William Tappan Thompson

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William Tappan Thompson
William Tappan Thompson (1).jpg
Born William Tappan Thompson
(1812-08-31)August 31, 1812
Ravenna, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 24, 1882(1882-03-24) (aged 69)
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Residence Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Nationality American (1812–1861)
Confederate (1861–1865)
Occupation Writer, editor
Organization Savannah Daily Morning News
Political party Democratic[1][2]

William Tappan Thompson (August 31, 1812 – March 24, 1882) was an American writer who 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.[1]

Originally from Ohio, Thompson moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he co-founded the Daily Morning News and became an editor.

Early life and education[edit]

Thompson was born on August 31, 1812, in Ravenna, Ohio.


The second national flag of the Confederacy, a design which Thompson promoted in his newspaper. [3][4][5][6][7][2]

Upon moving to Savannah, Georgia, in the 1850s, he co-founded 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, then was changed to the current name the following day.[1]

Thompson supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War.[1] In 1863, as the editor of the Morning News he discussed a variant of a design that would ultimately become, by no influence from himself, 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. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.) [3][4][5][6][7][2][8]

In a series of editorials, Thompson wrote why he felt the design should be chosen to represent the Confederacy:

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.[5]… Such a flag…would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN'S FLAG [sic].[6]

In May 1863, a few days after a design similar to his was chosen by the Confederate Congress, Thompson again stated his opinion regarding the decision:

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.[7][9]

Although he may have made some suggestions for a design, there is no evidence that Thompson was involved in the flag design process currently taking place in Richmond. There are no notes regarding his connection with the deliberations taking place nor is there any reference to his contributions having any bearing on the decision. However, the May 2nd, 1863 Richmond Whig Newspaper printed quotes from the Confederate Congressmen as to what the colors and design of the newly adopted National Confederate Flag represent.

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 [10]

Then we would have the Battle Flag of glorious memories, and a white field signifying purity, truth, and freedom. - Confederate Congressman Peter W. Gray [11]

Both Boteler and Gray were members of the House of Representatives Flag and Seal Committee.[12]

Late life and death[edit]

After the Civil War ended, Thompson, who was a fervent supporter of the Democrats, opposed the Republican Party's efforts for over taxation of the southern states.[1][2] He died on March 24, 1882 in Savannah, Georgia.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Shippey, Herbert (July 18, 2002). "William T. Thompson". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. 
  2. ^ a b c d 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.' 
  3. ^ a b Preble, George Henry (1872). Our Flag: Origin and Progress of the Flag of the United States of America. Albany, New York: Joel Munsell. pp. 414–417. OCLC 423588342. Retrieved March 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b 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. 
  5. ^ a b c Thompson, William T. (April 23, 1863). "Daily Morning News". Savannah, Georgia. 
  6. ^ a b c Thompson, William T. (April 28, 1863). "Daily Morning News". Savannah, Georgia. 
  7. ^ a b c Thompson, William T. (May 4, 1863). "Daily Morning News". Savannah, Georgia. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Preble, George Henry (1872). 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. Albany: Joel Munsell. p. 535. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Richmond Whig Newspaper." (May 2, 1863) Richmond, Virginia
  11. ^ "Richmond Whig Newspaper." (May 2, 1863) Richmond, Virginia
  12. ^ Journal of the Confederate Congress, Volume 5, page 22.[1]

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