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Deo Vindice: The real meaning

January 10, 2011

MacDonald King Aston, the author of Yankee Babylon, over at The Fire Eater wrote this excellent piece about the debate over the meaning of the Confederacy’s motto:

David Wharton published an article back in 2004 on the meaning of the Latin phrase, Deo Vindice, (“With God as our Defender”). Presumably a Classics professor, Wharton proceeded to explain the Latin meaning of the words. In a predictable turn to the left, Wharton veered away from simply talking of the Latin, and instead launched on the (equally predictable) subject of racism.

How does racism play into Latin linguistics, you’re wondering? Easy. You see, said Wharton, the Latin can refer to a God who is a punisher. A God who, in short, punished the South for its racism. Wharton cites the writer Walker Percy, who never ceased complaining about being called a “Southern writer.” Percy considered racism the original sin of the South, apparently never bothering to investigate the Northern slave trade (from 1630 onwards).

Wharton ends his article with “So let the sons [sic] of the Confederacy engrave deo vindice on their seal, and let the Latin mean what it will.”

Yet not once in his article does Wharton actually explain the Latin. He merely gives his own translation and a few others. (Before jumping on the “God as punisher” bandwagon.)

How odd that one would write of a linguistic construction without explaining it. OK, pay attention. It’s pretty simple, and I’ll skip the boring stuff. But the phrase “Deo Vindice,” when used as the subject of a sentence looks like this: “Deus Vindex.” (Latin: nominative case of a second-declension noun followed by an adjective.)

Click here for the full article

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  • Bob

    Interesting how far he takes the term from it’s original intent when used by the leaders of Dixie. It wasn’t even so much a callfor God to vindicate OUR cause, as much as it was a symbol of our people choosing God over the humanistic northern worldview. In Revelation, when the seals are opened, we see the martyrs of God cry out from under the altar asking God when He would vindicate HIS name they died for. It’s not a call for our vindication as though we should be lifted up. Such would be just as humanistic as the northern arguments that a government of men can be successful without God’s law. Rather, it was a realization by our people that the cause was just not because God was and is on our side, but that we were on His. Amazing how far we have drifted, and how distorted Wharton’s worldview is. Del Vindice.

  • gary maynard

    In letters to his wife Mary Custis Lee, Gen. R.E.Lee, was under the impression that it ment “God as Our Protector”, so also did
    gens. Jackson, Longstreet, Stuart and many other of the Confederate leadership. The same for th US motto “In God We Trust”.


    A-Yup, Bob, quoting you “the cause was just.” I guess YOUR God meant owning people was just – but not the God of most others, and especially the God of those who were owned. Or did the latter group have a different God than yours?

    • mpoitevint

      Where in the Bible, Old or New Testament, is slavery mentioned as a sin or evil? Perhaps you are referring to Northern code of morals. You know, those that are pulled out of thin air and always “coincidentally” add to their power and profit.


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