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Why Cannot We Act as Our Fathers Did?

Lincoln as a senatorial candidate used his opponent’s popularity to gain valuable platform time, but ended up losing the race anyway. In these famous debates, he exposed not only his own, but also his own party’s uncompromising vision of sectional hatred, and ultimate war between Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Cicra1865.com

 

Why Cannot We Act as Our Fathers Did?

“Before the debates, in their Senatorial campaign, Douglas had arranged speeches at Chicago and Springfield. His popularity brought great crowds to hear him. Lincoln sat in the back of the crowds both times, waited for Douglas to finish, and then, as the crowd started to leave, Lincoln announced from the platform that in an hour, “so you can eat dinner,” he would answer Judge Douglas’ speech. The crowd roared, “We’ll be here.”

Douglas publicly denounced this tactic. Then Lincoln proposed that the candidates meet jointly, one against the other, several times in the future. Douglas’ advisors urged him to refuse. Why should he provide the big crowds of voters to hear Lincoln? However, it appeared that it would be politically advisable to go ahead and agree to the debates.

Telegraph lines worked all night and nearly all of America read the next morning what the candidates had said and read greatly contradictory reports on who won the last debate. For example, as to one debate, Republican newspapers said, “Honest Abe chewed up the Little Giant and spit him out to the delight of the crowd.” Of the same debate, Democratic newspapers said, “Douglas knocked out Lincoln’s spindly shanks from under him and as he struggled for composure, the crowd roared at the spectacle.

At a subsequent debate, the “House Divided” speech came up again and Douglas said,” Why cannot we act as our fathers did? In Washington’s army there was no sectional strife. These brave soldiers fought under a common policy; they sought a common destiny, and no one was ready to forego a common aim because he did not agree with his fellows on every idea.”

You might say that Douglas won the debates because after the campaign, the Illinois Legislature voted 54 to 46 in favor of Douglas, and he returned to his senatorial seat.”

(The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, R.D. Douglas, Jr., North Carolina State Bar Journal, Fall 2009, pp. 16-17)

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

Sherman viewed Southerners as he later viewed American Indians, to be exterminated or banished to reservations as punishment for having resisted government power. They were subjects and merely temporary occupants of land belonging to his government whom they served. The revealing excerpts below are taken from “Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama,” published in 1872.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

Headquarters, Department of Tennessee, Vicksburg, January 1, 1863.

[To] Major R. M. Sawyer, AAG Army of Tennessee, Huntsville:

“Dear Sawyer — In my former letter I have answered all your questions save one, and that relates to the treatment of inhabitants known, or suspected to be, hostile or “secesh.”  The war which prevails in our land is essentially a war of races. The Southern people entered into a clear compact of government, but still maintained a species of separate interests, history and prejudices. These latter became stronger and stronger, till they have led to war, which has developed the fruits of the bitterest kind.

We of the North are, beyond all question, right in our lawful cause, but we are not bound to ignore the fact that the people of the South have prejudices that form part of their nature, and which they cannot throw off without an effort of reason or the slower process of natural change.

Now, the question arises, should we treat as absolute enemies all in the South who differ with us in opinions or prejudices . . . [and] kill or banish them? Or should we give them time to think and gradually change their conduct so as to conform to the new order of things which is slowly and gradually creeping into their country?

When men take arms to resist our rightful authority, we are compelled to use force because all reason and argument ceases when arms are resorted to.

If the people, or any of them, keep up a correspondence with parties in hostility, they are spies, and can be punished with death or minor punishment. These are well established principles of war, and the people of the South having appealed to war, are barred from appealing to our Constitution, which they have practically and publicly defied. They have appealed to war and must abide its rules and laws.

The United States, as a belligerent party claiming right in the soil as the ultimate sovereign, have a right to change the population, and it may be and it, both politic and best, that we should do so in certain districts. When the inhabitants persist too long in hostility, it may be both politic and right that we should banish them and appropriate their lands to a more loyal and useful population.

No man would deny that the United States would be benefited by dispossessing a single prejudiced, hard-headed and disloyal planter and substitute in his place a dozen or more patient, industrious, good families, even if they be of foreign birth.

It is all idle nonsense for these Southern planters to say that they made the South, that they own it, and that they can do as they please — even to break up our government, and to shut up the natural avenues of trade, intercourse and commerce.

We know, and they know if they are intelligent beings, that, as compared with the whole world they are but as five millions are to one thousand millions — that they did not create the land — that their only title to its use and enjoyment is the deed of the United States, and if they appeal to war they hold their all by a very insecure tenure.

For my part, I believe that this war is the result of false political doctrine, for which we are all as a people responsible, viz:  That any and every people has a right to self-government . . . In this belief, while I assert for our Government the highest military prerogatives, I am willing to bear in patience that political nonsense of . . . State Rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of press, and other such trash as have deluded the Southern people into war, anarchy, bloodshed, and the foulest crimes that have disgraced any time or any people.

I would advise the commanding officers at Huntsville and such other towns as are occupied by our troops, to assemble the inhabitants and explain to them these plain, self-evident propositions, and tell them that it is for them now to say whether they and their children shall inherit their share.

The Government of the United States has in North-Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war — to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . and war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact. If they want eternal warfare, well and good; we will accept the issue and dispossess them, and put our friends in possession. Many, many people, with less pertinacity than the South, have been wiped out of national existence.

To those who submit to the rightful law and authority, all gentleness and forbearance; but to the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of heaven were allowed a continuance of existence in hell merely to swell their just punishment.”

W.T. Sherman, Major General Commanding

(Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, William Garrett, Plantation Printing Company’s Press, 1872, pp. 486-488)

 

Wilmot the Hatchet Man

As the North had done earlier, the American South could have dealt with African slavery – a relic of the British colonial labor system and perpetuated by Northern slave traders – in its own time and its own way. Regretfully, no peaceful or practical solutions to the riddle of slavery were forthcoming from the North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilmot the Hatchet Man

“At the time of the Missouri Compromise, anti-slavery Thomas Jefferson, old and dying in his debt-ridden hilltop mansion, had warned the Southerners in Washington that they were making a mistake. Jefferson said that if the South allowed a precedent which admitted the restriction of slavery anywhere, a principle would have been established and the north would use it in gradual encroachments for the restriction of slavery everywhere.

Only sixteen years later, his prophesy came true over the admission of Texas and with the rise of an anti-slavery bloc in Washington.

The Westerners thought [President James] Polk had been less aggressively interested in their expansions, in Oregon and California, than in the Southerners’ movements in the Southwest. The Westerners held a long resentment anyway, because the Southerners chronically opposed internal improvements at government expense for the Midwest and free lands to the immigrants. To retaliate, the Westerners made a new issue over slavery in order to create trouble for Southern projects.

As their hatchet man the Westerners selected David Wilmot, and you will look in vain for national monuments to this political hack from Pennsylvania. Yet, with one unexplainable gesture, he contributed more to the sectional war than any dedicated patriot. As Wilmot had been an administration wheel horse, his independent act is obscure as to motive, except that he was aware of carrying out the Westerners spitefulness.

Specifically (in 1846), to an appropriations bill for the purchase of territory from Mexico, the former wheel horse attached a “proviso” which forbade slavery in any of the new territory to be obtained from Mexico . . . in the Senate only the aroused Southerners narrowly prevented its becoming law.

This Wilmot Proviso alarmed and enraged Southerners of all persuasions. It showed the most Union-loving Nationalists that they were in a fight against containment. The Southern States were to be restricted to their present territory while the North gained new States which would give it majority power.”

(The Land They Fought For, Clifford Dowdey, Doubleday & Company, 1955, pp. 31-32)

The Constitution Changed with No Text Altered

The following quotes from Colonel Edward M. House’s papers reveal how Woodrow Wilson saw his role as president. The first shows the fear Northern congressmen felt for a Southerner being in control of the politically-important federal pensions for Northern War Between the States veterans. Dewey Grantham wrote in his “Hoke Smith,” that there were “by 1893 almost a million pensioners receiving over $156 million annually, or almost one third of the entire expense of operating the government.” In the last quote House states that Wilson would not tolerate aggression against other republics, yet is silent on the aggression in 1861.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Constitution Changed with No Text Altered

February 13, 1913:

“Chance plays its parts in history. Had Mr. [Walter Hines] Page been in town, he would have been offered and would have accepted the Secretariat of the Interior, and he would not have gone to London as Ambassador. But before his return, the party leaders in Congress learned of the suggestion and objected strongly. Page, they pointed out, was a Southerner, and no Southerner should be the Secretary of the Interior because of his control of [federal Civil War] pensions.”

September 28, 1914:

“We talked much of leadership and its importance in government. He thinks our form of government can be changed by personal leadership; but I thought the Constitution should be altered, for no matter how great a leader a man was, I could see situations that would block him unless the Constitution was modified. He does not feel as strongly about this as I do.”

November 7, 1914:

“There were no outside visitors for dinner, but the President artfully evaded getting alone with me in the study. He was afraid I would renew the McAdoo-Tumulty controversy. However, he need not have worried. He began to speak of a flexible or fluid constitution in contradistinction to a rigid one. He thought that constitutions changed without the text being altered, and cited our own as an example. At the beginning, he thought, there was no doubt that there was no difference of opinion as to the right of the States to secede. This practically unanimous opinion probably prevailed down to Jackson’s time. Then there began a large sentiment for union, which finally culminated in our Civil War, and a complete change of the Constitution without its text being altered.”

December 19, 1914:

“Justice Lamar telephoned that the Argentine Ambassador was back . . . he excused himself for a moment and took [Ambassador] Naon aside to inform him how thoroughly I represented the President. At lunch I reported to the President the substance of my conversation with the Ambassador from the Argentine . . . “The President said in talking with them I could go very far, and he was emphatic in the statement that the United States would not tolerate . . . aggression upon other republics.”

The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, Behind the Political Curtain, 1912-1915, Houghton Mifflin, 1926, pp. 121-122, 212-213,

 

Wilson’s Worldwide Liberal Crusade

Woodrow Wilson campaigned for president with the vow that he would not send young Americans to their deaths in Europe, though once in power, his high-minded, progressive utopian collectivist ideals got the best of him. Any dissent was quickly crushed.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Coirca1865.com

 

Wilson’s Worldwide Liberal Crusade

“Modern liberalism did not originate in the New Deal. The concentration of state power, the use of government for humanitarian ends, the rise of the expert, all began with Wilson’s high-minded decision to take America into World War I (a war much of the country and the Congress didn’t want).

The word “liberal” first came into wide political usage in America during this period, when the editors of The New Republic began to substitute it for “Progressive,” which was now tarnished by their former hero [Theodore] Roosevelt’s political defeats and increasingly crankish jingoism.

They were importing the word from England, where it referred to the nineteenth-century European idea of enlarging individual freedom against the power of the state and to the Liberal Party’s activist program of using government to address modern social ills. In nineteenth-century America few people spoke of being politically “liberal” because almost all Americans were liberal in their belief in self-government and freedom. It was during the second decade of the twentieth century that the word came to mean a specific attitude toward government’s role in industrial society.

The declaration of war galvanized The New Republic’s New Liberals to claim Wilson as their own, his war as their war. “Mr. Wilson is today the most liberal statesman in high office,” the magazine editorialized, “and before long he is likely to be the most powerful. He represents the best hope in the whole world.”

The war would join “the forward liberal movement in American national life.” It would be a collectivist war, involving industry, labor, economic central planning, nationalization of railroads, the first large-scale conscription in American history, the most draconian suppression of dissenting speech since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, and a nationwide propaganda campaign waged by the new Bureau of Public Information. The population of Washington, DC would grow by 40,000 in one year. It would be America’s first truly national war.”

(Blood of the Liberals, George Packer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000, pp. 77-78)

America Exports Democracy

John Quincy Adams said long ago that “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” The North forgot his words, conquered the South, established it as an economic colony, and set off on imperial adventures to add colonies of subject peoples to the American empire.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

 

American Exports Democracy

“On July 4, 1901, William Howard Taft took the oath of office as the first Governor-General of the Philippines, and control of the islands passed from the military arm of the government. Not all the problems [of converting the islands] had been solved. Philippine society remained ill-suited to the concept of representative democratic government, primarily because it is not one culture, but several. An election in Zamboanga was decided by which Filipino shot the other candidates first.

The Filipinos in the northern islands were Tagalog Christians, those in the south were Moro’s (meaning “Mohammedan”) who had long resisted Tagalog encroachment. A tribal people, they were fiercely jealous of their semi-savage freedom. Wisely, the Spaniards had left them to their own devices; but the Americans wanted to clean up and educate everybody.

So the [American] army established a garrison at Balangiga, on Samar, in the south where Magellan had sighted the Philippines and where he was to die at the hands of natives. On September 1, 1901, the natives from the surrounding hills of Balangiga fell on the American garrison, and in a devastating surprise littered the street with the heads, brains and intestines of the soldiery.

This was the beginning of a religious war with the Moros, one that took longer to settle than the war against Aguinaldo’s insurrectos. The fight became a struggle to win the minds and hearts of the villagers, who supplied the guerrilla bands and offered them bases and sanctuaries.

What was called for [to control the Moros], [General John] Pershing decided, was to disarm the entire Moro Province, to confiscate or buy every rifle, pistol, campilan, bolo and krise on the islands. It was not an original idea. General Leonard Wood, who left the Philippines in 1910 to become Chief of Staff advised Perching: “You cannot disarm the people. It means they will bury their best arms and turn in a few poor ones, especially some who want to make a show of obedience.”  Moros who surrendered their arms were victimized by those who had not . . . it is as hard to disarm a people as it is to make them give up a religious belief.

In a letter to Avery D. Andrews, Pershing put succinctly the apostolic creed to which he himself subscribed:

“It has been urged by some people at home that the Filipinos should be given their independence. Such a thing would result in anarchy. To whom should we turn over the government? Tagalog, Viscayan, Igorrote, Macabebe or Moro? No one can answer that any of these tribes represents the people in any sense, any more than the Sioux represents all the Indians in America.

There is no national spirit, and except for the few agitators, these people do not want to try independence. They will have to be educated up to it and to self-government as we understand it, and their education will take some time and patience. It is a grand work cut out for us from which there should be no shirking.”

(Pipe Clay and Drill; John J. Pershing: The Classical American Soldier”, Readers Digest Press, 1977, excerpts, pp 100-153)

 

Woe to Me to Live Among Such People

Northerners who brought on the war assumed that the South, like the rest of the country, was their property, and had no right to withdraw from the political Union. Not risking their own lives, they put at risk the lives of many others and essentially raised a bounty-enriched army of foreign and domestic mercenaries, impressed blacks and well-paid substitutes. All this to subdue the South and make it a colonial dependency.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Woe to Me to Live Among Such People

“A Northern woman who was a native of Rhode Island, but who had lived all her married life in the South, returned after her widowhood to Providence to be among her people. The following letter was written by her to my mother [Mrs. Louis T. Wigfall]:

May 13, 1861.

“. . . We are always delighted to hear from you – and indeed your letters and Louis’s are the only comfort we have in this Yankee land surrounded by people who have no sympathy with us, and who only open their mouths to revile the South and utter blood-thirsty threats. This morning an amiable lady wished she had Jeff Davis in front of a big cannon. We now have sufficient proof of how much stronger hate is than love of country.

Where was the patriotism of Massachusetts when the country was at war with the English in 1812? I lived then at the South, and was ashamed of my countrymen who refused to assist in the war. Massachusetts, which was the leading State of New England, refused to let her militia leave the State and when the US troops were withdrawn, to fight in other places, applied to the Federal Government to know whether the expenses of their own militia, who were summoned to defend their own State, would be reimbursed by the Government.

When our capitol at Washington was burned with the President’s House and Treasury buildings, and other public buildings, why did they not go to meet the British? On the contrary, they rejoiced at the English victories, and put every obstacle in the way of the government.

Now they are subscribing millions, and urging every man to go and fight their own countrymen. It is not patriotism; it is hatred to the South and woe is me, that I must live here among such people. God grant you success, It is a righteous war and all the bloodshed will be on the souls of those who brought it on.

I think, however, that you at the South are wrong to undervalue the courage and resources of the Northern States. They are less disposed to fight, but they are not cowardly where their interests are concerned; and will fight for their money. Where their property is at stake they will not hesitate to risk their lives, and at present there is no lack of money.”

(A Southern Girl in ’61, The War-Time Memories of a Confederate Senator’s Daughter, Mrs. D. Giraud Wright, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1905, pp. 51-53)

 

The South, Forever Tobacco Road

In the 1930’s, northeastern politicians and reformers once again were concerned about racial customs in the Southern States as both parties pursued the black vote in both sections of the country. FDR used government money and subsidies during the Depression to control Southern leaders, though his courting of labor unions, black communist activists and CPUSA votes would lead to the formation of the Dixiecrat party by 1948.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South, Forever Tobacco Road

“In the North a new school of historians had rewritten the history of the Nation and had presented the South in fair appraisal, and had also made realistic diagnosis and criticism of the northern post-Civil War administration. The South had also made extraordinary strides in nearly all phases of its culture and economy. It had built industry, developed great highways . . . and had, with the cooperation and support of the Northeast, strengthened its colleges and universities, and especially a number of important institutions.

[The] Southern States put their hands to the task [of overcoming the Depression], and through State planning boards, through various technical ways of cooperating with New Deal agencies,  through public works, work relief, agricultural adjustment, through educational cooperation . . . Then a strange thing happened.

And it happened twice, once due to the depression New Deal pressure and once due to the pressure of war, namely, a sudden revivification of the old sectional conflict and recrudescence of the terms “North” and “South.”

The revival of the term “The South,” in so far as the national administration was concerned . . . came about in two ways. One was typified by in the now noted slogan that the South was the Nation’s Economic Problem Number One. The South was Tobacco Road. It was again missionary territory. But whatever it was, it was “The South.”

In the second place, “The South” came to be synonymous with conservatism or reactionary policies due to the opposition of Southern senators and congresssmen, and of State governors and leaders to many of the New Deal policies. “What else could you expect, he is a Southerner?” came to be a common refrain. And then “The South,” with its usual sensitiveness and defense resentfulness revived with a vengeance the term “The North” which was again “trying to make the South over.”

And even more than the depression New Deal, the coming of the war . . . brought about an intensification of the North-South conflict, due, of course, to the South’s racial segregation, culture and laws. The Nation realized suddenly that its ideas of the American Dream guaranteed to all its citizens equal rights and opportunities, and that, while it had gone to war for global democracy, it had in its own two regions a negation of such democracy. And so there was the ever-recurring question, “what can be done about the South?”

And there were increasingly articulate individuals and agencies, private and public, setting themselves to the task of “making” the South change. The net result has been an unbelievable revival of the bitterness implied in the old “North” and “South,” what time the South resents what it calls northern interference and what time the North tries to coerce the South again.”

(In Search of the Regional Balance of America. Howard W. Odum, editor, UNC Press, 1945, pp. 18-19)

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

Virginia Governor J. Lindsay Almond was not surprised by the new moral code being forced by federal judges and did his best to confront it. His State had already witnessed the degradation of education caused by forced racial integration in the nearby District of Columbia, and wanted none of it for their children.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

“On January 19, 1959, came the legal rejection of massive resistance that Governor [J. Lindsay] Almond expected. Both the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and a three-judge federal district court ruled, in separate cases, that the anti-desegregation statues adopted in 1956 were illegal and invalid. When the beleaguered governor went on television two days later to announce his response to the court rulings, his tone was strident and his message was one of continued defiance. An impassioned Almond told Virginians:

“To those in high places or elsewhere who advocate integration for your children and send their own to private or public segregated schools, to those who defend or close their eyes to the livid stench of sadism, sex immorality and juvenile pregnancy infesting the mixed schools of the District of Columbia and elsewhere; to those who would overthrow the customs, morals and traditions of a way of life which has endured in honor and decency for centuries and embrace a new moral code prepared by nine men in Washington whose moral concepts they know nothing about . . . to all these and their confederates, comrades and allies, let me make it abundantly clear for the record now and hereafter, as governor of this State, I will not yield to that which I know to be wrong and will destroy every semblance of education for thousands of the children of Virginia.”

(The Dynamic Dominion, Realignment and the Rise of Virginia’s Republican Party Since 1945, Frank B. Atkinson, George Mason University Press, 1992, pp. 1104-105)

 

The Wrath of the North

Jefferson Davis heard of Lincoln’s death upon his arrival in Charlotte, and in a dispatch from General John C. Breckinridge. The President was heard to say: “Oh, the pity of it” and passed it to a gentleman with the remark, “Here are sad tidings.” The Northern press reported that Davis cheered when heard of Lincoln’s assassination; the Radicals of the North were now satisfied that the man they hated was finally out of the way.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Wrath of the North

[After the assassination of Lincoln] Indignation and memorial meetings simply flayed the South alive. At one New York Custom House, when the grieving, exasperated people did not know whether to weep or to curse the more, or to end it by simply hanging us all, Mr. [Lucius E.] Chittenden [of Vermont] rose and said: “Peace, be still!” And declared the death of Lincoln providential, God removing the man of mercy that due punishment might be meted out to the rebels.

Before the pacific orator finished, people were yelling: “Hang Lee! and “The Rebels deserve damnation!” Pulpits fulminated. Easter sermons demanded the halter, exile, confiscation of property, for “rebels and traitors . . .”

The new President, Andrew Johnson, was breathing out threatening and slaughter before Lincoln’s death. Thousands had heard him shout from the southern portico of the Patent Office, “Jeff Davis ought to be hung twenty times as high as Haman!”

In Nicolay and Hay’s Life of Lincoln . . . “Among the Radicals in Congress . . . though they were shocked at his murder, they did not, among themselves, conceal their gratification that he was no longer in the way. In a political caucus held a few hours after the President’s death, “the thought was universal,” to quote the language of one of their most representative members, “that the accession of Johnson to the Presidency would prove a godsend to the country.” The only people who could profit by Lincoln’s death were in the Radical wing of the Republican party. These extremists thought Johnson their man. Senator [Benjamin] Wade [said:] “By the gods, it will be no trouble now running the Government!”

“Treason,” said the new President, “is the highest crime in the calendar, and the full penalty for its commission should be visited upon the leaders of the Rebellion. Treason should be made odious.”

It is told as true as true “inside history” that the arrest and execution of Lee had been determined upon [thought General [E.O] Ord stated that] “Should I arrest [Lee and his staff] under the [parole] circumstances, I think the rebellion here would be reopened.”

Governors, generals and statesmen were arrested in all directions. No exception was made for Alexander H. Stephens, the invalid, the peace-maker, the gentlest Roman of them all. After Lincoln’s death, leniency to “rebels” was accounted worse that a weakness. The heavy hand was applauded. It was the fashion to say hard things of us. It was accounted as piety and patriotism to condemn “traitors and rebels.” Cartoonists, poets and orators, were in clover; here was a subject on which they could “let themselves out.”

(“Dixie After the War, An Exposition of Social Conditions Existing in the South, During the Twelve Years Succeeding the Fall of Richmond,” Myrta Lockette Avary, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1906, excerpts, pp. 89-97)