Browsing "America Transformed"

The Myth of the Saved Union

Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward admitted that Southerners were free to leave the Union, abandon their land and live elsewhere. Many Northerners wanted to drive the Southern people out and repopulate the section with New England-style government, customs and schools.

The following is excerpted from a speech and letter of Massachusetts Congressman George B. Loring, delivered April 26, 1865. Loring was a prewar abolitionist and reformer who realized that if the freedmen were not brought into the Republican party through the infamous Union League, New England’s political domination was in peril. While feigning justice toward the black race, those like Loring clamped chains upon the South. Ironically, Loring seems unaware that it was Massachusetts threatening secession several times in the early 1800s, though he condemns the South for following his State’s example.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Myth of the Saved Union 

“I know I used a strong expression when I said we must beware of clemency [toward the defeated South and] accord strict justice to those who have taken up arms against our government? Shall we restore them to the fullness of their former rights? Never.

They have taken their chances, and now let them abide by the result. (Great applause). They have declared that they were independent, now let them remain independent. (Applause). The world is wide, and all lands, and all oceans, and the islands of the sea are open to receive them. (Applause – amen). Some of them have taken care to provide the necessary comforts for their journey. (Laughter).

And what a contrast we have before us – your eulogized and sainted President, known through all the world as the friend of freedom and a free government, who has written his name among the stars – and his opponent, [Jefferson Davis] flying in the darkness before an indignant people, branded and despised, bearing his ill-gotten treasure if possible to that safety which a foreign land alone can give him, an outlaw and fugitive. What a contrast – the one a martyr in heaven – the other a felon sunk to the lowest pit of infamy on earth.

I insist upon it that it is impossible to treat with traitors who have taken up arms against this government, for the express purpose of blasting it and all the hopes of freedom with it. We cannot restore our government in this way. I feel it to be impossible, and would never agree to the restoration of the old State organizations among the revolted States, or to any State government s manufactured for the occasion.

So I say of all the States which have destroyed their “practical relations” to the general government by rebellion. When all the citizens of a State reach that point at which they are ready to return, upon the basis of government which the war has made for us all, let them return. But not until this is accomplished – not until the institutions of these States conform to the highest civilization of the land – would I place them on equality with the loyal States.

Until this is done how can members of Congress be returned, whose principles shall render them fit to sit by the side of men from Massachusetts? (Great applause. Hurrah).

No oath of allegiance can purify them [prominent Confederate leaders who had once held high elective or appointive federal offices]. Our country – the civilized world, does not want their counsels. Their return would be an eternal disgrace to us.

Now, what is there on the other side? It is simply this. I would hold all the revolted States by the power of the Federal authority, — that power which we have strengthened and confirmed by this war. The first gun fired at Sumter . . . dispelled forever all the fallacies and sophistries accumulated for years under the names of State Rights and State Sovereignty.

I do not mean any invasion of the legitimate rights of a State, — but of that superlative folly which has been represented by the flag of South Carolina and the sacred soil of Virginia.

The Federal authority has now become powerful, and is the supreme power in the land. When the revolted States are ready to recognize that authority, when they are ready to bear their proportion of the national debt, when they are ready to make common cause with the loyal North in their systems of education and laws and religion, when their citizens are ready to sacrifice their lives in support of the Union as the North has done for the last four years, then and not till then would I allow them to return.

It has been said that the great contest has been between Massachusetts and South Carolina. BE it so. And as Massachusetts has carried the day, I would have South Carolina submit wisely and gracefully to the consequences of the defeat. (Applause and hurrahs.)

Let us see then, if we cannot adopt some system by which our schools, and all our institutions be planted and nurtured upon their soil. I think we can. I think the American people are equal to this issue, and that they will never be satisfied until the Federal arm is stretched over the revolted States, holding them firmly in obedience, in its powerful grasp, until they shall have learned the lesson of freedom, which the North has furnished them.

And during this period of pupilage [of the South] let us exercise such military sway as will secure the great objects of the war.

(Dr. George B. Loring, Speech and Letter, The Radical Republicans and Reconstruction, 1861-1870, Harold Hyman, editor, Bobbs-Merrill, 1967, pp. 234-237)

 

Jackson's Centralized Popular Democracy

Andrew Jackson, the leveling-democrat, set in motion the elevation of the federal agent above its creators. His view that a common and even unfit man could ascend to the presidency predictably misled many others into believing the same. With the Founding generation in their graves, the democracy they feared would transform the republic they wrought.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jackson’s Centralized Popular Democracy

“Last of the Revolutionary generation to hold the Presidency, the last chief to wear a queue and smallclothes, was the self-effacing Virginian, James Monroe. [Andrew] Jackson, duelist, frontiersman, romantic lover, had no illusions about his abilities. “Do they think I am such a damned fool as to consider myself fit for the Presidency?”

But like other military heroes, before and since, he was drafted into the job. He had been a hero in the old Creek War, living on scorns and holding off mutiny with oaths and an unloaded rifle. He had been a fourteen-year-old soldier of the Revolution, watching the slaughter of the Battle of Camden through the logs of a prison stockade.

He was the peoples’ president. It was under Jackson, not Lincoln, that our modern, centralized popular democracy was born. Jackson first gave the laboring man a voice and vote in the ranks of the Democratic party.

Jackson, in his war with the United States Bank, dramatically demonstrated that the power of Big Business could only be countered by big government in Washington.

Jackson called the bluff on the belief of the Southern Nullifiers that the power of a State was superior to that of the general government. Jackson himself was living proof of Jefferson’s doctrine of the natural aristocracy. Yet he perverted that doctrine. He failed to see the genius in himself. He felt that if he, a common man, could handle the Presidency, so could any other common man.

This was a belief highly-acceptable to the proponents of all-out majority rule. It marked the start of the lowering and leveling process which eventually tainted all national leadership, education and mass entertainment. Not since Jackson’s time has the goal of “Jeffersonian democracy” been to ferret out the natural leadership. Instead, the aim has been to prove literally that all men are equal, and to press all down into a single mold of conformity.”

(The Molders, Margaret L. Coit, This Is the South, Robert West Howard, editor. Rand McNally, 1959, pp. 92-93)

 

Lincoln's Army of Roughs and Jailbirds

The Hampton area of Virginia was evacuated by Gen. John B. Magruder’s forces in early August 1861; the region had become unstable after the enemy seized property and slaves, and by late July the Hampton-Fortress Monroe area had nearly 1000 blacks seized during enemy raids on upriver plantations. The intention was identical to Lord Dunmore’s in 1775 – deny Virginia its agricultural workers and arm them against their former owners.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Army of Roughs and Jailbirds

“On Monday, May 27 [1861] . . . soon after breakfast, several boats were seen loaded with [Yankee] troops going up the river and being so near the land, it was apparent they intended to land at the wharves. One can imagine the great excitement created by the sight of the troops. War seemed to have come in the midst of perfect peace.

Very soon after, a squad of marines came to the house and advised father to go and ask protection of the commanding officer, who turned out to be General [Northcott] Phelps. They said many of the soldiers were the rough and jailbirds of Boston and would steal and destroy everything unless it was guarded.

General Phelps was the colonel of the 1st Vermont (Regiment) but on account of his West Point training had been made brigadier-general . . . There were three regiments landed: the 7th New York, all Germans, were stationed next to our house, all on our land; the 1st Vermont, and the Massachusetts, next to Captain Wilbern’s.

In order to conciliate the guard, we furnished them with food, but they were very suspicious, and I usually had to eat some of it to show that it was not poisoned.

Tuesday afternoon I went over to the [enemy] camp . . . and witnessed something of what war was. It seemed that the colonel of the Massachusetts Regiment was very mad because Phelps had been promoted over him and for this reason perhaps had given passes to a great many of his men to go out of the lines . . . At any rate, a large number had gone out of camp and plundered the whole neighborhood.

They seemed to have stripped the farms and houses of everything conceivable. I learned afterwards that the thieves, finding that they would be arrested, had left most of the plunder in the thickets outside the pickets, all of which was brought into camp, in the night.

As only two of the Vermonters were arrested, and very few of the Germans, the Massachusetts Regiment became very indignant and made many threats. I now saw what a soldier would do if unrestrained and in what he conceived an enemy’s country . . . there was fear of mutiny, for we were informed by our guard that the Vermont Regiment was expecting an attack, and if we heard any firing we would know it was between them and the Massachusetts Regiment.

The Negroes had not tried to protect anything from the pillaging of the soldiers . . . What furniture or other things they wanted had been carried away by them. A small safe that father had used in his store in Hampton . . . had been taken out in the yard and broken open. The valuables were all stolen and books and papers scattered about the yard.”

(When the Yankees Came, Civil War and Reconstruction on the Virginia Peninsula, George Benjamin West, Park Rouse, Jr., editor, The Dietz Press, 1977, excerpts, pp. 47-50)

Two Cultures of 1860 America

A twenty-two year old Virginian in 1861, George Benjamin West wrote his memoirs of the war thirty years after the war. He noted during his State’s early occupation by the enemy the prevalence of German rather than American soldiers in blue – and the same in 1865 as he rode through occupied Richmond. His observations reveal two distinct cultures in the United States of 1860.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Two Cultures of 1860 America

“Our servants stayed with us several weeks [after the capitulation]. I intended to get a parole, but father insisted that I could go about much freer and would not be subjected to so many interruptions by the guards around Old Point if I took the oath.

I went up to take the oath, and General Joseph R. Anderson, CSA, of the Tredegar Iron Works, a splendid looking man and soldier, was ahead of me, and I heard the questions asked him, and saw the manner of the (Federal) lieutenant, who felt his importance, and I became so indignant with the lieutenant and sorry for the general that when my time came I did not feel the humiliation and shame I expected.

Look around at the sight now. No people ever recuperated in such a short time. This whole section soon became a garden spot, and though most of the people had to lose even their land for security debts (often for the hire of slaves before the war), yet though not accustomed and often not really able to work, they made the best of the situation and determined if possible to start in life again and show the Yankees that they could live without their aid, and even without slaves or property.

I think the South believed that the North opposed slavery not so much because of their [abolitionists’] love for humanity as they pretended but because they were envious of the prosperity of the South and hated the aristocracy because they knew they were superior, and felt that their own mean pecuniary dealings and money-making propensity was condemned.

The South did not try to make money because money was the means by which they could elevate themselves, because they looked more to a man’s character and behavior than to his bank account.

The North had to work harder and live more economically to get along, and probably on this account they would take advantages and do little mean tricks which were looked upon by us as wanting in honor and honesty, and gentlemanly instincts.

The better classes of the North never visited the South, nor were the Southern people anxious to mingle with them at the North, so we grew wider apart every year. They hating and envying us more and more, and we looked down upon them.”

(When the Yankees Came, Civil War and Reconstruction on the Virginia Peninsula, George Benjamin West, Park Rouse, Jr., editor, The Dietz Press, 1977, pp. 97-98)

New England Unitarians and Universalists

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a sterling example of serious religious differentiation between North and South as he resigned his pastorate in Boston due to an inability “to conceal disbelief in traditional creeds.” His “emancipated spirit soared” as he demonstrated that a philosopher could attain great heights in intellectual adventures, and believing one’s own thoughts before religious orthodoxy. To “realize the divine in every man, to be a nonconformist, with virtues that were more than penances . . . was his religion.” It would not take long for people like this to ignite open warfare.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

New England Unitarians and Universalists

“The deists of the late colonial period and of the infant republic were usually political radicals as well. They advocated independence, fought in the Revolution, and ended their careers supporting the French Revolution and Jeffersonian democracy. Indeed, Jefferson himself was the arch-deist, and for that reason all the more detested by the New England orthodox Federalist of the Fisher Ames sort.

Unitarianism was even more destructive of orthodoxy than was deism. In New England it cut across both Episcopal and Congregational-Presbyterian churches, taking over many whole congregations complete with clergy and church property. In 1785, the Episcopalian King’s Chapel in Boston turned Unitarian under its pastor, James Freeman, and when Freeman was refused ordination by the Episcopal Church he received it from his own congregation acting as an independent religious organization.

The English traveler, Thomas Hamilton, summarized the usual British estimate of Unitarianism:

“Unitarianism is the democracy of religion. Its creed makes fewer demands on the faith or the imagination, than that of any other Christian sect. It appeals to known reason in every step of its progress, and while it narrows the compass of miracle, enlarges that of demonstration. Its followers have less bigotry than other religionists, because they have less enthusiasm. A Unitarian will take nothing for granted but the absolute and plenary efficacy of his own reason in matters of religion. He is not a fanatic, but a dogmatist . . . and [chooses] religion as one does a hat, because it fitted him.”

Their importance and leadership however, were out of proportion to their numbers, for they were largely of the middle and upper classes, representing both wealth and learning. They were strong in the literary and cultural centers of New England.

If Unitarianism was the faith of the well-to-do, well-educated dissenters from the doctrines of Calvin, the poorer New Englanders with liberal ideas, adopted the Universalism brought to American by John Murray in 1770. There was little difference in theology between the two sects; the Universalist merely placed their emphasis on the denial of hell and the doctrine of universal salvation. There were few Universalist churches in the Eastern cities, but they were numerous in the country districts.

Yale College became a hotbed of radicalism — at least in the eyes of conservative divines. Students called each other by the names of French radicals and met to discuss the progress, perfection, and the rights of man. In the words of the author of a history of a neighboring college, “the dams and dykes seemed to be swept away, and irreligion, immorality, skepticism, and infidelity came in like a flood.”

In 1799 only four or five Yale undergraduates professed religion, and in 1800 there was only one church member in the graduating class. “A young man who belonged to the church in that day was a phenomenon — almost a miracle.” By the end of the century, with the appointment of Henry Ware to the Hollis Professorship of theology, Unitarianism was fairly entrenched in the old training school for Puritan divines.”

(Freedom’s Ferment, Alice Felt Tyler, University of Minnesota Press, 1944, pp. 26-29)

Lincoln's Beast in New Orleans

Contemplating victory at New Orleans some 50 years prior, the British commander announced that his forces had come to “restore order, maintain public tranquility, and enforce peace and quiet under His Majesty’s laws.” The secessionists of that day were required to surrender their arms and suppress all flags except those of England. Full protection of person and property was held out to all who would renew the oath of allegiance to the British Crown and the band would play “Rule Britannia.” 

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa 1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Beast in New Orleans

“When the army transport Mississippi at noon on May 1 [1862] tied up to the wharf at the foot of Poydras Street, the New York Times correspondent on board reported:

 “I saw several instances of the bitter spirit of the rabble, and even of people whom one might have taken from their appearance to be respectable. The levee, for the whole length of the river front of the city, was constantly crowded by a turbulent throng and whenever a boat belonging to the fleet passed them, its occupants were jeered and hooted at . . . This wall of human beings stood there as enemies to bar our entry to the city.”

As the soldiers were disembarking, angry citizens had to be held back at point of bayonet. Voices from the mob called out “Picayune Butler,” “You’ll never see home again.” “Hallo, epaulets, lend us a picayune.”

 The picayune, Louisiana’s smallest coin in colonial days, had recently achieved minstrel-show fame in a jocular song about “the arrival of a mythical Picayune Butler at a mythical town for mythical purposes. General Butler, in his stateroom, hearing the outcries for “Picayune Butler,” paused in the composition of his proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans long enough to inquire if any of the bands could play the tune. As the music was unavailable, “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner” were played instead.

At 5PM, Butler began his march through the downtown section of the city to the Custom House [with Massachusetts and Wisconsin troops]. Crowds on the pavements craned their necks. Here and there a throat screamed: “Where is the damned rascal?” “There he goes, God damn him!” “I see the old damned villain!” Others taunted the Federals with “Shiloh!” “Bull Run!” “Hurrah for Beauregard!” “Go home, you damned Yankees!”  

In his proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans Butler emphasized the peaceful intention behind the mailed fist. There would be martial law, but only for so long as it might be necessary, since the United States forces had come to “restore order, maintain public tranquility, and enforce peace and quiet under the laws and constitution of the United States.”

Secessionists were required to surrender their arms and suppress all flags except those of the United States. Full protection of person and property was held out to all who would renew the oath of allegiance.

Mayor John T. Monroe, summoned on May 2, made his way to [Butler’s headquarters] through packed, sullen streets and was received in the . . . Ladies Parlor.  Monroe, remembering Butler as a fellow Democrat in prewar days, greeted the General as “always a friend of the South.”

“Stop sir,” Butler interrupted, “Let me set you right on that point at once. I was always a friend of Southern rights but an enemy of Southern wrongs.”

The interview was interrupted by loud shouts in the streets of “hang the traitor,” and an aide rushed in. “General Williams orders me to say that he fears he may not be able to control the mob.”  “Give me compliments to General Williams,” directed Butler, “and tell him, if he finds he cannot control the mob, to open upon them with artillery.”

[Butler’s wife] Sarah Butler relished the experience, and described it to her sister:

“And what do you think about being among the first to enter New Orleans . . . Mr. Butler ordering the opening of the St. Charles, compelling a hackman at the point of a bayonet to drive us to the Hotel. We had no guard but an armed soldier on the box and another behind the carriage. A regiment was drawn up around the hotel and four howitzers on the corners. The band was stationed on the piazza, and they played with fiery energy all the national airs from Yankee Doodle to the Star Spangled Banner.” 

[Butler stated] . . . “if a shot is fired from any house, that house will never again cover a mortal’s head; and if I can discover the perpetrator of the deed, the place that now knows him shall know him no more forever. I have the power to suppress this unruly element in your midst, and I mean to use it.”

(Lincoln’s Scapegoat General, A Life of General Benjamin F. Butler, Richard West, Jr., Houghton Mifflin, 1965, pp. 131-135)

 

Freedmen Intoxicated with the Idea of Power

Not content with devastating the American South and destroying its political power, the vindictive Radicals in Washington considered the conquered States as mere territories to be ruled by Northern proconsuls. To establish a veneer of democracy, blacks were herded to the polls by the notorious Union League to elect Northern men; the freedmen were instructed to burn the barns and homes of white citizens to keep them from the polls.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Freedmen Intoxicated With the Idea of Power

“It was to The Shrubs, the home of his former classmate, Judge Thomas M. Dawkins of Union [county], that Governor McGrath moved the State Capitol with the officials and archives just before General Sherman reached Columbia. There daily reports were received of the burning of Columbia, the position of Sherman’s and Cheatham’s armies, and finally the surrender of Lee and the flight of Jefferson Davis through Union.

In her diary Mrs. Dawkins wrote: “Young people were hopeful to the last so when soldiers were with us, music, dancing, charades, etc., made many enjoyable evenings never to be forgotten. There was a bon ami, a comradeship born of the situation very fascinating and rare.”

After surrender Mrs. Dawkins wrote, “We had 11 servants in the yard, and many of them were there. I said “I have told you, you are free and of course can leave at any time but would rather you wait and let us settle you comfortably.”

My seamstress Milly was Abraham Dogan’s wife, the carriage driver. He became a member of the Legislature. It was with difficulty we could get them to move out of the yard.

Finally in January 1866 Judge Dawkins hired for them a house and settled them with pig provisions, but poor ignorant creatures, they were intoxicated with the idea of power, and always fond of idleness began to steal and destroy property. Scarcely a night without burning. There was no redress, no law, and the Ku Klux Klan was formed to frighten the Negroes, so sensational superstition — all done to this point – masks, coffins, etc. This was done as patiently as possible for 10 years from 1866 to 1876. Then our hero, General Hampton came forward to help us.”

Thus Mrs. Dawkins, born in England, an imported schoolteacher from the North, married to a member of the aristocracy in Union [county], spoke to future generations through her diary of the tensions and problems of a tragic episode in American history.”

(Plantation Heritage in Upcountry, South Carolina, Kenneth and Blanche Marsh, Biltmore Press, 1965, page 107)

Destruction, Confiscation and Genocide

Ample evidence suggests that exterminating Southerners and repopulating their lands with New Englanders was desired by abolitionist radicals like Eli Thayer and Parson Brownlow. The latter wanted Negro troops under Ben Butler to drive Southern men, women and children into the Gulf of Mexico to clear the way for those loyal to Lincoln’s government to settle on confiscated Southern lands.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Destruction, Confiscation and Genocide

“For many [Southern] manufacturers, the personal and financial losses of the Civil War were truly overwhelming. At Roswell, Georgia, [Northern-born] Barrington King found upon his return from refugeeing farther South, away from Sherman’s destructive swath across that State, that “going towards the creek to see the destruction of our fine mills, all destroyed, the loss of two sons, another wounded, & one with a broken wrist, all caused by the late unnatural war, made me sad indeed.”

Duncan Murchison, the former proprietor of the Little River factory in Fayetteville, North Carolina, lamented, “the fortunes of war have snatched away nearly the whole of my property – my cotton factory, store house, ware-houses, turpentine distillery, with all the stock on hand, were burned by Genl Sherman’s army, and my grain, provisions and stock taken by the two contending armies.”

With six bullet wounds himself, William H. Young of Columbus’s [Georgia] burned Eagle factory also “suffered much and heavily in the recent war by the loss of children and property.”

Ralph Brinkley, who fled the Memphis Wolfe Creek mill upon the entrance of federal troops into Tennessee, wrote the president that he “suffered heavily by the war, and by the loss of two lovely children” and was weighted down with grief and affliction.” The psychological and economic trauma was made more acute by the uncertain political atmosphere in the North.

Eli Thayer, once a confidant of John Brown, wrote [President Andrew] Johnson that Confederate lands should quickly be confiscated and immigrants settled on them. The president at times seemed to endorse treason trials and massive confiscations.

Following the complete occupation of the former Confederacy in the summer of 1865, Secretary of the Treasury McCulloch approved extensive seizures of property that fell under the terms of [the Northern confiscation acts since 1861]. Secretary McCulloch, responsive to Andrew Johnson’s insistence that treason be made odious, ruled that State and locally-owned properties in the South were also alienated and liable for confiscation by virtue of their use in the rebellion.

In North Georgia, [Barrington] King observed, as did others across the South, that many freedmen were “leaving their masters’ plantations, crops ruined, no one to do the work – all flooding to the cities and towns, expecting to be supported by Govt.” Although accommodating to free labor, he believed that “without some law compelling the Negroes to work for wages, there will be trouble in another year, as the poor creatures expose themselves, become sickly & fast dying off.”

Then high mortality rate for freed people in the summer of 1865 convinced King and many managers that blacks could not survive without supervision.”

(Confederate Industry, Manufacturers and Quartermasters in the Civil War, Harold S. Wilson, University of Mississippi Press, 2002, excerpts, pp. 234-237; 252-253)

 

Intolerant New Englanders

Upon regaining their moral compass after years of shipping captured Native Americans into West Indian slavery and dominating the transatlantic slave trade, New Englanders found slavery in the South reprehensible and vowed to stamp it out. The Joseph R. Hawley mentioned below became a Northern major general, served as Connecticut governor 1866-67, and then purchased the Hartford Currant newspaper of Thomas M. Day.  Hawley and Day held blacks, Catholics, foreigners and distilled spirits in low regard.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Intolerant New Englanders

“His [editor Day’s] first editorial, January 1, 1855, ran a full column . . . he proposed to “encourage every judicious effort to stay the encroachments of the slave power”; to uphold the prohibition of liquor; to help check the influence of immigrants at the polls; to support a high protective tariff; and to expect little good from President [Franklin] Pierce or his cabinet.

The editor praised the Native American party for going into political battle with the war-cry of “America for the Americans.” He praised the party’s twin aims: “a refusal to be governed by foreigners — a determination not to allow Romanism to decide our elections.” He criticized other editors for not seeing that Irish and German immigrants could undermine the American labor market.

With even greater assurance he wrote: “We believe the Caucasian variety of the human species superior to the Negro variety; and we would breed the best stock . . . the Caucasian variety is intrinsically a better breed, of better brain, better moral traits, better capacity every way, than the Negro, or the Mongolian, or the Malay, or the Red American.”

The Native American motto “America for the Americans” had a different effect on some of the newspaper readers in the Courant’s distribution area. They believed the issues of freedom and human bondage to be far more profound than those of native birth, and they began to look about for a political organization to give force to their view. Their search led directly to the founding of the present Republican party in Connecticut and to the establishment of a newspaper, the Hartford Evening Press, that was destined to merge with The Courant and to infuse new vitality into the old paper.

Day was still blustering at non-Americans when . . . on a cold Monday, February 3, 1856, Joseph R. Hawley, a local attorney who years later was to become one of the owners of The Courant, and John F. Morris, cashier of the Charter Oak Bank, met at the corner of Main and Asylum Streets in downtown Hartford. Both were deeply concerned about the possible spread of slavery into the territories of the West. Morris . . . abruptly asked: “Hawley, isn’t it time that a Republican organization was formed here?” “Yes it is,” Hawley replied, “full time and we must be about it.”

(Older Than the Nation, Life and Times of the Hartford Courant, John Bard McNulty, Pequot Press, 1964, pp. 69-71)

Unselfish American Imperialism

Often the imperialist views his own expansionist actions as more altruistic than previous imperialists, and even when assisting others in their exploitative operations. It is said that the United States went to war against Japan to protect British, French and Dutch colonial empires, while maintaining that the war was fought against Japanese colonialism – though the Japanese were simply emulating the Europeans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Unselfish American Imperialism

“At the beginning of 1944 as British and American oilmen, with the backing of their governments, scrambled to win concessions from the Iranian government for its largely uncommitted oil lands . . . but [the Iranian government] came under growing internal pressure from forces opposed to the preponderance of the United States in Iranian affairs.

[In February 1944] Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Saed complained that Americans] refused to hire qualified Iranians, [and] employed too many incompetent Americans . . .

During the first half of 1944 . . . the State Department energetically backed the claims of the American oil company representatives then in Teheran, insisting that the two American firms – Sinclair Oil and Standard Vacuum – do everything possible to obtain the concessions.

Throughout the first third of 1944 Washington’s interest in Iran continued, and the reports of Patrick Hurley, Roosevelt’s special representative in the Middle East, reiterated the future importance of the area. Hurley’s saucy observations appealed to Roosevelt, over whom he exercised a powerful influence, for his categories of explanation and logic, and his frankness, were remarkably like the President’s own impulsive mannerisms.

Hurley associated Britain’s presence in Iran and the Middle East in general with the “principles of imperialism, monopoly, and exploitation. Evoking this belief, he appealed to Roosevelt to work for the “principles of liberty and democracy” by obtaining important oil concessions, maintaining a mission to straighten out Iran’s internal affairs, and breaking the economic hold of the British.

Hurley convinced Roosevelt of Iran’s importance, and in January [1944] the President told [Secretary of State Cordell] Hull: “I was rather thrilled with the idea of using Iran as an example of what we could do by an unselfish American policy.” As usual, Roosevelt left the critical details of implementing such a policy to others, and when the results came back he invariably endorsed them.

In this atmosphere of growing crisis and controversy over American [versus British] power in Iran, the State Department now had to formulate a basic policy on the country consistent with its larger Middle Eastern strategy. In mid-July, Richard ford, the American charge’, stressed the need for “a strong stand here both now and in the future,” one oil and the potential “market for American goods” justified, and the State Department sent its reply at the end of the month for his guidance.

[New Secretary of State Edward] Stettinius wrote . . . “a strong and independent Iran” was now a goal of United States policy [which included oil concessions and air bases].”

[State Department advisor Arthur C.] Millspaugh provided additional fuel [to the Great Power conflict in the Middle East] with an off-the-record interview in an Iranian newspaper suggesting that only the United States could save Iran from Soviet or British infractions of its independence.

Rumors of the oil-concession negotiations were also officially confirmed during August as more and more Iranians asked how Americans could be sitting on both sides of the negotiating table. Then everything stopped as the Russians entered the scene. What originally had been an Anglo-American conflict now became a three-way crisis among the major Allies.

American intervention in Iran was an excellent example of how the pursuit of national objectives provoked the redefinition of a regional situation and created the basis for international crises. It was primarily the struggle over oil and the extension of American control over Iranian affairs that caused the Russians to intervene not only for oil, but to establish the principle that affairs along their borders could no longer be determined without regard to Soviet interests and security.

Soviet references to the Iranian crisis in the fall of 1944 were for the most part critical of the growth of American power and influence there and the ability of the United States to define Soviet-Iranian relations. [US Moscow diplomat George] Kennan perceived this immediately, and warned Washington that “The basic motive of recent Soviet action in . . . Iran is probably not the need for the oil itself, but apprehension of potential foreign penetration in that area . . .”

By the end of 1944 the United States had won its struggle to monopolize Saudi Arabian oil concessions, but Britain and Russia had foiled its plan in Iran. Again Washington construed Soviet noncooperation with American objectives as an example of Soviet expansionist tendencies.”

(The Politics of War, The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945, Pantheon Books, 1968, pp. 308-310)