Confederacy Creed: Goodbye, soon please

Published 10:36 am Monday, January 14, 2019


It’s never too late to do the right thing. But it sure can take a long time.

The Texas State Preservation Board did the right thing Friday, voting unanimously to remove the “Children of the Confederacy Creed” from a wall of the State Capitol, where for more than 59 years it has suggested an errant view of the state’s history and the principal cause of Texas’ secession from the United States.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The plaque, erected in 1959, said the Civil War was not a rebellion and that slavery was not the war’s principal cause. Any historian worth a listen will tell you differently.

That’s why Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Citizen Board member Alethea Swann Bugg and State Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano voted unanimously to take the plaque down.

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, had been seeking the plaque’s removal since August 2017, shortly after a woman was killed in a standoff between competing sides over Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In an issued statement, Johnson said Friday he was glad the plaque was coming down but added correctly, “The plaque should never have been put up by the Legislature in the first place, and it shouldn’t have taken 60 years to remove it. And that’s on Republicans and Democrats alike, to be perfectly honest.”

The plaque sacrificed historical accuracy in favor of a worn, suspect “Lost Cause” ideology. That’s not to demean Texans who waged the war faithfully or sacrificed their lives bravely in its cause. It is to say that history should reflect a quest for truth, which was not in the words of the plaque.

Here’s something to ponder: How many schoolchildren have passed that plaque and thought they were learning their state’s history when they read it? There have been many over the past six decades. Surely that has led to grave misunderstandings.

Here’s something else to consider about whether slavery was Texas’ principal cause for secession. It comes from the state’s secession convention under its declaration of causes: “She was received (into the Union) as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery … which her people intended should exist in all future time.”

Not every monument to the Civil War or to Confederate Texas is necessarily inaccurate or without value. But the Legislature would do well to review its other monuments at the Capitol with the intent to teach what is proven to be true, not what is merely wished to be true. That’s a burden on the state when it displays any monuments.

It might do well, too, to ask why the Capitol — every Texan’s Capitol — is the right place for such monuments.