Defenders of the Confederate Flag, be it the familiar battle flag or the less-familiar “national” flag, generally present two basic arguments for their position. The first is a political and constitutional argument, namely that flying the flag is a First Amendment (freedom of speech) right protected by the United States Constitution and reflects a traditional commitment to states’ rights. The second argument is a cultural argument claiming that the Confederate flag represents a prideful Southern heritage and celebration of ancestry, not a racist defense of slavery and white supremacy. “Heritage, not Hate,” such defenders claim of the flag’s meaning. And they often add, “If this flag offends you, you need a history lesson.” (See examples below) The implication here, of course, is that Southern secession, the creation of the Confederate States of America, and the Confederate armies’ primary purpose in fighting the Civil War centered on the Constitution and states’ rights, not black slavery and white supremacy.
Using arguments and evidence from James McPherson’s articles “And the War Came” and “Long-Legged Yankee Lies,” as well as the Lost Cause panel from the 2015 Signature Conference of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, assess the historical accuracy of the arguments made by Confederate flag defenders. According to scholars, are Confederate flag defenders correct in their understanding of the Civil War’s causes and the purpose of the Confederacy and its flags during that conflict? Why or why not? Why did the Southern states secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861, according to the scholars studied? What is the idea of the “Lost Cause,” and how does it inform the arguments made in defense of the Confederate flag today? Be as specific as possible, using arguments and evidence from assigned material to make your point(s). The body of the completed essay must be at least four double-spaced, typed pages in length
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