William Tappan Thompson
William Tappan Thompson
William Tappan Thompson
August 31, 1812
|Died||March 24, 1882 (aged 69)|
|Residence||Savannah, Georgia, U.S.|
|Nationality||American (1812–1861, 1865–1882)|
|Organization||Savannah Daily Morning News|
William Tappan Thompson (August 31, 1812 – March 24, 1882) was an American writer who promoted the Confederacy's second national flag as "The White Man's Flag". He co-founded the Savannah Morning News in the 1850s, known then as the Daily Morning News. One of his most notable works was Major Jones's Courtship, an epistolary novel. Thompson's best-known fictional character was Major Joseph Jones.
Originally from Ohio, Thompson moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he co-founded the Daily Morning News and became an editor.
Upon moving to Savannah, in the 1850s, he cofounded the Savannah Morning News. Thompson left the paper in 1867 to travel in Europe. In 1868, he returned, and the paper was renamed Savannah Daily Morning News for one edition and was changed to the current name the following day.
Thompson supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War. In 1863, as the editor of the Morning News, he discussed a variant of a design that would ultimately become the Confederacy's second national flag, which would become known as the "Stainless Banner" or the "Jackson Flag" (for its first use as the flag that draped the coffin of Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.)
In a series of editorials, Thompson wrote why he felt the design should be chosen to represent the Confederacy as "The White Man's 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.
After the editorial was published, the editor of the Savannah Morning News received a dispatch announcing the senate had adopted the flag Thompson suggested, with certain revisions. Thompson states his objections to the additions on the April 28.
While we consider the flag which has been adopted by the senate as a very decided improvement of the old United States flag, we still think the battle flag on a pure white field would be more appropriate and handsome.
Such a flag would be a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and sustained by the brave hearts and strong arms of the south, it would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN'S FLAG.
On May 4, 1863, Thompson pens his approval of the changes to the flag design that the Confederate Congress utilized which were akin to those he and his supporters suggested:
We are pleased to learn by 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 time 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.
Thompson further explains the significance:
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.
The May 2, 1863 Richmond Whig newspaper printed quotes from Confederate Representatives as to what the colors and design of the newly-adopted flag represented.
As to the color, that should also have meaning. If we adopted blue, it would be said that our affairs looked blue. The white in the flag signified purity and truth - Confederate Congressman Alexander Boteler
Late life and death
- Georgia in the American Civil War
- Literature of Georgia (U.S. state)
- Flags of the Confederate States of America
- Shippey, Herbert, (July 18, 2002). "William T. Thompson". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- Loewen, James W.; Sebesta, Edward H. (2010). The Confederate and Neo Confederate Reader: The Great Truth about the 'Lost Cause'. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 13, 194–197. ISBN 978-1-60473-219-1. OCLC 746462600. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
The second, often called 'the Stainless Banner,' included the battle flag in its upper corner but was otherwise pure white. The Georgia editor shows this to be no accident: '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.'
- Preble, George Henry (1872). Our Flag: Origin and Progress of the Flag of the United States of America. Albany, New York: Joel Munsell. pp. 416–418. OCLC 423588342. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
- Preble, George Henry (1880). History of the Flags of the United States of America: Second Revised Edition. Boston: A. Williams and Company. pp. 523–525. OCLC 645323981. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
- Thompson, William T. (April 23, 1863). Daily Morning News. Savannah, Georgia. Missing or empty
- Thompson, William T. (April 28, 1863). Daily Morning News. Savannah, Georgia. Missing or empty
- Thompson, William T. (May 4, 1863). Daily Morning News. Savannah, Georgia. Missing or empty
- Coski, John M. (May 13, 2013). "The Birth of the 'Stainless Banner'". The New York Times. New York: The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on January 27, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
A handful of contemporaries linked the new flag design to the "peculiar institution" that was at the heart of the South's economy, social system and polity: slavery. Bagby characterized the flag motif as the "Southern Cross" – the constellation, not a religious symbol – and hailed it for pointing 'the destiny of the Southern master and his African slave' southward to 'the banks of the Amazon,' a reference to the desire among many Southerners to expand Confederate territory into Latin America. In contrast, the editor of the Savannah, Ga., Morning News focused on the white field on which the Southern Cross was emblazoned. "As a people, we are fighting to maintain the heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored races. A White Flag would be thus emblematical of our cause." He dubbed the new flag "the White Man's Flag," a sobriquet that never gained traction.
- "Richmond Whig Newspaper." (May 2, 1863) Richmond, Virginia
- "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875". Journal of the Confederate Congress, Volume 5, page 22. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
- "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875". Journal of the Confederate Congress, Volume 5, page 477. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
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William Tappan Thompson
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- William T. Thompson at the New Georgia Encyclopedia