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Confronting the Truth Behind the Monument Debates

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The raging debate over statues honoring Southern leaders in the Civil War turns on the true nature of the Confederate cause.

Ten days after adoption of the Confederate Constitution, the future Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens, proclaimed:

Our new government is founded upon exactly this idea: its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro 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.

Yes. Most of those who fought and died for the South never owned slaves, but suggesting that the Confederate cause had nothing to do with slavery or racism is ignorant and irresponsible.

Decisions about local monuments should be made by local authorities, but those decisions should avoid any distortion of our national history.

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