Chuck Baldwin Whitewashes the History of the Confederate Flag in VDARE Column

Totally not racist. Credit: AP Photo/Evansville Press, Jonna Spelbring

Chuck Baldwin recently penned a column for the anti-immigrant website VDARE with the eyebrow-raising title “The Confederate Flag Needs To Be Raised, Not Lowered.”Given that title one might be tempted to think the former pastor and Constitution Party candidate is about to go on a lengthy diatribe praising slavery or denouncing racial integration.

Not quite, though he does do something almost as reprehensible: Whitewashing the link between slavery and Southern secession, a position as indefensible as denying the existence of the Third Reich’s “Final Solution.”

Far from being a war fought for the right to literally own another human being for purposes of forced labor, Baldwin chalked up secession and the start of the Civil War to some wishy-washy nonsense about tariffs and a tyrannical federal government. The Civil War, he wrote, was hardly — if at all — about chattel slavery, and the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage and pride, not racism and bigotry.

“History revisionists flooded America’s public schools with Northern propaganda about the people who attempted to secede from the United States, characterizing them as racists, extremists, radicals, hatemongers, traitors, etc.,” Baldwin wrote, somehow restraining himself from lampooning his enemies as carpetbaggers.

Baldwin lashed out at Abraham Lincoln and “radical Republicans” who believed the South had no right to part ways with the Union. “People say constantly that Lincoln ‘saved’ the Union,” he wrote. “Lincoln didn’t save the Union; he subjugated the Union. There is a huge difference.”

To justify his position that Lincoln was a bigger demon than the Confederacy was made out to be, Baldwin wrote:

People say that Lincoln freed the slaves. Lincoln did NOT free a single slave. But what he did do was enslave free men. His so-called Emancipation Proclamation had NO AUTHORITY in the southern states, as they had separated into another country. Imagine a President today signing a proclamation to free folks in, say, China or Saudi Arabia. He would be laughed out of Washington. Lincoln had no authority over the Confederate States of America, and he knew it.

Do you not find it interesting that Lincoln’s proclamation did NOT free a single slave in the United States, the country in which he DID have authority? That’s right. The Emancipation Proclamation deliberately ignored slavery in the North. Do you not realize that when Lincoln signed his proclamation, there were over 300,000 slaveholders who were fighting in the Union army? Check it out.

. . .

The institution of slavery did not end until the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.

There is a grain of truth to some of this. Clearly there were states in which slavery was legal but which remained with the Union nonetheless. The so-called “border states” included Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. Moreover, it is likewise true that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves within Union states. Lincoln desired to crush the Confederacy by encouraging their slaves to flee, but did not want to alienate those border states that refused to secede. Baldwin nevertheless encourages his readers to “check it out” as if he stumbled upon the Holy Grail. He continued:

Speaking of the 13th Amendment, did you know that Lincoln authored his own 13th Amendment? It is the only amendment to the Constitution ever proposed by a sitting U.S. President. Here is Lincoln’s proposed amendment: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give Congress the power to abolish or interfere within any state with the domestic institutions thereof, including that a person’s held to labor or service by laws of said State.”

You read it right. Lincoln proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution PRESERVING the institution of slavery. This proposed amendment was written in March of 1861, a month BEFORE the shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

The State of South Carolina was particularly incensed at the tariffs enacted in 1828 and 1832. The Tariff of 1828 was disdainfully called, “The Tariff of Abominations” by the State of South Carolina. Accordingly, the South Carolina legislature declared that the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were “unauthorized by the constitution of the United States.”

Think, folks: why would the southern states secede from the Union over slavery when President Abraham Lincoln had offered an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the PRESERVATION of slavery? That makes no sense. If the issue was predominantly slavery, all the South needed to do was to go along with Lincoln, and his proposed 13th Amendment would have permanently preserved slavery among the southern (and northern) states. Does that sound like a body of people who were willing to lose hundreds of thousands of men on the battlefield over saving slavery? What nonsense!

First of all, Baldwin seems to have his facts mixed up with regard to this other 13th Amendment. The failed amendment Baldwin is referring to was known as the Corwin Amendment, and it would have, as he said, prohibited Congress from interfering with any state’s “domestic institutions.” Although slavery was never explicitly mentioned, this is precisely the kind of institution its authors had in mind.

Yet it wasn’t Abraham Lincoln who was responsible for — or the author of — the amendment. It was actually President James Buchanan who, in 1860, requested that Congress propose an “explanatory amendment” concerning slavery, with Ohio Rep. Thomas Corwin having been chosen as the leader of the House committee.

Lincoln did end up supporting the resulting amendment, which passed both houses of Congress two days before he took office, in an effort to mollify slave-holding states which threatened secession. At this point in President Lincoln’s political career, his primary goal was the preservation of the Union. Although personally opposed to the expansion of slavery, he was not a committed abolitionist.

In fact, Lincoln famously remarked, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” Yet despite the broad support for the Corwin Amendment, the ratification process was interrupted one month later when South Carolinian forces laid siege to Ft. Sumter, plunging the nation into a bloody civil war.

As for the notion that the Confederacy wasn’t motivated by slavery — an institution largely responsible for the American capitalist system — this is pure nonsense. Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, declared that “African slavery as it exists amongst us is the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization” and that this “was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

Furthermore, while the “old constitution” was founded upon the “assumption of the equality of races”, their “new government” was “founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” As Ta-Nehisi Coates documented in The Atlantic, secessionist states and slaveholders openly declared slavery as the reason they broke away from the Union, with some wishing to expand the “peculiar institution” to Central America.

Yet Baldwin ignores this evidence, preferring to refer to the Civil War as “The War of Southern Independence” or, “more fittingly”, “The War of Northern Aggression.” (Again, the South literally fired the first shots in the “War of Northern Aggression.”) Baldwin cites Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard’s inability to capture Washington, D.C. during the First Battle of Bull Run as evidence that the South was merely defending itself:

That’s another thing: the war fought from 1861 to 1865 was NOT a “civil war.” Civil war suggests two sides fighting for control of the same capital and country. The South didn’t want to take over Washington, D.C., no more than their forebears wanted to take over London. They wanted to separate from Washington, D.C., just as America’s Founding Fathers wanted to separate from Great Britain. The proper names for that war are either, “The War Between the States” or, “The War of Southern Independence,” or, more fittingly, “The War of Northern Aggression.”

Had the South wanted to take over Washington, D.C., they could have done so with the very first battle of the “Civil War.” When Lincoln ordered federal troops to invade Virginia in the First Battle of Manassas (called the “First Battle of Bull Run” by the North), Confederate troops sent the Yankees running for their lives all the way back to Washington. Had the Confederates pursued them, they could have easily taken the city of Washington, D.C., seized Abraham Lincoln, and perhaps ended the war before it really began. But General Beauregard and the others had no intention of fighting an aggressive war against the North. They merely wanted to defend the South against the aggression of the North.

Actually, Beauregard’s forces may well have attempted to chase down the fleeing Union forces if not for the fact that his side was similarly exhausted and suffered heavy casualties. The Confederates had 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 12 missing, whereas the Union’s casualties included 481 killed, 1,011 wounded, and 1,216 missing. Baldwin then points, erroneously, to the existence of black Confederate soldiers as evidence of Northern racism and Southern colorblindness:

In order to rally people in the North, Lincoln needed a moral crusade. That’s what his Emancipation Proclamation was all about. This explains why his proclamation was not penned until 1863, after two years of fruitless fighting. He was counting on people in the North to stop resisting his war against the South if they thought it was some kind of “holy” war. Plus, Lincoln was hoping that his proclamation would incite blacks in the South to insurrect against southern whites. If thousands of blacks would begin to wage war against their white neighbors, the fighting men of the southern armies would have to leave the battlefields and go home to defend their families. THIS NEVER HAPPENED.

Not only did blacks not riot against the whites of the south, many black men volunteered to fight alongside their white friends and neighbors in the Confederate army. Unlike the blacks in the North, who were conscripted by Lincoln and forced to fight in segregated units, thousands of blacks in the South fought of their own free will in a fully-integrated southern army. I bet your history book never told you about that.

Of course there were a small number of blacks who fought for the Confederate States, but not traditionally as volunteers who offered to “fight alongside their white friends and neighbors in the Confederate army.” Blacks were prohibited from fighting for the Confederacy until the final month of the Civil War, and not of their own free will. As John Stauffer points out in The Root, “Confederates impressed slaves as laborers and at times forced them to fight. In effect, they put guns to their heads, forcing them to fire on Yankees.”

Baldwin once again returns to defending the Confederate flag, and veers into a conspiracy-laden rant in which he suggests that Dylann Storm Roof’s massacre in Charleston was somehow staged by the United States government:

If one wants to ban a racist flag, one would have to ban the British flag. Ships bearing the Union Jack shipped over 5 million African slaves to countries all over the world, including the British colonies in North America. Other slave ships flew the Dutch flag and the Portuguese flag and the Spanish flag, and, yes, the U.S. flag. But not one single slave ship flew the Confederate flag. NOT ONE!

. . .

And look at what is happening now: in one instant–after one deranged young man killed nine black people and who ostensibly photo-shopped a picture of himself with a Confederate flag–the entire political and media establishments in the country go on an all-out crusade to remove all semblances of the Confederacy. The speed in which all of this has happened suggests that this was a planned, orchestrated event by the Powers That Be (PTB). And is it a mere coincidence that this took place at the exact same time that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to legalize same-sex marriage? I think not.

. . .

Combine the current attacks against Biblical and traditional marriage, the attacks against all things Confederate, the attacks against all things Christian, and the attacks against all things constitutional and what we are witnessing is a heightened example of why the Confederate Battle Flag was created to begin with. Virtually every act of federal usurpation of liberty that we are witnessing today, and have been witnessing for much of the twentieth century, is the result of Lincoln’s war against the South. Truly, we are living in Lincoln’s America, not Washington and Jefferson’s America. Washington and Jefferson’s America died at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

Instead of lowering the Confederate flag, we should be raising it.

Here, Baldwin reveals what this is really about. It isn’t about heritage, it’s about the “current attacks” against what he believes America ought to be. That is, a white, Christian nation where states may feel free to prohibit such evils as same-sex marriage and abortion. A patriarchal nation, free from the scourge of feminism, where women are no longer “the unquestioned authority figures in most homes.” This is why Chuck Baldwin and his ilk fly the Confederate flag.