Gov. Jim Gilmore's declaration of April as "Confederate History Month" in Virginia drew a rebuke from the head of a Confederate heritage group because it denounced slavery.

Gilmore's proclamation Thursday attempted to avoid the mistake his predecessor, fellow Republican George Allen, made last year when he proclaimed the Confederate era "a source of pride, honor and respect" in Virginia and did not mention slavery.Civil rights groups were outraged, and Allen later apologized.

Gilmore's declaration, issued on the 133rd anniversary of Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, recognized the sacrifices of Confederate soldiers and added that slavery "degraded the human spirit (and) is abhorred and condemned by Virginians."

The proclamation angered Confederate loyalists without fully satisfying the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.