From Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission:
War Between the States Sesquicentennial
All pages in the history book - Jenkins - NewsObserver.com
Your article was passed on to me and it deserves reasoned comment.
First, there are many flags which can be called American -- the flags of the Confederacy are considered such just as the Gadsen, Burlington and Betsy Ross flags are. They are part of American history and all American, and undeniably so.
The withdrawal of several States from the fraternal and voluntary union in 1861 was well-conceived and done so in a similar manner as was done in acceding to the union in 1787; in convention by the States. We know that in ratifying the Constitution the States delegated specific authority to the federal agent in Washington, all else was (and is today) retained by the States. President James Buchanan publicly stated that he did not agree with the concept of secession, but admitted he had no constitutional authority to wage war upon a State which no longer wished to belong to the voluntary union. His successor decided to wage war upon his own people, and without the authority of Congress.
As for slavery, the facts do not support the claim that North Carolina seceded over slavery – the May 20th secession ordinance came as a result of Lincoln’s war upon South Carolina, and demanding troops from North Carolina to do it with. Governor Ellis, the chief magistrate of North Carolina, understood the US Constitution and told Lincoln, “no.” This was no “internal rebellion,” and to believe such is show a lack of common knowledge and is promoting revisionist history.
As you suggest, those descended from slaves certainly need to learn of their ancestors participation in North Carolina’s defense, though some of them chose to adhere to the enemy of North Carolina and commit treason. The war of 1861-1865 was not the first time this occurred as Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia issued an emancipation proclamation in 1775 which incited race war and freed slaves to fight against American independence (many North Carolina slaves fled to British arms); and again in 1814 when Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane issued the same to rob the American South of its agricultural labor. Lincoln’s intent was the same as he wanted more troops (Northern enlistments lagged) and to incite murderous race war in the South. No peaceful solution to the conflict came from this man or his abolitionist followers, only bloodshed and war.
Nonetheless, free blacks from Greensboro offered their assistance to the State, slaves produced foodstuffs and materiel for North Carolina troops away at war, and fought alongside their white neighbors in integrate units – Northerners segregated their colored soldiers. The Dempsey brothers for example, Charles and Henry, surrendered at Fort Fisher along with their white compatriots in Company F, 36th NC, as did Daniel Herring of the same company; also Arthur and Miles Reed of Company D, 40th NC, and James Doyle of Company E; plus Everett Hayes of Company F, 10th NC. You are right, black North Carolinians should be made aware of these patriotic contributions to our struggle for independence 1861-1865.
In closing, your editorial should have mentioned that the true representation of “the torture and murder of their ancestors” was the age-old practice of slavery in African, and it being brought to our shores by Dutch, Spanish, French, British, and New England ships. The colony of Rhode Island had, by 1750, surpassed Liverpool as the center of the transatlantic slave trade that helped populate North Carolina with African slaves. And it was the rapacious mills of New England, hungry for raw cotton from the South, that perpetuated slavery with the invention of Massachusetts inventor, Eli Whitney. No slavers flying the Confederate flag plied the coast of West Africa.
I invite you to visit our Sesquicentennial website (below) to read of North Carolina patriots whose valor, sacrifice and devotion to The Old North State is legendary.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"