Browsing "Canadian Intrigues"

Lincoln Saves Ohio for the Union

When Ohio Democratic politician Clement Vallandigham was banished to the Confederacy by Lincoln in late May 1863, General Braxton Bragg congratulated the exile on his arrival in the land of liberty, and told that he would find freedom of speech and conscience in the Dixie. Vallandigham ran for Ohio governor in 1863 from exile in Canada, but was defeated by a well-oiled Republican machine and its soldier vote controlled by politically-appointed officers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Lincoln Saves Ohio for the Union

“[Vallandigham’s banishment] seemed to substantiate Confederate contentions that Lincoln was a despot, that civil rights had evaporated in the North, and that secession had saved the Southern States from Lincolnian tyranny.

“The incarceration of Vallandigham,” wrote John Moncure Daniel of the Richmond Examiner, “marks the last step of despotism – there is now nothing now to distinguish the politics of the North from that of Austria under Francis, and that of Naples . . . under King Bomba [Ferdinand I].”

The editor of the Richmond Sentinel wrote in a like manner: “The trembling Chinaman prostrates himself no more submissively before the “celestial” sovereign . . . than they [Northerners] will henceforth before the majestic ABRAHAM, the joker.”

Vallandigham’s arrival in Canada coincided with the New York City anti-draft riots of July 13-16, 1863. Some Republican editors even made the wild charge that Vallandigham had connived with Confederate agents to bring about the riots . . . one Republican editor devised a forged letter . . . that the exile had helped plan the riots.

In the months that followed, Republicans in Ohio marshaled all their forces to defeat Vallandigham in the October 13 election. Since campaign money was plentiful, Republicans flooded the State with dozens of tracts and propaganda pamphlets . . . and anti-Vallandigham statements extracted from generals’ speeches and soldiers letters. Some of the quotations were genuine, others fabricated.

The Republicans disseminated their campaign propaganda through postmasters and the Union Leagues. Since every postmaster was a Republican – often the Republican editor in the village or the city, too – he had a vested interest in Vallandigham’s defeat.

[Ohio Democrats retorted that they] resented New England’s efforts to impose her moral, cultural and political views upon their section. They decried New England’s ascendancy in business and politics, her wish to hold the West in bondage. They ranted against the tariffs, against high railroad rates, and against the excise on whiskey . . . [and that Republican candidates] were railroad presidents and “tools” of the monopolists, speculators, and army contractors.”

But October 13 proved to be an unlucky day for Vallandigham, who went down to defeat by 100,000 votes. [His opponent] received 61,752 more “home” votes . . . and the “soldier vote” (collected in the field) added nearly 40,000 more to that majority.

Lincoln, jubilant, supposedly wired . . . “Glory to God in the highest; Ohio has been saved for the Union.”

(The Limits of Dissent, Clement L. Vallandigham & the Civil War, Frank L. Klement, Fordham University Press, 1998, excerpts pp. 202-203; 232-233-235; 252)

Accommodating Secession Way Up North

Though James Buchanan did little to stem the drift toward confrontation in 1860, and helped light the fuse of war by refusing to order Major Anderson out of Fort Sumter, he did understand the constitutional limits of a president’s authority. He was an experienced diplomat who preferred negotiation, and was perhaps misled by his successor that a constitutional convention of the States would be soon called to peacefully resolve the crisis.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Accommodating Secession Way Up North

“Quebec secession was the subject of an historic judgement handed down by the supreme court of Canada on August 20, 1998. This question reached the court by a “reference” or “renvoi” initiated by the governor general, in effect a request by the Prime Minister and his cabinet for an advisory opinion.

The judgement is not binding or enforceable by writs as in ordinary litigation, but is judicial advice given to the government of Canada.

The court held, while the government of Quebec has no constitutional right to work a unilateral secession of the province from Canada, the people of Quebec enjoy a constitutional right to have a referendum at public expense and without interference, and that, if the people of Quebec clearly vote for independence, the government of Canada has a constitutional duty to negotiate in good faith to accommodate their expressed desire.

The people of Quebec refused to be absorbed [into the dominant Anglo-Canada] and they intend to remain a distinct society – be constitutional accommodation with Anglo-Canada if possible, by independence if necessary. At the moment, separatism is an active force in Quebec, mainly because of a new constitution (the Canada Act of 1982) was imposed upon Quebec over the protest of her government.

In their recent judgment, the supreme court of Canada [was] right insofar as [the Constitution Acts of 1867-1982] include no express right of constitutional mechanism for secession. Yet by implication, the court wholly repudiated the course taken by Abraham Lincoln against the South in 1861-1865.

The justices understand the truth stated by President James Buchanan on the occasion of Lincoln’s election in 1860” “Our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in a civil war. If it cannot live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in their hands to preserve it.”

(Cultural Revolutions, John Remington Graham, Chronicles, November 1998, excerpts pg. 7)

 

Lincoln and Peace in 1864

As the year 1864 wore on, and despite increased Southern territory being overrun by Northern armies, the Northern people were war-weary and appalled at Lincoln and Grant’s mounting casualty numbers. Lincoln’s re-election platform called for the unconditional surrender of the South, and an unpopular constitutional amendment to abolish slavery – referred to as Lincoln’s “rescript” of war aims. Lincoln’s narrow election victory was attributed not only to mass army furloughs of men sent home to police the polls, but also that Assistant Secretary of War “Charles A. Dana testifies that the whole power of the War Department was used to secure Lincoln’s reelection in 1864.” Clement C. Clay, Jr., below, was one of three Confederate Commissioners sent to Canada in April 1864 to find a means to spark a Northern front, draw enemy troops from the South, and nurture the growing peace movement in the North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln and Peace in 1864

Saint Catherine’s, Canada West, September 12, 1864.

To: Hon. J.P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, Richmond Virginia, C.S.A.

“Sir – I addressed you on the 11th August last in explanation of the circumstance inducing, attending and following the correspondence of Mr. [James P.] Holcombe and myself with Hon. Horace Greeley. Subsequent events have confirmed my opinion that we lost nothing and gained much by that correspondence. It has, at least, formed an issue between Lincoln and the South, in which all her people should join with all their might and means.

All of the many intelligent men from the United States with whom I have conversed, agreed in declaring that it had given a stronger impetus to the peace party of the North than all other causes combined, and had greatly reduced the strength of the war party.

Indeed, Judge [Jeremiah] Black [of Pennsylvania], stated to us that [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton admitted to him that it was a grave blunder, and would defeat Lincoln [in 1864] unless he could . . . [demonstrate his] willingness to accept other terms – in other words, to restore the Union as it was.

Judge Black wished to know if Mr. [Jacob] Thompson would go to Washington to discuss the terms of peace, and proceed thence to Richmond; saying that Stanton desired him to do so, and would send him safe conduct for that purpose. I doubt not that Judge Black came at the instance of Mr. Stanton.

You may have remarked that the New York Times maintains, as by authority, that the rescript declares one mode of making peace, but not the only one. The abler organs of the Administration seize this suggestion and hold it up in vindication of Lincoln from the charge that he is waging war to abolish slavery, and will not agree to peace until that end is achieved.

Mr. [William] Seward, too, in his late speech at Auburn [New York], intimates that slavery is no longer an issue of the war, and that it will not be interfered with after peace is declared. These and other facts indicate that Lincoln is dissatisfied with the issue he has made with the South and fears its decision.

I am told that [Lincoln’s] purpose is to try to show that the Confederate Government will not entertain a proposition for peace that does not embrace a distinct recognition of the Confederate States, thereby expecting to change the issue from war for abolition to war for the Union.

It is well enough to let the North and European nations believe that reconstruction is not impossible. It will inflame the spirit of peace in the North and will encourage the disposition of England and France to recognize and treat with us.

At all events, [Lincoln’s opponent, Democrat George McClellan] is committed by the platform to cease hostilities and to try negotiations. An armistice will inevitably result in peace – the war cannot be renewed if once stopped, even for a short time. The North is satisfied that war cannot restore the Union, and will destroy their own liberties and independence if prosecuted much longer.

The Republican papers now urge Lincoln to employ all of his navy, if necessary, to seal up the port of Wilmington, which they say will cut us off from all foreign supplies and soon exhaust our means for carrying on the war . . . I do not doubt, whether we could support an army for six months after the port of Wilmington was sealed.

[The North] will not consent to peace without reunion while they believe they can subjugate us. Lincoln will exert his utmost power to sustain Sherman and Grant in their present positions, in order to insure his reelection. He knows that a great disaster to either of them would defeat him.

I have the honor to be, &c., &c.,

C. C. Clay, Jr.”

(Correspondence, Confederate State Department; Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume VII, Rev. J. W. Jones, Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1990, excerpts pp. 338-340; 342)

English Immigrants Desired by Virginia

In 1869, former Confederate Gen. John D. Imboden served as Domestic Immigration Agent for Virginia with his mission being to attract English settlers to that State. Goldwin Smith (1823-1910) was a British historian, journalist, and taught at Oxford. He expressed pro-Northern sentiments during the war, and promoted the annexation of Canada by the North, as suggested in his last paragraph. Though this was threatened by the North as retaliation for English support of the Confederacy, Smith saw as predestined the domination of North America by one great Anglo-Saxon country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

English Emigrants Desired by Virginia

January 31, 1870, 1806 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, U.S.

“My Dear Lord Salisbury,

As you were a great friend of the South, the promoters of English emigration to Virginia, at the head of whom is the Confederate General Imboden, will probably bring their scheme under your notice. In case they do, I venture to commend it to your consideration.

What may be the cause, or with whom the blame may rest, matters not. The fact is that the feeling against England in the Northern States is now so strong that this is to Englishmen not only a foreign country, but a hostile country. I cannot help being sensible of this, notwithstanding the kindness with which I am personally received. It is desirable, therefore, to turn the current of emigration, as far as possible, to a more friendly shore.

To turn it to Canada is, I am afraid, only to turn it to the States through a circuitous channel. The Canadian climate is very severe; the winter almost eats up the summer; and, the soil being heavily timbered, the work of clearing is very hard. It is, for the most part, more a country for the lumberer than for the farmer.

In Virginia the climate is temperate, and the soil, I am credibly assured, excellent – at least in the western parts of the State, and particularly in the Shenandoah Valley; for in the east a good deal of it is injured, though I suppose not irretrievably, by slave labour.

The people are thoroughly friendly and extremely anxious to receive English emigration instead of carpetbaggers with their train of emigrants of the lower class.

Politically, an English community in Virginia, with that great State in so commanding a position, would be the best counterpoise to the Irish vote and the anti-English sentiment of New England; and now at all events it is to the growth of the English element in the Union that you must trust for security against American aggression.

Tory and Southerner as you are, I have sometimes, during the Anglo-American controversy, half-wished that you were the representative of England . . . [that] Government, by first curtly refusing any reparation [to the US], and then getting on the slide of concession, has filled the Washington politicians with evil hopes, and I do not know how it may end.

The Annexation [of Canada] passion is, I fear, decidedly gaining ground. Forgive this inroad on a statesman’s time.

Your very truly, Goldwin Smith.”

(A Selection from Goldwin Smith’s Correspondence . . . Written between 1846 and 1910; Arnold Haultain, editor, Duffield & Company, 1913, excerpts pp. 19-20)

The Union League of the Republican Party

In the midst of the mostly inflammatory influence of the Republican’s Union League upon the freedmen, the Ku Klux Klan emerged in the immediate postwar. To underscore the Union League’s destructiveness, an 1870 Congressional Committee report provided this indictment of Republican rule over the conquered South: “[The] hatred of the white race was instilled [by the League] into the minds of these ignorant people by every art and vile that bad men could devise; when the Negroes were formed into military organizations and the white people of these States were denied the use of arms; when arson, rape, robbery and murder were things of daily occurrence, . . . and that what little they had saved from the ravages of war was being confiscated by taxation . . . many of them took the law into their own hands and did deeds of violence which we neither justify or excuse. But all history shows that bad government will make bad citizens.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Union League of the Republican Party

“The nocturnal secrecy of the gatherings, the weird initiation ceremonies, the emblems of virtue and religion, the songs, the appeal to such patriotic shibboleths as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Flag, and the Union, the glittering platitudes in the interest of social uplift — all these characteristics of the League had an irresistible appeal to a ceremony-loving, singing, moralistic and loyal race. That the purposes of the order, when reduced to the practical, meant that the Negro had become the emotional and intellectual slaves of the white Radical did not dull the Negro’s enthusiasm, he was accustomed to be a slave to the white man” [South Carolina During Reconstruction, Simkins & Woody, page 7].

The Union League gave the freedmen their first experience in parliamentary law and debating . . . the members were active in the meetings, joining in the debate and prone to heckle the speakers with questions and points of order. Observers frequently reported the presence of rifles at political rallies, usually stacked in a clump of bushes behind the speaker’s platform, sometimes the womenfolk left to guard them.

In the autumn of 1867, a League chapter made up mostly of blacks, but with a white president named Bryce, was holding a meeting with its usual armed sentries on the perimeter. When a poor white named Smith tried to enter the meeting, shots were fired; there followed a general alarm and, subsequently, a melee with a white debating club nearby. The Negroes rushed out; Smith fled, hotly pursued to the schoolhouse; the members of the debating club broke up in a panic and endeavored to escape; a second pistol was fired and a boy of fourteen named Hunnicutt, the son of a respectable [white] citizen, fell dead.

[Carpetbagger John W. De Forest wrote]: “The Negroes, unaware apparently that they had done anything wrong, believing, on the contrary, that they were re-establishing public order and enforcing justice, commenced patrolling the neighborhood, entering every house and arresting numbers of citizens. They marched in double file, pistol in belt and gun at the shoulder, keeping step to the “hup, hup!” of a fellow called Lame Sam, who acted as drill sergeant and commander. By noon of the next day they had the country for miles around in their power, and the majority of the male whites under their guard.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 29-32)

 

Financial Panics and Copperhead Uprisings

Not surprising was the resistance of the Northern war munitions industry to peace initiatives; after defeat in 1856 the new Republican party saw future victory in wooing northeastern industrialists through protective tariffs and corporate welfare schemes, and protecting their interests at the expense of the agricultural South.  From March to early June, 1864, Capt. Thomas Hines devoted his time in Canada to rounding up Southern prisoners of war who escaped across the border to freedom. From June on, Hines and the Confederate Commissioners planned bold moves to open a northern front against the enemy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Financial Panics and Copperhead Uprisings

“While Hines rounded up the escaped prisoners of war to form his tiny “squadron,” as he would call it in later years, [Confederate Commissioner in Canada Jacob] Thompson set out for Niagara Falls to contact “potent men of the North” to learn how they felt about peace.

Leading Copperheads like Fernando Wood, ex-mayor of New York City, and ex-governor Washington Hunt of New York, met with him at the Clifton House [hotel]. New York and the East were not ready for peace or an uprising, they told Thompson. War [munitions] manufacturers there were too powerful and were on the alert to “neutralize” any peace efforts.

Thompson next turned to Secretary [Judah] Benjamin’s favorite project: trying to create a financial panic in the North by buying up gold and smuggling it out of the country in order to weaken the gold security for the Union dollar. A Nashville banker named [John] Porterfield, who was living in exile in Montreal, was selected by Thompson as the proper man to set this in motion.

Porterfield was furnished with fifty thousand dollars. He went to New York, opened an office under a fictitious name and began to purchase gold, which he exported to England and sold for sterling bills of exchange. Then he converted the sterling bills into dollars which he used to buy more gold.

The transaction was a costly one, showing a loss due to the cost of operations, trans-shipment, etc. Porterfield continued until his losses were twenty thousand dollars . . . [but by] this time he had exported five million dollars in gold, “and had induced many others to ship much more [gold].” His buying up gold and sending it out of the country began “showing a marked effect,” as Thompson said in his official report to Richmond, when the Federals cracked down.

A former partner of Porterfield’s was arrested by General Ben Butler for exporting gold, and thrown into Lafayette Prison in New York Harbor. Porterfield fled back to Canada . . . [but] still retained the twenty-five thousand dollars remaining to continue the exporting of gold through “fronts” in New York.

By the first week of June, 1864, Hines was in touch with his Copperhead friends in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and in communication with [Clement] Vallandigham, who was now [exiled] in Windsor [Ontario]. A meeting was set for the 14th to plan the Copperhead uprising and the release of the Rebel prisoners in Camps Douglas, Morton, Chase and Rock Island.

Hines and Thompson met with Vallandigham on the 14th . . . [at] St. Catherines, Canada . . . [and the latter] detailed for Hines the strength of the Copperheads. Membership totaled about 300,000. Illinois had furnished 80,000, Indiana, 50,000, Ohio, 40,000 and Kentucky and New York States, the rest. A “feeling of fatigue” was sweeping through the North, Vallandigham told them, following Lincoln’s call for 500,000 more men . . . [and] he added: “If provocation and opportunity arise, gentlemen, there will be a general uprising.”

(Confederate Agent, A Discovery in History, James D. Horan, Crown Publishers, 1954, pp. 88-90)