Monday, January 28, 2008


And the debate over the rebel flag goes on at the Hattiesburg American forum. I did a lot of research and writing about that today, so here are two of my posts...

"U.S. Flag Protected Slave Trade"

Logik (a member of the HA forum): "The U.S. Stars & Stripes did protect the slave trade on the high seas, even after January 1, 1808."

This statement, while true, lacks a significant qualifier that puts the lie to the point Logik is trying to make about the U.S. flag. That qualifer is that the U.S. flag protected slave ships from British ships, but not from the U.S. Navy. Logik does acknowledge that the U.S. flag "prevented any foreign police actions against...slave ships."

He then erroneously states that Congress and the Navy "did basically nothing" to enforce the ban on the slave trade. To be sure, thousands of slaves were smuggled into the U.S. despite the ban, but that doesn't mean that the U.S. did not attempt to enforce the law. For instance, the U.S. Navy's "African Squadron" patrolled the coast of West Africa from the 1840s to the beginning of the Civil War in order to catch violators of the slave trade ban. It is true that the squadron was mostly, but not completely, unsuccessful.

There were also attempts to interdict American slave ships headed to the United States prior to the formation of the African Squadron in 1843. The following passage indicates how U.S. and other flags were used:

"The Cyane [U.S. Navy vessel] continued on to intercept slavers, on 10 April 1820 bagging nine vessels suspected of slaving. At least six were from Baltimore, Charleston, and New York, but they had changed both names and colors to Spanish at sea."

"The next day, with the temperature hovering at 120 degrees on deck and 92 degrees below deck, 'the American schooner Exchange anchored near us, a prize...She is a slave trader from Baltimore via Havannah.' The expedition returned from upriver the following day. "They left their schooners nearly ready for taking on slaves but all under Spanish colors.'"

When a slave ship flying the U.S. flag was being chased by a U.S. Navy ship, the following would happen:

"...its ostensible 'captain' would hoist the Spanish flag, substitute Spanish registration papers, and might even carry a Spanish crew hidden below decks. This stratagem would be exactly reversed if apprehended by a British man of war."

For this reason, the U.S. flag was flown by foreign slavers:

"Acknowledging that foreign slavers used the American flag as a shield against British cruisers, [Navy] Secretary [Abel] Upshur warned that it should not be imagined that 'the mere hoisting of [the American] flag shall give immunity to those who have no right to use it.'"

And some slavers intentionally flew no flag at all, only to hoist a U.S. flag at the last minute before capture seemed inevitable, as described here in the journal of a sailor in the African Squadron:

"Making all sail, we chased him, under no colours; she tried hard to give us the slip, but at 11 o'clock we came up with her but she, showing no colours, we fired a shot cross her bows, & in a twinkling of an eye, the Stars and Stripes were floating at her peak, no colours have ever been hoisted faster than these were.
She had evidently been waiting for us to hoist our Ensign first so that she might hoist false ones & thus blindfold us. She thought us to be an Englishman & hence her hoisting the American flag, as if we had been what she expected, we could not have searched her."

Long story short, the presence of a U.S. flag on the mast of a slave ship did not constitute endorsement of that ship's activities by the United States.

Also, once the Civil War started, the U.S. concluded a secret treaty with the British to let the British assume the interdictions of the African Squadron. This treaty also ended the safe haven that the U.S. flag had once provided against seizure by the British:

"In the emergency, President Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, negotiated a secret treaty with the British to assume the nation's share of the African blockade, including the long-denied right of search of American-flag vessels by British warships."

Obviously, if a slave ship was flying an American flag, it was to escape capture by the British (who, admittedly, were far more effective at interdicting slave ships), not to demonstrate the approval of or sanction by the United States.

Info above can be found in this well-documented and very interesting article.

Confederate Vice-President says CSA based on slavery

The "rebel flag" we are all familiar with was incorporated into both the 2nd and 3rd official flags of the CSA. So in every conceivable way, the "rebel flag" is inextricably linked with the Confederacy, and we know that Mississippi joined left the Union and joined the Confederacy in order to be able to perpetuate the practice of slavery.

Even CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens knew the real reason the Confederacy came into being:

"The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists amongst us—the proper status of the negr0 in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution."

Slavery was, in Stephens' words, THE immediate cause of the formation of the CSA. He didn't say it was the only cause, to be sure. It was just the cause that had the most direct bearing on the secession. That's all.

Stephens goes on to whip up some of that good ol' "Southern pride" and "heritage, not hate" for ya:

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negr0 is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."

Logik, when he's not busy reading "Complicity," might want to take note of the similarities to N@zi logic in the above statement.

But seriously, I don't know why so many people who post on this forum wish to argue that slavery really didn't have all that much to do with the creation of the Confederacy. Especially when the fucking VP of the CSA himself said that making blacks subordinate to "the superior race" was the very "cornerstone" of the CSA! He actually said that slavery for blacks was normal and constituted a great "moral truth."

And we're supposed to believe that the flag of such a country doesn't represent slavery and racism? And that such a flag's inclusion on our state flag doesn't hearken back to that sentiment? Really?

Well, sorry--that shit doesn't wash. Mississippi said its decision to secede was to protect slavery, the VP of the CSA said that the very basis of the new nation (not really, though, because it was never recognized by any foreign country) was slavery, and God only knows what else.

Rebel Flag=slavery, white supremacy, tyranny and racism of the worst possible kind. End of story. It needs to be removed from our state flag--we're the last state in the Union to cling to it. It's pathetic, really. The flag stands for hate, not heritage.

Take down the rebel flag!


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