Current Day Southerrn Patriots Rallied to the Call

A Congress composed of Southerners gathered for the first time since the last meeting of the Confederate Congress in early 1865. December 5-7, 2008, the First Southern National Congress was convened in Hendersonville, North Carolina, after a rather protracted delay of 143 years.

Members of the League of the South and other Southern Nationalists spearheaded this momentous gathering of States. It took them three years of labor and planning to bring this to fruition. They had to determine the type of individuals that should become delegates to this Congress in addition to formulating five different petitions of grievances. A suitable venue also had to be selected for this gathering of Southerners. Here is an image of the earliest example of a Confederate Veteran's ribbon known , it is from 1867 and it belonged to George Scholl.                                                                                                                        

Requests were made this year to tender applications in order to serve as State delegates to the First Southern National Congress. Each State delegation was supervised by a State registrar and I assume the Southern National Congress Committee selected these registrars. Each of the thirteen Southern States could send any number of eligible delegates, but there would be only one Congressional vote per State.

Robert Salyer was named as the Commonwealth’s registrar for the State of Kentucky. My home State sent four delegates in addition to the registrar. The delegation consisted of: Richard Bedwell, Basil Childress, Alfred Davie, Nancy Hitt and Robert Salyer.

Everyone of the thirteen Southern States was represented. Mississippi was only able to send one delegate from her State. The State of Maryland sent eight members who were in attendance to request admittance into the Southern Congress. If they were denied full membership, they were determined to remain as observers. Individuals who were not eligible delegates were free to attend and observe the proceedings.

On Friday, December 5, 2008, a buffet style supper was served at the beautiful Kanuga Conference Center. The Kanuga facility rests upon the banks of the Kanuga Lake and it is similar to Kentucky State Parks, but much nicer. The food was delicious and the rooms quite satisfactory. This conference center is supported by the Episcopal Church and offers something for every age from hiking to clerical retreats.

That evening, the first Plenary Session was held in Balthis Hall where the First Southern National Congress convened. There was a motion to adjourn back to the main building and continue with a convivial evening in the Kanuga Inn Fireplace Lounge. Familiar faces were everywhere: Dr. Clyde Wilson, Buddy Kirtland, Mike Crane, Ray McBerry and Kirkpatrick Sale of the Middlebury Institute of Vermont. Mr. Sale now owns a home in Charleston and was a delegate from South Carolina.

After breakfast, on Saturday morning, we followed the piping of the bagpipes back to Balthis Hall. Each of the State delegations had an individual table at their disposal. Many State flags were stationed by these work tables. There were about one hundred delegates present on this history-making day. Some of the delegates had traveled long distances to get to this location from States like Texas, Arkansas, Florida and Missouri.

One of the first considerations for the Congress was the admittance of the State of Maryland as a voting member of the Southern National Congress. The State delegates listened intently to the request for admission made by the young spokesman from Maryland. His eloquence brought tears to my eyes as the sad history of the suppression of liberty by Lincoln was retold to those in attendance.

Tom Moore, the Chairman of the Southern National Congress Committee asked for a vote of the States with reference to the admission of the State of Maryland and the vote was unanimous to admit Maryland as a full member. Now we are fourteen States.

Next it was time to dissolve the Southern National Congress Committee and elect the permanent leadership of our new Congress. The officers will serve for two years and the Southern National Congress will meet annually.

Nominations were offered by State delegates. Tom Moore of Virginia was unopposed and became the first Chairman of the First Southern National Congress. Mark Tomey of Louisiana was elected to be Vice Chairman. Dave Jones of Georgia will continue as the Parliamentarian and Laura Tesh of South Carolina will remain the Recording Secretary. Dennis Blanton of South Carolina was elected as the Treasurer and Dr. Cook of South Carolina was elected as the Finance Chairman. Six individuals were selected to serve as assistants to Dr. Cook on the finance committee. Dr. David Whitney of Maryland was chosen to be the Chaplain for the Congress.

All day Saturday, the delegates discussed and amended five different petitions for a redress of grievances. These five documents had been presented to many of the delegates previous to Congress convening. This had given the delegates some time to study these grievances. Questions, suggestions and amendments were presented by the State delegates. All five petitions were successfully amended and approved on Saturday with two additional petitions being adopted by Sunday afternoon at the closing of Congress.

Our next order of business was for each State to select one representative to sit on the Board of Governors. This board will have the responsibility for oversight of the Congress. Basil Childress of Lexington, Kentucky was selected as our representative.

I was honored to be a part of this historic event which promises hope for the South. Much gratitude is due those who organized this First Southern National Congress. Your names will be recorded in the history of our Southland as courageous patriots who attempted to retrieve our rights when it was considered out-of-step and frivolous to even try.

A call was made to Southern patriots and they rallied in North Carolina. 

©Nancy Hitt 2009

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