Let me start off by saying that I am not a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I have no Confederate ancestors of which I am aware. The closest I can come is being a member of the Friends of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which group I joined a couple years back when I was finally able to get information about it.
Those who know me also know that my sympathies are and have been with the South and the Old Confederacy. If that makes me a "racist" (a Trotskyite term) in the eyes of some folks, well, I guess that's tough. "Those people" have a right to be offended by my views just as much as I have a right to be offended by theirs, which I am.
Any student of history realizes that the Old South was not perfect (which its detractors seem to think it should have been) anymore than the Old North was. But I have noticed over the decades that the defenders of the North rather seem to gloss over their own sins (which in many cases were the same as those of the South) while denigrating the South for what they, themselves, have also done. Let's be honest and admit that all men, North, South, or anywhere else, are sinners, in need of the grace of Jesus Christ to make us forgiven sinners. Many in the South recognize this, while many in the North seem intent upon dethroning God and replacing Him with themselves. Just for the record, I was born in the North, so I am not referring to all Northern folks when I say this. There are lots of good Northern folks in the country who detest the direction we have gone in and are still going in just like Southerners, in fact, some have the same mindset as Southerners--and, unfortunately, I have run across some Southerners who are ashamed of being Southerners and try to wrap themselves in Abe Lincoln and his bloodstained banner.
Where we live there are several SCV camps in the area. My wife and I have gone to meetings at several of them and I have even been invited to speak at some of them. I can tell them things about Lincoln and his Marxist buddies they never learned in public school, nor will their kids ever learn there.
I have read Stephen Dill Lee's Charge to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and some things have sort of jumped out at me. Lt. General Lee started off with: To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the Cause for which we fought. There are other worthwhile goals mentioned, but it seems to me that this is one of the most important. The SCV (as should all Southerners, along with some of us Copperheads) is to vindicate the Cause for which their fathers fought. That cause is under attack today as never before. The Marxist originators of Cultural Genocide and Political Correctness have worked overtime for decades now to convince Southerners that their cause is tainted by the stain of slavery and that's really all they seceded for and sought to preserve. It hardly needs to be said that such Political Correctness is a crock full of some excremental material I will not mention. All you have to do regarding the slavery question is to read Donnie Kennedy's book Myths of American Slavery to find out how involved the North was in the slave trade. Check out how many of the original 13 colonies had slavery at some point. That's not what your average Southerner fought for, and even some Yankees had to admit that they fought for what they considered to be "preserving the Union" and they had no interest in slavery one way or the other. Little did they realize that their leaders were destroying the Union they thought they were preserving--and using them to do it.
I've noted some things the SCV has done over the years, preserving and marking the graves of Confederate soldiers and putting flags on them in commemoration. That's a good thing--but it's not enough--and that seems to be all that some are willing to do. It seems to me that a lot more needs to be done to vindicate the Cause for which the Confederates fought. Some SCV camps do try to do more. From what I have heard, some don't. Decorating Confederate graves, important as that is, doesn't seem to me to be enough of a vindication.
I've gone to SCV meetings where the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag is recited during the meeting. I don't doubt for a minute the sincerity of these folks, and maybe it's just my Copperhead sentiments, but I have a hard time with the Pledge of Allegiance. I have not said it for years at any meeting of any kind that I go to where they recite it. Given that this Pledge was written by a Northern Socialist who was asked to leave the church he preached in because of his overt socialism, and who doted on the "one nation indivisible" bit, I don't think this Pledge really belongs in an SCV meeting. I've even gone to churches where it was recited as part of the service, and I don't think it belongs there either. If you want to offer some kind of salute to the Christian flag that's fine. But the Christian flag and the US flag are antithetical one to the other.
It just seems to me, and this is only my opinion, for the SCV to vindicate the cause for which Confederate soldiers fought, there needs to be some sort of educational agenda or process at work by the SCV noting those ideas and values for which the South fought, and taking note of what they fought against. In some places such is true and SCV camps do try to educate people, beginning with their own, as to what the War was really fought over. It seems to me that this educational effort needs to be a part of the SCV's overall program. It may be so and I am just not aware, but having some sort of brief lesson plan for new members as to what the War was fought over might be helpful.
The last sentence of the Charge is just as important as the first. It says:Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations. I wonder how many Southerners, even in the SCV, realize how terribly important that is. The true history of the South is almost never presented anymore, especially not in most schools, and, at the university level--forget it! Many colleges today are way too busy teaching their students how to feel guilty over being white, or for having Southern accents. Real, accurate Southern history only gets in the way of the Marxist agenda. A question we might ask, and I have asked, is "why do you still send your kids to these schools?" I have yet to get a satisfactory answer.
From all that I can discern, Lt. General Lee's Charge is, or should be, extremely important, not only to the SCV, but to all concerned Southern folks. It's important to me and I wasn't born here, but I live here now and the South is home. If we don't take the time to vindicate the Cause for which the South fought and make sure the kids here get the right history instead of the Marxist propaganda that's out there, then our Cause (it's mine, too) will be lost and it may be centuries before it is retrieved.
Some Minor Disturbance Over What Stephen Dill Lee Really Said
by Al Benson Jr.
It seems that my most recent article about Stephen Dill Lee's Charge to the Sons of Confederate Veterans stirred up a minor tempest in the proverbial teapot. Within 24 hours of its being posted, replies came from several sources that said that "Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations" was not a part of Lee's original address. Some friends of mine did some checking and it appears they may be correct on that one point, though I took the quote from an SCV web site. So if I got it wrong so did they. It seems that this particular portion of his Charge had the wording changed to this in 1906 and it reflected something other that what Lt. General Lee said, sort of a compromise in semantics, if you will, a slight toning down of the original wording.
At any rate, as I quoted from what was apparently the 1906 version rather than the original, I stand corrected.
There seems to be, even today, a bit of a fuss over how this terminology was parsed out and what was really said. There are those who will argue for historical correctness, and that's okay. I strive for that myself, even though I don't always get it perfect. However, what we often end up with in disagreements like this is a situation where those who have gotten a particular quote, or whatever, correct will never go any further than their historical argument, and it's usually an armchair argument rather than an active one.
I've followed SCV "politics" like I have the politics of many groups over the years and I know enough to realize that there are factions within the SCV that argue about what the organization should be doing. Some want it to be merely an organization that puts flowers and flags on Confederate graves and keeps the lawns at Confederate cemeteries mowed, with little or nothing beyond that. Others want the SCV to take a much more activist role in presenting historical truth and contending for that truth. I guess, were I able to officially belong to the SCV, I would belong to the latter group rather than the former.
Over the years some have felt I was a bit too much of an activist, and often they were not hesitant to let me know that. Maybe that's why I never quit being one. Seems to me if you believe in something and feel it is worth defending or fighting for then its worth doing at actively as long as you can. My wife and I have supported and acted in behalf of several causes over the years of our married life, and always felt they were connected at the theological level even though the connection might not be apparent at other levels to most people. We can no longer do this as actively as we once did. Age and medical conditions slow one down, but on the other hand we are not ready to lie down and concede defeat either. Helping to prepare another generation to take up the fight is also important. After all, as Christians, we have a multi-generational worldview and where we have, by God's grace sown some seed, others will, also by God's grace, come along to water.
So, in a sense, arguing over Lt. General Lee's exact wording in his Charge over 100 years ago, while it is important to get it right, really begs the question. And the question still is, What should the SCV be doing?
What was the original intent of the organization? If it was only to decorate graves, then I guess we could paraphrase Scripture and ask "Do not even the Yankee/Marxists do the same?" And some of them don't really have to do anymore, because their grandfathers wrote the "history" books didn't they? Yet they are not content to just let it lie, but rather they turn out a continuous stream of political correct invective that relentlessly attacks all things Southern and Confederate.
If the Confederate Battle Flag was only a flag for grave tenders then why did the NAACP so vehemently attack it several years ago and stir up a firestorm over it? Of course many of us realize the NAACP membership was flagging and they needed a whipping boy to drum up support for the politically correct shock troops and to enrich the coffers, but was that the only reason? Why do the politically correct Marxists (and they are Marxists) continue to attack the flag and Southern heritage even today? It seems to me that the SCV, as well as other Southern and Confederate groups, has an adversary that is determined to stamp out everything they ever stood for. And if that's the case, then just tending your ancestors' graves isn't enough. If that is, indeed, the case, then you better learn how to rise up from tending the graves of your honored dead and learn how to fight back. If you are willing to just sit back and let the Cultural Genocide crowd run all over you while you are trying to be "nice" then you are--well, I can't say what you are--it would probably get my blog tossed off the Internet.
It seems that the SCV, like other groups, has to decide which was it's going to go. Personally, I was never in favor of letting my adversaries stomp all over me if they were Marxists. With other Christians, and other well-meaning folks you can often agree to disagree and let it go at that. You can't do that with Marxists, or with any of the leftist crowd. There is no peaceful co-existence with them except on their terms and anyone with an ounce of sense won't play that game.
All you need to is to check out the political persuasions of those who practice Cultural Genocide on the South and you will see what I mean--all the way from the political left, to the educational left, to the Evangelical left--they are all leftists, and as such, your destruction, culturally and otherwise, is their goal.
So whatever Lt. General Lee's Charge did or didn't say, the SCV has to consider the question of what they are going to do to deal with their Cultural Marxist adversaries. That is the ultimate question for all the various groups that would defend the South, Southern tradition and history, including the Confederate States, or the Southern way of life.
Start by learning who your enemies are. Learn how to expose them. Then learn how to oppose them, because just tending the graves of your ancestors, as important as that is (and I don't discourage that) is not going to cut the mustard in the days to come and any organization that proposes to do that and nothing else, has got major problems.
Comments by the Board of the Confederate Society
Mr. Benson, once again, has been most prolific in his writing herein relating to the SCV charge.
Al Benson and I go back many years in this Confederate Society that was formed to Stay a Course few ‘OTHERS’ have; that a ‘couple of notable’ ones has clearly ‘departed’ from.
His comments herein raise serious questions relative to the SCV ‘High Command’ that I refer to as its Hierarchy.
Stephen D. Hill’s charge to Those who would follow, what I declare was our Christian Army’s attempt to STOP & PREVENT the Political & covert madness of that time, NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED!
He said, and it is as Direct as it is Basic, this: “To YOU, Sons of Confederate Veterans, WE Commit the Vindication of the Cause for which WE FOUGHT!”
His last comment within that that same ‘frame’ was this: “ Remember, it is YOUR DUTY to see that the True History of the South is presented to future generations.”
Well damn it- HAS IT?
So this I would ask of the Many SCV Camps- HAS your vaunted Hierarchy FOLLOWED THROUGH ON THAT CHARGE or, have they given you Lip Service more impressed with the medals they put on themselves and their ‘appointed’ lieutenants?
This is NOT going to sit well with the Hierarchy but this is NOT the Society’s first ‘rodeo’ with them.
As we have stated in earlier communiques & underscored by those Southern Sons & former members of the SCV who, as we, when challenging said Hierarchy, were put ‘out to pasture’ for questioning their Commitment to the Charge given them by Stephen Lee!
The NAACP’S literal Declaration of War, issued in 1991, against ALL things Southern & Confederate WENT UN-ADDRESSED BY THE SCV -HIERARCHY THEN AND HAS REMAINED UN-ADDRESSED BY EACH ‘Succeeding Hierarchy’ since.
When it was proposed by the True & Dedicated Confederate Sons that an assembly of said Sons be bused by the thousands to the Headquarters of the NAACP immediately following their Declaration of War/Genocide, said proposal was Flat-Out rejected by the Hierarchy.
Let us NOT mix words here- So what is their purpose- another medal upon the chest of their cronies while the Leadership promotes themselves flying around the country while ‘ROME’ (the South), continues to BURN?
Who, YOU MUST ASK, has stayed the Course and WHO has NOT? There is NO MORE time for Waffling.
Either YOU are part of the Eat, Meet & Retreat Crowd or, YOU ARE A SOUTHERN VINDICATOR of YOUR ANCESTORS CHARGE! Y’all can’t have it BOTH ways!
Let me close by paraphrasing Cicero- ‘Beware those who walk among us, wear our attire and speak our tongue while subverting the purpose of Our Founders!’
Lastly, and in regards to what Cicero said, let me ask y’all this question as fewer of us remain who know what REALLY HAPPENED:
* Who do YOU think was behind the efforts to change the Georgia (’56 version) State Flag and held closed-door meetings with Governor Barnes at the time?
* And Who, likewise, do you think was behind the efforts to remove the Battle Flag from atop the Capitol Dome in South Carolina holding, similarly, closed-door meetings with Governor Hodges at the time?
Remember what Cicero said and I would suggest Y’all start to ‘Investigate’ EACH of those questions yourself and, afterwards, ask this in conclusion:
Has the Cause for which We Fought been Vindicated? WHO has truly been Representing It and WHO has NOT?
Last I noted we continue to remain under attack as evidenced by the Removal of Our Flags in General Robert E. Lee’s chapel at his ‘university’ because 6 ‘Al Sharpton’s’ didn’t like them!
Once YOU show your back to the enemy, it is NOT long thereafter they are planting their ‘under-sized’ foot up YOUR A _ _,….while Stealing Our Country from us!
For, God, Family and the Restoration of the Original Republic,
President, The Confederate Society of America- and let it be NEVER FORGOTTEN- WE HAVE NEVER ONCE WAFFLED ON TELLING ANY & ALL WHO WE ARE- CONFEDERATES- while others have made ‘excuses’ for Non-Engagement & the NON-USE of the very word ITSELF.
And a response from another Confederate Society board member:
Al and all concerned,
The inscription on the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery reads:
Not for Fame or Reward,
Not for Place or Rank
Not Lured by Ambition
Or Goaded By Necessity
But in Simple Obedience to Duty
As They Understood It
These Men Suffered All
Dared All - And Died
I have this inscription laminated on a card, which I keep with me at all times. It speaks to the "interrogation mark" mentioned in General Stephen D. Lee's 1906 speech to the United Confederate Veterans in New Orleans, La. I mention this because Lee's speech is laced with interrogations that challenge not only men descended from Confederate Veterans, but "all brave people from the South and all true-hearted Americans everywhere."
That said, your article comes exactly one year to the day I answered a post regarding the "Charge", specifically how the SCV had eliminated a long-accepted phrase (part of S.D. Lee's speech) in exchange for a "softened" phrase not originally part of Lee's address in New Orleans.
The previous phrase, as taken from Lee's actual address read, " Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?” “Not in the clamor of the crowded street. Not in the shouts of and plaudits of the throng, But in ourselves are triumph and defeat” was replaced with, "Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations”. Since Lee himself charged the Sons with being guardians of Confederate Veteran history, they are duty bound to set the standard for historical accuracy (where they have failed too often) and make sure only Lee's words are used when invoking any written part of his speech. Revisionism should have no place within the institution. Would we also abolish / replace phrases from the Declaration of Independence? I think not, unless the purpose was to alter the original message and its purpose.
After my comments last year, I received a response by then SCV Lt. CiC Charles Kelly Barrow, who provided documentation from a 2003 SCV internal investigation regarding the origins of the "Charge."
Barrow's research concluded the origins, based upon Lee's speech as published in the 1906 Minutes of the United Confederate Veterans pages 30-35, along with word for word printing in the local The Daily Picayune and The Daily States based on the "Minutes" speech given by Lee, is the true Charge. A somewhat "legal" review was provided by Chuck Rand, who at that time served as the Historian-in-Chief, and can be read by the attached Word file. His report supported Barrow, and concluded the "Charge" contained in the 1906 Confederate Veteran magazine was not accurate. Before continuing, you should read Rand's attached report first.
Once you've read Rand's report, please read the below actual speech by Stephen D. Lee as contained in the "minutes" of the 1906 United Confederate Veteran Reunion. Put yourself in the moment, and remember Lee is speaking to both a group and individuals:
Now, here's the real rub: Instead of adhering and executing the "total concept" of the General's speech, the SCV gets bogged-down debating what fragments to use as a "mission statement", which is nothing more than PC window dressing. In doing so, they have emasculated their true role. They obviously choose a reserved posture by hiding behind a limited section, ignoring the full complement of tenets plainly outlined by Lee.
Here's a contrast and comparison. Today's preferred "Charge" to the SCV - with the revisionists last line:
To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations.
Now the "Charge" as written in the 1906 Confederate Veteran magazine:
To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves are triumph and defeat.
Which version is more bold? Which version is more challenging? Which version appears less committal, and which is a true "interrogation mark?" Which version best reflects the "preferred virtues" of the Confederate Veteran? Which one would YOU choose?
As a retired military man, I have a theory / understanding as to why the 1906 magazine's version was different from the 1906 "minutes" version. The United Confederate Veterans purposely encapsulated those phrases of Lee's speech as an oath- challenge to the Sons, much like the inscription on the monument in Arlington. Those phrases resonated well among the Veterans, and they wanted to make sure those who followed understood not only what they endured / suffered, but understood what was expected of them as the future caretakers of the institution. To hold the baton they were passing meant a willingness to exhibit the same sacrifice - an individual and collective sacrifice to speak and stand for those who could no longer.
I'm reminded of what a South Carolina friend once wrote of General James Pettigrew, ""More than all he loved liberty…but he felt that to love liberty was an empty mockery, unless that love was exhibited in the sacrifice which its acquisition requires. With him to be free, was to be prepared for and to engage in the struggle it demands.”
THE CHARGE REVISITED
During the last few years the issue of the exact text of “The Charge” given to the Sons of Confederate Veterans has been the subject of debate within some circles in the SCV. This issue was first addressed by then Historian In Chief Charles Kelly Barrow in the November/December 2003 issue of the Confederate Veteran resulting in a number of letters to the editor on the subject. I, in my role of Historian In Chief, have been conducting further research into this issue. In this article I will present a synopsis of the earlier information presented, the new evidence that has been found and will give my conclusions to what the exact text of The Charge is based on the evidence.
DEFINITION OF THE QUESTION
As a starting point I will present the opposing opinions as to what is the exact statement of “The Charge” of Gen. S. D. Lee.
It appears there are three versions of The Charge in common use. The first, which I will call the Minutes Charge, is that which is contained in the Minutes of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting and Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans Held in the City of New Orleans, LA. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday April 25th, 26th, and 27th.
The second version, which I will call the Magazine Charge, is that which is printed in the Confederate Veteran magazine of June 1906 and the third I will designate as the History Charge. The three versions are given below:
The Minutes Charge -“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish.”
This is the entire paragraph pertaining to the Sons of Confederate Veterans from the speech of Gen. S. D. Lee as taken from the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans pages 30-35. The paragraph previous to that quoted above is a charge to the Memorial Association and the paragraph following is a charge to the Daughters of the Confederacy. The entire speech, as taken from the minutes, was reproduced in Historian Barrow’s article in November/December 2003 issue of the Confederate Magazine. In the interests of space it will not be reproduced in its entirety here but I urge anyone interested in this topic to read the entire speech as printed in the Confederate Veteran cited above.
The Magazine Charge -“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish. Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?”
“Not in the clamor of the crowded street.”
“Not in the shouts of and plaudits of the throng,”
“But in ourselves are triumph and defeat.”
This comes from the June 1906 Confederate Veteran pages 245-255 where the magazine version of Gen. Lee’s speech is printed.
The History Charge -“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish. Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations”.
As you can see each version in common use today is similar and is comprised of the Minutes Charge with a different ending added after the word cherish.
I have found no document contemporary to the 1906 United Confederate Veterans (UCV) or the United Sons of Confederate Veterans (USCV) reunions that contains the History Charge. Since there appears to be no document that ties the History Charge to the 1906 Reunion of UCV or USCV it will be dismissed as a contender for being the “True Charge”. If any evidence that ties the History Charge to the 1906 Reunion is found, the dismissal of the History Charge will be reconsidered.
At this point we have the Minutes Charge and the Magazine Charge as the two choices for the “True Charge”. In his earlier article on this subject Historian In Chief Barrow concluded that The Charge as given by the UCV Minutes for their 1906 reunion was the authoritative version of the Charge. This conclusion is based on the minutes being a primary source and that the minutes represent the official record of the proceedings of the UCV.
THE PREVIOUS DEBATE
Historian Barrow’s conclusion was disputed in a letter to the editor (January/February 2004 Confederate Veteran pages 6-7) by Compatriot Kevin Spargur, a proponent of the Magazine Charge, who took issue with the UCV Minutes being used as authoritative exclusive to other primary sources. Compatriot Spargur stated that the Confederate Veteran is also a primary source and “became the official voice and organ for the rank and file membership”. On this basis, in part, he concluded the Magazine Version of the Charge is the correct version.
Historian Barrow pointed out in a rebuttal to Compatriot Spargur’s letter (Confederate Veteran March/April 2004 edition pages 58-59) that other primary sources exist that support the Minutes Charge. These other primary sources being two New Orleans newspapers, The Daily Picayune and The Daily States, that printed the text of Gen. Lee’s speech during the 1906 reunion (along with other information about the Reunion). The speech, as printed by these newspapers, corresponds word for word to that given in the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans.
Compatriot Spargur is correct when he says the June 1906 Confederate Veteran states that it speaks for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The 1906 Confederate Veteran says that it:
United Confederate Veterans
United Daughters of the Confederacy
Sons of Veterans and Other Organizations
Confederated Southern Memorial Association”
Compatriot Spargur also disputed Historian Barrow’s conclusion that the Minutes Charge is the correct charge based on the statement in Historian Barrow’s article that the Sons were not present when Gen. Lee gave his speech and did not enter the room where the UCV was assembled until the speech was concluded. On this point the 1906 UCV Minutes state on pages 34 and 35:
“In the meantime the Sons had arrived. They remained outside until the conclusion of General Lee’s address, and then marched in, Commander Thomas McA. Owen of Montgomery, Ala. In the lead, headed by a band. Each officer was accompanied by a beautiful young lady, a sponsor or maid, and their appearance was the signal for the greatest enthusiasm yet manifested in the Convention. The younger generation should feel proud of the tender sentiments manifested toward them by their sires. When the band played “See the Conquering Hero Comes” the old veterans went wild in their enthusiasm and applause.”
“When the officers had found place upon the platform, General Lee made a few remarks, in which he paid a handsome tribute to their loyalty to the Lost Cause, and said they were in every way worthy to carry on the historical campaign when the older men were all gone.”
“Commander Owen was then presented to the assemblage, and was given a most enthusiastic greeting, when he responded to the address of welcome. He spoke briefly and extemporaneously, but there was the fire of eloquence and feeling in what he said, and it evoked the greatest enthusiasm. He spoke of the work which the Sons had undertaken and pledged them to carry it forward and hand down the burden to posterity, so that the descendants of those who fought the valiant fight for the Lost Cause would look upon them in their true light, as men who fought for principal and for the Constitution of the United States, and not as rebels.”
From the above we can see that the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans reunion state that the Sons were not in the hall when Gen. Lee gave his speech.
NEW EVIDENCE FOUND
Further research has been conducted by consulting a recently obtained original copy of the Minutes of the Eleventh Annual Reunion of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans in the City of New Orleans, LA. April 25, 26, 27, 1906. These minutes state the following on pages 58 and 59:
“Recess for Joint Session with the Veterans”
“The hour having arrived for the convention to attend the Veterans in their hall for a brief joint session, the meeting was declared in recess for that purpose. A committee from Camp Beauregard had in the meantime arrived to advise that the Veterans were in waiting. A procession was promptly formed, and, preceded by a band, the entire convention marched to the Auditorium. The company extended for more than four blocks and presented a thrilling and brilliant spectacle. On arriving Gen. Stephen D. Lee was engaged in the delivery of his address, in consequence of which a short delay in entering was necessitated. As General Lee closed the signal was given, and, in the midst of rousing cheers and to the strains of stirring music the Sons marched to the platform and to seats assigned them. General Lee, trembling with emotion, extended his hand to the Commander-In-Chief of the Sons, and repeated that paragraph of his speech which related to them. The response to this greeting was to have been delivered by Dr. Clarence J. Owens of Alabama, but he was unable to be present owing to a delayed train. The Commander-In-Chief, Dr. Thomas M. Owen, therefore responded, pledging the earnest, continuous and faithful loyalty of the Sons to the principals and motives for which the fathers had fought from 1861 to 1865.”(emphasis added). We can see that the minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans from the 1906 Reunion confirm the information in the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans that the Sons were not in the auditorium when Gen. Lee gave his entire speech, but were waiting for its conclusion before they entered the UCV meeting.
However, the minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans expand on this point stating that Gen. Lee repeated for the Sons the “paragraph of his speech which related to them” when the Sons entered the UCV meeting room. One must conclude that the “paragraph” denotes the one which begins with “To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans...” as this is the paragraph in the speech most directly referring to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
However, this raises a question: Which version of the Charge - the Minutes or Magazine version - do the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans print as being the charge given to the Sons by Gen. S. D. Lee?
The 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans prints, on the 4th page, the following:
“Commission to the Sons.
To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate Soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principals which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.
Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-in-Chief U.C.V., at the Reunion in New Orleans, La., April 25, 1906.”
The above commission matches the Minutes Charge word for word and provides the citation that it was from the speech of Gen. Lee given at the 1906 U.C.V. Reunion. We now have the same charge given in both the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans and the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans.
It is noteworthy that the “Commission” is the only item on the page where it appears in the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans and is at the beginning of the minute book - evidently showing that the United Sons of Confederate Veterans considered it to be an important statement to give it such prominent and solitary placing.
From the above we see that the 1906 minutes of both the UCV and the USCV support the assertion that the Minutes Charge is the charge give by Gen. Lee and that, while the Sons were not in the room for the entire speech, The Charge or the Commission was repeated for them by Gen. Lee once the Sons arrived and entered the UCV meeting.
THE AUTHORITY OF MINUTES
Research on how minutes are legally regarded as compared to other documents has been conducted by Judge Advocate in Chief Burl McCoy. JAG McCoy found in the Federal Rules of Evidence that minutes are considered to have a higher degree of reliability than other documents relating to the actions of an organization as they are considered to be an “original writing” and are thus taken to be more authoritative than other sources such as magazine articles, news paper accounts and other documents.
Parliamentarian in Chief Jesse Binnall stated that the minutes of an organization are the official record of the actions and proceedings of the organization and are thus more authoritative than any other document which may describe the actions or proceedings in a convention or meeting where minutes are taken.
From the information above we can see that from a parliamentary and legal stand point the minutes of the UCV and USCV are the most authoritative sources we have available and should be given the most weight compared to other sources in judging what version of The Charge should be considered to have been given by Gen. S.D. Lee at the 1906 UCV Convention.
We should also note that Gen. S. D. Lee was not simply a speaker at the UCV convention. He was the sitting Commander In Chief of the United Confederate Veterans and the minutes that were published after the 1906 UCV Convention were done so under his authority and direction as evidenced by his name appearing on the cover of the 1906 UCV Convention minutes. It seems very unlikely that Gen. S. D. Lee would publish comments under his name that he did not believe to be accurate.
ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
During the last year the SCV has made an effort to begin cataloguing the SCV documents that are housed at the Mississippi State Archives in Jackson. As part of this effort, and during the course of finding other SCV records, additional documents using the Minutes Charge have been uncovered. These are:
The Henry D. Clayton Camp No. 432 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Birmingham, AL. reproduces the Minutes Charge on the application. The interior of the application shows that it was made to be used between the years 1910 and 1919 by the way the applicant it asked to fill out the last digit in the date which is given as 191_ .
The Year Book and Minutes of the Thirty-First Annual Convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the CITY OF BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA May 180-21, 1926 has on its cover the “Commission To The Sons” - the Minutes Charge - with the citation Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief, U.C.V., April 25, 1906.
In a similar manner the Year Book and Minutes of the Thirty Second Annual Convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans In the City of Tampa, Florida April 5-8, 1927 has the “Commission to the Sons” and citation identical to that of the 1926 minute book.
In 1951 the Sons of Confederate Veterans published an informational brochure about the purpose and work of the SCV and in that brochure the Minutes Charge is printed with the citation Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief, U.C.V., 1906.
The Program of the Sixty First Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans held in Norfolk, Virginia May 30-June 3, 1951 (the final UCV Reunion) contains on page 14 the Minutes Version of The Charge with the citation - Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief, U.C.V., 1906. The use of the Minutes Charge in this program is especially significant in that this was known, when the reunion was planned by the SCV, that this would be the final reunion of the United Confederate Veterans. One would expect that under these circumstances the SCV to take special care that The Charge used would be the most correct version of The Charge they knew. The Minutes Charge is what is printed in the program. It should be noted that the documents listed above constitute, essentially, a random sample of the documents found at the archives in Jackson, MS and other locations. What is interesting and important to note in regard to defining what the SCV has historically used as The Charge is that all these documents use the Minutes Charge and NO instances of the use of Magazine version of The Charge was found. These supporting documents date from 1910 to 1951.
One other item of minor note is that the word “commit” has been changed to “submit” in the supporting documents. This is likely the result of a typo that has been repeated over the years. However the use of “commit” or “submit” has not been the subject of dispute. Both the Minutes Charge and the Magazine Charge use the word “commit”.
There are strong opinions among some members of the SCV about what exact text of The Charge given by General S.D. Lee is. Some firmly believe it as given in the Confederate Veteran magazine in June of 1906. Others believe it is that version ending with “Remember it is your duty to see that the True History of the South is presented to future generations.” Others hold to the version of The Charge in the 1906 UCV Minutes. However, regardless of what version of The Charge we may find more appealing, we owe it to ourselves, as members of an organization dedicated to the preservation of history, to resolve the question of what version of The Charge was given by General S. D. Lee at the 1906 Reunion.
While I personally like the poetry of the Magazine Charge and the clear directive as to what our duty is as given in the History Charge, I am lead to the conclusion that The Charge as found in the 1906 UCV and 1906 USCV minutes is the actual Charge spoken to the Sons by Gen. S. D. Lee at the 1906 reunion of the United Confederate Veterans. This conclusion is based on the fact that minutes are the most authoritative source concerning the proceedings of an organization, that the two sets of minutes are consistent with and support one another, that there are other primary sources (the newspapers) that reported The Charge as given in the minutes and that there are a number of supporting documents that have been found also using the Minutes Charge. On this basis I conclude that the “True Charge” is:
“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish.” - Gen S. D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief U.C.V., April 25, 1906.
PART 5: Final thoughts by Jimmy Ward
I was very excited to learn of the existence of the SCV back in 1984. I had dropped off a Marine buddy in Columbia, SC where I came across a small gathering (I presume it was a Confederate Memorial service) of SCV members. I spoke with them and decided maybe one day I would join. Several years later, when our unit returned home following a year extension due to Desert Storm in the summer of 1991, I received a call from my Dad - this was early 1992. He informed me of the NAACP resolution issued in 1991 and it was then we both agreed to join the fight against heritage / historical cleansing. At least we thought there would be a fight.
In my eyes, after the NAACP declared war against the Confederate Battle Flag (and by extension all vestiges connected to the Southern Confederacy), I felt a dual calling - serving in the Marine Corps and serve my Southland against a modern-day invasion. Because of our Confederate ancestry, my father and I felt "enlisting" in the SCV was the way to go. It didn't take long for us to realize, "Boy, what were we thinking."
With exception of a few Camps and members, the SCV high command was only going to wield paper tigers instead of something more substantial. It was evident when we first joined till the day we both left the organisation, that the SCV was ruled by title-seeking, self-aggrandizing politicians who thrived on cronyism and petty politics. One group would call this group "grannies" and the pettiness went back and forth. When the dust settled, a "granny" was replaced with a "granny" - all the while the NAACP and their army continued to march throughout our beloved Southland with their modern-day "scorched earth" anti-Confederate campaign.
Instead of uniting the organisation and joining others to form a Confederate alliance, these flagpole climbers used the SCV to pad a résumé while creating their own internal "club" of roundtable circle jerks. It was more important to these narcissistic scalawags to engage in political jockeying and campaign strategy for office rather than use that energy to construct, fund, and execute a plan against an enemy hell-bound to eradicate the foundation of the SCV. All suggestions and solutions to the SCV hierarchy to prosecute this heinous action by the NAACP was met with either gutless excuses or silence.
These so-called "leaders" actually borrowed pages from the Marxist playbook - never letting a "crisis go to waste" and use it as a campaign tool to advance themselves - knowing full well their "heritage defense" rhetoric was a ruse to lure members into a false serenity. Even more egregious is many of them collaborate with Sons of Union Veterans, Civil War roundtables, and other PC societies to "soften" historical events so we appear evolved to the Marxist, which is nothing more than submission. Top that off with the way they resemble a Russian czar by the way they sport their "geegaws", and you have both fools stealing the heroics of their Confederate ancestors by riding their coattails - which in my book qualifies as stolen valor - and the "enemy within."
During my tenure in the SCV, the SCV hierarchy proved to be the antithesis to the message conveyed by Stephen D. Lee in 1906. We had high hopes the SCV would be the bull of the Southern heritage pasture. But they put their "I", "me", "my" personal ambitions and the organisations tax-exempt status ahead of what "we" should be doing to fulfill our duty and obligation as commanded by Lee and those Confederate Veterans who truly gave all so we could enjoy "Southern pride" that stems from a noble history. What a disappointment. These turncoats give new meaning to SCV - Scalawag Conniving Vermin.
In 1937, a movie came out called "They Won't Forget." Early in the movie, there is a scene that portrays Confederate Veterans preparing for a Confederate Memorial service. One of the Confederates turns to his comrades and says, "You think there will come a time when folks will forget about us?" Another answers, "If they do, we'll crawl out of our graves and remind them."
If those men knew how badly the SCV powers that be have betrayed them and could crawl from their graves, they wouldn't do any reminding - they'd be shooting the hierarchy for desertion.