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A Vigilant Corps of Government Dependents

Senator John C. Calhoun classified communities into taxpayers and tax-consumers – the former favoring lower taxes, the latter favoring increased taxes, and a wider scope of government power. He wrote of “spoils” in its narrow sense as consisting of bounties and appropriations flowing directly from the public treasury. In the wider sense, he viewed spoils as advantages derived, directly or indirectly, from government action.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Vigilant Corps of Government Dependents

“When [government] offices, instead of being considered as public trusts, to be conferred upon the deserving, were regarded as the spoils of victory, to be bestowed as rewards for partisan services, without respect to merit; when it came to be understood that all who hold office hold [it] by the tenure of partisan zeal and party service, it is easy to see that the certain, direct and inevitable tendency of such a state of things is to convert the entire body of those in office into corrupt and supple instruments of power, and to raise up a host of hungry, greedy, and subservient partisans, ready for every service, however base and corrupt.

Were a premium offered for the best means of extending to the utmost the power of patronage, to destroy the love of country, and to substitute a spirit of subserviency and man-worship: to encourage vice and discourage virtue, and, in a word, to prepare for the subversion of liberty and the establishment of despotism, no scheme more perfect could be devised; and such must be the tendency of the practice, with whatever intention adopted, or to whatever extent pursued.

[Add to this] the greater capacity, in proportion, on the part of government, in large communities, to seize on and corrupt all the organs of public opinion, and thus to delude and impose on the people; the greater tendency in such communities to the formation of parties on local and separate interests, resting on opposing and conflicting principles . . . Among them, the first and most powerful is that active, vigilant and well-trained corps which lives on the government, or expects to live on it, which prospers most when the revenue is greatest.

The next in order – when the government is connected with the banks, when it receives their notes in its dues, and pays them away as cash, and uses them as its depositories and fiscal agents – are the banking and other associated interests, stock-jobbers, brokers, and speculators; and which, like the other profit the more in consequence of the connection – the higher the revenue, the greater its surplus and the expenditures of the government.”

(The Life of John C. Calhoun, Gustavus M. Pinckney, Bibliolife (original 1903), excerpts, pp. 106-110)

Vindication for the South

Though the American republic begun by compromise showed signs of stress and splinter by 1832, the statesmen of the conservative South exercised leadership and accommodation toward the North and maintained peace. Only four years after the sectional Republican Party fielded a radical presidential candidate in 1856, several States had left the Union rather than submit to hostile Northern rule and despotism.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vindication for the South

“At some future day, when the actors have passed away, a true and impartial history of the great Civil War and its causes will be written, for it was too notable an event to remain as a mere item in the course of God’s providence. Then the truth, and the whole truth, will appear, and the world will be surprised to learn how much the South has been misrepresented, the motives and doctrines of her public men distorted, and even the private life and social habits of her people caricatured for political purposes.

Those who were inimical to the South, or were, at least, instigated by motives of political necessity to misstate the facts or to suppress a part of the truth, have had the opportunity to publish their statements and to impress them upon the public mind of the present generation, with hardly an effort of retort or correction on behalf of the Southern people.

But the history of the past cannot be wholly forgotten. It must be and is known that in the pure days of the Republic, before the tyrannous “caucus” and the iniquitous “machine” had usurped the control and direction of the public will – when men were judged upon their merits, and political parties were separated by honest diversity of opinion, and not by sectional – the South, though greatly inferior in voting power, furnished four out of five consecutive Presidents. She has given such men as Clay, Calhoun, Crittenden, Crawford, and Forsyth to the public service since the great struggle for independence, and the greatest of the chief justices was a Southerner.

She has contributed many gallant and able men to the army and navy. The “Father of the Country” was a Virginia planter, and even Farragut, who made his reputation in helping to defeat the South . . . was by birth, by early training, by marriage, by all the domestic and social associations of life, a Southern man . . . ”

I have mentioned but a small number of the Southerners who helped elevate the national fame before dissention and distrust had alienated the two sections, and I feel sure the day will come when justice will be done to the Southern leaders of 1861-65, and that an impartial posterity will by its verdict free their names from the calumnies which have been spoken against them, and will pronounce a retributive censure upon their traducers.”

(The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe, James D. Bulloch, Sagamore Press, 1959, pp. 349-351)

Virginians Choose Self-Determination

Virginians in 1861 deliberated on continuing their voluntary relationship with the federal government created by the States, remembering Jefferson’s words his Kentucky Resolutions of 1798:

” . . . reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Virginian’s Choose Self-Determination

“James W. Sheffey, speaking five days before President Lincoln’s inauguration said:

“We love the Union, but we cannot se it maintained by force. They say the Union must be preserved — she can only be preserved through fraternal affection. We must take our place — we cannot remain neutral. If it comes to this and they put the question of trying force on the States which have seceded, we must go out . . . We are waiting to see what will be defined coercion. We wait to see what action the new President will take.”

Thomas Branch, speaking the day after President Lincoln’s inaugural address said:

“My heart had been saddened and every patriotic heart should be saddened, and every Christian voice raised to Heaven in this time of our trial. After the reception of Mr. Lincoln’s inaugural, I saw gentlemen rejoicing in the hotels. Rejoicing for what sir? For plunging ourselves and our families, our wives and children in civil war? I pray that I may never rejoice at such a state of things. But I came here to defend the rights of Virginia and I mean to do it at all hazards; and if we must go to meet our enemies, I wish to go with the same deliberation, and with the same solemnity that I would bend the knee in prayer before God Almighty.”

George W. Brent, speaking on the 8th of March said:

“Abolitionism in the North, trained in the school of Garrison and Phillips, and affecting to regard the Constitution as “a league with Hell and a covenant with death,” has with a steady and untiring hate sought a disruption of this Union . . . Recognizing as I have always done, the right of a State to secede, to judge of the violation of its rights and to appeal to its own mode for redress, I could not uphold the Federal Government in any attempt to coerce the seceded States to bring them back in the Union.”

(Virginia’s Attitude Toward Slavery and Secession, Beverley Munford, L.H. Jenkins Printer, 1909, pp. 265-267)

The War for Tariffs, Taxes and Astonishing Profits

The war commenced by Lincoln in 1861 immediately presented his administration with the problem of a conflict the United States could simply not afford. In April 1861, federal spending was only about $172,000 a day, raised by tariffs and land sales. By the end of July 1861, Lincoln had caused this to increase to $1 million, and by the end of December it was up to $1.5 million per day. Also in December 1861 Northern banks had to stop paying their debts in gold, with the federal government doing the same shortly after and resorting to printing money. The country had gone off the gold standard, Wall Street was in a panic, and Lincoln would lament, “The bottom is out of the tub, what shall I do?” The cost of the war would eventually reach $8 billion, enough to have purchased the freedom of every slave five times over – and provided each with the proverbial 40 acres, and the mule.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The War for Tariffs, Taxes and Astonishing Profits

“By May 1864 [financier Jay] Cooke was selling [Northern] war bonds so successfully that he was actually raising money as fast as the War Department could spend it, no mean feat for that was about $2 million a day at this point. Altogether, the North raised fully two-thirds of its revenues by selling bonds. If Abraham Lincoln must always be given the credit for saving the Union, there is also no doubt that the national debt was one of the most powerful tools at his disposal for forging victory.

Although the [Northern] people were willing to endure very high taxes during the war, peacetime was another matter altogether. Immediately after the war the cry for repeal of the wartime taxes became insistent. With military expenses quickly dropping, the problem, was what taxes to cut. American industrialists, who had prospered greatly thanks to wartime demand and wartime high tariffs, naturally did not want the tariffs cut.

Because the Civil War had broken the political power of the South, the center of opposition to the tariff, they got their way. The tariff was kept at rates far above the government’s need for revenue as the North industrialized at a furious pace in the last three decades of the nineteenth century and became the greatest – and most efficient – industrial power in the world.

Of course, no matter how large, efficient, and mature these industries became, they continued to demand [tariff] protection, and, thanks to their wealth and political power, get it.  As Professor William Graham Sumner of Yale explained as early as 1885, “The longer they live, the bigger babies they are.” It was only after the bitter dispute between Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick caused the astonishing profits of the privately held – and highly protected – Carnegie Steel Company to become public knowledge, in 1899, that the political coalition behind high tariffs began to crack.

Before the Civil War there had been little advocacy of an income tax in this country, at least at the federal level, although by the war six States had implemented such taxes for their own revenue purposes. But once a federal income tax was in place, thanks to the Civil War, it quickly acquired advocates, as political programs always do.

These advocates pushed the idea relentlessly . . . Republican Senator John Sherman . . . said during a debate on renewing the income tax in 1872, that “here we have in New York Mr. Astor with an income of millions derived from real estate . . . and we have along side of him a poor man receiving $1000 a year. [The law] is altogether against the poor man . . . yet we are afraid to tax Mr. Astor. Is there any justice in it? Why, sir, the income tax is the only one that tends to equalize these burdens between the rich and the poor.”

(Hamilton’s Blessing, John Steele Gordon, Penguin Books, 1997, pp. 79-83)

Virtue More Dangerous Than Vice

Horatio Seymour of New York always refused to consider any aspect of African slavery as a paramount issue in the country; He felt that “for seventy years the Union had existed with slavery; it need not perish overnight because of it.” He rightly saw anti-slavery rhetoric against the South as designed to divert attention from speculation and corrupt politics in the North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Virtue More Dangerous Than Vice

“As one looks back at the antics of the abolitionists – Garrison burning a copy of the Constitution in a public square; Gerrit Smith playing “possum” at an asylum while the John Brown he had encouraged was found guilty of treason and hauled out to be hanged; self-righteous ranters pleading from their pulpits for the export of rifles to Kansas; industrious Mrs. Stowe embalming the slippery sentimentality of her half-truths in the lachrymose pages of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; even Democratic David Wilmot trying to repair with his famous proviso the political fences he had broken down with his vote for a lower tariff . . .

[T]here comes to mind the words of the ancient philosopher which a president of Yale was always happy to remember”: “Virtue is more dangerous than vice because the excesses of virtue are not always subject to the restraints of conscience.”

(Horatio Seymour of New York, Stewart Mitchell, Harvard University Press, 1938, pp. 229-230)

Liberalism’s New World of Freedom

Liberal internationalists can be counted on to explain the complex causes of war as simply “unprovoked aggression,” and eliminating aggression anywhere they saw as the only way to make the world safe for democracy. Regardless of public opinion, diplomats like George Kennan advised the public to allow national leaders to speak for them in “councils of the nations,” Republican presidents replaced Democratic presidents “without the slightest diminution of executive power,” and Congress was seen as an obstruction to liberal progress.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Liberalism’s New World of Freedom

“Since the beginning of this century, American liberalism has made little measurable progress toward two of its most important goals: a more equitable distribution of income and an improved level pf public services. Confronted with the realities of corporate power and the conservatism of Congress, the reforming zeal of the liberal state has been easily frustrated.

This is mirrored in the stymied hopes of the New Freedom by 1916, the stalemate of the New Deal by 1938, and the dissolution of the Great Society by 1966. What is left by these aborted crusades is not the hard substance of reform but rather the major instrument change – the powerful central state. In the process the ideological focus of liberalism have moved from the concepts of equality and democracy to those of centralization and governmental unification.

The liberal search for national unity and an expanding domestic economy could not be separated from the vision of an internationalist order which was “safe from war and revolution and open to the commercial and moral expansion of American liberalism.”

This was a vision shared by Woodrow Wilson and Cordell Hull. To Hull and Wilson and later to Dean Rusk, peace required the restructuring of diplomacy through an elaborate network of collective security arrangements; prosperity demanded the removal of national trade barriers.

Such a vision, as N. Gordon Levin has brilliantly argued, could not contain within it the forces of either revolution or reaction and led almost inevitably to a foreign policy marked by conflict and crisis. Each new foreign policy crisis in turn strengthened the state apparatus and made the “National Idea” seem even more appropriate – a development which liberals, especially of the New Deal vintage, could only see as benign.

Peace and prosperity, political themes of the Eisenhower years, were considered indulgences by Kennedy liberals such as Walter Rostow. Eisenhower’s cautious leadership was considered without national purpose.

To those liberals the American mission could be no less than “the survival and success of liberty.” The “National Idea,” glorified by such transcendent goals, became a Universal Mission, viz., Arthur Schlesinger, Jr’s assessment, “The United States has an active and vital interest in the destiny of every nation on the planet.” Presidents felt mandated not only to complete a mere domestic program but rather, to quote the Kennedy inaugural, “to create a new world of freedom.”

Nevertheless, such missionary rhetoric was eminently compatible with the liberal mission of government problem solving and reform emanating from the top. Setting the tone in 1960 for another liberal return to power, Townsend Hoopes insisted, “Under our system the people can look only to the President to define the nature of our foreign policy problem and the national programs and sacrifices required to meet it with effectiveness.”

After a generation of such fawning rhetoric, it is little wonder that the modern president’s conception of himself bears closer resemblance to the fascist notion of the state leader than even the Burkean concept of democratic leadership. As President Nixon described his role, “He (the president) must articulate the nation’s values, define its goals and marshal its will.”

(The Ideology of the Executive State: Legacy of Liberal Internationalism, Watershed of Empire, Essays on New Deal Foreign Policy, Myles Publishing, 1976, Robert J. Bresler, pp. 2-4)

Voodoo Economics, Circa 1864

Lincoln’s choice for the cabinet post of treasury, Salmon P. Chase, was no financial expert yet he was to advise Congress on the framing of financial bills, obtaining money from “keen-minded bankers and investors” like Jay Gould, as well as loans and paper money. The taxes collected were far smaller than expenditures and throughout the war the total amount received in loans was 2621 million dollars, against 667 million dollars obtained from taxation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Voodoo Economics Circa 1864

[Diary Entry] July 2, 1864:

“There is discord in the Cabinet. Mr. Seward represents the moderates, while Mr. Chase, the abolitionist and the inventor of paper money, represents the Radicals. He is regarded here, rightly or wrongly, as the greatest financier in the world. It seems to me that his entire science has consisted of keeping the ship afloat by throwing the provisions overboard. It is easier to borrow than to repay, and I fear Mr. Chase is leaving the difficult task to those who will follow him.

The failure of his financial policy and the defeat of a bill on gold that he recently submitted to Congress have led Mr. Chase to hand in his resignation.”

[Diary Entry] July 5, 1864:

“A financial crisis can, from one day to the next, reduce the value of paper money to virtually nothing. Everything now hangs on the hope of taking Richmond. But because Grant moves this way and that without gaining ground, because Petersburg, a town defended by children and schoolmasters, continues to stand firm against a hundred thousand men, and because the Confederates, far from giving in, are threatening Maryland with an invasion which is forcing the President to call up the militia and because, in a word, nobody sees an end to the war, public confidence is growing weaker.

The government itself, obliged to pay interest on the public debt in gold, is requiring that all customs duties be paid in gold. Nothing depreciates the currency so much as this self-distrust manifested in the Treasury. Until now the “greenbacks” have had more value in actual trading than that indicated by the rates quoted for them on the official gold market. But if ever the small businessmen should refuse to take them and if ever they should cease to circulate freely among the people, the poor Mr. [William P.] Fessenden (who has just succeeded Mr. Chase) will have to take over the direction of the Treasury only to associate his name with the impending national bankruptcy.

Let us return to Mr. Chase. He had a single obsession: to strangle speculation and force down the price of gold. He thought that to do this he needed only to decree an increase in the value of paper money, and that economic interests could be manipulated so easily as the parts of a machine. Thus he proposed a law prohibiting overdraft operations, speculative transactions which result in a paper loss or gain on balance. Judge for yourselves whether the waving of the Treasurer’s wand has had the magical effect he expected it to have.

By the very next day the speculators had taken fright and activity was concentrated in a small number of hands; now it is continued in secret, without competition, and this quasi-monopoly has immediately raised the price of gold by 40 percent. Congress wanted the bill withdrawn. Mr. Chase insisted that it be acted upon, and it was himself who had to withdraw.

If the moment of crisis ever comes when paper money is forced into the hands of only a few holders, the public will think only of getting rid of it, and America will offer to the world in a twofold sense the spectacle of “hideous bankruptcy.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, Donnelly & Sons, 1974, pp. 77-88)

Vote for Abraham Lincoln!

Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, testified after the war that the whole power of the war department was used to secure Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. It was essential to obtain the soldier vote and politically-connected Northern officers helped distribute Republican ballots to their commands while Democrat ballots were lost. In cities Republican newspapers spread fear among voters should Democrat George B. McClellan be elected.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vote for Abraham Lincoln!

[Diary entry] Chicago, November 5, 1864:

“It was one of those amazing [newspaper] appeals to the voters that is half circus poster and half sermon . . . the sort of thing that shows how the Americans excel in catering to the lowest levels of public taste.

It carried this portentous title in large black type: “THE TRUTH!” There followed a long list of the dire consequences that will be sure to follow the election of [George B.] McClellan.

“Twenty million people under the heel of 300,000 slave-owners!” – “A Confederacy of the Northwest!” – “A Democratic insurrection (see the threats in the World and the Chicago Times)!” – “McClellan leading the revolt (see the speeches at the Chicago Convention)!” –“The theatre of war shifted from Atlanta and Richmond to New York, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Chicago (see the Richmond papers supporting the Copperheads)!” – “Barricades; civil war” — “Our streets drenched with blood – our countryside laid waste – Our country’s credit ruined – Gold at 2,000 and the price of necessities in proportion (see the history of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in Paris)!”

Do you doubt any of this? Here is a table comparing “Republican Prices,” Democratic Prices,” McClellan Prices (those that would result from his compromise with Jefferson Davis – that is, guaranteeing the Rebel debt and paying the Southern States for their war costs,” – and finally, “Rebel Prices” such as will be seen “if [August] Belmont succeeds in raising a Democratic insurrection.”

But if, on the contrary, you want the Union’s flag to “float gloriously from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, over a hundred free States without a single despot, over fifty million — soon to be a hundred million — people without a single slave, then sweep the country clean, once and for all, of the party that is so greedy . . . this gang of slave-merchants and perpetrators of rebellion, debts and taxes that calls itself the Democratic party! . . . Vote for Abraham Lincoln!”

One must distrust all such accounts of triumphal demonstrations, of “gigantic mass-meetings,” that fill the newspapers of the two parties at this time. People lie as shamelessly in America as in Europe, with the sole difference that since here everyone has the right to lie, no one has the privilege of being believed.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, Ernest Duvergier de Huaranne, Donnelly & Sons, 1975, pp. 3-7)

Reconstruction, the Most Shameful Period of Our History

The following is an excerpt from an 1892 address by Lt. Col. Alfred Moore Waddell to the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina. He served as a United States Congress 1871-1879.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Reconstruction, the Most Shameful Period of Our History

“[Reconstruction] constitutes the one indelible and appalling disgrace of the American people — the one chapter of their history which contains no redeeming feature to relieve it from the endless execration of the civilized world.

A distinguished orator from a Northern State declared in Congress in 1872 that one-third of the boundaries of this Republic had been filled “with all the curses and calamities ever recorded in the annals of the worst governments known on the pages of history,” and attacking the [radical Republican] authors of these calamities, he exclaimed,

“From turret to foundation you tore down the governments of eleven States. You left not one stone upon another. You rent all their local laws and machinery into fragments, and trampled upon their ruins. Not a vestige of their former construction remained.”

And again he said:

“A more sweeping and universal exclusion from all the benefits, rights, trusts, honors, enjoyments, liberties, and control of government was never enacted against a whole people, without respect to age or sex, in the annals of the human race. The disgraceful disabilities imposed against the Jews for nearly eighteen hundred years by the blind and bigoted nations of the earth were never more complete or appalling.”

Those old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how, amidst the general dismay, the faint-hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them.”

(The Life and Character of William L. Saunders, address to the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina, Tuesday, May 31, 1892, Col. Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington)

The War Against Reason

The War Against Reason

“June 7 [1861], Crawfordville [Georgia]:

From present indications it would seem that we did not cut loose from the North too soon. They will go into anarchy or despotism, The only hope for constitutional liberty on this continent is now with us; and whether we shall successfully pass through the ordeal in store for us time alone can determine.”

September 3 [1861]:

“I see no end to the war – not the slightest prospect of peace. So far from it, all the signs of a protracted conflict are more portentous to me than they have even been. The war on the part of the North is founded on no rational principle. It is against principles, against interest, and against reason; and with nations it is as with individuals when they act against reason, there is no accounting for their conduct or calculating upon it on any rational principles.

This is but the beginning. The guillotine, or its substitute, will soon follow. The reign of terror there has not yet fully commenced. The mob, or “wide-awake” spirit, has not the control there yet, but it will have before the end. All the present leaders will be swept from the board. They will be deposed or hung to make way for worse men who are yet to figure in this great American drama . . . We have a great conflict before us, and it will require all our energy, our resources, and patriotism, under a favoring Providence, to bear us safely through it.”

(Life of Alexander H. Stephens, Richard M. Johnston & William H. Browne, J.B. Lippincott & Company, 1883, page 407)

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