Thoughts on the Texas Confederate license plate controversy

Recently, several legislators in Texas came out against a proposed license plate in Texas designed to denote a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans.Their opposition revolves around the organizational logo of SCV, which features the battle flag, and is used in the plate design. Keep in mind that our modern conception of the Confederate flag is actually the naval jack (you can see this in a 19th century engraving of the CSS Albemarle from the US Navy’s history website on Confederate vessels).

The SCV states that the proceeds from the plates will go to marking Confederate soldier graves, build monuments, and preserve artifacts. Texas considered the idea as we are beginning the 150th anniversary of the war, but the board that approves plate designs is deadlocked in a 4-4 tie, with another vote coming on Nov. 10. Several other states in the South have such plates and while attempts have been made to stop them, SCV has successfully sued and received approval.

Now, as a descendant of a Union veteran and a member of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), I am wondering how many states now have or would adopt plates for our organization, as I would like to have one. I have no real problem with an SCV plate, so long as it is done in good taste, which looking at the design seems so. While Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee calls the flag a “symbol of intimidation”, it is an object and is only intimidating if used in that way and allowed to be intimidating. I do find it interesting that those speaking out against the plates seem to be only Democrats. What are their motivations for opposition beyond political disagreement?

While some aspects of the SCV do annoy me, they have the right to be recognized and share pride in their organization. I seriously doubt that too many people are going to pay that close of attention to an SCV license plate, as they should be focusing on the road. I hope other states will consider adopting some sort of commemorative plate for the 150th anniversary. What are your thoughts on this?

April 15-the death of Father Abraham

Today, while countless Americans engaged in Tax Day tea party protests dominated the news coverage, we can not forget that on this day in 1865, the nation faced the death of Abraham Lincoln. It is fitting that the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) will be honoring Lincoln by continuing its annual Lincoln Tomb Ceremony on April 18 in Springfield, Illinois. The event includes a parade, lunch, and a ceremony to commemorate the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic in nearby Petersburg. I hope that you will take a moment to reflect upon Lincoln’s contribution to our nation and will read up on him to familiarize yourself with his life and legacy.

A week of history, and history blogs

Well, this last week has sure been interesting. I had a new site request to join my Civil War History web ring, which I encourage all of you that have Civil War related websites to join up. This new blog is off to an interesting, but promising start. Wig-wags is a blog created by Rene Tyree, a graduate student in military history with an emphasis on the Civil War. I am curious as to what program she attends, as she does not mention this. Rene, plug your program, as we want to know where you go, as some of us may be interested in it. Overall, Wig-wags is an interesting site worth keeping an eye on.

In addition to this event, I am currently designing my research poster for my Military Geography directed study course, which will focus on Military Geography in the Civil War (I will of course post it here when it is complete). However, there is more to this week besides my work, new blogs, and turkey. Monday commemorated the 144th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, an organization I belong to, held its annual activities in Gettysburg to commemorate the event.

Thanksgiving Day also has Civil War relevance, as Abraham Lincoln issued his proclamation in October 1863 establishing our holiday of Thanksgiving for November. Here are the words to the proclamation (digital images of the manuscript itself is available here, courtesy of the National Archives):

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

The text for the proclamation was found at

Well, that is all for this week. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, safe travels, and happy times with family and friends. Please be sure to say a prayer (everyday, but especially this time of year) for the men and women overseas in our military who will be unable to spend the holiday with their loved ones.