Browsing "Antebellum Realities"

The South and Her People

The conservative and noble Christian civilization of the South described below has all but vanished as the New South of industrial capitalism, materialism and commercial vulgarity supplanted it.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South and Her People

Remarks of J.C.C. Black, at the Unveiling of the Benjamin H. Hill Statue, Atlanta, Georgia, May 1, 1886 (excerpt):

“As to us, [secession] was not prompted by hatred of the Union resting upon the consent of the people, and governed by the Constitution of our fathers. It was not intended to subvert the vital principles of the government they founded, but to perpetuate them. The government of the new did not differ in its form or any of its essential principles from the old Confederacy. The Constitutions were the same, except such changes as the wisdom of experience suggested.

The Southern Confederacy contemplated no invasion or conquest. Its chief corner-stone was not African slavery. Its foundations were laid in the doctrines of the Fathers of the Republic, and the chief corner-stone was the essential fundamental principle of free government; that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Its purpose was not to perpetuate the slavery of the black race, but to preserve the liberty of the white race of the South. It was another Declaration of American Independence.

In the purity of their motives, in the loftiness of their patriotism, in their love of liberty, they who declared and maintained the first were not worthier than they who declared, and failed, in the last. Animated by such purposes, aspiring to such destiny, feeling justified then (and without shame now), we entered upon that movement. It was opposed by war on the South and her people.

What was the South, and who were her people? Where do you look for the civilization of a people? In their history, in their achievements, in their institutions, in their character, in their men and women, in their love of liberty and country, in their fear of God, in their contributions to the progress of society . . . Measured by this high standard, where was there a grander and nobler civilization than hers?

Where has there been a greater love of learning than that which established her colleges and universities? Where better preparatory schools, sustained by private patronage and not the exactions of the tax-gatherer – now unhappily dwarfed and well-nigh blighted by our modern system.

Whose people had higher sense of personal honor? Whose business and commerce were controlled by higher integrity? Whose public mean had cleaner hands and purer records? Whose soldiers were braver and knightlier? Whose orators more eloquent and persuasive? Whose statesmen more wise and conservative?

Whose young men more chivalric? Whose young women more chaste? Whose fathers and mothers worthier examples? Whose homes more abounded in hospitality as genial and free to every friendly comer as the sun that covered them with its splendor?

Where was there more respect for woman, for church, for the Sabbath, for God, and for the law, which, next to God, is entitled to the highest respect and veneration of man, for it is the fittest representative of His awful majesty, and power and goodness? Where was there more love of home, of country and of liberty?

Her religious teachers, deriving their theology from the Bible, guarded the Church from being spoiled “through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Her women adorned the highest social circles of Europe and America with their modesty, beauty and culture. Her men, in every society, won a higher title than “the grand old name of “gentleman” – that of “Southern gentlemen.”

It is asked what had [the South] added to the glories of the Republic?

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Jefferson. Who led the armies of the Republic in maintaining and establishing that independence? Who gave mankind new ideas of greatness? Who has taught the ruled of the world that man may be entrusted with power? Who has taught the rulers of the world when and how to surrender power? Washington.

What State made the first call for the convention that framed the Constitution? Virginia. Who was the father of the Constitution? Madison. Who made our system of jurisprudence, unsurpassed by the civil law of Rome and the common law of England? Marshall. Who was Marshall’s worthy successor? Taney.

Is it asked where [the South’s] history was written? It was written upon the brightest page of American annals. It was written upon the records of the convention that made the Constitution. It was written in the debates of Congresses that met, not to wrangle over questions of mere party supremacy, but, like statesmen and philosophers, to discuss and solve great problems of human government.

Forced to defend our homes and liberties after every honorable effort for peaceful separation, we went to war. Our leaders were worthy in their high commission. Our people sealed their sincerity with the richest treasure ever offered, and the noblest holocaust ever consumed upon the altar of country.

To many of you who enjoy the honor of having participated in it the history is known. You ought to prove yourselves worthy of that honor by teaching that history to those who come after you.”

(Southern Historical Society Papers, XIV, Rev. J. William Jones, editor, January to December 1886, excerpts, pp. 167-170)

 

No Submission to Northern Manufacturers

It is said that the tariff was the most contentious issue in the United States between 1808 and 1832, and this exploded with South Carolina threatening tariff nullification in that latter year. This was settled with Congress steadily lowering tariffs. Economist Frank Taussig wrote in 1931 that by 1857 the maximum duty on imports had been reduced to twenty-four percent and a relative free trade ideal was reached, due to Southern pressure. He also noted that the new Republican-controlled Congress increased duties in December 1861 and that by 1862 the average tariff rates had crept up to 47.06%.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

No Submission to Northern Manufacturers

“South Carolina had opposed the tariff from the earliest days of the republic. The very first Congress, in 1789, had included a group of Carolina representatives known as “anti-tariff men.” When the Washington administration sponsored a mild import measure, Senator Pierce Butler of the Palmetto State brought the charge that Congress was oppressing South Carolina and threatened a “dissolution of the Union, with regard to that State, as sure as God was in his firmament.”

The tariff of 1816, passed in a wave of American national feeling after the War of 1812, found six out of ten Carolina members voting against the bill. John C. Calhoun and the other three members who supported the measure were severely censured at home.

Almost the entire South opposed the tariff of 1824. The spreading domain of King Cotton now had a well-defined grievance: the Northeast and the Northwest were uniting to levy taxes on goods exchanged for exported cotton; their protective tariff policy, and concomitant program for internal improvements, was benefiting their entire section at the expense of the South.

The policy protected New England [cotton] mills and furnished funds for linking the seaboard States of the North with the new Northwest by means of canals and turnpikes. The Southern planters paid the bills: they were forced to buy their manufactured supplies in a high market and their chief article of exchange, cotton, had fallen from thirty cents a pound in 1816 to fifteen cents in 1824. In addition, the internal improvements program offered them no compensation; the rivers took their cotton to the shipping points.

When the “Tariff of Abominations” passed in 1828, all the Southeastern and Southwestern members of the house opposed it, except for three Virginians. In the Senate, only two Southerners supported “the legislative monstrosity.”

The opposition to Northern tariff policy was most vociferous in the Palmetto State. [English-born South Carolinian Thomas Cooper presented] Lectures on the Elements of Political Economy (1826) and other writings of the period [which] receive credit for doing much toward shaping opinion on the tariff.

In 1827, he told Senator Martin Van Buren of New York that if [Henry Clay’s] American system were pushed too far, the Carolina legislature would probably recall the State’s representatives from Washington.

Seven years after [Cooper’s] arrival in the Palmetto State, he made the famous declaration that it was time for South Carolina “to calculate the value of the Union.” This historic utterance of July 2, 1827, gave rise to shocked expressions of horror, even among some Carolina hotheads, but it had been indelibly burned into the thinking of a generation. It had a habit of cropping out down through the years. Webster and Hayne both alluded to it during their famous debate.

An English traveler, stopping at Columbia . . . in 1835, had the opportunity to hear Cooper expressing his opinions and to observe the attitude of those who surrounded the strong-minded college president [of South Carolina College]. After this occasion, he noted in his diary:

“I could not help asking, in a good-natured way, if they called themselves Americans yet; the gentleman who had interrupted me before said, “If you ask me if I am an American, my answer is No, Sir, I am a South Carolinian.” [These men] are born to command, it will be intolerable to them to submit to be, in their estimation, the drudges of the Northern manufacturers, whom they despise as an inferior race of men. Even now there is nothing a Southern man resents so much as to be called a Yankee.”

(Romanticism and Nationalism in the Old South, Rollin G. Osterweis, LSU Press, 1949, excerpts, pp. 139-141)

South Carolina Declares the Causes of Secession

In his “Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina,” Christopher Memminger, revisited the original American concept of self-government and restated that whenever any “form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.”  It should be noted that though reference is made below to “anti-slavery” feeling in the North, Republican Party doctrine held that African slavery must be kept within the borders of the South, not that the slaves must be freed. Republicans were a white supremacy party and the territories were for white settlers alone.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Carolina Declares the Causes of Secession

“Dr. J.H. Thornwell . . . [stated] immediately after secession [that] . . . ”The real cause of the intense excitement of the South, is not in vain dreams of national glory in a separate confederacy . . .; it is in the profound conviction that the Constitution . . . has been virtually repealed [by the North]; that the new [Lincoln] Government has assumed a new and dangerous attitude . . .”

In South Carolina [this] idea was repeatedly expressed in the secession period. For example, [Robert Barnwell] Rhett in a speech of November 20 said: We are two peoples, essentially different in all that makes a people.” [D.F.] Jamison in his opening speech to the [secession] convention said there was “no common bond of sympathy or interest between the North and South.”

The “Declaration of Immediate Causes,” after defending the right of secession under the compact theory of the Union, justified the exercise of that right almost entirely on the point that Northern States had infringed and abrogated that compact by refusal to abide by their constitutional obligations . . . When [the Northern sectional] President should gain control of the government, constitutional guarantees would no longer exist, equal rights would have been lost, the power of self-government and self-protection would have disappeared, and the government would have become the enemy. Moreover, all hope of remedy was rendered in vain by the fact that the North had “invested a great political error with the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief.”

Rhett . . . held that the one great evil from which all others had flowed was the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States.

The tariff, unequal distributions of appropriations, and attacks on slavery, were only manifestations of a broken faith and a constitution destroyed through construction for Northern aggrandizement at the expense of a weaker South.

The sections had grown apart; all identity of feeling, interest, and institutions were gone; they were divided between slaveholding and non-slaveholding, between agricultural and manufacturing and commercial States; their institutions and industrial pursuits had made them totally different peoples. The South was unsafe under a government controlled by a sectional anti-slavery party . . .”

Many South Carolinians, in the military service of the United States when war came, proved themselves Unionists by refusing to resign to enter the service of the State. Feeling against such men was violent. The [Charleston] Mercury thought that such refusal constituted “hideous moral delinquency, ingratitude, dishonor and treachery.”

The well-nigh complete unity after secession is no more striking than the universal belief that the cause was just . . . [and belief] that the future of republican government was involved in the struggle . . . Secession was endorsed by the synod of the Presbyterian church and by the annual conference of the Methodists. One need not question the sincerity of the legislature for appointing on the eve of secession a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.”

(South Carolina Goes to War, 1860-1865, Charles Edward Cauthen, UNC Press, 1950, excerpts, pp. 72-78)

 

South Carolina Withdraws From the Union

The people of South Carolina saw the Union broken by several Northern States nullifying the United States Constitution with their personal liberty laws, the same States which railed against South Carolina in 1832 over tariff nullification. The incessant abolitionist agitation which threatened violent slave insurrection, and the election of a purely sectional president settled the matter for South Carolina as it chose to peacefully form a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Carolina Withdraws from the Union

“On November 13, the General Assembly in joint session ratified and act calling for a convention in Columbia on December 17. The election of delegates was set for December 6. Five former United States senators, the chief officers of Furman University and Limestone College, two railroad presidents, and a dozen clerics were among the 169 men elected as delegates to the convention. The majority were college graduates. More than one hundred were planters, and many of these planters had also passed the bar. More than forty had served in the State Senate, more than one hundred in the House of Representatives.

The convention assembled in Columbia’s First Baptist Church and, on its first day, unanimously resolved that “the State of South Carolina should forthwith secede from the Federal Union.” John A. Inglis introduced the resolution. Before the convention adjourned . . . [a committee was formed] to draft an ordinance and appointed John A. Inglis as chairman. By the next evening, the committee had agreed on the text that they would introduce for South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession.

On November 29, the [Charleston] Mercury printed a draft ordinance contributed by a “W.F.H.,” who noted that “the speedy secession of the State may be considered a fixed fact” and offered “a sort of diagram on which the problem can be worked.” The draft took nearly one hundred lines of newsprint.

On December 4, the Mercury responded to the draft submitted by its “esteemed correspondent.” Robert Barnwell Rhett, Jr., son of the secessionist leader and editor of the newspaper . . . objected to the “batch of details” which blurred the draft’s “force and dignity.”

We do not know how many drafts the committee had to consider in the few hours in which it did its work, but besides the draft printed in the Mercury, a manuscript document containing two other drafts, both unsigned, survives.

The longest of these additional drafts, “An Ordinance to withdraw from the Confederacy heretofore existing under the name of the United States of America,” is dated December 11. Its preamble cites tariffs, the obstruction of the recovery of fugitive slaves, “hostile agitation against the Southern institution of Slavery,” and the election of Abraham Lincoln as its justification and notes the declaration of 1852.

Eleven sections follow. They declare “the Confederacy heretofore existing between the State of South Carolina and the other States” dissolved, amend the State constitution, direct the governor to send a commissioner to President [James] Buchanan, provide for [foreign] trade, and empower the governor to appoint postmasters.

Ingliss’s committee, doubtless to satisfy those who wanted no further delay in officially leaving the Union, chose to present a much shorter and simpler text. [In] the afternoon of December 20 [1860], Chairman Inglis rose to present the committee’s [Ordinance of Secession]. There was no need for debate. Behind closed doors, a roll call vote was taken, alphabetically by surname, ending with “Mr. President.” It began at 1:07 P.M. and ended eight minutes later, at 1:15 when [convention President] David F. Jamison said “aye.” South Carolina had seceded by unanimous vote.”

(Relic of The Lost Cause, The Story of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession, Charles H. Lesser, South Carolina Department of Archives & History, 1990, pp. 4-5)

Ridding the South of the Incubus

In 1819, Rev. Moses Waddel “was induced to give up his academy business” and take the reins of the University of Georgia. Born in North Carolina, educated in the ministry in Virginia and a preacher in Georgia, he had taught young John C. Calhoun and became the first native-born Southerner to fill the University presidency. It was not unusual then to hear open and reasoned discussion on ending the New England slave trade and repatriating Africans to their homeland.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Ridding the South of the Incubus

“Athens [Georgia] and he Lower South at this time [1810] were in the midst of laying the foundations of that social order and culture, beautiful and polished yet seamy, captivating the elite Englishman and practical Yankee who touched it, the admiration of some, the curse of some . . .

In the excitement of the Federal Constitutional Convention, Georgia had stood for the foreign slave trade, but she no sooner won it than she freely flung it away. In 1819 at a banquet in Athens this toast was drunk: “The [Foreign] Slave Trade – The scourge of Africa; the disgrace of humanity. May it cease forever, and may the voice of peace, of Christianity and of Civilization, be heard on the savage shores.”

At this time the whole subject of slavery was discussed in the Georgia papers with reason and dispassion, and in 1824 the president of the University “heard the Senior Forensic Disputation all day on the policy of Congress abolishing Slavery – much fatigued but amused.” Apparently the students were doing some thinking also.

The trustees, were, likewise not opposed to a possible disposition of slavery, for [Rev. Robert] Finley, whom they had just elected president of the University, had been one of the organizers of the American Colonization Society. He was, indeed, present in Washington at its birth and had been made one of its vice-presidents; and so vital did his work appear to one friend that he later wrote,

“If this colony [Liberia] should ever be formed in Africa, great injustice will be done to Mr. Finley, if in the history of it, his name be not mentioned as the first mover, and if some town or district in the colony be not called Finley.” He, indeed, never lost interest in the project to his dying day – and then it “gave consolation to his last moments.”

The South was genuinely interested in ridding itself of this incubus, realizing, with Henry Clay, that Negroes freed and not removed were a greater menace than if they remained in slavery.”

(College Life in the Old South, E. Merton Coulter, UGA Press, 1983 (original 1928), pp. 27-28)

Southern Academies and the Spirit of Christianity

Moses Waddel’s school at Lillington, South Carolina “was a simple frontier academy of the period which taught grammar, syntax, antiques of Greece and Rome, geography of the ancients, Greek and Latin. Waddel’s graduates included many governors and future statesmen to include John C. Calhoun, William H. Crawford, Hugh S. Legare, A.B. Longstreet, James L. Petigru, George Crawford, Preston Brooks, Thomas W. Cobb, Pierce M. Butler, and George R. Gilmer. It was later said of Waddel’s reason for taking the presidency of the University of Georgia was first to “raise the University and give it a respectability and usefulness in the State; and second, to communicate to public education the spirit of Christianity.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Academies and the Spirit of Christianity

“In an article printed in the Atlantic Monthly, November, 1929, Count Hermann Keyserling expressed the belief that the South is the only section of America where a real culture can be produced. Only in this region have complete individuals lived. Here and only here can a uniqueness, an individuality which leads to a development of complete souls, flourish.

Writing in a similar vein John Crowe Ransom, a Nashville poet, says, “The South is unique on this continent for having founded and defended a culture which was according to European principles of culture; and the European principles had better look to the South if they are to be perpetuated in this country.”

The same point of view characterizes a symposium entitled “I’ll Take My Stand, by Twelve Southerners,” which has lately been published by Harpers. In the field of education these thinkers criticize our public schools, and desire a return to the ante-bellum system of formal training. Indeed, a great glorification of the academy, which was the most characteristic school of the pre-war South, is presented. With the lapse of the educational system of the Colonial Period . . .

“the South found a means of transmitting to its own people the essential of a good classical education, by the growth of an institution that never, to the same degree, affected the North. This institution was the academy. It was by its means and operation that the older Southern life and culture became what it was, and remained until the catastrophe of 1861-5 . . . The academies solved the problem of the gap between the mere acquisition of mere knowledge and the “acquisition of power for independent work” by putting the pupils into direct contact, not with undisputed masses of information and up-to-date apparatus, but with such teachers as could be found.

Their object was to teach nothing that the teacher himself had not mastered, and could not convey to his pupils. Their training was therefore classical and humanistic, rather than scientific and technical – as most of the available teachers were products of the older European and American schools.”

In America the academy was a “product of the frontier period of national development and the laisse faire theory of government.” Frequently it was motivated by “denominational interest and sectarian pride.” In the South the academies were of two types, the modest local institution which was sometimes called the “old field school,” and the more pretentious, more permanent school with a wider patronage. While fees were commonly charged, the academies were democratic in character, and usually the idea of individual development was dominant. Generally speaking the schools served the educational needs of the entire community.”

(Moses Waddel and the Lillington Academy, Ralph M. Lyon, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume VIII, Number 1, January, 1931, pp. 284-285)

 

America’s Conservative Catastrophe

Ambrose Bierce defined “Conservative” in his Devil’s Dictionary as “A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others . . .” Italian’s of the medieval period gave the title of “conservator” to guardians of the law; English justices of the peace originally “were styled custodus pacis – conservators of the peace.” In the modern sense, the word implies the principles of thought and action which opposed the radicalism and political innovation of the French Revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

America’s Conservative Catastrophe

“[A Tory] party in the old English sense scarcely existed in [British] America. Political debates usually occurred between two factions of Whigs, both attached to the Whig idea of liberty, but differing as to means and the relationship with the Crown. The triumph of the Patriots in the Revolution expelled from the Thirteen Colonies what little Toryism existed there, and along with it many of the moderate Whigs.

For all that, recent scholarship inclines toward the view that the American Revolution was no revolution truly, but simply a War of Independence – a revolution (in Burke’s phrase concerning the Glorious Revolution of 1688) “not made, but prevented.”

The intellectual leaders of the Americans during the troubled period of Confederation, were men, most of them, of a conservative tendency – John Adams, Gouveneur Morris, John Jay, Hamilton. Even Jefferson . . . was no frantic innovator.

Most other Southern leaders, such as Pinckney or Mason, differed more about means than about the ends of society: their view of the state was conservative – viewed that is, from a twentieth century vantage point. Even some eminent radicals of the time, notably Patrick Henry, grew steadily more conservative as responsibility settled upon them.

And the Federalist Papers, written to obtain acceptance of the Constitution, reflect the conservative concepts of moderation, balance, order and prudence – together with those conservative guarantees of prescriptive usage, arrangement of political checks, restrictions upon power, protection of private property, and restraints upon popular [democratic] impulses.

During the early years of the United States, the chief political contests many be regarded as long, acrimonious debate between two powerful conservative interests – the mercantile interests of the North, the agricultural interests of the South – confused by lesser issues and personalities.

The catastrophe of the Civil War dealt a grim blow to reflective conservatism, North or South. In the Gilded Age, little political principle of any kind could be distinguished. As the United States grew into the greatest power in the world . . . conservative concepts were discussed again . . . [though the] Great Depression and ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt seemed to quash this renewal of conservative thought.

Until the first administration of Franklin Roosevelt, the term “liberal” had not been popular among American politicians; but Rooseveltian liberalism swept everything before it during the 1930s and 1940s. Not until the 1950s did there appear, or reappear, a strong body of conservative thought, expressed in books and periodical literature, to challenge the dominant liberalism . . .

[An] American conservative, at least as the term is employed popularly, is a person who believes strongly that the old pattern of American society ought not to be much altered. Typically, such a person holds by the Constitution, maintaining that it should be strictly interpreted; he endeavors to oppose the drift toward political centralization; he dislikes organizations on a grand scale, in government, in business and industry, in organized labor; he is a defender of private property; he resents the heavy increase of taxation and many of the “transfer payments” of the welfare state; he is unalterably opposed to the Communist ideology . . . and sighs, or perhaps shouts O tempora! O mores! at the decay of private and public morality.”

(The Essential Russell Kirk: Selected Essays; George A. Panichas, editor, ISI Books, 2007, excerpts, pp. 14-16)

The Good Life in the South

Author Donald Davidson wrote of the decline of Northern cities committed to progress and the past resistance of Southern cities like Charleston and Savannah to the relentless march of industrial capitalism. But, he observed the ruins all around us as “the ruins of societies no less than the ruins of cities. Over the ruins stream mobs led by creatures no longer really human – creatures who, whether they make shift to pass as educators, planners, editors, commissars, or presidents . . .” lead the way on the path to destruction.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Good Life in the South

“Continuity of family, of family life, and family position – irrespective of economic status – was in fact a great distinction of Charleston among old American cities; for elsewhere that continuity had been generally broken by one cause or another. With this continuity Charleston had a stability that expressed itself in the pattern of its streets and the conservatism of its architecture. The map of Charleston in 1948 was not substantially different from the map of Charleston two centuries before.

If John Stuart, whom George III in 1763 appointed superintendent of Indian affairs in the South, could have returned in 1948 to seek his home, he would have found it at 106 Tradd Street, just where he built it in 1772 – for a brief occupancy, as it happened, since the Revolution ejected him, as a Tory, rather speedily from his new house.

The secret of Charleston’s stability, if it was any secret, was only the old Southern principle that material considerations, however important, are means not ends, and should always be subdued to the ends they are supposed to serve, should never be allowed to dominate, never be mistaken for ends in themselves.

If they are mistaken for ends, they dominate everything, and then you get instability. You get the average modern city, you get New York and Detroit, you get industrial civilization, world wars, Marxist communism, the New Deal.

Historians, noting that the antebellum South was in a sense materialistic, in that it found ways of prospering from the sale of cotton and tobacco, and relied heavily upon slave labor, have had the problem of explaining why that same South developed a chivalrous, courteous, religious, conservative and stable society quite different from that which obtained in the also materialistic, but more industrialized, rational, idealistic, progressive North.

The planters’ “aristocratic” leadership was the result, not the cause, of a general diffusion of standards of judgment that all the South, even the Negro slaves, accepted a basic principle of life. Mr. Francis Butler Simkins, in his book The South Old and New, has taken securer than the average historian when he notes that the South at the outbreak of the Civil War was almost the only true religious society left in the Western world.

That old, religious South set the good life above any material means to life and consistently preferred the kind of material concerns that would least interfere with and best contribute to the good life. Its preferred occupations were agriculture, law, the church and politics – pursuits which develop the whole man rather than the specialist, the free-willed individual rather than the anonymous unit of the organized mass.

[With] reference to material means of existence, such as money, one could clinch the discourse by pointing out the traditional attitude of the Southern Negro toward work and wages. If you paid the Negro twice the normal wage for a day’s work, you did not get more work from him – that is to say, more devotion to work within a given period, with increased production as the result. Not at all.

The Negro simply and ingeniously worked only half as many days or hours as before – and spent the rest of the time in following his conception of the good life: in hunting, dancing, singing, social conversation, eating, religion, and love. This well-known habit of the Negro’s, disconcerting to employers and statisticians, was absolutely correct according to Southern principles.

The Negro, so far as he had not been corrupted into heresy by modern education, was the most traditional of Southerners, the mirror which faithfully and lovingly reflected the traits that Southerners once all but unanimously professed.

That had been the idea in Charleston too. It was what Mr. Simkins in his book, perhaps being misled by his historical predecessors, had called the “country gentleman” idea. But Charleston, which had always been urban, always a town or a city of counting-houses, warehouses, factors, bankers, financial agents, and the like, was not a city of country gentlemen, exactly.

It had agreed with the country gentleman and with others of every sort, including the Negro, on letting the relationship between work, wages and life be determined by the metaphysical judgment indicated above. That was what made Charleston Charleston and not “The Indigo City” or something of the kind.”

(Still Rebels, Still Yankees, and Other Essays, “Some Day in Old Charleston,” Donald Davidson, LSU Press, 1957, excerpt, pp. 221-224)

 

Southern Statesmen Save the Union

The final breakup of the union of States in 1861 was preceded by over 80 years of conflict and compromise, and it was Southern statesmen who most often tried valiantly to save the confederation of the Founders. Just as colonial New England frequently antagonized England with its independently-minded maritime fleet, it often threatened secession and independence from the United States as it viewed its own interests as paramount to any other.  The infamous Hartford Convention of New England Federalists seriously entertained secession in late 1814, and espoused States’ rights doctrines.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Statesmen Save the Union

“The period from the ratification of the treaty of peace to the adoption of the Constitution has been called the critical period of American history; and the first year of that period was scarcely less critical than the last, the year in which, to use a familiar evangelistic expression, the Constitution was hair-hung and breeze-shaken over the bottomless pit.

It is scarcely to be doubted that at that time [1784] the New Englanders in particular seriously contemplated the dissolution of Congress and the abandonment of the union of the thirteen States.

At such a time, when the bands of union were slipping, the centrifugal forces were everywhere running amuck, it was Thomas Jefferson who conceived the idea that the preservation of a “visible head” of the government was of supreme importance, lest, with the disappearance of even a symbol of the union, all faith and hope in a more perfect union should likewise perish; and it was the Southern members of Congress, nobly aided by Pennsylvania alone, who strove with might and main to combat the threatened peril.

Again, when men of the North would have hog-tied and bound the West and have delivered it into permanent subjection to the East, it was Southern statesmen, more than any others, who strove to establish the principle that the West should be carved into self-governing States, having equal rights in the union with the original thirteen.

Once more, in that long and hard-fought contest over the free navigation of the Mississippi River, when the North would have sold that American birthright for a mess of Spanish turnip greens and them frostbitten, it was Southern statesmen who saved the West to itself and to the nation.

During the contest over the navigation of the Mississippi . . . the forces of disunion again began slithering through the East. In the late summer of 1786 [James] Monroe was alarmed to discover that, in the very shadow of Congress, an intrigue was asquirm, the design of which appeared to be the disruption of the existing union and the creation of a Northern confederation that would extend, if possible, as far southward as the Potomac.

The scheme may have died a-borning . . . At all events there are grounds for suspicion that it was the same infant, waxed a bit stronger, that was exhibited at Hartford in 1814.”

(Southern Statesmen and the Confederation, Edmund Cody Burnett, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XIV, Number 4, October 1937, NC Historical Commission, excerpts, pp. 357-359)

 

Southern Manners and Personal Integrity

Antebellum Southern concepts of manners and personal honor set a very high standard in education with the logical expectation that this would result in a more enlightened society and government.  Even code duello was seen to have a “decorous influence” on manners, as it made men careful in their conduct toward each other through personal honor and accountability.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Manners and Personal Integrity

“[The official historian of the University of Virginia noted that the bulk of pre-Civil War graduates] . . . were of “the planting class.” Analysis of their post-college careers and modes of life led him to say that they were men who “kept alive in their country homes that loyal devotion to family, that chivalrous respect for womanhood, that considered tenderness for weakness, that high recognition of the claims of hospitality, that reverence for religion, and that quick sensitiveness upon all questions of personal integrity and honor, which they had inherited from their fathers.”

The cult of manners in the Old Dominion was so intertwined with the concepts of personal honor and integrity that all appeared part of a single theme. The diary notes of a young Virginian, attending VMI, contained the following passage, inserted as a kind of conclusion to the entries for the year 1842. It was set off in quotation marks:

“Among the many branches of education, that which tends to make deep impressions of virtue ought to be a fundamental object in a well-regulated government. For depravity of manners will render ineffectual the most salutary laws; and in the midst of opulence, what other means to prevent such depravity, but only a virtuous discipline?”

In this climate of opinion, with its emphasis on manners and personal integrity, the famous “Honor System” of American academic life first appeared. The founders were two professors at the University of Virginia; George Tucker, romantic litterateur before his appointment to the chair of moral philosophy; and his relative, Henry St. George Tucker, distinguished jurist before settling at Charlottesville as a teacher of law.

Judge Tucker submitted the epochal resolution to the faculty in 1842 that, at all future written examinations, the students should certify on their honor the receiving of no improper assistance. Later, this pledge was extended to include the imparting as well as the accepting of aid.

While visiting Richmond in 1853, Frederick Law Olmsted observed the importance of the cult of manners there. He added this observation to his travel diary, “In manners, I notice that between man and man, more ceremony and form is sustained in familiar conversations than well-bred people commonly use at the North.”

(Romanticism in the Old South, Rollin G. Osterweiss, LSU Press, 1971, excerpt, pp. 87-88)

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