Accessibility links


Virginia Governor's Civil War Proclamation Stirs Controversy

The governor of the eastern U.S. state of Virginia has apologized after issuing a controversial proclamation to commemorate his state's role in the American Civil War.

Governor Bob McDonnell issued a statement Wednesday, saying he made a mistake by excluding any reference to slavery when designating the month of April Confederate History Month.

Critics had chastised McDonnell for omitting anti-slavery language, with many accusing him of ignoring history and being insensitive to African Americans in his state.

The enslavement of African Americans primarily in the south eventually led to the Civil War, fought between southern secessionist states that supported slavery and northern states loyal to the federal government.

McDonnell acknowledged that slavery was an "evil, vicious and inhumane practice" that left a "stain on the soul" of the state of Virginia. He said the proclamation was solely to promote the study of history and tourism in the state.

The city of Richmond, Virginia, served as the capital of the Confederacy. During the American Civil War, Union forces from the North defeated the Confederacy, which made up of 11 southern states. After the war, slavery was abolished in the United States.

The war was the bloodiest in U.S. history, killing an estimated 620,000 soldiers between 1861 through 1865.

The past two governors of Virginia, both Democrats, had opted to drop the commemoration, but McDonnell restored it.