The Confederate Flag Comes Down in South Carolina

The July 10, 2015, edition of the Aiken (S.C.) Standard.

The July 10, 2015, edition of the Aiken (S.C.) Standard.

In December of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. The historic event was heralded in a broadside extra edition of the Charleston Mercury, which was a radical voice for Southern independence.

“The Union is Dissolved!” the bold headline proclaimed.

Less than four months later, the Mercury published another extra, reporting the opening shots of the Civil War ― the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. After a 36-hour bombardment, the federal garrison surrendered to Confederate forces. The Mercury printed a broadside ― a single sheet printed on one side ― to report the news.

On July 9, 2015, after decades of impassioned debate over the Confederate battle flag’s significance, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley removed one of the last vestiges of the Civil War when she signed a law to remove the flag from the State House grounds. The law was prompted by the murders June 17 of nine people, including the church’s pastor, inside a historically black church in Charleston.

The Confederate flag had been at the Capitol since 1962 as a rebuff to the civil rights movement.

In a July 10 ceremony in Columbia, S.C. the flag finally came down. In a front-page editorial that included a large image of the battle flag, the Aiken Standard looked past the decades-long controversy, declaring: “Time to unite, heal in the Palmetto State.”

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