During the Fourth of July holiday some supporters of the Confederate battle flag asked why Americans celebrate the colonists breaking away from Britain, but condemn the attempt by Southerners to separate from the federal government. Actually, a key slogan of the Revolution was “no taxation without representation” – Parliament had full taxing power, but no representatives from the colonies. But Southerners were well represented in Washington and dominated the government most of the time before the Civil War. Among the 15 presidents before Lincoln, a big majority – nine – were from the South. Of the five presidents who won election from northern states, every one of them had a Southern Vice President. Southerners were also over-represented in the House of Representatives because their 4 million slaves counted as three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes under a notorious Constitutional compromise, even though they weren’t allowed to vote. American Independence has been a blessing but Southern secession was a tragic, ill-conceived mistake.