During a radio interview Thursday, Gov. Paul LePage said he’s received death threats for his comments about what happened at the racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, recently.

“Hatred is alive and well in the United States of America,” the governor told the Portland-based WGAN during his regular appearance with friendly hosts.

LePage said that he got a couple of letters that “we’re going to have to look at today because they’re threatening to kill me.”

The governor, who has police protection day and night, said he’s taken heat this week for some of his thoughts on the protests that have wracked the nation since a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville left one counter-demonstrator dead and others injured.

Some of the letters he’s gotten, he said, are “unbelievable” in their hostility.

LePage also admitted that he might have been wrong this week when he claimed 7,600 Mainers had fought for the Confederacy, a number that historians said is absurd in one of the most pro-Union, anti-slavery states.

He said he may have misunderstood when he was told some numbers during a visit to the state archives. Maybe, he said, the number he cited was the figure for soldiers from all of New England fighting for the rebellious Southern states.

In any case, LePage said, “Quite frankly, it doesn’t make any difference if it was one, 10 or 50.”

The key point, the governor said, is that the war began as a battle over property rights, not slavery.

“It was all about property rights,” LePage said, an archaic, Confederate-oriented viewpoint that modern-day historians discount.

He said the Civil War reminds him of the deep splits and hatred he saw in American society during the Vietnam War, when returning soldiers had people spit on them.

Just like the draftees who fought in Vietnam, LePage said, the “overwhelming majority of those who fought for either side” during the Civil War were “doing what they were told by their governments.”

Many Maine units in the Civil War, however, consisted of volunteers.

And returning Union troops were hailed as heroes in Maine and across the North back in 1865 and for the rest of their lives.

One of LePage’s predecessors, Joshua Chamberlain, was elected as the state’s leader after becoming famous as a hero of the Battle of Gettysburg. 

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Gov. Paul LePage

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