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Virginia Sen. Dick Black says no Confederate soldiers died fighting for slavery

Sen. Dick Black (R) represents portions of Loudoun and Prince William counties in the Virginia General Assembly. Facebook/Dick Black for State Senate
State Sen. Dick Black (R-13th) says no Confederate soldiers died fighting for slavery, a comment described by a George Mason University scholar as “at the very least, a misleading overstatement.”

The local lawmaker's statement, sent in an email to Republican colleagues, comes amid a national discussion about race, symbolism and the propriety of Confederate monuments in public places in modern-day America.

One such monument stands in the center of Leesburg, the largest town in Virginia and the seat of the fastest-growing county in the South. The statue is placed on county property next to the Loudoun County Courthouse.

Black represents a portion of Leesburg and Loudoun County.

The senator, in an email obtained by the Times-Mirror, says he opposes efforts to “cede authority to localities” in terms of deciding the fate of monuments. “That's just code for tearing them down,” he says.

“None of those soldiers fought to defend slavery,” Black wrote. “Soldiers don't serve for things like that -- trust me, I know. Imagine the men of Picket's Charge thinking, 'I'm virtually certain to die in this attack, but I take solace in defending slavery.' Give me a break.”

Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) has requested that localities be given greater authority over monuments on public property. State law dictates monuments to war veterans cannot be removed.

Black continued, “Only now, with racist hate groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, have Confederate memorials been viewed as political statements. Statue removal is solely an act of racial hatred and nothing else. Their objective is to tear our nation apart and destroy it. Do you sense the faintest patriotism in any of these clowns?”

In the correspondence, Black also takes a shot at fellow Republican Ron Meyer, the Broad Run representative to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Meyer is the only local Republican to call for Leesburg's Confederate monument to be moved to another location.

“I'm sick of anarchists pushing good people around, and I'm disappointed in board members who propose or support this garbage,” Black said. “My advice: Get a backbone or resign.”

Responding, Meyer said he believes the Republican party has always accepted a variety of thoughts and beliefs.

“There are always issues where we may differ, but I've never called for someone to resign over a difference of opinion on one issue,” Meyer said.

When asked about Black's comments, two historians said slavery and the Confederacy's fight cannot be separated.

“First, I should say that the lawmaker’s comment is, at the very least, a misleading overstatement,” said Brian Platt, chairman of the George Mason University History Department. “It is possible that most southern soldiers, if asked, would not have said, 'My main motivation to fight is to defend slavery.' Soldiers fight for a complex mix of motivations, and those motivations are often quite different from the 'official' reasons given by the state.”

Platt continued, “ … but some soldiers, particularly those from the planter class, definitely thought that the defense of the institution of slavery was among the things that justified the Confederate cause.”

Platt said Black's comment “sidesteps the key issue” of Confederate monuments.

“Regardless of what motivated individual soldiers to fight, they fought for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution,” Platt said. “Look at the secession statements by South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas and the words of Jefferson Davis. There is no ambiguity as to the fact that slavery was at the center of the Confederate cause. This doesn’t mean that we should tar the individual motivations of southern soldiers or disparage their personal character, but for the purposes of public memorialization, we cannot separate entirely their personal motivations from the racist cause of the nation for whom they fought.”

Jennifer Worcester Moore, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, said, “The direct correlation between the institution of slavery and the Civil War cannot be separated.”

“While the approximately 3 million who fought had varying reasons on both sides, slavery remains an important factor in the onset of the Civil War and why citizens supported their respective war efforts,” Moore said. “It has been over 155 years since the Civil War, and the time could not be more appropriate to engage in an open, many-sided study and discussion of this critical part of American history.”

Historians have detailed that some Confederate monuments were erected in public spaces in the early 20th century to honor the “lost cause” of slavery and to legitimize white supremacy.

“The civic leaders who financed and built those monuments made their intentions clear: They sought to normalize white supremacy and give legitimacy to the Jim Crow regime that they began to build in the early 20th century,” James Leloudis, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote in an essay.

Black, who did not respond to questions for this story, has a long history of controversial statements and acts. He has praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom he met with in Syria last year. Assad is viewed by many analysts as a ruthless dictator whose administration has murdered thousands of its own citizens during fighting that sparked in 2011.

A hard-line social conservative, Black once handed out plastic fetuses to colleagues before a vote relating to reproductive rights. He also compared same-sex marriage to incest and polygamy.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @TrevorBaratko.


Sen Black, you scare me. I understand(I think) what you are trying to get at, but you really need to THINK before you speak.

Even though the average Confederate soldier didn’t own slaves, the Confederates were in a sense fighting to support slavery, which was the same thing, at the time,  as so called “states rights.” I am reminded of an episode of The Simpsons where Apu went for his oral exam for citizenship.

Examiner: All right, here’s your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?

Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter…

Examiner: Wait, wait… just say slavery.

Apu: Slavery it is, sir.

amerigirl, yes you are right, Lincoln was the leader of the then called radical party that spun off of the Whig party, the new party had many goals one was to stop the institution of slavery. However, they also wanted a powerful Federal Government and to use the government to suppress freedom of speech assembly or any other freedoms the independent states enjoyed. The radical party wanted to use force by any means necessary to achieve their ideology such as a dictatorship. Their menace to democracy is well documented through murder and false imprisonment. Anyone disagreeing found themselves at the end of rope or in front of a firing squad. These atrocities are well documented in the National Archives where the records of the murders of thousands are kept. The members of Congress were so in fear, many from the Whig party did not show up for three years.  When N.Y. City rebelled Secretary of War Stanton, order Union troops to kill everyone on the streets and they did. It took N.Y. City three months to bury their dead. Virginia fought not for slavery but to defend their Country “Virginia” from tyranny. No body in the South when they went to war was thinking anything about protecting slavery they were simply trying to protect themselves from tyrants.

I probably should have mentioned that , yes, there were slaves in the north. There was not a definite line drawn in the sand on where slavery stopped. However, the majority of the North was against slavery.
The scariest thing I’m getting out of reading many of these opinions is some people seem to still think that slavery is justified. Shame on those who feel so superior. All men are created equal!

Va_Supercharge, only part way right on the Lincoln thing. He was expressing what he believed his role was as president, anything to save the Union. If you read more on Lincoln you will find that he hated slavery for many reasons. He was also not sure if the capabilities of slaves to be fully educated and questioned if they should have the right to vote, slaves at that time had not been educated. Lincoln felt he needed all the variables before they could vote or run for office. But he despised slavery, proposing compensated emancipation early in his presidency to keep slavery from spreading to the west. He also felt that slave owners should not be suddenly found without workers, or compensation for the loss of those workers
and wanted gradual emancipation and voluntary colonization. Many of his quotes are taken out of context these days, mostly by racist, alt-right and the KKK. They prefer to stop the quotes before the disprove their ideas.

To FromHereNotAComeHere, First of all you have no idea what other Native Virginians think.  I am a Native Virginia and you don’t speak for me.  My family have been Native Virginians for over 250 years.  I am so glad you were alive in the 1860’s to know what the soldiers in the Civil War were thinking. On what their thoughts and beliefs were why they were fighting that war.  My family fought for both sides of the war. Did my family members who fought for the south do so to preserve slavery..I don’t know. I would like to think not, but I don’t know. I am not sure what Mr. Black thinks he will gain by his comments.  If he was trying to convey a message about preserving Confederate Statues, OK, but he completely blew it.  What he really conveyed was his ignorance, lack of knowledge about the history of the Civil War and that he really should not be in politics.

Dick hasn’t cashed ever cashed a paycheck that wasn’t written by the government, but if he can reach so far to say no Rebel soldiers fought to maintain slavery surely he’ll understand how I’ve come to believe that no one died in Vietnam fighting for my freedom?

Black’s narrow-minded “side-stepping the issue” comments are misleading and only contribute to further division of a community and nation that must reconcile its differences for our children’s future.  The reason(s) for the Civil War have been debated going all the way back to the Civil War, with the two top reasons being slavery and/or states rights.  If you delve into the Articles of Secession by various states, slavery was clearly there, as well as states rights, so from a practical reason they are forever tied.  Institutionalized racial superiority is the opposite of what our nation is about.  Consider WWII nazi soldiers, who also fought and died for institutionalized racial superiority i.e. aryan nation   How many nazi soldier monuments do you see on public display in Germany today?  In Berlin, there stands today the ruins of a bombed/partially destroyed church as “a symbol of peace and reconciliation.”  Mr Black and those supposed “millions of Virginias” who agree with him may want to consider memorials that offer similar messages to our children.  In other words, stop trying to be right, stop pointing fingers, and start figuring out how to live together as a community and nation.

Avalonwitch…that was not my comment…it was Froggen just above mine…if you are going to be nasty, at least point it towards the right person!

Sky prince—if losers shouldn’t get monuments, then you are saying the Vietnam Wall in D.C. with 59,000 names should be torn down, aren’t you?  You also agree with the Taliban bombing the Bamiyan Buddhas since the buddhists were genocided by islamists there. You also side with ISIS bombing and destroying antiquities across the Middle East as they “win” conquering areas of the Middle East. Since ancient Egyptians had slaves and are no longer a powerful state I suppose you agree with ISIS that the great pyramids should be destroyed.

I, along with millions of other Native Virginians, agree wholeheartedly, with Senator Black on this issue!

Va_Supercharge your knowledge of history is spot on. I guess your not a democrat or an ignorant non read republican? Congratulations to Mr. Black for standing up to Fascist and the ignorant masses. Unlike other states who did not fight for slavery, Virginia fought to preserve the Republic they created. Unfortunately, they lost and the dreams of our founding fathers also died away. Now, little is known about the creation of our Republic and why they chose a Republic, because it no longer exists, it has been lost to history. After years of academia teaching to rehabilitate the Lincoln Administration to cover up its crimes of destroying our Republic, people now believe the war was about slavery not the destruction of the Republic. I implore people simply read the historical record its all there, no tricks. We no longer have the great continuing experiment of democracy. That is right, states were free to institute their ideas of self governance before the war . Now, because of the Lincoln administrations destruction of self governance guaranteed by our Founding Fathers, we have a Federal Government more powerful than the States. After the war the Federal Government was free to dictate the laws based on money and influence.
Mr. Myers also wants to put our Confederate statue on top of the graves of Union Soldiers at Balls Bluff Cemetery nothing could be more insulting. Maybe he should become democrat with other idealist. Once again Congrats to Sen. Black for telling the truth!!!

Dick Black as a delegate joined a lawsuit by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to prevent erection of a statue of Lincoln in Richmond, which the neighborhood’s (African American) citizens wanted. Here is a quote from one authority, John S. Mosby, on what Confederate soldiers were thinking. In a letter to a friend after the war, he said: “I always understood that we went to war on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about. I never heard of any other cause of uarrel than slavery.”

It is clear by Sen Black’s statement.  Any soldier who died was not for slavery.  All the soldiers who fought FOR slavery LIVED.  It is these slavery supporting survivors who conspired across the country to erect statues to intimidate former slaves from going to court.

LOSERS should not get monuments for participation!

Well, Black should know…he was alive during the Civil War and experienced it firsthand…can’t beat that!

Love That Guy

Wonder if Dick Black ever read this quote from Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy?

“My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. It has its evils and abuses…We recognize the negro as God and God’s Book and God’s Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him - our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude…You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery
enables them to be.”

Source:  The Papers of Jefferson Davis, v7 pp 18-23

What exactly was the cause of the north?  Emancipation you say?  Think again.  At the same time the North was fighting the south, the NORTH(including NY, MA, RI, DE, PA, etc…) were all holding and USING hundreds of thousands of slaves EACH before, during and after the “Civil War”. 

But but…the emancipation proclamation…  Yeah, about that.  The proclamation only applied to states and territories “in rebellion against the United States”. In other words, the NORTH EXEMPTED THEMSELVES from the free slave order.

Is and was slavery wrong?  Absolutely and unequivocally YES!  But lets not play the revisionist history game.  Who writes history again?  The one that survives and wins the war…

It can be read from Lincolns own words over multiple years that he had no personal intent on releasing slaves.  His SOLE goal was to do whatever he must in order to keep his large federal government in charge.  If that meant freeing slaves, he’d free them and otherwise, he’s all for keeping them.  Never mind that whole mess meant nothing as the slaves weren’t actually free until after the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments passed and ratified and many of those same northern states fought hard in the halls of congress and back rooms not to.

In a letter from Lincoln to the editor of the NY Tribune during the Civil War seeking to clarify his earlier words:
“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

Another interesting quote from the “Great Emancipator” during a public debate between Lincoln and Stephen Douglass some years earlier:
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing.”

Even multiple towns in NY, including NYC, had attempted to secede just before the war and repeatedly fought FOR the confederates in the south.  One town even successfully seceded!  They weren’t re-admitted to the Union sometime around the late 1940’s. 

What was NY’s primary money maker during and after the war you ask?  Oh right…COTTON EXPORTS.  Where do you think all that cotton for NY came from?  Who do you think loaded all the ships with cotton in NY(combination of poor Irish and Blacks - Do you think those blacks were free)?  Do you really think those in the merciful union north(supposedly fighting the evil slave owning south to end slavery) had no idea where the bulk of their money and lavish lifestyle was coming from?

So by the same measure of the attacks on confederate soldiers monuments, I vote we tear down any and all monuments of Lincoln, strike him from the history books, and remove paintings and portraits as well.  Why don’t we remove NY, RI, MA, DE, etc.. all from the maps while we’re at it.  They all supported and fought for slavery at some point after all.  Should we empty the library of congress while we’re at it?  Oh wait…I know.
Let’s tear down the white house and the capital…they’re all basically big monuments built by slaves owned by presidents and congressmen at the time!

Lets not seek to remove things from history just because we don’t like that it happened or someone said or did something that hurts our feelings.  The next thing you know we’ll have folks calling for book burnings in the street in front of the public library because such and such author or his/her publisher had a slave 200 years ago.

He has also been quoted as saying, “I don’t know how on Earth you could validly get a conviction in a husband-wife rape when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie and so forth.”

I’m not surprised. What Mr. Black knows about the true cause of the Civil War (although I’m sure he’d LOVE to call it the War of Northern Aggression) could fit in a thimble. Which pretty well matches what he knows about any important public issue. Whenever Mr. Black speaks, I am always reminded of Shakespeare, in that what he says is full of sound and fury and signifies nothing. Kinda like his whole political career.

For once in the seven years I have followed Dick Black’s public service record I almost, but not quite, agree with him. I just cannot believe that at least some Confederate soldiers were fighting to maintain slavery. But all politics is local and most Confederates were simply fighting to preserve whAt they felt were the rights of their own home state. True, Confederates fired the first shot BUT once those states seceded Federal property within them should have been removed or turned over to them. The little dictator Lincoln caused the war, suspended habeous corpus, enacted all sorts of taxes and created an illegal state by talking out of two side of his mouth at the same time. Think I’m kidding? Read the Constitution and its requirements for making a state out of parts of another. If we are going to remove monuments to one of the greatest gentlemen ever born in the US, Robert E. Lee whose property the Federals stole
and did not pay for until his heirs were paid, we damn well ought to raze the Lincoln Memorial in the process! I have five ancestors who fought for the Union in Mr. Lincoln’s Wat, including four great-great uncles, only one of whom came home alive, and my grandfather as well. None of them fought for the kind of rubbish being espoused by these damn fools who want to rewrite history because they don’t like the facts! Thank you Sen. Black for calling it what it is!

Before anyone comments on the statue again, I would really like to know what the true history of and behind the statue is… Do any of these politicians even know? So Laugh, since you seem to pose as an expert, what when and why is the statue in the courthouse lawn?

I agree with Jeanne T. 

We have to do something about the flood of guns on America’s streets.  It is just too easy to get a handgun in this country.

Never trust a pol that says “trust me, I know.”, they are just trying to convince you to think like them. If to “cede authority to localities” in terms of deciding the fate of monuments means “That’s just code for tearing them down, then that would mean that the localities don’t want them and should not be forced to have them. Again, trying to force one’s opinion down the throats of others. Most of the statues weremass produced and put up during the Jim Crow era because white men felt that they were superior to blacks and black lives didn’t matter as much as their opinions. Time for change, let the people make up their own minds.

I get it, I get it. The poor Confederates took up arms to defend their states from an invading army. Why did the army invade? Because all of those states chose to secede from the union rather than relinquish slaveholding. The union did not fire the first shots, those were lobbed by southerners in Charleston, South Carolina. Don’t need a “Modernist” lens to understand this—it is in the very documents they wrote at the time of secession. The south was not a victim here, and every soldier who took up arms was doing so in defense of an evil institution. Maybe they saw themselves defending their states, but in reality, they were the aggressors, not the victims. It really is that simple.

Please, keep talking, Dick, right up to November 2018, and make sure the press always puts an (R) after your name when quoting you.  Can’t wait for the next “pearl” of wisdom your brain comes up with, Dick.  Let’s now look at another Dick Black pearl; In an interview with The Washington Times in 1996, Black said despite evidence that mixed gender training leads to sexual misconduct the Pentagon will not revert to same-sex assignments between instructors and recruits. Black said doing so “would be inconsistent with this tremendous drive to feminize the military today, to pretend there is no difference between the sexes.”  Perhaps Dick was right.  This year,  Fairfax’s own Simone Askew is the first Black female to lead the Cadets at West Point, and VMI has the highest number of women in their first year class in its history.

“Of course, as I read through this deep-dive into the thoughts of Dick Black, I can think of one Black life that doesn’t matter nearly as much as he thinks it does.

“Black lives” matters the least of all to those who claim to care, and at the top of the list of those who really don’t care is BLM.

More “black lives” are lost on the streets of Chicago and other large cities, which are ALL controlled by Democrats. Nothing has changed, nothing is changing.

“Black Lives Matter” is a disingenuous terrorist group. If BLM and its lemmings really cared about “black lives” it would be concentrating its efforts on reducing violence and the inexcusably high murder rate in places like Chicago. And it is inexcusable.

But the fact is that BLM doesn’t give a hoot about inner city black lives, and that makes BLM an illegitimate cause. It is a total fraud.

Dick Black needs a backbone instead of pandering to his du jour political “friends”.

“...only racist groups like Black Lives Matter.”

Of course, as I read through this deep-dive into the thoughts of Dick Black, I can think of one Black life that doesn’t matter nearly as much as he thinks it does.

Senator Dick Black, Give Me A Break!  I find it interesting how many people seem to be mind readers, of those who lived about one hundred and fifty years ago.  But, we do have some objective things to point to about the statue on the courthouse grounds.  That statue was put up in the Jim Crow era, as a racist symbol to intimidate African-Americans.  Senator Dick Black does not get the right to re-write history, just because he thinks he can.

Platt obviously is looking at history like so many historians and their students, which is through Modernism which examines historical events and persons as if they occurred and lived today rather than in the past. This severs history from its context and setting, therefore misrepresenting, for example individual southerners’ motivations who joined the Confederacy. Then he intertwines historical negativism which belittles and stresses the bad and the ugly of past events and persons while ignoring the good. I understand Sen Black’s sentiment, the Confederate soldiers represented by the Leesburg court statue didn’t commit their lives to defend slavery, but to protect their homes and families in Leesburg from an invading army. Platt needs to separate the politicians like racist Jefferson Davis, from the local southerners whose localism and stateism was stronger than nationalism during that time.

Sen. Black don’t know much about history.

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