Local View: Protesters' sentiments not universally held

Arthur Germaine Jr. sits Monday in the front yard of his Duluth home where he often hangs a Confederate flag. (Clint Austin /

On Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's 199th birthday, protesters were drawn to my home on Duluth’s Glenwood Street (“Crowd gathers to protest Lakeside man's Confederate flag,” July 14). The protesters’ sentiments are not universally held, however.

Charles Dickens, considered by a few to have a modicum of intellectual acuity, expressed to readers of his monthly magazine in 1862 that, “The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States.” In other words, slavery was an issue, not the objective.

Lord Acton, the “magistrate of history,” in a letter in 1866 to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, wrote, “I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo."

Also in 1866, Gen. Lee wrote, “Whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it. … State papers of Washington and Jefferson, … denouncing consolidation and centralization of power, as tending to the subversion of State Governments, and to despotism."

Arthur Germaine Jr. of Duluth was the target of approximately 100 protesters on July 13 for flying a Confederate flag.

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