Whatever People’s Republic of Madison Commisar Paul Soglin did as a UW–Madison student besides protesting the Vietnam War, he apparently didn’t study U.S. history.
The American Presidency Project takes us back to Christmas Day 1868, when President Andrew Johnson issued this proclamation:
Whereas the President of the United States has heretofore set forth several proclamations offering amnesty and pardon to persons who had been or were concerned in the late rebellion against the lawful authority of the Government of the United States, which proclamations were severally issued on the 8th day of December, 1863, on the 26th day of March, 1864, on the 29th day of May, 1865, on the 7th day of September, 1867, and on the 4th day of July, in the present year; and
Whereas the authority of the Federal Government having been reestablished in all the States and Territories within the jurisdiction of the United States, it is believed that such prudential reservations and exceptions as at the dates of said several proclamations were deemed necessary and proper may now be wisely and justly relinquished, and that an universal amnesty and pardon for participation in said rebellion extended to all who have borne any part therein will tend to secure permanent peace, order, and prosperity throughout the land, and to renew and fully restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole people, and their respect for and attachment to the National Government, designed by its patriotic founders for the general good:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Andrew Johnson President of the United States, by virtue of the power and authority in me vested by the Constitution and in the name of the sovereign people of the United States, do hereby proclaim and declare unconditionally and without reservation, to all and to every person who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late insurrection or rebellion a full pardon and amnesty for the offense of treason against the United States or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws which have been made in pursuance thereof.
So when Comrade Soglin called the Civil War an “act of insurrection and treason,” he was factually incorrect. Andrew Johnson, a Democrat like Soglin, proclaimed so. Johnson was following the words of his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address less than a month before Lincoln’s assassination:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
The fact remains that however you feel about the Civil War (and you don’t see such things as Stars and Bars flags in Wisconsin except by redneck buttheads because Wisconsinites know the Confederacy was the losing side), removing monuments to Confederate soldiers or monuments to the seven presidents who owned slaves changes nothing about slavery, the Civil War, Democrat-created Jim Crow laws, or race relations in this seemingly permanently divided country of ours. A political party was created in Wisconsin to end slavery, and more than 91,000 Wisconsinites fought, and 12,000 Wisconsinites died, to end slavery.
My opponent on Wisconsin Public Radio Friday suggested that this state needs a dialogue among our highest elected officials about race. What he meant, of course, was that whites need to shut up and do whatever people like U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D–Milwaukee) demand. In such a “forum” there will be no slaveholders, nor slave-traders, nor slaves, nor Civil War soldiers since they’re all dead.