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The Timeworn Stereotype of the South

In the following paper historian Frank L. Owsley refutes the claim that the North fought the war to preserve democratic government in America. He asserted that on the surface the South sought to establish its independence while the North fought to deny this desire. Owsley wrote that by early 1861 the Southern people “felt it both abhorrent and dangerous to continue to live under the same government with the people of the North. And so profound was this feeling among the bulk of the Southern population that they were prepared to fight a long and devastation war to accomplish a separation. On the other hand, the North was willing to fight a war to retain their fellow citizens under the same government with themselves.”

The Timeworn Stereotype of the South

“The Civil War was not a struggle on the part of the South to destroy free government and personal liberty, nor on the part of the North to preserve them.

Looked at from the present perspective of the worldwide attempt of totalitarians to erase free governments and nations living under such governments from the face of the earth, the timeworn stereotype that the South was attempting the destruction of free government and the North was fighting to preserve it, seems very unrealistic and downright silly.

Indeed, both Northern and Southern people in 1861 were alike profoundly attached to the principles of free government which is substantiated by period newspapers, diaries, letters and speeches give irrefutable evidence in support of this assertion. Their ideology was democratic and identical.

By 1860 the northeastern section of the United States had already assumed its modern outlines of a capitalist-industrial society where the means of production were owned by a relatively few. That is to say that New England and the middle States were fast becoming in essence a plutocracy with the lower classes dependent upon those who owned the tools of production.

Turning to the South, which was primarily agricultural, we find the situation completely contradictory to what has usually been assumed. The so-called slave-oligarchy of the South owned scarcely any of the land outside the black belt and only about 25 percent of the land inside the black belt. Actually, the basic means of production in the black belt and in the South as a whole was well-distributed among all classes of the population. The overwhelming majority of Southern families in 1860 owned their farms and livestock; about 90 percent of the slaveholders and about 70 percent of the non-slaveholders owned the land on which they farmed.

And it is important to note that the bulk of slaveholders were small farmers and not oligarchs – the majority of whom owned from one to four slaves and less than three hundred acres of land.

Thus, unlike the industrial population of the East, the overwhelming majority of white families in the South, owned the means of production. In other words, the average Southerner like the average Westerner possessed economic independence and held on strongly to its democratic ideology and sound economic foundation of a free government.”

(The Fundamental Cause of the Civil War, Frank L. Owsley. Journal of Southern History, Vol. 7, No. 1, February 1941. pp. 5-6)

Deconstructing Historical Memory

Like the Russian Bolsheviks before them, the African National Congress regime in New South Africa renamed established cities and roadways for heroes of its communist revolution. In post-revolution Russia, the Society of Marxist Historians “demanded a review of all existing historical literature,” with students at the Institute of Red Professors formed into brigades preparing assessments of large portions of existing literature for publication in the press. The same process of assessment moves forward in New South Africa, as it does in the United States.

Deconstructing Historical Memory

“It may be a trifling issue to deracinated sophisticates, but landmarks in the country’s founding history are slowly being erased, as demonstrated by the ANC’s decision to give an African name to Potchefstroom, a town founded in 1838 by the Vortrekkers.  Pretoria is now called Tshwane.  Nelspruit, founded by the Nel family (they were not Xhosa), and once the seat of the South African Republic’s government during the first Boer War, has been renamed Mbombela. Polokwane was formerly Pietersburg.  Durban’s Moore Road (after Sir John Moore, the hero of the Battle of Corunna, fought in 1808 during the Napoleonic Wars) is Che Guevarra Road; Kensington Drive, [now] Fidel Castro Drive.

Perhaps the ultimate in tastelessly hip nomenclature is Yasser Arafat Highway, down which the motorist can careen on the way to the Durban airport.

The Afrikaans tongue, in particular, has come under the ANC’s attack, as the government attempts to compel Afrikaans schools to adopt English. Afrikaans-speaking universities have been labeled as “racist” in the New South Africa, and have been forced to merge with “third-rate black institutions so that campuses may be swamped by blacks demanding instruction in English.”

On the supplanting of the Afrikaans language, Dan Roodt relates: “Not so long ago, and Indian employee at my local branch of the Absa Bank demanded to know if I was a legal resident in South Africa upon hearing me speak a foreign language, Afrikaans.”

The ANC’s attempt to tame and claim South African history mimics the effort by American elites to deconstruct American history and memory, documented by Samuel Huntington in “Who Are We?”  Wishing to purge America of her “sinful European inheritance,” bureaucrats, mediacrats, educrats, assorted policy wonks and intellectuals trashed the concept of America as melting pot.

In its place, they insisted on ensconcing multiculturalism, inherent in which is a denunciation of America’s Western foundation and a glorification of non-Western cultures.  This mindset does not permit pedagogues to reject faux Afrocentric faux history outright.  They dare not – not if the goal of education is to be achieved, and that goal is an increase in self-esteem among young Africans, in particular.

Other self-styled victim groups, notably natives and women, have had their suppurating historical wounds similarly tended with curricular concessions. Thus, of the 670 stories and articles in “twenty-two readers for grades three and six published in the 1970s and early 1980s . . . none had anything to do with American history since 1780.” The trend, documented by Huntington, accelerated well into the year 2000, when Congress, alarmed by the nation’s historical Alzheimer’s, made an anemic effort to correct decades of deconstruction. It allocated more funds to the Department of Education, which is a lot like letting the proverbial fox guard the historical henhouse.”

(Into the Cannibal’s Pot, Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, Ilana Mercer, Stairway Press, 2011, pp. 80-81)

Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance

In truth, those States who remained in the 1789 Constitution under Lincoln’s presidency continued as “the Union” – while several Southern States decided to form a more perfect Union known as a Confederacy. In this manner Lincoln’s Union was saved – so why did he wage war against the States which is the very definition of treason?

In addition, the invading Northern army was not truly reflective of Northern society as rising casualty lists, coffins and those maimed for life returned home early in the war and enlistments dwindled. By mid-1862 volunteers no longer came forward and Lincoln had to resort to foreigners, conscription and generous bounties for outright mercenaries.

An alleged restoration the Union evaporated quickly as the invading armies descended into indiscriminate destruction, looting and property confiscation – and the erection of puppet governments in conquered areas.

Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance

“[I]n reality Sherman was remarkably free of malice toward the Southern people. He urged a warfare of terror not out of vindictiveness, but simply to win the war as quickly as possible [and without regard for the human cost].

And many other Northerners were drawn to the hard policy by their deepening hatred of Southerners. The death of tens – eventually hundreds – of thousands of Northern men inevitably stirred cries for revenge. Simple victory and the restoration of the Union would no longer suffice; there must be retribution. It now seemed clear that the Southern people as a whole were not misled and innocent of treason, but willful and guilty.

Northerners concluded that Southern society as it existed was simply incompatible with American nationhood. Even if vanquished in war, the South would remain a menace to the Union unless its very society was fundamentally reformed. All the previous elements that represented this society had to be swept away so that the South could be reconstructed in the image of the North. Only then could America fulfill its sacred destiny.

The Northern invaders now had a very different mission: not to conciliate, but to conquer and avenge; not to protect but to seize and destroy; not to restore but to prepare the way for a new South, and a new nation.”

(When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South. Stephen V. Ashe. UNC Press, 1995, pg. 52-53)

Oct 17, 2022 - America Transformed, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Re-election, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on A Regiment of Immigrants and Americans

A Regiment of Immigrants and Americans

The 7th US Infantry Regiment is a unit with a long history dating back to the War of 1812, and perhaps 1798. It fought at Tippecanoe and Fort Harrison, as well as New Orleans under Jackson. It saw action through the Seminole Wars in Florida and then Mexico, where it attained a reputation as fine assault troops. After 1848 the regiment found itself on relatively peaceful frontier duty in Oklahoma.

A Regiment of Immigrants and Americans

As an example of regular army soldiers on the eve of the Civil War, the men of the 7th US Regiment lived for a long time on the frontiers, at the margins of American society. One could describe them as outsiders – rootless, transient and forgotten men with little education carrying out a lousy job that no one else wanted. Their backgrounds were what most “respectable” Americans would consider as beneath contempt with most unable to read or write.

Most Americans at the time still viewed professional soldiers with suspicion, believing them incapable of holding an honest job who left a normal life to live off the government. By 1860, the regular army’s ranks were completely dominated by foreigners, with three-quarters of those enlisting between 1849 and 1860 being impoverished Irish and German immigrants. After Lincoln’s call for troops in April 1861 these immigrants who had no patriotic ties to the South for the most part remained in blue uniforms.

But many regular army soldiers deserted at the first opportunity to assume new identities and join state volunteer regiments. They were after the substantial federal, state and local enlistment bonuses, pensions, and sometimes land. Regular army officers too sought commissions in state “volunteer” regiments for higher rank and greater prestige.

At the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, the 7th Infantry was besieged by a strong Southern force and its color-bearer shot down with the regimental flag. Immediately Corporal Stephen Neil grabbed the flag standard and proudly waved it, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor. No disrespect for Neil’s bravery, but standards for the awarding of this supreme honor were much lower in the nineteenth century. This is probably explained by the great need for veteran reenlistments as the initial three-year terms began expiring in mid-1863, and Lincoln offered attractive bounties and medals to units remaining in blue.

The 7th Infantry participated at the Gettysburg standoff and remained in trenches as Lee’s still-formidable force marched away. The regiment was then sent to New York City in mid-August 1863 to join other blue units forestalling further riots against Lincoln’s draft in the heavily Democratic state.

October 1864 found the regiment still in New York City as a bulwark against more anti-Lincoln rioting though they were needed by Grant in his siege of Petersburg. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, intensely worried about the potentially explosive situation in New York in the days leading up to the presidential election of 1864, persuaded Grant to leave the 7th Regiment in New York to patrol voting polls and discourage anyone from voting Democratic.  After the war assistant secretary of war Charles A. Dana admitted that the entire force of the War Department was used to facilitate Lincoln’s reelection.

Desertion plagued units like the 7th near major metropolitan areas like New York as men could simply disappear from camp at night, don civilian clothes, melt into the population and move on to points unknown with another name.

Postwar the 7th ended up on the Indian frontier with its composition changing little – half of its men were emigrants from England, Germany and Ireland. The foreign born joined for the usual reasons of limited economic and social opportunities, and the native-born were usually farm boys and small-town kids seeking adventure and excitement in the over-publicized West. Its officers were nearly all Civil War veterans with a few green, West Point second lieutenants sprinkled in.

(American Courage, American Carnage: 7th Infantry Chronicles. John C. McManus, Tom Doherty Associates, 2009, pp. 121-123; 150-171)

 

From Independence to Independence

(The following is drawn from David Hackett Fischer’s excellent “British Folkways in America.”)

The American Revolution was not a singular struggle but a series of four separate Wars of Independence waged in very different ways by the major cultures of British America.

The first (1775-1776) was a massive popular insurrection in New England. An army of British regulars was defeated by a Yankee militia much like the Puritan bands from which they were descended and urged on by their Calvinist clergy. This war, as stated by John and Samuel Adams was not fought to secure any rights of man in any universal sense, but against what was called “the contagion of venality and dissipation” which was spreading from London to America. New Englanders felt that they had always managed their own affairs and when England tried to stop them – especially their smuggling of goods and slave trade without the Crown’s percentage paid – the war came.

The second war for independence (1776-1781) was more protracted and fought mainly in the middle colonies and coastal south. It was a gentleman’s war of British regulars and professional mercenaries commanded by English gentry, against an increasingly professional American army led by a member of the Virginia gentry. They were fighting for what Jefferson called “the ancient liberties of his Saxon ancestors.”

The third war of independence reached its climax in the years 1779-1781. It was a rising of British borderers in the southern backcountry against American Loyalists and British regulars who invaded the region. The result was a savage struggle which resembled many earlier conflicts in North Britain with much family feuding and terrible atrocities committed on both sides. Prisoners were slaughtered, homes were burned, women were raped, and even small children were put to the sword.

The fourth war of independence continued in the years from 1781 to 1783, a non-violent economic and diplomatic struggle, in which the elites of the Delaware Valley played a leading part. The economic war against England was led by Robert Morris of Philadelphia; the genius of American diplomacy was Benjamin Franklin.

The end of the war resulted in the creation of three “regional republics” of British America – voting blocs of “eastern” colonies of New Englanders; a Southern bloc centered in tidewater Virginia; and a midland bloc of mainly Delaware Valley delegations. The Constitution of 1787 was an attempt to write the rules of engagement among these three regional republics – an agreement which began dissolving in Andrew Jackson’s first term. The nullification issue of 1832 tested the strength of a State’s true sovereignty.

By 1850 the Southern bloc had enough and began reconsidering the value of its political alliance with the others. In 1854 the new Republican party arose from the ashes of the Whig party and absorbed anti-Catholic Know Nothings, Transcendentalists and radical abolitionists. In 1860, this strictly sectional party fielded its second presidential candidate and won a plurality victory in November 1860. Within a month this party would drive South Carolina to independence; other States would soon follow.

In an act of desperation and fearful of his party losing its recently-gained power, this first Republican president violated Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution he was sworn to defend – “Treason against the United States shall consist only of levying War against them; or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” “Them” is the States, individually or collectively.

(Primary Source: Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. David Hackett Fischer, Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 827-828)

 

The Twenty Thousand Bayonets of a Free Government

Ohio-native and Alabama soldier Edmund Patterson found himself captured at Gettysburg on the second day of battle. His captors were of the “German Corps”, the unit Stonewall Jackson overran and scattered earlier at Chancellorsville; he was sent to Johnson’s Island prison in Ohio. Patterson relates below how the prison heard news of the New York City draft riots, quelled by Northern troops sent from Gettysburg.

The Twenty Thousand Bayonets of a Free Government

Diary entry August 18th, 1863:

“Years must pass before this war will be settled and thousands upon thousands of noble forms must lie cold in death, and I may be among that number. I wish to live to see the Confederate States and Independent Nation, loved at home and respected abroad, and at peace with all the world.

I believe that this war will be the downfall of slavery, or that it will not exist at all in the Southern States as it once did exist. What effect this will have on the future wealth and greatness of our country, I am unable to say.

Present appearances indicate that a large portion of our country will be overrun by the invaders and will become a desert waste. Wherever the foot of the Yankee hireling presses the sacred soil of the South, it carries with it the torch as well as the sword. Not confining themselves to making war on armed men, as our noble army does, they satisfy their insatiable thirst for plunder and revenge by burning dwellings, by turning defenseless and helpless women and children out of their homes and burning their only shelter before their eyes.

Many have thus been left penniless and homeless, dependent on the charities of the world, but it will be remembered to the honor and glory of the Southern people that they, during this terrible struggle, have always been ready to open their heart and their homes to these poor homeless wanderers.”

Diary entry, August 21st, 1863:

“We [prisoners] are told that the draft is going on very peaceably in N.Y. City; strange, “passing strange,” what a pacifying influence twenty thousand bayonets together with artillery and cavalry in proportion will have in executing the laws of a “free government.” Is it not strange that this number should be required in New York City, when two and a half millions of men cannot enforce the laws of Abraham in the South?”

(Yankee Rebel: Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson. J.G. Barrett, editor, UNC Press, 1966, pp. 130-131)

 

Jul 27, 2022 - America Transformed, Carnage, Costs of War, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Resistance to Lincoln, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

Edmund D. Patterson was born in Ohio of New England parents in 1842. Age seventeen found him well-educated and selling books by subscription in northern Alabama as well as teaching school. With war in 1861 came his enlistment in the Lauderdale Rifles, which became Company D of the Ninth Alabama Infantry. Patterson’s regiment arrived in Virginia two days after the battle of First Manassas, and the following extract is from his diary entry of July 23, 1861.

The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

“On the day we reached this place the rain poured down in torrents, and when we camped for the night, it was in mud and water several inches deep, and near the bloodiest part of the battlefield.

I have just returned from a walk over the battlefield. I made an attempt to go over it some hours ago, but the smell of the blood made me sick, and I had to turn back, but this time I succeeded, and may God grant that I may never see another.

I have often read descriptions of battlefields but never, until now, realized all the horrors that the word expresses. Here are the mangled human bodies on every side, some pierced by a rifle or musket ball – others almost torn to fragments by a shell – in some places horse and rider have fallen together. Some have a look or expression on their face as mild and calm as if they were only sleeping, others seem to have had a terrible struggle with the monster death and only yielded after having suffered such pain as has caused their faces to assume expressions that are fearful to look upon, their features distorted, the eyeballs glaring, and often with their hands full of mud and grass that they have clutched in their last agony.

I noticed one who had striven vainly to staunch the flow of blood from a wound through the body by stuffing mud into the wound. This was probably while the battle was still raging and no one near to attend to him. Another clutched in his hand a portion of a pack of cards, while the remained of them lay scattered around him.

But why attempt to describe in detail the particulars of this sickening scene? Many a poor fellow who left his home a few weeks or few months ago full of hope for the future now lies sleeping on this battlefield never more to be disturbed by the rattle of musketry . . . or the roar of artillery.

The result of this battle will teach the North a lesson that will not soon be forgotten. It will show them, and the world, that we are in earnest and that we mean what we say and that in attempting our subjugation they have undertaken a Herculean task. It seems to me that this battle has been a complete victory.”

(Yankee Rebel: Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson. J.G. Barrett, editor, UNC Press, 1966, pp. 7-8)

A Soviet Gift to America

Since German socialist architects Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and others were welcomed to US universities in the 1930s, collectivist methods like centralized planning have dominated architectural education. In the 1950s and beyond one commonly finds “Planning” prominently displayed on a business card in addition to architecture. Today, government planning departments invade long-established city neighborhoods with ever-changing rules regarding acceptable density, diversity and low-income housing. The Soviet Union is now long gone, but its gift to America remains.

A Soviet Gift to America

“There was another aspect of the Soviet Union that attracted American collectivist liberals. The Soviet Union was a “planned economy,” indeed even a “planned society.” At a time when the United States was suffering from unemployment, the Soviet Union was portrayed as “the land without unemployment.”

This great accomplishment was alleged to be the result of central planning; this was contrasted with the chaos of a “laissez-faire economic system,” with all its unhappy accompaniments. The New Deal was seen as a step, faltering and insufficient, in the right direction.

“Planning” was held forth as an ideal toward which the United States should move. After the Second World War, the idea of comprehensive planning diminished in the publicly expressed affection of collectivist liberals, but a strong subterranean attachment remained. There is still a clandestine love of planning. It is after all a logical necessity.

If one believes in the powers of reason and of scientific knowledge, in progress toward ever higher targets or “goals,” in collective self-determination, as well as in the limitless competence of government which proceeds in accordance with rationality and scientific knowledge, then one must be in favor of planning.

However tarnished the image of the Soviet Union has become, it still retains the credit of being “planned.”

(The Virtue of Civility: Selected Essays on Liberalism, Tradition and Civil Society. Edward Shils.  Liberty Fund, 1997. Excerpt, pg. 146)

Jul 9, 2022 - America Transformed, Jeffersonian America, Tenth Amendment, The United States Constitution    Comments Off on The Source of Political Power Flows from States

The Source of Political Power Flows from States

In his foreword to “Chaining Down Leviathan” by Marco Bassani, Dr. Donald Livingston writes of America’s new central government differing from the European model by having no plenary power. He adds that “It had only a few well-defined powers delegated to it by a compact between sovereign States,” which all held the right to check unauthorized acts of central power – and even withdraw if they chose to do so. As to new States being created in the future, Thomas Jefferson believed that States “would negotiate secessions and form new Unions of States”. He imagined perhaps three new countries united by trade and defense treaties: a federation along the Atlantic coast, one along the Atlantic coast, the Mississippi, and the Pacific. The States themselves held supreme political authority; the government at Washington was merely the agent created by the States.

Source of Political Power Flows from States

“The linchpin of John C. Calhoun’s analysis of the United States Constitution was the power of the individual State as a contracting party to, and the real dominus of, the federal pact.

It must be noted that the word “State” is all over the Constitution (it appears 103 times), while the term “nation” does not appear at all. Federal political representation, and not just that of the Senate, is centered on the States; the members of the House of Representatives are elected “by the People of the several States.”

Regarding eligibility for election, the State-centered character of representation is even more marked: for the House the candidate must be an inhabitant of the State “in which” he or she will be chosen; for the Senate the candidate must be an inhabitant of the State for which he or she will be chosen. In sum, for the House a person is chosen as a representative of a State; he or she is never imagined as a delegate of a part of the American people (which simply does not exist from a constitutional point of view), while the senator is in Washington on behalf of their State.

The source of political power flows from the States to the federal government, and never vice-versa. The Constitution authorizes and prohibits certain actions by the federal government, but to the States nothing is ever permitted, only prohibited. This means that while State political authorities must check only if a constitutional prohibition exists, in the absence of which they can act freely.

A general political capacity is recognized only for the States. The Tenth Amendment (“the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”) is the architrave of American polity. It sums up the entire system of permissions and prohibitions in the sense delineated by Calhoun.”

(Chaining Down Leviathan: The American Dream of Self Government 1776-1865. Luigi Marco Bassani, Abbeville Institute Press, 2021, pp. 195-196)

The Fruit of Lincoln’s “Victory”

In his “Note on American Heroes” author Donald Davidson wrote of the Lincoln myth still in use today by historians who have ceased to be what they claim and knowingly have become mere myth-perpetuators.

The Fruit of Lincoln’s “Victory”

“The Union that Lincoln is said to have wanted to reestablish was never really set up. If Lincoln was a supporter, as in a dim way he may have been, of the Jeffersonian notion of a body of free and self-reliant farmers as the bulwark of the nation, then why did he fight the South?

Lincoln made war upon his own idea, and that the fruit of his victory, represented in sprawling, confused, industrial America is a more pitiful sight than the desolate Lee plantations, for it is hardly even a noble ruin.

However effective it may have been as a war measure, Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was an inept bit if civil statesmanship, for it put the Negro problem beyond the hope of any such solution as America has been able to use for the Indian problem.

By letting himself by used as the idealistic front for the material designs of the North, Lincoln not only ruined the South but quite conceivably ruined the North as well; and if fascism or communism ever arrive in America, Lincoln will have been a remote but efficient cause of their appearance.”

(A Note on American Heroes, Donald Davidson. The Southern Review, Winter 1936, pg. 439)

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