements favored by Republicans.  

Of course, economic reasons are suggested as to why those in the new United States decided that secession by the states in the Confederacy couldn’t be tolerated. A sovereign Confederacy would have meant that Northern industrialists had to compete with England for the Southern raw products needed by their factories. In this way, something in Mr. Crawford’s argument holds true. Now, as then, most corporations are driven by profits. Flags, and the values they represent, are of secondary importance.

Peter Winn Martin, D.V.M.

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