Sons of Confederate Veterans
Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is an American national heritage organization with members in all 50 states and in almost a dozen countries in Europe, Australia and South America. SCV membership is open to all1 male descendants age 12 and over (lineal and collateral) of soldiers or sailors who served the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.1 The SCV has a network of genealogists to assist applicants in tracing their ancestors' Confederate service.1 The SCV has programs at the local, state, and national levels for its members, such as marking and restoring Confederate graves and monuments, performing memorial ceremonies, conducting or supporting historical re-enactments, and holding regular meetings to discuss the military and political history, causes and consequences of the American Civil War.1 Local units of the SCV are called camps. The SCV publishes books and other media, including the magazine Confederate Veteran. It also provides scholarships to undergraduate students, supports medical research and conducts a national youth camp.1
Following the US Civil War, hundreds of thousands of veterans from both North and South joined veterans' organizations for mutual support and camaraderie. Union veterans established the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in 1866, while most of the Confederate veteran organizations merged into the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) in New Orleans in 1889.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans.4 The SCV was organized at Richmond, Virginia, in June 1896.4 At first the SCV took care of their literal fathers, but as the veterans died, the organization took on the task of maintaining their graves and monuments and keeping the public aware of the principles for which they had fought.
Reflecting the social and charitable nature of the organization, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tendered letters of commendation to the SCV and affiliates,56 as have members of the United States Congress.
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 tradition going back sixteen presidents of the U.S. President sending a wreath to the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.7
Some notable members of the SCV are or have been President Harry S. Truman, Hank Williams Jr., a country music star; Clint Eastwood, actor and director; R. Michael Givens, film director; and Patrick J. Buchanan, political commentator.
To mark the 150th anniversary of secession, the Georgia chapter of the SCV produced an advertisement in December 2010 presenting its version of the war. The History Channel refused to show the ad during their series on the Civil War, calling it "a partisan position on a controversial issue".8
The SCV has a four tier system of organization that consists of Departments, Divisions, Brigades and Camps. The basic unit of organization is the Camp. A Camp can be chartered by the application to the General Headquarters of a group of at least seven individuals meeting the eligibility requirements. Each Camp is assigned a name and number by the General Headquarters.9 Camps are autonomous within the limits of the SCV Constitution and Standing Orders and can write their own constitutions, elect (or cause to be appointed) their own officers and define their officers' duties. Camp officers must include four offices whose duties are defined in the SCV Constitution, and such others as they see fit. The required officers are: Camp Commander (president); Lieutenant Commander (vice-president); Adjutant (treasurer); and Chaplain. These officers are collectively known as the Executive Committee.10
When five regularly chartered Camps are formed in any state or territory of the Union, or region outside the United States, they may be chartered as a Division by the General Executive Council. All Camps within the Divisions jurisdiction must be a member of their Division. Divisions draw up their own constitutions and may elect (or cause to be appointed) their own officers, provided that a majority of the members of the Division Executive Committee shall be elected by the membership. These officers consist of: the Division Commander, Lt. Commander, Adjutant, Treasurer, Chaplain, Sergeant-at-Arms, Historian, Editor, Public Affairs Officer, Chief of Staff, Parliamentarian, and Color Sergeant.11 Each Division holds a convention at least every year.12 A Division may be subdivided into Brigades for administrative and representational purposes, and to foster the formation of Camps in their area. Those Divisions who wish to have Brigades may specify the numbers, boundaries, and method of electing officers, if any, in their constitutions. The heads of Brigades are known as Brigade Commanders.13
The SCV divides the United States geographically into three Departments which comprise all Divisions and Camps not attached to a Division within their jurisdiction. Camps formed outside the US are assigned Departments by the General Executive Committee. These Departments are named after Civil War-era Confederate Army formations:1415
- Army of Northern Virginia Department - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
- Army of Tennessee Department - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
- Army of Trans-Mississippi Department - Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Camps within the Department elect one Department Councilman to represent them on the General Executive Board. There is also a Department Commander who acts as an intermediary between the Camps and Divisions and General Headquarters, and can also call Department meetings as his pleasure, though the Department does not have any legislative power and cannot levy fees or dues.16
With the consent of the General Executive Committee any Camp or Division may incorporate itself under the laws of their jurisdiction as a non-profit corporation, provided that they state in their incorporation papers that they are a subordinate to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.17
The SCV has approximately 30,000 members and 650 local camps.18
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 members as one of the 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. Remember: It is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations.19
The SCV's most well-known activities are campaigns to keep parks commemorating the Confederacy from being renamed or rededicated to non-Confederate themes.20 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.21
Members are predominately but not exclusively white: notable black members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans include Nelson W. Winbush, a retired educator;2223 Major Willie Levi Casey Jr.,24 a U.S. Army officer; and H. K. Edgerton (associate member), a former president of an NAACP chapter.25
The SCV encourages members to buy state-issued specialty automobile license plates available to vehicle drivers in Georgia,26 North Carolina,27 Alabama,28 Maryland,29 Mississippi,30 Louisiana,31 South Carolina,32 Tennessee,33 and Virginia.34 In each case, the license plate features the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo, which incorporates the square Confederate Battle Flag.
Some residents of these states oppose putting the Confederate battle flag on state license plates, as the flag has widely been associated with racist causes. The North Carolina appellate court upheld the issuance of such license plates in Sons of Confererate 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."
In the 1990s, disagreements over the purpose of the organization emerged within the SCV. At issue was a 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".35
The more "activist" members of the SCV gained electoral support and were increasingly elected to its leadership positions.36 Members of the more traditionalist camp said that the League of the South had influenced their organization's new direction. One ally of the activist wing claimed that thousands of SCV members are also League of the South members.36 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". The SCV defines those as "any attack upon our Confederate Heritage, or the flags, monuments, and symbols which represent it".3637
In 2002, SCV dissidents formed a new organization, Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SSCV), composed of members and former members of SCV.38 According to SSCV co-founder Walter Charles Hilderman, "about 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.39 Boyd Cathey reported in the Southern Mercury that most of the dissension had ended by 2003, and the majority of the members of the SCV agreed with the heritage preservation activities espoused by the new SCV leadership.40
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 25 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.41
In February 2005, Cathey wrote in the Southern Mercury that most of the SCV's members had united against the "War on Southern Culture".40 By the SCV's summer 2005 convention, activists firmly controlled the council. They 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, sharing its headquarters since 1992 and co-publishing Southern Mercury. The MOSB's Commander General, Daniel W. Jones, citing "the continuing political turmoil within the SCV", moved the MOSB out of the shared quarters, ended the joint magazine publishing enterprise, and separated the two organizations' finances. In 2006, for the first time, the two organizations held separate conventions.3642
In 2002, some reporters and a group of SCV dissenters criticized the SCV for its views of Civil War history and the organization's association with neo-confederate individuals and organizations. Joe Conason, writing in Salon, and Jason Zengerle, writing in The New Republic, argued that the SCV had morphed from an apolitical organization dedicated to Civil War history to a politicized organization dedicated to preserving the "Lost Cause" version of the war and its era.43 The SCV says that "the preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South's decision to fight the Second American Revolution".4 During this phase, SCV's monthly publication Southern Mercury began publishing white supremacist propaganda.44
At the 2006, SCV Convention, the elections for the top positions of the organization were won mostly by individuals that the Southern Poverty Law Center characterized as being white supremacist.45 The Civil War historian James M. McPherson has associated the SCV with the neo-confederate movement and in 2007 described board members of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia as "undoubtedly neo-Confederate". He said that the SCV and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) have "white supremacy" as their "thinly veiled agendas".46 McPherson became considered a controversial figure among Confederate history groups; the UDC called for a boycott of his books and a letter-writing campaign against him. In response, McPherson said he did not mean to imply that all SCV or UDC chapters or everyone who belongs to them promotes a white supremacist agenda. He said that some of the people have a hidden agenda.47
Some SCV divisions have auxiliaries or support groups known as the Order of the Confederate Rose. The OCRs are primarily the ladies auxiliary to the SCV.4849 The organization was inspired by a conversation in January 1993, at a dinner in Birmingham, Alabama to commemorate Robert E. Lee's birthday. The speaker Charles Lunsford told Jane Latture that a women's group called the Order of Robert E. Lee had been organized in Georgia. Latture felt that many women in Alabama were concerned about "attacks on their confederate heritage", and suggested to several friends that they create their own order. On May 1, 1993, 11 wives and daughters of members of the SCV met during the state convention and organized the Order of the Confederate Rose. Latture suggested the name based on the TV movie The Rose and the Jackal, about Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a Confederate spy. The organization was formally chartered with 65 members on October 16, 1993.50
The OCR does not have a national organization but a loose confederation of independent state societies. To form a state society, the minimum number of chapters is two. The following states have OCR societies: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Chapters or contacts exist in Maryland, New York, Indiana and Oregon.51
Membership requirements vary among the states. Most do not have lineage or ancestor requirements, and welcome males as well as females. Usually the only membership requirement is recommendation by a current OCR or SCV member.525354 Some societies state that they do not compete with the UDC.5255 The South Carolina society is unique in allowing its chapters to determine membership requirements, other than stating that no members may be "known felons" and that all members should conduct themselves as "ladies".56
Some societies have specialized auxiliaries called the Order of the Black Rose or Society of the Black Rose. Yvonne Brown suggested these at the 1998 North Carolina OCR convention. Members of this subset take on the persona of Civil War mourners or widows; they dress in all-black period attire at SCV functions, memorials and grave dedications.57 Each such society is led by a "Keeper of the Rite" who is the contact person; she keeps a list of "widows" available for particular functions. Black Rose societies have been formed in Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Louisiana.585960
- Confederate States of America cemeteries
- Confederate States of America monuments and memorials
- H. L. Hunley JROTC Award
- Sons of the American Revolution
- Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
- Southern Cross of Honor
- What is the Sons of Confederate Veterans?
- Heritage Defense Fund at SCV.org
- Sullivent, Allen (2004). "Greetings". Forward the Colors (3). Archived from the original on 2 December 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- 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.
- Jones, Walter C (December 2010). "Ads Stir Controversy Over Origins of the Civil War". Savannah Morning News. p. A.9.
- The CONSTITUTION of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as amended July 23, 2010- Anderson, South Carolina p.9 Art 4 Sec. 1
- CONSTITUTION pp.9-11 Art. 4 Sec.2, 5-6
- CONSTITUTION pp.11-13, Art. 4 Sec. 6 Art. 5 Sec.1, 7
- CONSTITUTION p.12, Art.5 Sec.4
- CONSTITUTION pp.12, 13 Art.5 Sec.3, Art 5, Sec. 7.5
- CONSTITUTION p.15 Art.6 Sec.1
- Standing Orders Of the Sons of Confederate Veterans As Revised in General Convention July 23, 2010 Anderson, South Carolina p. 3 Sec.4
- CONSTITUTION pp.15-6 Art.6
- CONSTITUTION pp.11, 15; Art.4 Sec. 7; Art. 5 Sec. 12
- SCV History
- Dixie parks lose in CCC : Local News : Commercial Appeal
- canada.com | Article
- "In defense of his Confederate pride", St. Petersburg Times, October 2007, retrieved March 22, 2011
- "Black History Month: Black Confederate Heritage", Sons of Confederate Veterans
- Moyer, Laura. "Rebel re-enactor with a cause" The Free Lance-Star. June 30, 2002.
- "Black Southerner marching to D.C., seeks respect for Confederate flag", Sons of Confederate Veterans
- http://www.rtbrandon.com/blankplates/USA/nc/socv.jpgdead link
- http://www.mstc.state.ms.us/mvl/TAGS/Sons%20of%20Confederate%20Vet.JPGdead 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), February 5, 2003, vol 9 iss 26; Jon Elliston, "Between heritage and hate: The Sons of Confederate Veterans' internal battle rages on". Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC), August 18, 2004, vol 11 iss 3; "The battle over flag's meaning: Arguing over the Confederacy's essence", Daily Record/Sunday News, (York, PA) September 3, 2006.
- Cameron McWhirter. "Gray vs. Gray: Factions in Sons of Confederate Veterans exchange salvos in latest Civil War battleground", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 2, 2005; Deborah Fitts, "Sons Of Confederate Veterans In Leadership Dispute", Civil War News, April 2005
- Reporting a Heritage Violation
- SSCV Introduction
- The Times and Democrat, interview of Walter Charles Hilderman, October 25, 2004
- Cathey, Boyd D., "Principles and Priorities: The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Battle for Southern Culture", Southern Mercury, Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2005, pp. 30–31
- Cameron McWhirter. "Gray vs. Gray: Factions in Sons of Confederate Veterans exchange salvos in latest Civil War battleground", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 2, 2005; Deborah Fitts, "SCV Supports Leaders And Ousts Dissidents", Civil War News, June 2005
- Jones letter, 22 May 2006
- Zengerle, Jason (July 25, 2004). "Lost Cause", The New Republic; Conason, Joe (December 12, 2002), "Lott's involvement with the neo-Confederate movement, racists and extreme rightists goes way back", Salon, , ; McWhirter, Cameron (October 2, 2005). "Gray vs. Gray: Factions in Sons of Confederate Veterans exchange salvos in latest Civil War battleground", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; 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
- Blumenthal, Max. "Joe Wilson's Strange Friends". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- Southern Poverty Law Center. "SCV Once Again Elects Radical National Leaders". Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "George W. Bush and the Confederacy: Where Does He Stand?". Democracy Now!.
- "Princeton Educator Maligns UDC"
- "Cherish the ladies", The Confederate Veteran Nov.-Dec. 2004
- "Order of the Confederate Rose visits Falcon Rest"
- "How we got started", Order of the Confederate Rose
- "State Contacts", Order of the Confederate Rose
- History of the Order of Confederate Rose.....
- Missouri Society Order of Confederate Rose
- "SC Society OCR Bylaws", South Carolina Society Order of Confederate Rose, Inc. March 27, 2010.
- New women's group to help Robert E. Lee Camp
- Order of the Black Rose
- Society of the Black Rose
- Order of the Black Rose (Florida)
- "High Fives (Dec. 2-8)". Las Cruces Sun-News. December 1, 2010.
- "Sons of Confederate Veterans Politicians". The Political Graveyard
- Chapman, Lee Roy (September 1, 2011). "The Nightmare of Dreamland", This Land Press, Retrieved September 19, 2011
- Minutes, Mississippi Division, SCV, Convention
- Wilkie, Curtis (March 9, 1997). "Symbols of history - or racism The icons of the south are falling as modern sensibilities collide with those of the past". The Boston Globe. p. C.1.
- "DeLaughter Joins Sons of Confederate Veterans". Jackson Free Press (Jackson, MS)
- "Student's not just whistling Dixie – Hardwick, 15, wants to wear Confederate garb, but her school says no". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Associated Press. May 23, 2006. p. A.3.
- Seelye, Katharine Q. (December 5, 2010). "Confederate groups to mark anniversary of secession". Chattanooga Times Free Press. p. B.8.
- Guagenti, Toni (February 17, 1997). "Rebel Sons and lovers Confederate group defends Southern history, flag;". Washington Times. p. C.8.
- Sons of Confederate Veterans: Message From Lt. CIC Givens
- "A House Divided". Intelligence Report (105) (Southern Poverty Law Center). Spring 2002.
- Spencer, Jason (February 20, 2009). "Magistrate switch brings charge of cronyism". Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
- "Obituary: Joseph Guy "Joe" Rollins, Boulder, CO]". Boulder Daily Camera. November 5, 2008.
- "Flag supporters claim influence in state races". Herald (Rock Hill, SC). November 12, 2000. p. 8.B.
- Price, Gilbert (September 23–29, 2009). "Ohio delegation splits on Joe Wilson censure". Call & Post 93 (38) (Cleveland). p. 1A.
- Rose, Tracy. "The War Between the Sons" Mountain Express, Volume 9, Issue 26. February 5, 2003
- Messina, Fred (October 14, 1996). "Descendant tells of role of black Confederates". Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA). p. 6.b.s.
- 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