Anita Kumar for The Washington Post, April 7, 2011:
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Thursday that he has received positive response to his new revamped civil war history proclamation that includes references to confederate generals and condemnation of slavery.
The proclamation for April — Civil War History in Virginia Month — comes a year after McDonnell drew national criticism when he declared Confederate History Month at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Even President Obama criticized McDonnell (R) for failing to mention the role that slavery played in the state that was home to the capital of the Confederacy.
“The reaction has overall been very good,’’ McDonnell told reporters. “I personally invested some time working with a couple historians…and a couple others that we asked to give us their thoughts. I wanted to make sure that it was complete, that it was accurate, that it was historically correct and that it was overall inclusive and I think we achieved that. It still has the significant focus on tourism and economic development. We think telling the Virginia story and having people come to Virginia this year to visit our battlefields and historic sites will be very good for our state.”
Last year, McDonnell quickly apologized and reissued the proclamation with a new reference to the “abomination” of slavery. He later announced he would declare April 2011 “Civil War in Virginia” month.
McDonnell said he solicited the help of University of Virginia professor Ervin Jordan Jr.. The proclamation declares that “slavery was an inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War ended its evil stain on American democracy.”
McDonnell follows the lead of former governor Jim Gilmore (R), who broke with his predecessor George Allen (R) and first issued a Confederate History Month proclamation that included anti-slavery language and then changed the proclamation to note the Civil War broadly rather than the Confederacy.
Democratic former governors Mark Warner, now a U.S. senator, and Tim Kaine, now a candidate for senate, declined to issue any declaration for the month, with Warner calling such documents lightning rods that prevents racial reconciliation.