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The Rebel Flag-The True History Lesson

Updated on July 13, 2015

Dispelling the False Claims

Passed in 1850, The Fugitive Slave Act made it a Federal crime for aiding or hiding escaped slaves. The 1850's saw Southerners in the United States Senate demanding that the Federal government target states where slavery was not allowed and urging them to enforce this law. Refusing to allow the Southern states to dictate "their laws" to them, states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, continued to assist and protect run away slaves, so these Southerners petitioned for a marshal law on these States that refused to comply; to attempt to enforce their law. As a result, the North began to fight against this imposed violation of their rights, and the South began to secede or separate from the North, beginning the Civil War. The Civil War was about slavery. Slaves were the reason the South wanted to create a new country. Calling themselves the Confederate States of America. When the war ended, the country was still divided and torn.

The Rebel Flag; now known as the Confederate Flag was was REJECTED as the national flag for the Confederacy in 1861. It was instead adopted as a BATTLE flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under their general, General Lee. The Rebel Flag NEVER historically represented the Confederate Army as a country and it was never officially recognized as one of the national flags. Curiously, it is now commonly referred to as "the Confederate Flag" and has become a widely recognized symbol of the South.

The Confederate South clearly produced a flag (the rebel flag was in the corner of a white flag) that would shout out white supremacy.There were three flags that were accepted throughout the Civil War era. The creator of the 2nd flag and other Confederates proclaimed:

"As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism."

A past, Confederate general named Nathan Bedford Forest also began to use the Confederate BATTLE Flag as the rallying banner for his secret society called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; or the KKK. Wearing white, hooded robes, they would hide their faces and target freed slaves who they felt were acting as if they had too many rights. They would beat, hang and kill them, while burning a cross nearby.

The Symbolism of the Rebel Flag

The Confederates actually had 3 different flags (as mentioned above) and the "Rebel" Flag was in the corner of the 2nd and 3rd Confederate Flag.

It is important to actually look at history through literature that depicts the truth. Unfortunately, so many people are reading articles written through emotion and a sense of righteous indignation that the public can be easily misguided by arguments that hold no historical validity.

The "rebel" flag that is being shown was actually a battle flag. The 13 stars WERE NOT representative of the original 13 colonies (as some people are claiming), rather the 13 Confederate States. Originally, it had 11 stars and the 12th and 13th were placed to represent secessionist factions of Kentucky and Missouri. The X was not created because the South wanted to cross out their ties with the North, it was placed diagonally instead of vertically because it avoided the religious objection about the cross (from the Jews and many Protestant sects), and because it did not stand out so conspicuously as if the cross had been placed upright . The colors resembled the USA flag because the South wanted to be called the Confederate States of America.

1st Flag of the Confederacy

This was the first national flag of the Confederate States of America.

It was called "The Stars and Bars" and it was adopted March 4, 1861 with first 7 stars and then November 28, 1861 with the final 13 stars.

It had horizontal stripes of equal height, alternating red and white, with a blue quadrilateral in the canton, inside the canton are white five-pointed stars of equal size, arranged in a circle and pointing outward.

The flag was designed by Nicola Marschall.

2nd Flag of the Confederacy

This was the second national flag of the Confederate States of America.

It was called "The Stainless Banner" and was adopted May 1, 1863.

It had a white rectangle two times as wide as it is tall, a red quadrilateral in the canton, inside the canton is a blue saltire with white outlining, with thirteen white five-pointed stars of equal size inside the saltire.

It was designed by William T. Thompson.

3rd Flag of the Confederacy

This was the third national flag of the Confederate States of America.

It was called "The Blood-Stained Banner" and was adopted March 4, 1865.

It boasted a white rectangle, three to two times as wide as it is tall a red vertical stipe on the far right of the rectangle, a red quadrilateral in the canton, inside the canton is a blue saltire with white outlining, with thirteen white five-pointed stars of equal size inside the saltire.

It was designed by Arthur L. Rogers


The purpose of adding a field of white to both the 2nd and 3rd flags was stated by William T. Thompson:

"As a people we are fighting maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause."

Clearly, the flag represented hatred toward blacks and promoted the purpose of the war.

For those that hang on to the belief that the Rebel Flag was the Confederate Flag, you are incorrect. It was a battle flag that later grew in popularity among the South. It was a symbol of the fight to secede and the fight to continue slavery. To say that the Rebel Flag represents Southern Heritage, is also incorrect. Heritage by definition according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is:

1: property that descends to an heir

2: something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : legacy, inheritance b : tradition

3: something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth : birthright

A human is not property or an inheritance. Slavery was not a birthright. Slavery was not a legacy that was willingly passed on from one generation to the next by the black community.

To claim that the Civil War is one's heritage or that the Rebel Flag represents anyone's heritage only perpetuates the bigotry and persecution that existed and unfortunately, still exists today among some Americans.

A Painful History

Just as Hitler's flag belongs in a museum where we can learn about and be reminded of the painful history involving the Jewish people, I believe the Rebel/Confederate Flag belongs there too.

The Civil War ended in 1865. We have been the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA since then. It's about time we become united. Our country has a flag that serves as a symbol of life, liberty and justice. The Rebel Flag does not symbolize any of these principles.


What are your feelings about removing the Rebel/Confederate Flag from Government institutions?

See results


I do realize that this topic is very controversial. If you leave a comment, please be respectful. I will not allow swearing or foul comments to be posted. Thank you.


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    • ljrc1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Cole 

      3 years ago from Michigan

      You are correct

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      You are incorrect concerning the stars. Eleven stars represent the eleven seceded states, and two represent the KY and MO secessionist delegations.

    • ljrc1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Cole 

      3 years ago from Michigan

      Those are marches Connie, not hangings and lynchings which I referred to above. History shows that many people in "high" places were part of the KKK. Thus, the need to cover their faces. Because of their political positions, I would assume that the USA flag would have been present during marches to expose the public to their group. However, the US flag wasn't used during their attacks. I am sure that you and I could go back and forth about what we feel the rebel flag represents to us. The fact that it is a symbol and representation of segregation, oppression and inequality to many; just as the Hitler's flag symbolizes the same to people, it should have no place in government buildings. Do I think movies such as Gone with the Wind, Roots, the Color Purple or shows like The Dukes of Hazzard that have the rebel flag in it should be banned? Absolutely not! Nor do I feel Historical Monuments depicting the war should be destroyed. They are teaching tools that can be viewed or visited by choice. A state's flag is used to represent the citizens of that state. All citizens.

    • Connie120 profile image


      3 years ago

      Here is one example of the KKK flying the US flag. I found other pictures as well, but I couldn't figure out how to link to them.

    • ljrc1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Cole 

      3 years ago from Michigan

      Connie, You are correct that the north had slaves as well. However, I got my facts reading actual history books and researching the topic of the Confederate flag, quite a bit before writing my hub. I don't dispute that prejudice was amongst the entire nation at one time. However, during the war, it was clear that opinions changed and when the South seceded, it was then that the three models of the Confederate flag were designed. My article was providing the actual and truthful history of the Confederate flag and the rebel flag. I disagree with your statement about the rebel flag AND the USA flag both represent racism. I have never seen a picture of the USA flag at a lynching, cross burning or KKK activity through images provided of historical events concerning this. I also believe that the rebel flag does represent many in the South that DO NOT buy into the racist mind set; however, because of groups like the KKK, its image has been tainted continuously and now does project a negative attitude when it is seen.

    • Connie120 profile image


      3 years ago

      I could write a whole hub refuting the "history" in this article, and maybe I will. You ARE correct that the flag that is considered the "confederate flag" was actually a battle flag, but it is now a recognized symbol of Southern identity, mainly because as a battle flag, so many ancestors of the Southerners fought under.

      Another point: While ante-bellum Southerners did consider blacks to be an inferior race, they were certainly not alone in that. Many prominent Northerners were very vocal in stating the same thing, usually a lot less politely that Southerners. Have you ever read any on Lincoln's racist comments? Even General Grant owned slaves, and stated that if the war became a war against slavery, he would instantly resign. So the Confederate flag no more represents racism than the Stars and Stripes. In fact, all of the slave ships flew the US flag, not the Confederate flag.

    • ljrc1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Cole 

      3 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you HS. While I realize that many who fly the flag do not have malice in their heart, the fact that it represents hatred to so many is the best reason to remove it from the government.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Thank you for this very helpful history of this flag and its meaning. I totally agree that it belongs in museums and used as a learning experience. But its hateful meanings of white supremacy have no place in governmental buildings or grounds. Great Hub, Laura Jane.


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