Browsing "Canadian Intrigues"

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)