Home Virginia Politics Bob McDonnell Apologizes, Admits “Mistake” on Confederate History Month Proclamation

Bob McDonnell Apologizes, Admits “Mistake” on Confederate History Month Proclamation


NBC 12 political reporter Ryan Nobles tweets the breaking news:

Now McDonnell: “The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and..I apologize to any..Virginian who has been offended.”

BREAKING: Bob McDonnell has issued revised proclamation on Confederate History Month that includes slavery. Calls ommission a “‘mistake”. Mo adds, “I wonder what Romney, Pawlenty, Palin and other 2012 GOPers think of their buddy Bob McDonnell’s Confederate proclamation.”

Incredible national attention given to McDonnell Confederate month flap. What impact could it have on his nat’l political future?

This comes after Tim Kaine said, “the ommission of slavery from the McDonnell proclamation: ‘offends millions of Americans of all races.'” McDonnell’s retreat also follows the story going national, Sheila Johnson condemning him, and Terry McAuliffe saying he’s “disappointed that Governor McDonnell has decided to focus on this divisive issue.”

UPDATE: Mo Elleithee tweets, “Amazing how quickly this killed his ‘rising star’ buzz.”

UPDATE #2: Here’s McDonnell’s statement, which finally gets it right after relentless pounding for the past couple days. Again, better late than never?

The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of “profound regret” for the Commonwealth’s history of slavery, which was the right thing to do.

the rest of the statement is after the “flip”

When I signed the Proclamation designating February as Black History Month, and as I look out my window at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, I am reminded that, even 150 years later, Virginia’s past is inextricably part of our present. The Confederate History Month proclamation issued was solely intended to promote the study of our history, encourage tourism in our state in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and recognize Virginia’s unique role in the story of America. The Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved the establishment of a Sesquicentennial American Civil War Commission to prepare for and commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the War, in order to promote history and create recognition programs and activities.

As Virginians we carry with us both the burdens and the blessings of our history. Virginia history undeniably includes the fact that we were the Capitol of the Confederacy, the site of more battlefields than any other state, and the home of the signing of the peace agreement at Appomattox. Our history is perhaps best encapsulated in a fact I noted in my Inaugural Address in January: The state that served as the Capitol of the Confederacy was also the first in the nation to elect an African-American governor, my friend, L. Douglas Wilder. America’s history has been written in Virginia. We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility. During the commemoration of the Civil War over the next four years, I intend to lead an effort to promote greater understanding and harmony in our state among our citizens.”

In addition the Governor announced that the following language will be added to the Proclamation:

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history…

  • Never thought I’d see the day when Virginia’s governor was apologizing for not realizing how bad slavery was.  

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    How sad for the Commonwealth that I was so proud of in 1989 when this Confederate battlefield of the Civil War elected the first African-American governor in the nation’s history. From Doug Wilder to a protege of Pat Robertson. How far we have fallen.

    Now, it has elected a far-right little fellow who at least has the decency to retreat when he makes a grave error in his ambitious plans for his future.

    I hope those who have defended him and the original declaration on this blog take direction from their leader and apologize. I won’t hold my breath.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    I just saw an interview on CNN in which Bob McDonnell said he made his “grave mistake” because he was “trying to focus on the War.”

    What does the man think was at the heart of the war? Did my ancestors simply want to have a good fight? Please, Mr. McDonnell. The war was all about slavery and its perpetuation. State’s rights was simply the vehicle that was used to keep what many at that time called “our peculiar institution.” Peculiar, indeed…and vile.

    I will give my home state this much. The first vote for secession was in the negative. When President Lincoln asked Virginia to provide troops to answer the attack by South Carolina troops, the secession convention voted to leave the union. That’s when the counties that now form West Virginia “seceded” from Virginia.

    The history is clear. Virginia tried to help its fellow southern states keep the institution of slavery.  

  • kindler

    This is the second or third time we have gotten Gov Bob to retreat, if you count the anti-gay discrimination issue and his appointment of a Commerce Secretary with blatant conflicts of interest.

    What we do here — and in protests and calls to our elected officials — is not idle chatter. It makes a difference and we must keep the pressure on. This is our government too and we must continue to act on our share in it.  

  • I was someone who was disappointed.  So I’m glad an apology was given.  I realize that someone like Brian wasn’t bothered by this, but I was.  Disappointed is a very good word.  In my case, I wasn’t personally offended, but it didn’t take too much imagination to understand why someone else could be.  I’m glad that McDonnell recognized the validity of the feelings of many Virginians, regardless of what he personally feels.  And I’m glad that I took the time today to voice that disappointment — to join with people who helped the picture of Virginia’s complicated Civil War history a tiny bit more into focus.

    So, that said, I’m going to go and dust my Mort Kunstler print of “Lee’s Lieutenants” that hangs in my upstairs hallway and move on to other topics.

  • VA Blogger

    McDonnell for anything in 2012 is a fanciful idea, but in seven years, you think this will have any meaningful impact, especially considering how McDonnell defused it?

    • Of course, he was in the Bush Administration (speech writer for Elaine Chao), so I’m not sure what else we would expect. As far as I’m concerned, if you worked in that administration you basically have no credibility on anything.

      • you mean “turned himself & the state into a national laughingstock,” then yes.

  • martinlomasney

    earned their nickname in a series of brawls between ND undergrads with the KKK in South Bend in the ’20s.

    So how does this fool honor his ND heritage?

    By pandering to a group of segregations and white supremecists.

    Does this sawed off show pony even know what “NINA” means?

    Frank Leahy would be ashamed of you boy-o.  

    • As Lowell notes, I was a member of the Bush Administration, so I must be as evil and manipulative as the rest of the hideous demons who served with me.

      I don’t expect to have credibility over here. Despite the fact that I’m honest and do my best to be fair, I don’t expect to be treated that way by Democrats anymore on the internet. Perhaps in person, but I know better when it comes to the internet.  

    • VA Blogger

      Considering that virtually every post you make reads like a DPVA press release (if it actually isn’t one), I’m not sure you’re the best person to make the argument that someone from the other political party lacks credibility.

  • TomPaine

    But Brian certainly defended the indefensible on this one!

    Brian seemed to have had a sense of decency, fairness and rationality, but political loyalties often trumped those senses; wingnut welfare seems to corrupt those who accept it.

    It reminds me of Lord Acton’s theory that “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  • walkabout

    The Governor and Lt. Governor are extremists.  That was evident to me before they were elected.  I’m sad and disappointed that Virginians seem unable to get it right  and leave right alone.  I am a native Virginian, and my ancestors came to Virginia in the 1740’s, in time for the Revolution, the War of 1812 and the War between the States.  Virginia’s slave history is about the worst in the country, and the state continued to treat black people as less than human for many years.  I hope Virginians are smart enough to make these one-term “servants.”

    Right now, they certainly aren’t serving the state.