Browsing "Aftermath: Despotism"

When Conservative Statesmen Walked the Earth

The Southern Dixiecrat movement was greatly the result of the communist-dominated labor union infestation of FDR’s Democrat party from 1936 onward. FDR’s labor advisor was Sidney Hillman, Russian refugee from the 1905 revolution who as a radical labor organizer in New York City, earlier delivered communist votes to Roosevelt for governor. In 1936 Hillman formed the CIO and the first political action committee, CIO-PAC, with the intention of funneling labor money directly to FDR’s reelection campaigns. Roosevelt’s 1940 running mate, Henry Wallace, saw nothing wrong with communism and the Southern Democrats had had enough. Hillman’s CIO spawned the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, a communist labor-organizing training facility attended in the mid-1950’s by M.L. King and Rosa Parks.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

When Conservative Statesmen Walked the Earth

“From the outset of his administration, the central theme of the [Virginia Governor William] Tuck tenure was hostility to organized labor. In his first message to the General Assembly, the new governor denounced public employee unions, and the legislators responded by declaring public employee collective bargaining to be contrary to the public policy of Virginia.

When employees of the Virginia Electric and Power Company threatened a strike in the spring of 1946, Tuck declared that a state of emergency existed, and mobilized the unorganized State militia, and threatened to induct 1,600 of the utility’s employees. The next year he convened a special session of the General Assembly and secured passage of two additional measures: one permitting State seizure of strike-plagued utilities, and another outlawing compulsory union membership (the “Right to Work Law”).

Across the nation a rash of postwar strikes caused the organized labor movement’s popularity to plummet. President Truman in 1946 vetoed legislation designed to curb union power, and that move, in combination with concessions made by the administration in order to end a United Mine Workers strike, brought the new President widespread criticism.

Senator [Harry F.] Byrd and the State’s conservative Democratic congressmen spent much of their reelection campaigns in 1946 pillorying organized labor; Eighth District Congressman Howard W. Smith, for example, assailed the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ political action committee (“CIO-PAC”) as a “new swarm of carpetbaggers who are invading the Southern States [and] are impregnated with communism.”

The ever-widening gulf between Senator Byrd and the national Democratic Party was the principal reason for the [Virginia] Republicans high hopes. Byrd supported Franklin Roosevelt for President in 1932, but he quickly became disenchanted as the new President repudiated the conservative thrust of his 1932 platform and embarked on a broad new social agenda.

When Roosevelt’s ill-fated “court-packing” plan was advanced in 1937, Byrd and other Southern Democrats joined with the Republicans to defeat it, thereby giving birth to the conservative coalition that would remain a formidable force within the Congress for decades. It was President Truman, however, who most infuriated Byrd.

Like most of his Southern colleagues, the Virginia senator initially greeted Harry Truman’s ascension to the Presidency in April 1945 with favor. Truman, after all, was the son of a Confederate soldier, and his Missouri accent fueled the feeling among Southerners that one of their own was finally in charge. In fact, Truman owed his spot on the national ticket in 1944 to Southern party leaders who had insisted that Roosevelt jettison liberal Vice President Henry Wallace as the price of their continued support.

[After Truman] attempted to breathe new life into FDR’s New Deal coalition, the President proposed a variety of liberal initiatives in his State of the Union message. The President’s initiative brought a sharp and swift denunciation from Virginia’s senior senator. “[Taken] in their entirety,” declared Byrd, “[the Truman civil rights proposals] constitute a mass invasion of States’ rights never before even suggested, much less recommended, by any previous President.”

The senator’s disdain for Truman was surpassed, perhaps, only by that of Governor Tuck. On February 25, 1948, the governor went before the General Assembly to denounce the Truman civil rights program and to propose a measure of his own for dealing with the President. The Tuck “ballot bill” would keep the names of all presidential candidates off of the November ballot in Virginia. Instead, only the parties would be listed . . . [to] keep Truman from getting Virginia’s electoral votes . . . In Washington, Senator Byrd took to the floor to strongly endorse the Tuck bill and commend it to his Southern colleagues.”

(The Dynamic Dominion, Realignment and the Rise of Virginia’s Republican Party Since 1945, Frank B. Atkinson, George Mason University Press, 1992, pp. 20-22)

 

 

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

Sherman viewed Southerners as he later viewed American Indians, to be exterminated or banished to reservations as punishment for having resisted government power. They were subjects and merely temporary occupants of land belonging to his government whom they served. The revealing excerpts below are taken from “Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama,” published in 1872.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

Headquarters, Department of Tennessee, Vicksburg, January 1, 1863.

[To] Major R. M. Sawyer, AAG Army of Tennessee, Huntsville:

“Dear Sawyer — In my former letter I have answered all your questions save one, and that relates to the treatment of inhabitants known, or suspected to be, hostile or “secesh.”  The war which prevails in our land is essentially a war of races. The Southern people entered into a clear compact of government, but still maintained a species of separate interests, history and prejudices. These latter became stronger and stronger, till they have led to war, which has developed the fruits of the bitterest kind.

We of the North are, beyond all question, right in our lawful cause, but we are not bound to ignore the fact that the people of the South have prejudices that form part of their nature, and which they cannot throw off without an effort of reason or the slower process of natural change.

Now, the question arises, should we treat as absolute enemies all in the South who differ with us in opinions or prejudices . . . [and] kill or banish them? Or should we give them time to think and gradually change their conduct so as to conform to the new order of things which is slowly and gradually creeping into their country?

When men take arms to resist our rightful authority, we are compelled to use force because all reason and argument ceases when arms are resorted to.

If the people, or any of them, keep up a correspondence with parties in hostility, they are spies, and can be punished with death or minor punishment. These are well established principles of war, and the people of the South having appealed to war, are barred from appealing to our Constitution, which they have practically and publicly defied. They have appealed to war and must abide its rules and laws.

The United States, as a belligerent party claiming right in the soil as the ultimate sovereign, have a right to change the population, and it may be and it, both politic and best, that we should do so in certain districts. When the inhabitants persist too long in hostility, it may be both politic and right that we should banish them and appropriate their lands to a more loyal and useful population.

No man would deny that the United States would be benefited by dispossessing a single prejudiced, hard-headed and disloyal planter and substitute in his place a dozen or more patient, industrious, good families, even if they be of foreign birth.

It is all idle nonsense for these Southern planters to say that they made the South, that they own it, and that they can do as they please — even to break up our government, and to shut up the natural avenues of trade, intercourse and commerce.

We know, and they know if they are intelligent beings, that, as compared with the whole world they are but as five millions are to one thousand millions — that they did not create the land — that their only title to its use and enjoyment is the deed of the United States, and if they appeal to war they hold their all by a very insecure tenure.

For my part, I believe that this war is the result of false political doctrine, for which we are all as a people responsible, viz:  That any and every people has a right to self-government . . . In this belief, while I assert for our Government the highest military prerogatives, I am willing to bear in patience that political nonsense of . . . State Rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of press, and other such trash as have deluded the Southern people into war, anarchy, bloodshed, and the foulest crimes that have disgraced any time or any people.

I would advise the commanding officers at Huntsville and such other towns as are occupied by our troops, to assemble the inhabitants and explain to them these plain, self-evident propositions, and tell them that it is for them now to say whether they and their children shall inherit their share.

The Government of the United States has in North-Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war — to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . and war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact. If they want eternal warfare, well and good; we will accept the issue and dispossess them, and put our friends in possession. Many, many people, with less pertinacity than the South, have been wiped out of national existence.

To those who submit to the rightful law and authority, all gentleness and forbearance; but to the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of heaven were allowed a continuance of existence in hell merely to swell their just punishment.”

W.T. Sherman, Major General Commanding

(Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, William Garrett, Plantation Printing Company’s Press, 1872, pp. 486-488)

 

Wilson’s Worldwide Liberal Crusade

Woodrow Wilson campaigned for president with the vow that he would not send young Americans to their deaths in Europe, though once in power, his high-minded, progressive utopian collectivist ideals got the best of him. Any dissent was quickly crushed.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Coirca1865.com

 

Wilson’s Worldwide Liberal Crusade

“Modern liberalism did not originate in the New Deal. The concentration of state power, the use of government for humanitarian ends, the rise of the expert, all began with Wilson’s high-minded decision to take America into World War I (a war much of the country and the Congress didn’t want).

The word “liberal” first came into wide political usage in America during this period, when the editors of The New Republic began to substitute it for “Progressive,” which was now tarnished by their former hero [Theodore] Roosevelt’s political defeats and increasingly crankish jingoism.

They were importing the word from England, where it referred to the nineteenth-century European idea of enlarging individual freedom against the power of the state and to the Liberal Party’s activist program of using government to address modern social ills. In nineteenth-century America few people spoke of being politically “liberal” because almost all Americans were liberal in their belief in self-government and freedom. It was during the second decade of the twentieth century that the word came to mean a specific attitude toward government’s role in industrial society.

The declaration of war galvanized The New Republic’s New Liberals to claim Wilson as their own, his war as their war. “Mr. Wilson is today the most liberal statesman in high office,” the magazine editorialized, “and before long he is likely to be the most powerful. He represents the best hope in the whole world.”

The war would join “the forward liberal movement in American national life.” It would be a collectivist war, involving industry, labor, economic central planning, nationalization of railroads, the first large-scale conscription in American history, the most draconian suppression of dissenting speech since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, and a nationwide propaganda campaign waged by the new Bureau of Public Information. The population of Washington, DC would grow by 40,000 in one year. It would be America’s first truly national war.”

(Blood of the Liberals, George Packer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000, pp. 77-78)

America Exports Democracy

John Quincy Adams said long ago that “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” The North forgot his words, conquered the South, established it as an economic colony, and set off on imperial adventures to add colonies of subject peoples to the American empire.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

 

American Exports Democracy

“On July 4, 1901, William Howard Taft took the oath of office as the first Governor-General of the Philippines, and control of the islands passed from the military arm of the government. Not all the problems [of converting the islands] had been solved. Philippine society remained ill-suited to the concept of representative democratic government, primarily because it is not one culture, but several. An election in Zamboanga was decided by which Filipino shot the other candidates first.

The Filipinos in the northern islands were Tagalog Christians, those in the south were Moro’s (meaning “Mohammedan”) who had long resisted Tagalog encroachment. A tribal people, they were fiercely jealous of their semi-savage freedom. Wisely, the Spaniards had left them to their own devices; but the Americans wanted to clean up and educate everybody.

So the [American] army established a garrison at Balangiga, on Samar, in the south where Magellan had sighted the Philippines and where he was to die at the hands of natives. On September 1, 1901, the natives from the surrounding hills of Balangiga fell on the American garrison, and in a devastating surprise littered the street with the heads, brains and intestines of the soldiery.

This was the beginning of a religious war with the Moros, one that took longer to settle than the war against Aguinaldo’s insurrectos. The fight became a struggle to win the minds and hearts of the villagers, who supplied the guerrilla bands and offered them bases and sanctuaries.

What was called for [to control the Moros], [General John] Pershing decided, was to disarm the entire Moro Province, to confiscate or buy every rifle, pistol, campilan, bolo and krise on the islands. It was not an original idea. General Leonard Wood, who left the Philippines in 1910 to become Chief of Staff advised Perching: “You cannot disarm the people. It means they will bury their best arms and turn in a few poor ones, especially some who want to make a show of obedience.”  Moros who surrendered their arms were victimized by those who had not . . . it is as hard to disarm a people as it is to make them give up a religious belief.

In a letter to Avery D. Andrews, Pershing put succinctly the apostolic creed to which he himself subscribed:

“It has been urged by some people at home that the Filipinos should be given their independence. Such a thing would result in anarchy. To whom should we turn over the government? Tagalog, Viscayan, Igorrote, Macabebe or Moro? No one can answer that any of these tribes represents the people in any sense, any more than the Sioux represents all the Indians in America.

There is no national spirit, and except for the few agitators, these people do not want to try independence. They will have to be educated up to it and to self-government as we understand it, and their education will take some time and patience. It is a grand work cut out for us from which there should be no shirking.”

(Pipe Clay and Drill; John J. Pershing: The Classical American Soldier”, Readers Digest Press, 1977, excerpts, pp 100-153)

 

The Wrath of the North

Jefferson Davis heard of Lincoln’s death upon his arrival in Charlotte, and in a dispatch from General John C. Breckinridge. The President was heard to say: “Oh, the pity of it” and passed it to a gentleman with the remark, “Here are sad tidings.” The Northern press reported that Davis cheered when heard of Lincoln’s assassination; the Radicals of the North were now satisfied that the man they hated was finally out of the way.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Wrath of the North

[After the assassination of Lincoln] Indignation and memorial meetings simply flayed the South alive. At one New York Custom House, when the grieving, exasperated people did not know whether to weep or to curse the more, or to end it by simply hanging us all, Mr. [Lucius E.] Chittenden [of Vermont] rose and said: “Peace, be still!” And declared the death of Lincoln providential, God removing the man of mercy that due punishment might be meted out to the rebels.

Before the pacific orator finished, people were yelling: “Hang Lee! and “The Rebels deserve damnation!” Pulpits fulminated. Easter sermons demanded the halter, exile, confiscation of property, for “rebels and traitors . . .”

The new President, Andrew Johnson, was breathing out threatening and slaughter before Lincoln’s death. Thousands had heard him shout from the southern portico of the Patent Office, “Jeff Davis ought to be hung twenty times as high as Haman!”

In Nicolay and Hay’s Life of Lincoln . . . “Among the Radicals in Congress . . . though they were shocked at his murder, they did not, among themselves, conceal their gratification that he was no longer in the way. In a political caucus held a few hours after the President’s death, “the thought was universal,” to quote the language of one of their most representative members, “that the accession of Johnson to the Presidency would prove a godsend to the country.” The only people who could profit by Lincoln’s death were in the Radical wing of the Republican party. These extremists thought Johnson their man. Senator [Benjamin] Wade [said:] “By the gods, it will be no trouble now running the Government!”

“Treason,” said the new President, “is the highest crime in the calendar, and the full penalty for its commission should be visited upon the leaders of the Rebellion. Treason should be made odious.”

It is told as true as true “inside history” that the arrest and execution of Lee had been determined upon [thought General [E.O] Ord stated that] “Should I arrest [Lee and his staff] under the [parole] circumstances, I think the rebellion here would be reopened.”

Governors, generals and statesmen were arrested in all directions. No exception was made for Alexander H. Stephens, the invalid, the peace-maker, the gentlest Roman of them all. After Lincoln’s death, leniency to “rebels” was accounted worse that a weakness. The heavy hand was applauded. It was the fashion to say hard things of us. It was accounted as piety and patriotism to condemn “traitors and rebels.” Cartoonists, poets and orators, were in clover; here was a subject on which they could “let themselves out.”

(“Dixie After the War, An Exposition of Social Conditions Existing in the South, During the Twelve Years Succeeding the Fall of Richmond,” Myrta Lockette Avary, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1906, excerpts, pp. 89-97)

If Southerners Had Behaved Themselves . . .

One of the myths of the Northern invasion of the American South is that Sherman did not wreak the destruction on North Carolina as he and his vandals had in South Carolina. Homes in the Old North State were looted indiscriminately and livestock shot to deny noncombatants food for themselves and their children.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

If Southerners Had Behaved Themselves . . .

. . . [T]he Yankees came by the hundreds and destroyed everything that we possessed — every living thing. After they had taken everything out of the house—our clothes, shoes, hats, and even my children’s clothes — my husband was made to take off his boots which a yankee tried on. The shoes would not fit, so the soldier cut them to pieces. They even destroyed the medicine we had.

In the cellar, they took six barrels of lard, honey and preserves — and what they did not want, they let the Negroes come in and take. They took 16 horses, one mule, all of the oxen, every cow, every plough, even the hoes, and four vehicles. The soldiers filled them with meat and pulled them to camp which was not far from our home. They would kill the hogs in the fields, cut them in halves with the hair on. Not a turkey, duck or chicken was left.

My mother in law . . . was very old and frail and in bed. They went in her bedroom and cursed her. They took all our books and threw them in the woods. I had my silver and jewelry buried in the swamp for two months.

We went to Faison Depot and bought an old horse that we cleaned up, fed and dosed, but which died after a week’s care. Then the boys went again and bought an ox. They made something like a plough which they used to finish the crop with. Our knives were pieces of hoop iron sharpened, and our forks were made of cane — but it was enough for the little we had to eat.

All of which I have written was the last year and month of the sad, sad war (March and April, 1865). It is as fresh in my memory and all its horrors as if it were just a few weeks ago. It will never be erased from my memory as long as life shall last.

I do not and cannot with truth say I have forgotten or that I have forgiven them. They destroyed what they could of the new house and took every key and put them in the turpentine boxes. Such disappointment cannot be imagined. My children would cry for bread, but there was none. A yankee took a piece out of his bag and bit it, and said: “If you had behaved yourselves this would not have happened.”

(Story in Sampson Independent, February 1960; The Heritage of Sampson County (NC), Volume I, Oscar Bizzell, editor, pp. 253-254)

The Myth of Saving the Union

The Republican Party was the primary obstacle confronting the peaceful Christian charity which would eventually end slavery. Had the latter occurred, the Union would have been saved peacefully and no Northern citizens and editors would have been imprisoned in American bastilles for opposing Jacobin Republican hegemony and corruption. “Smiler” Colfax, Grant’s vice-president, was brought down by the Credit Mobilier scandals which bribed high government officials with cash and stocks; he was replaced as vice president in 1872 with another corrupt Republican, Henry Wilson.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Myth of Saving the Union

Letter of acceptance of the vice-presidential nomination, National Union Republican party, 29 May, 1868:

“The debt of gratitude [my acceptance] acknowledges to the brave men who saved the Union from destruction, the frank approval of amnesty based on repentance and loyalty, the demand for the most thorough economy and honesty in government, the sympathy of the party of liberty with all throughout the world who long for the liberty we here enjoy, and the recognition of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, are worthy of the [Republican party] on whose banners they are to be written in the coming contest.

Its past record cannot be blotted out or forgotten. If there had been no Republican party, Slavery would to-day cast its baneful shadow over the Republic. If there had been no Republican party, the free press and free speech would be unknown from the Potomac to the Rio Grande as ten years ago. If the Republican party could have been stricken from existence when the banner of rebellion was unfurled, and when the response of “no coercion” was heard in the North, we would have no nation to-day.

But for the Republican party daring to risk the odium of tax and draft laws our flag could not be kept flying on the field until the long-hoped for victory came. Without the Republican party the Civil Rights bill – the guarantee of equality under the law to the humble and the defenceless, as well as to the strong – would not be to-day upon our national statute book.

With such inspiration from the past, the example of the founders of the Republic, who called the victorious General of the Republic to preside over the land his triumphs had saved from its enemies, I cannot doubt that our labors with be crowned with success.”

Very truly yours, Schuyler Colfax”

(The Republican Party, 1854-1904, Francis Curtis, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904, page 507)

Confiscating Symbols of American Patrioitism

The graves of Raleigh’s Southern dead were not safe from Sherman’s army of thieves in 1865; the Northern commander of that city was no better as he ordered the graves removed lest the remains be thrown into the street. Also, anyone possessing symbols of the late Confederate States risked confiscation and arrest.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Confiscating Symbols of American Patriotism

“The Ladies Association of Wake County was formed in 1865, when it was necessary to remove from the grounds of Pettigrew Hospital the remains of the Confederate soldiers buried there. It was but a short while after the Federals took possession of Raleigh before the Mayor was notified that they admired the spot where rested the Confederate dead, and ordered that they be removed at once, or they would be thrown out in the country road.

A town meeting was called, and the association formed, [with] Mrs. [Gen.] L. O’B. Branch being made president . . . A resting-place was selected for the re-interment of the beloved dead, and, with the help of the young men and boys of the town, the work was successfully accomplished. The graves were comparatively few at first, but none were safe from Sherman’s “bummers,” as there were scarcely a new-made grave anywhere but what was opened by these men, in search of treasures; so it was a sacred trust, most religiously kept by the young men and women, to visit these graves almost daily to see that they were kept in order.

The association grew in numbers and the interest increased. Many Confederate dead from the country were moved to this spot, and the grounds were laid off and improved by [Sergeant] Hamilton, a soldier of the Confederate army who lost both eyes from a wound.

After the death of Gen. Jackson the 10th of May was selected as Memorial Day, when the citizens were to repair to the cemetery to participate in the services there. To raise funds to care for the Confederate dead and erect a monument to their memory, every legitimate means was resorted to by the association.

This was not done without risk, as it was reported that contraband articles were for sale, such as Confederate flags, a strand of General Lee’s hair, pictures of President Davis or any Confederate general: so there would be the sudden appearance of a bluecoat with orders to search the room for these contraband articles.”

(Women of North Carolina, Confederate Veteran Magazine, May 1898, page 227)

Governor Holden’s Corrupt Promised Land

After the military overthrow of North Carolina’s government in 1865, political opportunist and scalawag William W. Holden was appointed provisional governor by Northern President Andrew Johnson. An organizer of the Republican party in the State, Holden was elected governor in 1868 via election corruption and the disqualification of white voters. Holden biographer William C. Harris wrote: “Most contemporaries characterized Holden as a bitter, unscrupulous, and arrogant demagogue who frequently changed his political stripes to advance his own ambitions.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Governor Holden’s Corrupt Promised Land

“Governor Holden in his inaugural address laid down the doctrine that no part in government should be played by those who had opposed reconstruction. He then advocated and threatened the use of force by the State administration. These two ideas, with his defense of the carpetbaggers, were prophetic of the character of his administration, for it was bitterly partisan throughout, force was employed to uphold it, and it was entirely controlled by carpetbaggers.

With the one exception of John Pool, who was, throughout his administration, his evil genius, no one had any such upon him as was exerted by the corrupt gang of aliens who infested the State and surrounded him. All played on his ambition, and there lay his most fatal weakness. Into their hands he committed his future, believing that high national honors were soon to be his, and the result was not only disastrous to himself, but well-nigh ruinous to the State.

The first matter to receive the attention of the governor was, as was to be expected, the filling of such offices as lay within his gift. [The] governor busied himself with the appointments, keeping clearly in mind their political value, and taking care that the Negroes obtained their full share of these cheap honors.

The office of magistrate in North Carolina had always been one of honor and importance. It now became a by-word and a reproach. Governor Holden’s appointments were notoriously poor and, in the main, the white men appointed were not much more fitted to discharge the duties of the office than were the Negroes. Hundreds of them could not read or write and prisoners often had to make out the papers to which the justice laboriously affixed his mark. Much of the later trouble in the administration of justice was due to these ignorant and often corrupt appointees of the governor.

The towns next won the governor’s attention and, without any authority, he commenced the appointment of mayors and commissioners of the various towns of the State. The municipal officers of Raleigh refused to yield to the new [city] administration which was headed by the governor’s brother-in-law. The governor then telegraphed to General Canby for a military force to seat his appointees. The next day he wired for the necessary force to oust the sheriff of New Hanover who had also declined to recognize an appointee of the governor. The sheriffs of Granville, Randolph, and other counties refused to and in every case military force was employed.

It was not a favorable outlook for North Carolina, though the real evils of Reconstruction were scarcely dreamed of. The leaders of [Holden’s Republican] party were holding back until the presidential election should be won, when they would be safe from unfriendly interference by the national government. To that time they looked forward with more eagerness than any slave had ever hoped for freedom and with more longing than any weary Hebrew had ever felt for the Promised Land.”

(Reconstruction in North Carolina, Joseph G. deR. Hamilton, 1914, excerpts, pp. 343-349)

Halleck, Agent of Revolution

Gen. Henry W. Halleck, one of the most vilified of all generals of that era, was described by a reporter as a “cold, calculating owl,” brooding “in the shadows,” and “distilling evil upon every noble character.” He married the granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton and ironically held the same nationalist and centralizing views of his wife’s grandfather. Halleck predicted before 1861 that the North “will become ultra-antislavery, and I fear, in the course of the war will declare for emancipation and thus add the horrors of a servile to that of a civil war.” He saw Lincoln adopt the same policy as the British in the Revolution and War of 1812: emancipating slaves by edict to incite the horrors of race war in the American South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Halleck, Agent of Revolution

“During the excitement following Lincoln’s death [Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton virtually took over the government. Among other high-handed acts, he did what the martyred President never desired – the Secretary ordered Halleck out of Washington. [Working to] ingratiate himself with his superiors, Halleck, in Richmond, did everything he could to gain Stanton’s approval.

[Told by Richmond bankers of] wild rumors about “Jeff. Davis and his partisans” fleeing with a large amount of [gold] specie” . . . Halleck . . . ordered Sheridan to Sherman’s headquarters , in Greensboro, North Carolina, telling him to look for Davis and his “wagons” of gold on the way. [On] April 23 [1865], Halleck wired Sheridan: “Pay no attention to the Sherman-Johnston truce. It has been disapproved by the President. Try to cut off Jeff. Davis’ specie.”

The Treasury Department had issued special permits and only those possessing them were entitled to buy or sell in the South. “It is now perfectly evident that these [treasury] agents are resolved that no one shall buy or sell even the necessities of life except through themselves or their favorites,” Halleck fumed. “I know of no better system for robbing the people and driving them to utter desperation.” Old Brains’ greatest objection was that if the system continued “the military must feed the people or permit them to starve.”

Still Halleck could not resist the temptation to use his power occasionally. On April 28 he issued a series of General Orders, one of which proclaimed: “No marriage license will be issued until the parties desiring to be married take the oath of allegiance to the United States, and no one can marry them unless he has.”

To insure that Virginians received proper indoctrination, Halleck closed all churches in which the clergyman refused to read the prescribed prayer for the President – they would be opened by “any other clergyman of the same denomination will read such service.”

While attempting to bring Southern churches under Northern control, Halleck also did his bit in the attempt to prove that secession had been a conspiracy on the part of a few high-placed Confederates He seized former Cabinet member Robert M.T. Hunter’s papers and forwarded them to Stanton with the notation that they included “inclosures of a suspicious character.”

[Halleck] was anxious to use the Civil War to build up the regular army (as opposed to an armed mob composed of State militia troops) serving under nationally-trained professionals. From the day they mustered in until the day they mustered out, Halleck tried to make the Federal troops feel the hand of the national army. Conscription, which increased the power of the nation and its army as opposed to the States and their militia forces, received active support from Halleck.

He was convinced that opposition [to conscription] came not from idealists but from traitors [and] had no qualms about the means used to enforce national conscription: “Loyal men at home must act at home,” he felt. “They must put down the slightest attempt at disorder.”

Halleck saw to it that conscription was merely the beginning of the contacts with the federal government and its army that the American citizen soldier experienced. Once the men were in the service, Halleck and his staff, rather than the State governments, supplied their needs. The operating procedure was brutally simple and efficient; and it was part of a general trend toward centralization in all areas of American life. The total result was revolution.

And it was a nation, not a Union, that the troops had saved. Politically, economically, socially, and militarily, the Civil War had created a new nation upon the wreck of the old Union. Halleck, who realized that the powerful army he wanted needed a powerful nation to support it, was an important agent in the revolution.

He used troops to quell draft riots, break strikes that threatened the national effort, ensure Republican victories at the polls and suppress traitorous politicians. He rejected the democratic ideal that opposition is not only loyal but necessary. He constantly condemned those who opposed, not just Lincoln’s administration, but the whole fabric of centralization; he believed that only centralization could lead to victory.

During the political campaign of 1864, Halleck supported Lincoln as the lesser of evils [though] would have preferred Lincoln to act with Bismarckian ruthlessness . . . Old Brains realized that America’s entrance into the modern world [of centralization] might be slightly hindered, or slightly helped, by individuals, but that by 1864 it could no longer be halted. Politically, socially, and militarily, centralization had become institutionalized; Halleck had done his share in making that possible.”

Halleck: Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, Stephen E. Ambrose, LSU Press, 1962, (pp. 199-200; 202-203; 208-211)

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