A typical calumny directed at Confederate soldiers is that they don’t merit commemoration because they were traitors. It is a lie for two reasons.
First, the Confederate states had no intent to overthrow the government of the United States. They seceded merely to form a government of their own. The first seven states that seceded during the winter of 1860-61 did not “make war” on the United States; they accepted it when the Washington government decided to coerce them back into the Union. The four upper-south states that remained Union-loyal until the coercion in the spring of 1861 had previously warned Washington that they regarded the coercion of any state to be unconstitutional and would fight to prevent it. Those four states provided half of the 11-state Confederacy’s white population, the chief source of her soldiers. In truth, the legal status of secession was unsettled in 1861. The Constitution neither outlawed nor authorized it. It was a remedy that geographically isolated political minorities repeatedly considered from 1789 to 1861.
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