If you hadn’t heard, there’s been an ongoing debate about the Confederate flag flying on government property in South Carolina. The debate garnered national media attention and political pressure, after an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by a young white man who murdered nine black bible study members in Chareston, South Carolina, in what’s being called a “politically motivated” killing.

The suspect can be seen posing posing with the Confederate flag and spitting on and burning the American flag in photos found on a website police identified as being registered in his name. The same website had a written manifesto where he says:

“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”1

On Tuesday July 7th, the South Carolina State Senate voted in favor of a bill to remove the flag from government property 37-3. It was quickly followed up by the State House of Representatives giving a final approval in a 94-20 vote.

The debate is over.

As of Friday July 10, 2015, at 10 a.m. ET, the Confederate flag was removed from state property.

“In South Carolina we honor tradition, we honor history, we honor heritage. But there’s a place for that flag and that flag needs to be in a museum, where we will continue to make sure that people can honor it appropriately.” Governor Nikki Haley (R), South Carolina

Three Key Pieces of Information

When trying to understand the debate, and the controversy surrounding the attack, it’s important to know these three pieces of information.

(1) The flag recently removed from the State Capitol grounds has not always been there. It was erected in 1961, in response to the growing popularity of the Civil Rights movement.2

(2) The flag recently removed from the State Capitol is not actually the Confederate flag, at least not in it’s entirety. It’s the The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. The battle flag became popular as the US Civil War went on, so later versions of the official Confederate flag (versions 2.0 and 3.0) incorporated it partially.

(3) South Carolina was the first state to secede from the United States of America. This has some contextual implications.

Have you ever wondered why South Carolina seceded?

You could go on Twitter, or Facebook, or CNN, or Fox News, or you could listen to the rhetoric of your parents and grandparents. You could visit online forums and argue it out with Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, and Socialists. You could read a high school textbook that summarizes the account in whatever way suits the political views of the publisher, and the state in which they reside.


You could just read the original document of secession written by the government of South Carolina itself, because they actually listed – in plain English – their reasons for Secession.

The document is called Declaration of Immediate Causes which May Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, and it was adopted on December 24th 1860.

The document itself isn’t very long. It’s only 13 pages. You could read it through in 10 minutes. I find it peculiar that a state can secede in 13 pages, but it takes 1,482 pages to draft a budget bill3, or 73,954 pages for the US tax code.4

Maybe it goes back to the idea that it’s much easier to break things than to build them. Planting a forest might take 100 years, but you can burn it all down in 48 hours.


The Document


PDF #1: Scan of the original handwritten draft of the document

PDF #2: Scan of the original printed document

PDF #3: The transcript of the document (easy for copy and paste)


We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows:

“No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina. Constitutional Convention (1860-1862). S 131055. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Sound familiar?

Reading through the document, I’m reminded again that “there is nothing new under the sun.”

“For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.” Ibid., 9

That’s Abraham Lincoln hate. Doesn’t it sound exactly like Obama hate? Oh, there’s more.

“This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.” Ibid.

Does this, uh, remind you of anything or anyone? Donald Trump…something about a wall…voter ID cards. Ring any bells? Or am I just imagining things?

The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief. Ibid., 10

How often has this been repeated over the years? I have to admit – to be intellectually honest – there is some truth to it. But the argument has been so overused used by bigots, on behalf of bigots, that you don’t want to use the argument, because it makes you friends with bigots. And who wants that?

Honorable mention

“… they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.” Ibid., 9

This isn’t as prescient, at least not in the same way, as the other three quotes, so I didn’t group it with them, but it’s worth pointing out that those “societies” are abolitionists and the underground railroad. They make the abolitionists sound like a gang of prostitute-robbers peddling Hollywood films and dirty magazines.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

Life Pro Tip

Don’t shy away from original source material if you want to weed through the rhetoric. Beneath every thick layer of bullshit is an original source document left ignored.


Why did South Carolina secede from the United States?

Because they asserted that 14 states5 in the union violated South Carolina’s constitutional right to the owning of blacks as property (Ibid., 8), and furthermore that the constitution wouldn’t exist in the first place, if that stipulation (the right to own blacks as property) had not been agreed to (Ibid., 7). The North violated the “compact,” and had become more and more aggressive toward the “property rights” of the South over the course of 25 years (Ibid., 9) so the South had a right to secede.

If the North didn’t touch the issue of slavery, there would have been no secession from the South.

I believe the South did have a right to secede6, but today people pretend that the reason for secession wasn’t slavery.

The reason was slavery.

  1. Citation not given because I don’t like to popularize attention hungry psychopaths. His name is found nowhere in this article. If you really care, google it.

  2. You can also see a previous write up of how cultural tit-for-tat has evolved since 1961.

  3. Congress Submits Final, $542 Billion Budget Bill; White House Fears Eased, Fox News (2007)

  4. This figure is debated here, and affirmed here. Either way, it’s still over 2000 pages long, compared to just 13.

  5. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Jersey

  6. Otherwise, what right did the US colonies have to secede from England? Or what right did slaves have to run away from a plantation?