Thursday, April 15, 2010

Virginia's Shame Continues: Salute To Treason

The new Governor of Virginia’s salute to the treasonous Confederacy shines a bright light on the historical litany of Virginia’s shame.

The Civil War in America began in South Carolina, on April 12th, on Sullivan’s Island at Ft. Sumter. That was 1861 – 149 years ago. But that conflict’s root cause - the shame of Virginia - began long before then. In April 1607, the first English Christian colonists arrived on this continent. They established their settlement in Virginia and called it Jamestown. That spring, 403 years ago, marked the beginning of the end for the native population of North America. The Indians, however, were not the only ones destined to suffer the consequences of European Christian expansion. Only a dozen passed before these original white Christian Virginians decided to adopt racial slavery as their preferred mode of manual labor and as the means of accumulating personal fortune. Slaves would become, legally, just another form of real property in Virginia, another measure of a man’s wealth. The first Negro slaves were forcibly brought to Jamestown 391 years ago, in 1619. The importance of Christianity in the history of slavery in America cannot be underestimated.

Virginia’s everlasting shame was codified in 1705, 305 years ago. Here is part of what the 1705 Virginia Slave Code said:

"All servants imported and brought into the Country...who were not Christians in their native Country...shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion...shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resist his master...correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction...the master shall be free of all if such accident never happened."

Modern Americans may need to read that twice. Note the designation that servants “… who were not Christians in their native Country…” become slaves, once in Virginia. Notice too the legal codification of “All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves” as real estate. Virginia law thus made no distinction between a Negro slave and… a barn or a stable or a cabin or a grand manor house – human beings, already personal property, now regarded as real estate.

Take note also that the Virginia Slave Code of 1705 gave a malevolent double legal protection to slave owners. First, it specifically exempted them from all sanctions for any action they took in “correcting” a slave considered to “resist his master.” It even detailed the ultimate such “correction” - the actual killing of such a slave - putting this murder beyond the purview of the law. For the Virginia slave, his master was now his God. Second, the lawmakers of Virginia, not content to safely place slave owners outside any jurisdiction of the law, felt compelled to classify a slave owners corrective action – even to the point of murder – as just an “accident” – literally, “as if (it) never happened.”

Of the original 13 United States none had a larger slave population than Virginia. The first official count of slaves was in 1790. The initial US Census, mandated by the new Constitution, showed Virginia’s slave population had grown from a tiny boatload in 1619 to a total of 292,627 in 171 years. Already, 29 Virginia counties had more slaves than free white people and 17 more counties had nearly as many slaves as they did free, Christian whites. In April 1861 Virginia was still the state with the most slaves. In only 70 years, the total of slaves in Virginia had zoomed to 490,865, an amazing growth rate in light of the then 50-year ban on the importation of new slaves. In fact, the entire South had somehow managed to explode its slave population despite the half-century since the slave trade was legally ended. The US Census of 1790 showed the total number of slaves in the new United States to be 694,000. Seventy-one years later, at the start of The Civil War, according to the 1860 US Census there were almost 4 million Negro slaves in the seditious states that treasonously seceded from the Union.

Throughout the history of Negro slavery in North America – first in the colonies and then in the United States of America – Virginia led the way. They were the first to have slavery. Then, the first to declare human beings to be real property. Then, to have the most slaves at the birth of this republic. And finally, to have the most slaves when the issue of slavery broke the United States of America to pieces. The Civil War remains to this day our most costly war. It dwarfs two World Wars, and numerous other conflicts, with more than 600,000 killed.

Today, Virginia’s new Governor either doesn’t know the history of his state and his nation or he purposely, perhaps seditiously, chooses to deny it. To acknowledge and honor rebellious terrorists he only adds to Virginia’s shame.

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