On February 22, 1863, George Washington’s birthday was celebrated in both the Union and in the Confederacy. In the Union, Washington was hailed as the father of the country and as a champion of a strong national government.
In the South, however, Washington was seen as a heroic rebel who had thrown off the chains of a tyrannical government. Through much of the Civil War, Southern propagandists sought to draw a parallel between America’s war for independence against Britain, and their own struggle against a national government that had allegedly failed to respect their liberties.
In their proclamations, they borrowed liberally from the Declaration of Independence. They also were quick to point out that many of the nation’s founding fathers, including Washington, were sons of the South and slave owners.