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The American Socialist Utopia of 2000

In this unique book from 1887, Marxist author Edward Bellamy of Massachusetts travels to an American socialist utopia in the year 2000 and converses with a fictitious Dr. Leete who explains government ownership of various industries, including publishing. All citizens are employed in the industrial army and each is paid according to his or her need. To gain the public eye and ear, aspiring authors would need government approval but suffer from absolutely no censorship.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The American Socialist Utopia of 2000

“I judge then, that there has been some notable literature produced in this century?”

“Yes,” said Dr. Leete. “It has been an era of unexampled intellectual splendor. Probably humanity never before passed through a moral and material evolution, at once so vast in scope and brief in its time of accomplishment, as that from the old order to the new in the early part of this century…”

“By the way,” said I, “talking of literature, how are books published now? Is that also done by the nation?”

“Certainly.”

“But how do you manage it? Does the government publish everything that is brought it as a matter of course, at the public expense, or does it exercise a censorship and print only what it approves?”

“Neither way. The [government] printing department has no censorial powers. It is bound to print all that is offered it, but prints it only on the condition that the author defray the first cost out of his credit. He must pay for the privilege of the public ear, and if he has any message worth hearing we consider that he will be glad to do it.

Of course, if incomes were unequal, as in the old times, this rule would enable only the rich to be authors, but the resources of citizens being equal, it simply measures the strength of the author’s motive. The book, on being published, is placed on sale by the nation.”

“If you have newspapers at all, they must . . . be published by the government at public expense, with government editors, reflecting government opinions.”

“Not as with you, certainly,” replied Dr. Leete, “but nevertheless in one way. The price of every book is made up of the cost of publication with a royalty for the author. The author fixes this royalty at any figure he pleases. If his book be moderately successful, he has thus a furlough for several months, a year, two or three more years, and if he in the mean time produces other successful work, the remission of service is extended so far as the sale of that may justify.  [In this manner] there is no such thing as favoritism of any sort to interfere with the recognition of true merit. Every author has precisely the same facilities for bringing his work before the public tribunal.

The newspaper press is organized so as to be a more perfect expression of public opinion than it could possibly could be in your day, when private capital controlled and managed it primarily as a money-making business, and secondarily only as a mouthpiece for the people.

The subscribers to the paper now elect somebody as editor . . . Instead of paying a salary to him, as in your day, the subscribers pay the nation an indemnity equal to the cost of his [personal] support for taking him away from the general support [of the nation]. When an editor’s services are no longer desired, if he cannot earn the right to his time by other literary work, he simply resumes his place in the industrial army.”

(Looking Backward, 2000-1887, Edward Bellamy, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1887, pp. 161-168) 

 

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

Karl Marx, European correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, saw the American war1861-65 as a struggle of workers versus capital. He was brought to the Tribune by socialist editor Charles A. Dana who became Lincoln’s assistant secretary of war, and it was Dana who ordered Jefferson Davis manacled at Fortress Monroe.  Below, the late columnist Sam Francis writes of the effort to remove a symbol of South Carolina’s proud heritage in 1997 — David Beasley was a one-term governor of that State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

“A people separated from their heritage are easily persuaded,” wrote a correspondent for the New York Times during the American Civil War who zealously supported the Northern side in that conflict. If you erase the symbols pf a peoples’ heritage, you erase their public memory and identity, and then you can “persuade” them of whatever you want. For once the correspondent knew what he was talking about.

His name was Karl Marx, and his legacy lives on in the Republican governor of South Carolina.

Last month, Gov. David Beasley unveiled his plan to remove the Confederate Battle Flag that flutters on top of South Carolina’s State capitol, and he’s lined up an impressive coalition of former governors, white business leaders, black political activists and the antediluvian Sen. Strom Thurmond to go along with him.

This month, the State legislature will vote on his proposal to remove the flag to a more obscure location on the capital grounds, and the only thing between separating the people of the State from the heritage the flag symbolizes is the people themselves.

Why Gov. Beasley is so intent about his proposal is something of a mystery. In 1994 he supported keeping the flag where it is and has been since 1962, and his betrayal explicit pledges to retain the banner can bring him no political gains. Indeed, with several Southern heritage groups mobilizing against him, it seems more likely that he has committed a major blunder that will haunt his re-election efforts in 1998.

In a televised speech to the State in November, the governor came up with a number of transparently phony reasons why the flag has to go. “I have a question for us tonight,” he intoned to his fellow Carolinians, “Do we want our children to be debating the Confederate flag in ten years? . . . And the debate will not subside, but intensify. I don’t want that for my children or yours.”

But of course there would be no debate at all if it were not for the governor’s own proposal to get rid of the flag. Similar proposals were roundly rejected in 1994, and State law now requires that the flag continue to fly. The debate was settled. Only by reviving this divisive issue himself has Mr. Beasley insured that the “debate” will intensify.

And so what if the “debate” does live on? Why is it a bad thing for South Carolinians to think, talk and argue about the flag and its meaning? Maybe in the process of doing so, some of them – not least the governor and his allies – will learn something about their own heritage and why erasing it is not a good idea.

Mr. Beasley also maundered on about the evils of “racism” and alluded to several recent “hate crimes,” while denying that the flag itself was a racist symbol. If it isn’t, then why drag in the hate crimes, and why take it down at all?

“Hate-filled cowards cover their heads and meet under the cloak of night, scattering their seeds of racism in the winds of deceit about the flag and its meaning.”

The governor’s argument seems to be that since many blacks and not a few whites have come to regard the Confederate Flag as a symbol of “racism” and “hate,” then the flag is divisive and needs to come down. There is no question of trying to correct their flawed view of the flag’s meaning. The burden is not on those who invest the flag with meaning it never had but on those who want to retain the meanings it has always represented.

For the business elites, the flag and the controversy about it are “hurting economic growth,” according to the New York Times. How they do so is not quite so clear, nor is it clear why economic growth should take precedence over preservation of a cultural identity, but then Economic Man never likes to consider that question.

For the racial enemies of the flag, the goal is their own empowerment, a goal they know cannot be attained until the flag is removed and the heritage it represents and they despise is wiped clean. “That symbol only embraces the heritage of a particular people,” sneers one flag enemy, black lawyer Carl Grant. It’s not the flag but the heritage he seeks to destroy.

But whether driven by race or greed, the foes of the flag agree on one thing, that as long as the flag over the Capitol waves, the people of South Carolina will know that the heritage it represents retains some official meaning.

Only when it is removed will the people be separated from their heritage, and only then can they be easily persuaded to pursue whatever goals the enemies of their real heritage desire.” (published January 7, 1997)

 

Nixon's Treaty of Fifth Avenue

The 1968 observation of presidential candidate George Wallace regarding the differences between the Republican and Democrat parties appears accurate, as both had similar policies to attract the same voters. The GOP leadership chose a man in 1952 with no known conservative principles over Robert A. Taft, a man with extensive and proven conservative principles. The liberal Rockefeller wing of the GOP acted in 1959 to thwart conservative Barry Goldwater’s candidacy and did everything to re-elect LBJ 1964.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Nixon’s Treaty of Fifth Avenue

“When the Republicans met in Chicago the next week, Richard Nixon had an even safer lock on the presidential nomination than Kennedy’s before the Democrats met. Anticipating Nixon’s nomination, [John F.] Kennedy had gone out of his way to attack [Eisenhower’s] Vice President as a young man whose ideas nevertheless belonged to the days of William McKinley, and as one who, unlike Lincoln, had shown “charity toward none and malice toward all.”

The closest thing to a serious challenge to Nixon’s claims on the nomination had come from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, who did nothing to discourage efforts to boom him for the Presidency in 1959. Visits with Republican leaders around the country, however, had convinced him that he had no chance against Nixon, and at the end of the year he withdrew from the race. Shortly thereafter Nixon announced his candidacy.

Rockefeller, though no longer seeking the nomination, was determined to influence the GOP platform. As critical as any Democrat of [Eisenhower] administration military policy, the New York governor strongly echoed the 1958 Rockefeller Brothers Fund report on national security, especially the recommendations for a mandatory national fallout shelter program, for accelerated ICBM development, and for bigger conventional forces.

Early in June he angered Eisenhower when, right after breakfasting with the President at the White House, he told newsmen that “our position in the world is dramatically weaker today than fifteen years ago . . . our national defense needs great strengthening.” He also urged Nixon to make known his views on all issues before, not after the convention.

Rockefeller was obviously in a position to make things difficult for Nixon if he wanted to. Two days before the Chicago convention was to open, the Vice President and the governor had a dramatic secret conference at Rockefeller’s personal residence in Manhattan. As a result of what the press dubbed the “treaty of Fifth Avenue,” Nixon agreed that the party platform then being drafted in Chicago should have stronger sections on both defense and civil rights.

Thus the platform, while mostly praising the policies of the Eisenhower administration, did call for faster development and deployment of missiles, and committed the GOP to a program of action in the field of civil rights while was fully as far-reaching as what the Democrats had promised.

Yet despite their radically contrasting backgrounds, personalities and political styles, in assumptions and outlook Kennedy and Nixon were not far apart. Both men were fundamentally cold warriors, dedicated to protecting national interests . . . Both were “internationalists,” strong advocates of the collective security orientation of American foreign policy since 1939.

Both wished to couple the continuing buildup of American armaments with a more ambitious program of nonmilitary aid in response to what Nixon termed “the revolution of peaceful peoples’ aspirations” in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both Nixon and Kennedy accepted the basic premises of the welfare state, although Kennedy favored a greater degree of federal intervention to foster economic growth and expand economic opportunity.

Finally, both believed in a powerful Presidency, dominant in domestic affairs and unchallenged in the making and execution of foreign policy.

The election was so close that, according to some estimates, a shift of no more than 12,000 votes in five States would have produced a different result. But Kennedy, by narrowly winning such populous States as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, managed to squeeze through. In a record popular vote of nearly 69 million, Kennedy’s margin of victory was less than 118,000, or about a quarter of a percentage point. Kennedy’s big majorities in the largest Norther cities, with their great numbers of Catholics and blacks, won him the Presidency.

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 274-279)

 

Lincoln's Good Communists

Dr. Morris U. Schappes testified before a Senate Committee in 1953 and defended patriotic communists who served proudly with Northern forces during the War Between the States. He named Northern General Joseph Weydemeyer as an example. Weydmeyer is described in “Red Republicans” [Kennedy and Benson, 2007] as a “pioneer American Marxist” who was active in the 1848 socialist revolution in Germany, as well as a friend of Marx and Engels. In London, Weydmeyer joined the London Communist League with Marx, then moved to the United States in 1851 where he joined the Republican party.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Good Communists

Testimony of  Dr. Morris U. Schappes, Open Session of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations on April 2, 1953. Schappes was questioned by Senator Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota as to whether or not he [Schappes] knew of any “good Americans” who were also good Communists:

Dr. Schappes:

“Well, if you will look up the records and find the names of those Communists who died in defense of our country and were honored by Congress and by other institutions, legal, legislative, executive, military, for their services to this country, services that went back to the Civil War, when Communists fought in this country on the Union side, when officers, including officers of the rank of general, who were Communists, were officers of the Union Army, I think you can find adequate substantiation indeed in the records of our Government that Communists have been and therefore obviously can be loyal Americans.”

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

One of the most radical State leaders in 1934 was Floyd Bjerstjerne Olsen, elected governor of Minnesota in 1932. While a student at the University of Minnesota he tried to stir a revolt against compulsory military training and ended his private career on the Seattle docks and as a  labor union agitator. Lincoln’s army included many socialist refugees from Europe, including the “Swedish communistic venture [of Bishop Hill, Illinois which] raised a company in 1860, the Svenska Uniongardet . . .“ (Foreigners in the Union Army & Navy, Lonn). Scandinavian immigrants were scattered throughout the Northern army.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

“For all his jauntiness, Olsen conveyed a deep and biting dislike for the existing economic system. “You bet your life I’m a radical,” he told one interviewer. “You might say I’m radical as hell.” And he rode upon a tradition of social conflict which had torn his State from the days of Ignatius Donnelly and the Populists.

The violent truck strike of the spring and summer of 1934 showed the degree of genuine class bitterness. In addition, even middle-class Scandinavians had long chafed under their exclusion from places of social and business prestige by the old New England families of Lowry Hill. Feelings were explosive and Floyd Olsen was prepared to give these feelings full expression.

Shortly after Roosevelt’s inauguration, Olsen told him that this was no ordinary depression but a collapse of the economic order. “If the so-called “depression” deepens,” Olsen said, “I strongly recommend to you, Mr. President, that the Government ought to take and operate the key industries of the country.”

Unless and until this was done, he repeated in August 1933, there could be no “economic security for the common man.”

He wanted the government to begin by using unemployed workers in production-fir-use factories which, by underselling private firms, would gradually put them out of business, until the major part of industry would be government-owned, producing for use, not for profit. At other times he talked of abolishing the profit system through the extension of co-operative ownership and control, presumably on the Scandinavian model.

Within Minnesota, he promised to call out the State militia if that were necessary, to see that the hungry were fed and the homeless sheltered. “I shall declare martial law. A lot of people who are now fighting the [relief] measures because they happen to possess considerable wealth will be brought in by the provost guard.”

“You go back to Washington,” he told an emissary of Harry Hopkins’s in the anxious days of 1933, “and tell ‘em that Olsen isn’t taking anybody who doesn’t carry a Red Card.” “Minnesota,” he boasted, “”is definitely a left-wing State.”

Such pronouncements were enormously exciting to American intellectuals seeking radical leadership. Here at last was a practical and successful politician, authentically American, governor of the very State which had inspired Gopher Prairie and Zenith, who yet saw clearly through the pretenses of capitalism and proposed his rough Midwestern way to build the good society.

By 1934 he was an object of attention in the national liberal press. He received the pilgrims from the East, signed articles for their magazines, and played affably with the general idea of a new party and a new society.

He declared that he was tired of tinkering and patching and wanted to change the system . . . he added, “When the final clash comes between Americanism and fascism, we will find a so-called “red” as the defender of democracy.”

(The Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960, pp. 99-101)

Barden's Conservative Approach to Education

Conservative Southern Democrat Graham A. Barden of North Carolina was skeptical of President Eisenhower’s plan to revamp American education after the launch of Russia’s Sputnik spacecraft. Barden said on February 21, 1958 that “Somebody around [Eisenhower] apparently is of the opinion that all you have to do is drop a few million dollars into a slot machine, run around behind and catch some scientists as they fall out. That is not [only] oversimplifying the situation but foolish.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Barden’s Conservative Approach to Education

“[Barden[ stated, “I think that the Russian Sputnik flew too low over Washington and bumped some heads. Suddenly they said the American education system was no good. The trouble was everyone wanted quick [education] legislation.” The quick legislation to which Barden referred was specifically HR 13247, just reported out of his own committee. “That bill covers just everything,” he noted. “It’s like taking a man with some minor ailments and putting him through major emergency surgery . . . surgery that may kill him.”

And the congressman added, “The bill’s scholarship provision will mix politics with education, something we just don’t want to do.” When asked by an interviewer what politics would be involved in a Federal scholarship program, Barden replied: “When you give, say, five scholarships to a county, the man running for office next time will offer the people ten.”

[A letter to friend Herbert Herring at Duke University] contained a most concise statement of his political and educational philosophy:

“. . . I am totally out of patience with the so-called cash scholarship proposition, for I am definitely of the opinion that it will not work, it will do more damage than good, and once adopted will never be abandoned because of the politics involved. To me, if a student does not have the real desire for an education and is not willing to make a sacrifice for it, whether it be necessary or not, he is in my opinion a bad risk. I am thoroughly fed up with a large part of the press of this country that persists in extolling the virtues of the Russian system, while at the same time they denounce, criticize, and abuse our own educational system.

I sometimes wonder if those who are so persistent in the views concerning the Russian educational system are not really trying to lay the foundation for the adoption of not only a part of their educational system, but much of their economic system as well.”

[Barden] earnestly believed that once started, a system of federalized scholarships would never be terminated. The cost, in his opinion, would run into billions, and independent or State-supported institutions would become completely subservient to the bureaucracy in Washington which he predicted would quickly establish its self-perpetuating existence.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, pp. 129-130)

Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People

Federal aid to education had its beginnings in post-WW2 bills to assist local schools dealing with the increase of students caused by nearby military bases, and thus spurring a long-range policy of general aid to schools throughout the country followed by federal interference and control. Congressman Graham A. Barden of New Bern, North Carolina supported federal aid but without federal control.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People

“Although Congress adjourned in 1950 without enacting a comprehensive aid program, Barden remained convinced that the public school system in most States were in great need of assistance . . . However, he was still insistent that the “Federal government must not have anything to do with the running of the schools” and that “tax money should go for public schools only.” While announcing his intention to continue work for Federal aid, he could not compromise on these two points.

Representative Jacob Javits questioned whether Federal funds could be used legally by segregated public schools. Barden, who was floor manager for the [H.R.5411] bill, heatedly replied that the question of segregated schools in the Carolinas was not the business of the congressman from New York.

All the bill did, Barden asserted, was to set up a system “that could operate without friction in the State in which it was located and become an integral part of the State, and not be part of any of these crusading programs that some people are so anxious to establish in the Country.” He suspected that Javits was simply creating dissension with the aim of settling nothing.

The President [Truman] said that the purpose of Barden’s bill was meritorious, but he objected to the provision requiring schools to conform to State laws . . . Baden was disappointed by Truman’s action because he believed that without the section to which the President objected, the bill’s passage would have been impossible.

Far more disturbing to the congressman than Republican control of Congress was the opinion of Chief Justice Earl Warren in Brown v. Board of Education . . . [and] many Southerners began to have second thoughts about Federal aid programs of all types. The decision probably accounted for Barden’s sudden disinterest in Federal aid. Immediately following the decision he wrote:

“The decision came as such a shock to us that as yet we aren’t able to evaluate all of its far-flung ramifications . . . I believe the decision was unwise, inappropriate and ill-timed, and it appears that political considerations were a controlling influence on the decree.”

With the Court’s decisions, knowing that Federal interference was bound to follow, he turned against the crusade for an aid program. He had always been opposed to Federal control, and perhaps as early as 1954 he clearly saw that Federal money would be the chief means of bringing . . . involvement by the Federal government in operation of the schools in the Southern States.

Because the Brown case dealt with racial matters, a lot of superficial analysts glibly checked off Barden’s opposition to Federal aid as being racially motivated. Their judgment was unsound. If the Brown case had dealt with something such as curriculum content, textbook selection or the like, his opposition would have been the same. What turned him off was not race, but the firm conviction that with Federal dollars came Federal regulators to interfere with the operation of the local schools.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 101-108)

Conceiving the Professional Revolutionary Man

In the late 1880s German socialists thought the United States “had much better hopes” of achieving socialism than Russia as “the masses are quicker.” At that time a definite revolutionary doctrine was emerging: the belief in “the people,” socialism, materialism, technology, and the concept “of the ruthless “New Man” breaking sown the past and turning his back on it.” It was a new religion with no ceremonies or church, and pursued with “a confused belief in idealistic terrorism for its own sake.” History, traditions and culture became enemies of the state.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Conceiving the Professional Revolutionary Man

“[The] existing world must be swept away. “Nihilism was born in Russia.” Dostoevsky declares. “We are all nihilists.” Blood will flow in streams,” Alexander Herzen cries. “And the upshot? . . . It is enough that . . . there will perish the world which oppresses the new men of the new time . . . Long live chaos, therefore, long live destruction! We are the executioners of the past.”

The Russia in which Nicholas II had grown up was filled with all kinds of “believers” who swallowed the queerest creeds, ranging all the way from minor religious deviations and sects who expected salvation from the drinking of milk to less harmful people who specialized in drunken sex orgies, violence, collective torture, self-mutilation and sometimes collective suicide.

To some extent the theme of the Russian revolution was the bridging of [the] gap between the universities and the [mostly illiterate] peasants, the combination, as in some chemical formula, of the intellectuals and the masses, and this is the point where the revolution became really explosive.

In the 1850’s and 60’s nihilism [had arrived in Russia] – the word was invented by Turgenev – the cult of believing in the destruction of all constituted authority, and it was accompanied by the idea that the way ahead lay not through art but through science; science now was to be the great panacea. These were also the years of the first serious attempts by the intelligentsia to combine with the peasants.

The Narodnik movement was an intensely Russian affair, a going down to the peasants rather than an effort to raise them up. The Narodniks believed that the revolution would be based upon the workers on the land, and that their instinctive communism would legitimately form the new Russian state. Out of these beginnings one of the two great left-wing parties – the Social-Revolutionaries – grew up.

Meanwhile, a technique for the physical act of revolution, for terrorism and all the business of secret cells and underground communications was developing. A new man was conceived, the professional revolutionary, a man who regarded himself as expendable, who followed blindly the leader and the party line, and who if need be would lie, cheat and murder to gain his objective.

He was possessed of neither patriotism nor of pity; his only faith was in the revolution itself, and in this he was a fanatic. [It was envisaged that] a communist state on utopian lines . . . would be created by a small resolute group of these supermen.

The terrorists now were professional terrorists [including] university students who lived in a world of passionate idealism and passionate hate. Violence was beginning to beget violence in a vicious and never-ending circle, and it was destroying the possibility of any reasonable approach to reform.

The young men on fire with the idea of personal sacrifice, despised liberalism; socialism – the redistribution of wealth and the end of Czardom – was their direct aim, and it became for them a sacred trust.”

(The Russian Revolution, Alan Morehead, Bantam Books, 1959, excerpts, pp. 30-34)

Foreigners Mercenaries Invade the South

Author Ella Lonn writes that “The [German] Forty-Eighters, who came to control the powerful German-American press, were mostly stanch crusaders who would not yield an inch on what they regarded as a matter of principle.” Many of them were radical reformers, political idealists, social revolutionaries and religious skeptics determined to remake the world, and European correspondent Edward Dicey reported on their influence in America in his 1863 “Spectator of America.”  They knew little or nothing of America’s founding principles and were continuing their socialist revolution on these shores.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Foreigners Mercenaries Invade the South

“[As] soon as we left Maryland for [western] Virginia, the scene changed. Here, for the first time in the States, I saw the symptoms of squalid, Old World poverty. Miserable wooden shanty hovels, broken windows stuffed with rags, and dirty children playing together with the pigs on the dung heaps before the doors, gave an Irish air of decay to the few scattered villages through which the railroad passed.

Our train, owing to the necessity of proceeding with extreme caution during the night, through fear of the obstructions which Secessionist sympathizers might have laid across the line . . . our progress to the end was a dismal and dreary one.

Still, Wheeling is a go-ahead place, in its way, for a Southern city, and has proved loyal to the Union. It will be the capital of the new State of Western Virginia, if it ever succeeds in establishing its independence; and it is the headquarters of the emancipation party in the State, probably because its German population is considerable.

General John Fremont had his headquarters here, when in command of the mountain district, and the town was, therefore, filled with foreign officers. A crowd of new arrivals [included] my old acquaintance, Major, Colonel, General, or whatever his rank may now be, Von Traubenfass. My friend is a mystery to me, as to everyone else. He has served, of course, in the Spanish legion – in the wars of the Rio Grande – in the Schleswig-Holstein campaign. He has been in the service of half a dozen Indian princes, and has a perfect galaxy of orders from deposed potentates.

When I met him last, twelve months before, he was a general unattached in the Garibaldian army, and received a very handsome salary for his unknown services. Now, he was an instructor of cavalry. What nation he belongs to, who he has been, where he comes from, or what his age is, are all questions I have asked in vain.

Of Cincinnati . . . what struck me most was the German air of the place and people. It was hard, strolling through the streets, to realize that you were not in some city of the old German Vaterland. [One noticed] the number of German names – Hartmans, Meyers, Schmidt, and so on – written above the shop-doors. A sluggish canal runs through the town [and] called “Ueber dem Rhein.” Here, across the “Rhine,” the Germans have brought their fatherland with them.

With many, too, of the younger generation, who had probably been born in the New World, the placid expression of the German face was already changed for the sharp anxious look so universal to the native-born American. The notion is, that the heavy taxation which must follow this war for years will stop the German emigration.

(Spectator of America, A Classic Document About Lincoln and Civil War America by a Foreign Correspondent (1863), Edward Dicey, Herbert Mitgang, editor, UGA Press, 1989, excerpts, pp. 164, 169-171)

Fiasco of Radical Reconstruction

The study of the postwar Republican party often reveals a political organization seeking power at any cost, and an abolitionist movement that was simply an expedient for the destruction of the American South politically and economically. The transcendentalists and Unitarian radicals drifted off after the war without a cause to embrace; the Republicans had their desired political hegemony which would only be interrupted by Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Fiasco of Radical Reconstruction

“By 1867, [Wendell] Phillips and “a little band of abolitionists he represented, like Robespierre and the Jacobins, believed that their will was the General Will” and looked for the federal government to establish and maintain an equal political and social position for the Negro in the South, by as much force as proved necessary. They were groping for something like the modern welfare state – foreshadowed as it was by pragmatic programs of the time like the Freedmen’s Bureau – but their intense hatred of the white South prevented a rational approach.

As a result, “Radical Reconstruction,” as it finally emerged from the Congressional cauldron, was a set of half-measures. Not faced was the problem of how a despised, impoverished, and largely illiterate minority was to maintain its rights in the face of a determined majority in full possession of economic and social power. The fiasco of Radical Reconstruction had begun.

Republican opportunism was important [in this fiasco]. There was the desire to get the Southern States readmitted to the Union under Republican control in time to deliver critical votes in 1868 and thereafter.

While idealists like Carl Schurz, Charles Sumner, Charles Francis Adams, and Horace Greeley were deserting the Republican party and the Reconstruction program to set up the abortive Liberal Republican movement of 1872, that cause of the Southern Negro was taken up and further discredited by political opportunists of the regular party organization.

The issues of the war were kept alive in the seventies and eighties as a Republican campaign technique – a way of recalling the “disloyalty” of the Democrats by “waving the bloody shirt.” In the character of Senator Dilworthy in The Gilded Age, Mark Twain has provided an unforgettable portrait of the Republican politician making unscrupulous use of the “Negro question” for his own ends.

The Reconstruction era was a perplexing time for intellectuals who had been antislavery militants before and during the war. Unable to support the sordid Grant administration and filled with doubts about the form that Radical Reconstruction was taking in the South, they had little to offer in the way of insight or inspiration.

William Dean Howells, who had once been a fervent abolitionist, intimated as editor of the Atlantic Monthly in 1869 that he was tired of the Negro question. Howell’s diminishing interest in the Negro, which reflected the disenchantment of the New England literary community in general, was further manifested in subsequent issues of the Atlantic.”

(The Inner Civil War, Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union, George M. Frederickson, Harper & Row, 1965, excerpts, pp. 191-196)

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