Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is an organization of male descendants of soldiers or sailors who served the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. SCV membership is open to all  male descendants age 12 and over (lineal and collateral) of soldiers who fought for the Confederate States of America. The SCV has a network of genealogists to assist applicants in tracing their ancestor's Confederate service. The SCV has programs at the local, state, and national levels for its members, such as marking Confederate soldiers' graves, historical re-enactments, scholarly publications, and regular meetings to discuss the military and political history of the American Civil War. Local units of the SCV are called "camps." The SCV also publishes books and other media, including the magazine Confederate Veteran. In recent years, the SCV has taken actions in furtherance of what it describes as "heritage defense" regarding references to the Confederacy and "the South" in U.S. history.
History[edit | edit source]
In 1889, the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) were formed in New Orleans in part as an outgrowth of the campaign to preserve what would become Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The UCV was formed along the order of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) which was established in 1866 for Union Veterans. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans. The SCV was organized at Richmond, Virginia, in June 1896.
On May 25, 2009, President Barack Obama garnered praise from SCV Commander Chuck McMichael, who stated, “He upheld the tradition of the office to which he was elected. I do intend to send him a thank you letter. This is the kind of thing that transcends politics.” This statement was in response to Obama's decision to continue the long standing tradition of the U.S. President sending a wreath to the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Mission and general information[edit | edit source]
The Sons of Confederate Veterans describes its mission as "preserving the history and legacy of Confederate heroes, so future generations can understand the motives that animated the Southern Cause. Stephen D. Lee's 1906 charge to the SCV is widely cited by the organization as one of its organizing principles:
"To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will submit the vindication of the cause for which we fought; To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, and the perpetuation of those principles he loved and which made him glorious and which you also cherish."
The SCV's most well-known activities involve the organization's campaigns to keep parks commemorating the Confederacy from being renamed or rededicated to non-Confederate themes. The organization uses Confederate parks for rallies. The SCV has protested against Ku Klux Klan rallies in the same parks, arguing that the KKK should not be identified with the Confederacy.
License plates[edit | edit source]
In Georgia, North Carolina  Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia  vehicle owners can request a license plate from the state featuring the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo, which incorporates the square Confederate Battle Flag.
There was some opposition in a number of these states to putting the Confederate battle flag on state license plates, given the widespread association of the flag with racist causes. The North Carolina appellate court upheld the issuance of such license plates in SONS OF CONFEDERATE v. DMV (1998) and noted: "We are aware of the sensitivity of many of our citizens to the display of the Confederate flag. Whether the display of the Confederate flag on state-issued license plates represents sound public policy is not an issue presented to this Court in this case. That is an issue for our General Assembly."
Factionalization[edit | edit source]
In the 1990s, disagreements over the purpose of the organization emerged within the SCV. At issue was an alleged shift in the SCV’s mission from "maintaining gravestones, erecting monuments and studying Civil War history" to more issue-centric concerns. The SCV's new concerns included "fight[ing] for the right to display Confederate symbols everywhere from schools to statehouses."
Increasingly, the more 'activist' members of the SCV gained electoral support and were elected to leadership positions in the organization. Members of the more traditionalist camp alleged that influence of the League of the South had an impact on the new direction the SCV has taken. One ally of the activist wing claimed that thousands of SCV members are also League of the South members. News reports state that the activists advocate "picketing, aggressive lobbying, issue campaigning and lawsuits" in favor of what they term "heritage defense" to prevent "heritage violations," which the organization defines as "[a]ny attack upon our Confederate Heritage, or the flags, monuments, and symbols which represent it."
In 2002, SCV dissidents formed a new organization: Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SSCV), composed of members and former members of SCV.. According to SSCV co-Founder Walter Charles Hilderman, "[a]bout a hundred or so individuals and groups identified themselves on the [SSCV] Web site as supporting Save the SCV" not long after the group was founded, though the current membership numbers for the SSCV are not available. The Southern Mercury responded by asserting that most of the dissension had come to an end by 2003 and that the majority of the members of the SCV were agreeing with the heritage preservation activities espoused by the new SCV leadership.
In early 2005, the SCV council sued to expel SCV president Dennis Sweeney from office. The court initially granted the council temporary control of the organization, but its final decision returned power to Sweeney. Thirteen of the twenty five council members were expelled from the council shortly after Sweeney regained control. Nine of the council members expelled were former "Commanders-in-Chief" of the SCV, a status that heretofore had come with a life membership on the council.
By the SCV's summer 2005 convention, the activist wing was firmly in control of the council, and severed much of the SCV's long-standing relationship with the more traditionalist Military Order of the Stars and Bars (MOSB). MOSB, founded in 1938, had been closely involved with the SCV. MOSB had shared its headquarters with the SCV since 1992 and co-published Southern Mercury with the SCV. The MOSB's Commander General, Daniel W. Jones, citing "the continuing political turmoil within the SCV," moved the MOSB out of the shared headquarters, ended the joint magazine publishing enterprise, and separated the two organizations' finances. In 2006, for the first time the two organizations held separate conventions. The Southern Mercury declares that most of the SCV's members are now united in the fight against the "War on Southern Culture."
Criticism[edit | edit source]
In 2002, the SCV was criticized in the media and by a group of SCV dissenters for the SCV's views of Civil War history and the organization's alleged association with neo-confederate individuals and organizations. Joe Conason, writing in Salon, and Jason Zengerle, writing in The New Republic, have argued that the SCV has morphed from an apolitical organization dedicated to Civil War history to a politicized organization dedicated to preserving the "Lost Cause" version of the history of the Civil War and the 1861-1865 era. The SCV states that "[t]he preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South's decision to fight the Second American Revolution".
Civil War historian James M. McPherson has associated the SCV with the neo-confederate movement and described board members of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia as "undoubtedly neo-Confederate." He further said that the SCV and their equivalent for female descendants, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), have "white supremacy" as their "thinly veiled agendas."  The incident made McPherson a controversial figure among Confederate history groups and prompted a UDC boycott call and letter-writing campaign against him. In response to this boycott, McPherson stated that he did not mean to imply that all SCV or UDC chapters or anyone who belongs to them promote a white supremacist agenda. He further stated that some of these people have a hidden agenda.
Notable members[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Confederate States of America memorials and cemeteries
- Southern Cross of Honor
- United Daughters of the Confederacy
- Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
- Sons of the American Revolution
- Military Order of the Stars and Bars
- McGavock Confederate Cemetery
References[edit | edit source]
- What is the Sons of Confederate Veterans?
- http://www.scv.org/heritageDefenseFund.php; http://www.scv.org/pdf/heritagecolumn_issue3_2004.pdf
- Sons of Confederate Veterans
- Clinton, Bill. "Letter of June 21, 1994, from Bill Clinton." UDC Magazine, Sept. 1994: p. 9.
- Bush, George W. "Letter of Commendation." Confederate Veteran, June, 1996: p.6.
- SCV History
- Dixie parks lose in CCC : Local News : Commercial Appeal
- canada.com | Article
- State: In defense of his Confederate pride
- http://www.rtbrandon.com/blankplates/USA/nc/socv.jpg[dead link]
- http://www.mstc.state.ms.us/mvl/TAGS/Sons%20of%20Confederate%20Vet.JPG[dead link]
- Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles
- South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
- Dan Gearino, "A Thin Gray Line, The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), August 28, 2002; Tracy Rose, “The War Between the Sons: Members fight for control of Confederate group.” Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC), Feb 5, 2003 / vol 9 iss 26, http://www.mountainx.com/news/2003/0205sons.php; Jon Elliston, “Between heritage and hate: The Sons of Confederate Veterans' internal battle rages on.” Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC), Aug 18, 2004 / vol 11 iss 3, http://www.mountainx.com/news/2004/0818scv.php; “The battle over flag's meaning: Arguing over the Confederacy's essence,” Daily Record/Sunday News, (York, PA) Sept. 3, 2006, http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:R3lAcU4qqukJ:www.ydr.com/newsfull/ci_4281822+%22sons+of+confederate+veterans%22+factions&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=11
- Cameron McWhirter. "Gray vs. Gray: Factions in Sons of Confederate Veterans exchange salvos in latest Civil War battleground," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunday, October 2, 2005; Deborah Fitts, "Sons Of Confederate Veterans In Leadership Dispute," Civil War News, April 2005 Cite error: Invalid
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- Reporting a Heritage Violation
- SSCV Introduction
- The Times and Democrat, interview of Walter Charles Hilderman, 25 Oct. 2004
- Cathey, Dr. Boyd D., "Principles and Priorities: The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Battle for Southern Culture," Southern Mercury, Vol.3, No.1, pp. 30-31
- Jones letter, 22 May 2006
- Jason Zengerle, "THE CONFEDERACY'S NEW FACE. Lost Cause, The New Republic, 07.25.04 , http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040802&s=zengerle080204; Joe Conason, "Lott's involvement with the neo-Confederate movement, racists and extreme rightists goes way back," Salon Maazine, December 12, 2002, http://dir.salon.com/story/politics/conason/2002/12/12/lott/print.html; Cameron McWhirter. "Gray vs. Gray: Factions in Sons of Confederate Veterans exchange salvos in latest Civil War battleground," Atlanta Constitution Journal, Sunday, October 2, 2005; Jonathan Leib and Gerald Webster, "THE CROSS THEY BEAR: WHITENESS, RELIGION, AND THE CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH," paper presented at “Flying the Flag: Critical Perspectives on Symbolism and Identity,” University of Oslo, November 2005, http://www.culcom.uio.no/aktivitet/flagg-konferanse/graphics/leib%20and%20webster%20university%20of%20oslo%20conference.pdf#search=%22scv%20%22neo-confederate%22%22
- Democracy Now! | George W. Bush and the Confederacy: Where Does He Stand?
- Princeton Educator Maligns UDC
- "Sons of Confederate Veterans Politicians". The Political Graveyard
- Minutes, Mississippi Division, SCV, Convention
- Moyer, Laura. "Rebel re-enactor with a cause" The Free Lance-Star. June 30, 2002.
- Rose, Tracy."The War Between the Sons" Mountain Express, Volume 9, Issue 26. February 5, 2003
[edit | edit source]
- Official website
- United Daughters of the Confederacy/Sons of Confederate Veterans Collection (MUM00452) owned by the University of Mississippi.
- The Political Graveyard website list of SCV members