Talk:Flags of the Confederate States of America

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First flag: the "Stars and Bars"[edit]

"It was designed by German/Prussian artist Nicola Marschall in Marion, Alabama, and resembled the flag of the Austrian Empire (later Austria-Hungary, now the Republic of Austria), with which Marschall would have been familiar.[14][15]"

This can't, I believe, be true as the flag of the Austrian Empire was black and yellow. I'm not editing this as I don't know how to refute a link. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 151.237.234.157 (talk) 09:56, 31 August 2016 (UTC)

History of how people felt about the flag[edit]

Could this article have a history of how people felt about the flag? For instance, it was a lot different 50+ years ago. As an example, in The Rifleman episode titled "The Prisoner", March 14, 1961 Lucas McCain says of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia: "This flag stands for the bravery of all the men who fought and died under it; the men who fought against it. All to prove in the end that victor and loser are one and the same - free men in a free country." Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 20:52, 20 December 2016 (UTC)

That would need to be contextualized with the fact that, in the 1960s, it was mostly associated with white supremacy, segregation, and Confederate revisionism. --TimothyDexter (talk) 01:13, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Whitewashing the Flag's Racist History[edit]

Since Topcat777 did not take kindly to my correction of an edit he had made in December without explanation, while lecturing me for doing the same, I may as well settle this for the record. All the sources for Beauregard's creating the Stainless Banner in Topcat777's edit originate with a letter where he said, "Why change our battle flag, consecrated by the best blood of our country on so many battle fields? A good design for the national flag would be the present battle flag as a Union Jack, and the rest all white or all blue." Here's the problem. The letter was dated April 24th, 1863.

Meanwhile, William Tappan Thompson published an editorial that said, "Our idea is simply to combine the present battle-flag with a pure white standard sheet; our Southern Cross, blue on a red field, to take the place on the white flag that is occupied by the blue union in the old United States flag, or the St. George’s cross in the British flag. As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause." This editorial was dated April 23rd, 1863. https://books.google.com/books?id=vuRCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA415#v=onepage&q&f=false

So, unless we're suggesting Thompson time-traveled forward, stole Beauregard's idea, and then traveled back to lay claim to the design of the Stainless Banner, I see no reason to suggest Beauregard was the original designer of the Stainless Banner and not Thompson. According to "Our Flag: Origin and Progress of the Flag of the United States of America, with an Introductory Account of the Symbols, Standards, Banners and Flags of Ancient and Modern Nations" by George Henry Preble, Thompson had access to Confederate flag committee meetings and did have an assistant named William Ross Postell make a colored drawing of the flag to demonstrate the design's beauty to the Confederate Congress. On May 4th, Thompson wrote the following tutorial outright calling it his design:

"We are pleased to learn by our dispatch from Richmond that congress has had the good taste to adopt for the flag of the confederacy, the battle flag on a plain white field in lieu of the blue and white bars proposed by the senate. The flag as adopted is precisely the same as that suggested by us a short sime since, and is, in our opinion, much more beautiful and appropriate than either the red and white bars or the white field and blue bar as first adopted by the senate. As a national emblem it is significant of our higher cause the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals." https://books.google.com/books?id=vuRCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA418#v=onepage&q&f=false

EricSpokane (talk) 06:14, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

ES: "All the sources for Beauregard's creating the Stainless Banner in Topcat777's edit originate with a letter....The letter was dated April 24th, 1863."
Yes, the Beauregard letter was to a member of the Confederate Congress. Do you have any communication from Thompson to the Confederate Congress?
ES: "Meanwhile, William Tappan Thompson published an editorial....dated April 23rd, 1863."
What got to Richmond faster? A newspaper published in Savannah or a letter written from Charleston? Or are you claiming that Beauregard got his idea ("white or blue" field) from Thompson ("white field")?
ES: "Thompson had access to Confederate flag committee meetings"
Source? (Wasn't he in Savannah publishing a newspaper?) In Thompson's letter to Preble, he mis-identified the chairman of the flag committee as Hartridge (Our Flag: Origin and Progress of the Flag of the United States-see p. 415). The flag and seal committee was composed of Boteler, Smith and Gray from the House and Semmes, Orr and Preston (later replaced by Wigfall) from the Senate.
Who during the war gave Thompson credit for designing the flag (other than Thompson)?
What modern day historian gives Thompson credit for designing the flag?
John Coski (Museum of the Confederacy) and Robert Bonner (Professor of History, Dartmouth) have written several books and articles on the history of the various Confederate flags. Both are aware of Mr. Thompson, but neither give him credit for designing the Second National flag. Why should Wikipedia?
-Topcat777 18:53, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
First of all, as a library director of the Museum of the Confederacy, I don't imagine John Coski would put that detail in his book. Actually, on Page 18 of Coski's book, when he brings up Thompson's editorial, he writes, "This was a rare, perhaps unique, overt wartime linkage of the flag to white supremacy." Essentially, he skipped around the issue by painting the link between the Confederacy and white supremacy as an anomaly. I don't want to paint an overly broad brush over historians such as Robert Bonner and John Coski that happen to be from the South and accuse them of furthering some Dunning School-esque perspective, but even if not actively trying to paint Confederate history as a clean affair, the omission of certain details does suggest to me a subtle interest in keeping the flag's history clean, much like someone with a username such as Border Ruffian. Speaking of which, who am I speaking to? The response I am replying to initially had BorderRuffian in the signature and that has now been changed to Topcat777 while I was typing up my response. Or are Topcat777 and BorderRuffian one and the same person?
Second of all, it's only 110 miles between Savannah and Charleston. Even in the 1860s, it wasn't a far distance, and there was a railway between Charleston and Savannah that would have taken a prompt train two hours or up to four hours, at most, to travel. It is absolutely plausible for Thompson's editorial or word of it to have traveled quite far in the course of a few hours, let alone over one whole day by the time Beauregard wrote his letter. I haven't done much looking into rail travel from Savannah to Richmond in the 1860s and Page 415 of Preble's book says Thompson's editorial was "republished with approval by the Richmond papers" but doesn't give exact dates apart from "about the time the vote was taken in the house on the flag, but after the senate had adopted a white flag with a broad blue bar in its centre." On Page 417, Preble says Thompson received a dispatch on the vote - dang, those dispatches travel fast, don't they? - saying the blue stripe was adopted, and he published an editorial on April 28th objecting to this. Now, this is where we get into the realm of conjecture. All this back-and-forth in the course of less than five days. Perhaps Beauregard's suggestion was the one the Confederate Congress attended to. Perhaps the Congress heeded Thompson's criticism of the blue stripe and went with his suggestion anyway. Either way, Thompson was not an insignificant part of the flag-designing process. Add Beauregard in, if you'd like, but not by excluding Thompson.
Third, Thompson wasn't the one who identified Hartridge as the chairman of the flag committee. Read Page 415 again. That was the author of the book, George Henry Preble, making that identification. Do you have a source for the key people in the flag committee as of 1863? Perhaps Preble made an editorial error that never got corrected. I would cite historians who have made the claim that Thompson designed the Confederate flag, but all their sources go directly back to Preble's book, so I fail to see the point you're making with "modern historians." And if you want to get technical, no one during the war got credit for designing the Stainless Banner. Does the Confederate Congress cite either Beauregard or Thompson as the official designers?
EricSpokane (talk) 21:02, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
ES: "Thompson wasn't the one who identified Hartridge as the chairman of the flag committee. Read Page 415 again. That was the author of the book, George Henry Preble, making that identification."
There's a note at the end of that paragraph which refers to Thompson's letter to Preble (see note at bottom of page). That's where he got his information.
Note 1: Letter Wm. T. Thompson to G. H. P.
https://books.google.com/books?id=vuRCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA415#v=onepage&q=%22julian%20hartridge%22&f=false
ES: "Do you have a source for the key people in the flag committee as of 1863?"
Journal of the Confederate Congress. They were appointed in 1862 and still in that position in 1863.
House:
"Committee on Flag and Seal.--Messrs. Boteler, of Virginia; W. R. Smith, of Alabama, and Gray, of Texas."
https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llcc&fileName=005/llcc005.db&recNum=23&itemLink=D?hlaw:34:./temp/~ammem_KYWQ::%230050024&linkText=1
Senate:
"Mr. Semmes, Mr. Preston, and Mr. Orr"
https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llcc&fileName=002/llcc002.db&recNum=20&itemLink=D?hlaw:35:./temp/~ammem_KYWQ::%230020021&linkText=1
One change:
"On motion by Mr. Semmes,
Ordered, That the President pro tempore appoint a member to fill the vacancy in the Committee on Flag and Seal occasioned by the death of the Hon. William Ballard Preston; and Mr. Wigfall was appointed."
https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llcc&fileName=003/llcc003.db&recNum=22&itemLink=D?hlaw:70:./temp/~ammem_KYWQ::%230030023&linkText=1
ES: "Does the Confederate Congress cite either Beauregard or Thompson as the official designers?"
They don't cite anyone as the official designer.
The Richmond correspondent of the Charleston Mercury (edition of May 5, 1863) and William Parker Snow (author of "Southern Generals" published in 1865) give an unofficial credit to Beauregard.
ES: "If you want to get technical, no one during the war got credit for designing the Stainless Banner."
Then why do you insist on Thompson?
-Topcat777 00:01, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
Because Thompson published an editorial championing that exact design on April 23rd, over a full day before Beauregard wrote a letter championing a coincidentally similar design idea, and it's not at all implausible that his suggestions made it to Savannah where Beauregard may have liked the idea, or to Richmond where Congress may have liked the idea, or that his opposition to the blue stripe (particularly with his editorials being circulated in Richmond at that time) may have influenced the Congress' decision on the final design.
That being said, since we'll be going in circles around matters of conjecture due to the fact no one was given official credit, I've offered a different edit as a compromise on the matter where credit for either man is offered up as possibilities without conclusion either way.
EricSpokane (talk) 07:05, 9 February 2017 (UTC)

Refocus[edit]

I feel like you both are on the wrong tack here. What have historians and/or vexillologists from the 21st century published about the origins of the flag? The position of our article should reflect the relative weight of their opinions. Synthesizing a position from 150 year old primary and secondary sources isn't our job here, and attempting to do so has made that section a god-awful mess. VQuakr (talk) 22:36, 9 February 2017 (UTC)

The issue with the approach of utilizing 21st-century historians is that they also use primary sources like Beauregard's letter and Thompson's editorials and will disregard certain primary sources, depending on their biases. James Loewen is an anti-racist historian, so he has a bias toward Thompson being the creator of the Stainless Banner and makes no mention of Beauregard's letter. Likewise, John Coski is a white Southerner and director of the Museum of the Confederacy, so his dancing around the issue of Thompson's editorials in favor of Beauregard's letter also suggests a bias. Since the evidence was inconclusive either way, I figured the best course would be to acknowledge both possibilities. That being said, I will agree that there are simply too many citations for that section. I'd copied an older edit when I restored Thompson's contribution. I also see a couple citations are repeated more than once. I'm working on trimming those down.
EricSpokane (talk) 05:15, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

References[edit]