Browsing "Democracy"

Credit Mobilier's Gentlemen Thieves

With Southern conservatives absent from the United States Congress after the war, Whig/Republicans had free rein for legislation and schemes to benefit the corporate interests which kept them in power.  Thus the Northern marriage of government and corporations gave birth to public treasury-raiding schemes like the Credit Mobilier scandal, and all under the watchful eye of President U.S. Grant.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Credit Mobilier’s Gentlemen Thieves

“The looting of the Erie Railroad was accomplished with the help of the easily corruptible legislatures of only two States, New York and New Jersey. It was a fairly simple business. But to loot the immense federal project of the Union Pacific Railroad required far more sophisticated talents. This monumental piece of thievery involved United States representatives and senators. It involved cabinet officers, the Vice-President of the United States, and a future President. The loot ran to approximately forty-four million dollars. It was removed almost painlessly from the Union Pacific’s coffers by a trick outfit with a fancy French name, the Credit Mobilier.

The Union Pacific was sponsored and financed by the United States. The purpose of the Credit Mobilier was to take over the contract for building the road. Stockholders of both companies were identical. They proceeded to contract with themselves to build the road at a cost calculated to exhaust the resources of the Union Pacific. The so-called profits were to be divided among Credit Mobilier stockholders.

Prominent in Credit Mobilier were Oakes and Oliver Ames, brothers of Easton, Massachusetts, who had inherited a business . . . [and the] Hon. Oakes Ames was a representative of the old Bay State in Congress.

From the day it was whelped, the double-jointed money-making machine worked perfectly. As the tracks of the Union Pacific pushed across the Great Plains, the Credit Mobilier collected the enormous bounty granted to the line from the public purse and domain. Mile upon mile the railroad was systematically stripped of its cash, which reappeared almost simultaneously as dividends for the happy stockholders of Credit Mobilier. It was, as the Hon. Oakes Ames told his comrades in the House, “a diamond mine.”

Yet the gentlemen-thieves of Credit Mobilier had a falling out when two factions fought for control; and the warfare gave those senators and congressmen who were not involved the courage to demand an investigation of the Union Pacific-Credit Moblier situation.

In an effort to forestall just such a possibility, the Credit Mobilier officers had been distributing free stock in the House and Senate, and elsewhere. But Congress was at last forced to act, and the revelations of its investigating committee . . . were so appalling that “all decent men trembled for the honor of the nation.”

No one was more hopelessly involved in the scandal than Vice-President Schuyler Colfax . . . except of course, Representative Oakes Ames of Massachusetts . . . along with Representative Brooks, also of Massachusetts . . .

Although the Congressional investigation resulted in an almost complete official whitewash, it did leave strong doubt in many minds regarding the character of such eminent men as James A. Garfield, James G. Blaine, and almost a score more.”

(The Age of the Moguls, Stewart H. Holbrook, Doubleday & Company, 1953, pp. 49-50)

 

European Jacobin Views of a Massachusetts Whig

The visiting Frenchman, Ernst D. de Hauranne, travelled only in the North for his eight months in America and was a strong supporter of the Northern invasion of the American South. Ironically, when confronted by a Radical lieutenant enraged at Americans resisting subjugation, the Frenchman could reel off the specifics of Lincoln’s destruction of liberty, and compared the despotic Northern government to the worst aspects of the French Revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

European Jacobin Views of a Massachusetts Whig

[Diary Entry] June 28, 1864

“Here I found my first expert on American politics, Lieutenant C. He is not only a Republican, he is a Radical, and we have already crossed swords several times. Like all Americans, he pushes adulation of his country well beyond the limits of politeness and acceptability. Democracy is his oracle, his god, and he will never agree that it may not be the same thing as liberty.

If I reply that even the will of the people should have its limits, and that if it exercises in America the absolute reign that he talks about, it is more likely to pave the way to tyranny than to preserve liberty, he answers brusquely that I am French, that I don’t understand anything about freedom and that I have no right to judge his country. “Europeans,” he told me, “are born slaves. They always have been and they always will be. Only America knows what freedom is.”

“Oh,” I replied, “get off your high horse. There are many darks spots on your wonderful picture of American freedom.” Thereupon I ticked off for him the suspension of habeas corpus, the violation of the freedom of the press, the transfer of jurisdiction over many cases from civil to military courts, secret arrests, arbitrary imprisonments and all the other abuses of power that are the sad accompaniments of the Civil War. I asked him if that was what he called freedom.

“It is freedom if we have willed it. Mr. Seward boasts that he needs only ring his little bell to have absolutely anyone put in prison. That is true, but behind him are the American people who direct him. Let him strike down the rebels and traitors . . . We want martial law, do you understand? We want it, and that’s why we are still free.

“[I replied] Revolutionary power is a seed of dictatorship. Watch out that the seed doesn’t take root. You refuse to see the danger; the freedom of your neighbor means little to you! This is the way to lose your own freedom and to rush headlong into despotism one of these days. [Let’s] get to the bottom of it. I know your theories. We practiced them under the [French revolutionary] National Convention. You think you’ve discovered a new idea, but all you do is recite the sophistries of the Committee of Public Safety.”

Are these not strange opinions in the mouth of an American, notions that would fit better with the outlook of a European Jacobin or a Massachusetts Whig? We think the Americans are madly in love with their individual freedom, yet there is a school of thought which springs up to repudiate it in the name of public safety, which views freedom as submission to the multitude. Love of freedom, like all human passions, falls asleep when it is not contested.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, Ernst D. de Hauranne, Donnelly & Sons, 1974, Volume I, pp. 67-70)

 

 

Apr 29, 2015 - Democracy    No Comments

Democracy and a Rarity of Lofty Ambition

Alexis de Tocqueville felt that the spread of egalitarian principles would make wars more rare, as democratic countries would more resemble each other and fear conflict. But the political regime of a democratic country can maintain the illusion of egalitarianism complete with beer and circus, while at the same time using mercenary forces to conquer distant resources and markets for the merchants. A people content with materialism are not militaristic, and willingly hand authority to the regime to conquer at will those who resist the mercantile state.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democracy and a Rarity of Lofty Ambition

“To be comfortable, the traders and shopkeepers of the West need to make money. Indeed, according to [social scientist Werner] Sombart, they are “crazy for money.” English sports for example, unlike the German cultivation of martial arts and drill, are typical of a people who seek only physical well-being and spurious individual competition without higher aims. But it is the cowardly bourgeois habit of clinging to life, of not wishing to die for great ideals, of shying away from violent conflict and denying the tragic side of life, that seems so contemptible to Sombart.

Indeed, the merchant has no ideals. He is in every sense superficial. Merchants . . . are interested in nothing but the satisfaction of individual desires, which “undermine the very basis of a higher moral sense of the world and the belief in ideals.”

Liberal democracy is the political system most suited to merchant peoples. It is a competitive system in which different parties contend, and in which conflicts of interest can be solved only through negotiation and compromise. It is by definition unheroic, and thus, in the eyes of its detractors, despicably wishy-washy, mediocre, and corrupt. Even Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote so admiringly about American democracy, saw the system’s limitations. He wrote:

“If you think it profitable to turn man’s intellectual and mental activity toward the necessities of physical life and use them to produce well-being, if you think that reason is more use to men than genius, if your object is not to create heroic virtues but rather tranquil habits . . . if in your view the main object of government is not to achieve the greatest strength or glory for the nation as a whole but to provide for every individual therein the utmost well-being . . . then it is good to make conditions equal and to establish a democratic government.”

Tocqueville did not deplore these limitations. He was indeed a convinced liberal. But he did, nonetheless, miss the grandeur of aristocracy and felt the tug of higher ideals. He noted, on his visit to American in the mid-nineteenth century, “the rarity, in a land where all are actively ambitious, of any lofty ambition.”

(Occidentalism, The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, Ian Buruma & Margalit, Penguin, 2004, pp. 54-55)

Democrat Party Absorbs Soviet Bill of Rights

Confronted with a Democratic party platform nearly identical to theirs, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) in early 1944 formally dissolved as a political party and perennial CPUSA presidential candidate Earl Browder announced his support of President Roosevelt for a fourth term. Browder’s vice-presidential running mate in 1936 and 1940 was James W. Ford, the first black man on a presidential ticket.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democratic Party Absorbs Soviet Bill of Rights

“[The] historic Democratic party is no more, that it has been transformed into a labor party so completely that there is nothing left of it but the name. The process by which [the] transformation . . . was brought about had its beginnings during the period of “crisis government” established by Franklin D. Roosevelt and his “brain trust” in 1933. Measures having far-reaching application and effect were drafted by the President’s “advisors” and were jammed through Congress, frequently without most of the members having an opportunity to read them.

Mr. Roosevelt had been elected in 1932 by an electoral majority of eight to one . . . In such circumstances, Congress practically abdicated. It became literally a “rubber stamp” Congress. And Republican Senators and Representatives, with the majority of their constituents supporting President Roosevelt, were careful not to show too much opposition to measures which he favored. That’s why is was so easy to junk the Democratic platform of 1932 and to enact so many measures that violated the most fundamental principles of the historic Democratic party without protest from Southern Democrats, and even with their support.

One sequence [of the transformation] began during the period from 1935 to 1937, or at the very height of what Eugene Lyons has called “The Red Decade,” when it was fashionable in certain circles in New York, Los Angeles and Washington to glorify all things Russian and to affect a “revolutionary” attitude toward all existing institutions in the United States. It was a time when literally dozens of organizations with high-sounding names were set up in this country by the Communists to attract innocent “fellow travelers” and when The Daily Worker undertook to popularize the slogan “Communism is the Americanism of the Twentieth Century.”

In February, 1935, Joseph Stalin announced that the Russian Constitution would be democratized; in June, 1936, the first draft of the new Soviet Constitution was completed and published, [and adopted December 5, 1936]. It was promptly translated into English and by February, 1937, copies of it in the form of a five-cent pamphlet were available throughout this country. It immediately became the leading topic of discussion among the so-called “liberals” in the United States.

[The] Soviet Bill of Rights . . . guarantees every citizen a job . . . the right to material security in old age and also in case of illness and loss of capacity to toil . . . [and] “The equal rights of citizens of the USSR, independent of their nationality and race, in all fields of economic, state, cultural and public-political life is unalterable law. Any direct or indirect limitation of rights, or conversely, any establishment of direct or indirect preferences of citizens dependent on their racial and national membership, as well as all preaching of national exclusiveness, or hate and contempt, is punishable by law.”

[In late January, 1944] President Roosevelt revealed that the [New Deal] was being replaced by a streamlined post-war program. Here is what President Roosevelt said:

“As our nation had grown in size and stature, however – as our industrial economy expanded – [our previous life and liberty] political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident.

We have accepted, so to speak, a second bill of rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all – regardless of station, race or creed. Among these are: The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or mines of the nation; The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; The right of every family to a decent home; The right of adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment; The right to a good education.”

The striking resemblance which this whole passage bears to the . . . Soviet Bill of Rights need not be dwelt upon.

In his message to Congress on September 6, 1945, President Truman said: “The objectives for our domestic economy which we seek in long-range plans were summarized by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt over a year and a half ago in the form of an Economic Bill of rights. Let us make the attainment of those rights the essence of post-war American economic life.”

Notably, he issued a “salute to labor” on Labor Day, 1946, and more recently on June 28, 1947 . . . he discussed the subject in an address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at Lincoln Memorial in Washington. In his “salute to labor,” President Truman said:

“Labor, perhaps more than any other group, has consistently supported [FDR’s] “Economic Bill of Rights.” We must now move forward to full achievement of these objectives: useful and remunerative jobs for all; income high enough to provide adequate food, clothing and recreation; freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopoly; adequate health protection; more effective social security measures, and educational opportunities for all.”

In his more recent address to the [NAACP], by coupling these “economic” rights with other civil rights, he stated clearly . . . that it is the responsibility of the federal government to guarantee and to enforce these new rights. “The extension of civil rights today means not protection of the people AGAINST the government, but protection of the people BY the government.”

(The South’s Political Plight, Peter Molyneaux, Calhoun Clubs of the South, Inc., 1948, pp. 56-57, 67-70, 75-77, 81-84,)

Democracy Controlled with Machine Money

Republican party manager and future Senator Mark Hannah spent vast sums to ensure the election of William McKinley to the presidency in 1896, and was known as McKinley’s “political master.” It  was common in the postwar for the Republican president to have little or no say in selecting their own cabinet as these positions were already promised to party hacks and wealthy campaign contributors.  So desperate were the Republicans to maintain political hegemony after 1865 that only Democrat Grover Cleveland briefly served two terms before Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democracy Controlled with Machine Money

“[William Howard] Taft’s career would owe much to Mark Alonzo Hanna’s control of Ohio politics. Hanna, a former grocery clerk in Cleveland, had become a great merchant whose fleets transported tonnages of coal and iron ore along the Great Lakes. He was often portrayed in the press as a bully, smoking a big cigar, drinking whiskey, and stamping on the skeletons of working class women and children.

A big man, he was once described as looking like a “well-fed merchant prince from an old Dutch masterpiece.” Above all, he was the new man in party politics, the businessman who constructed a well-run machine that forced out the political adventurers who had come into Ohio after the Civil War and who were often personally corrupt and willing to prey on the rich as well as the poor.

Once Hanna became wealthy, he turned over his business to his brother and concentrated all his efforts on creating the “business state.” As he once remarked to a group of dinner companions, “All questions of government in a democracy [are] questions of money.” Eventually he became chairman of the Republican National Committee, and the most powerful boss in Republican politics. His signal triumph was putting Ohio’s governor William McKinley into the presidency in 1896, and a year later he himself served as a senator from Ohio until his death in 1904.

Will Taft was not particularly close to Hanna, but after Hanna became the dominant force in Ohio politics after 1888, Taft was responsive to the new order and backed McKinley. A telling factor that connected the Taft family to Hanna was the willingness of Taft’s brother Charles to join a “syndicate,” organized by Hanna to pay off McKinley’s debts when the governor found himself in serious trouble after endorsing large sums of notes owned by a ruined business associate. (Several future cabinet members and ambassadors were also in the “syndicate.”)

Under Hanna’s direction, political professionalism was allied to financial capitalism, whose mantra was high tariff protectionism for industry coupled with “sound money,” tying the dollar to gold. Under these conditions, foreign monies soon flowed into the United States, making the country independent of European capital markets and one of the great creditor nations of the world.”

(1912, Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs, The Election That Changed the Country, James Chace, Simon & Shuster, 2004, pp. 24-25)

Apr 25, 2015 - Democracy, Equality    No Comments

Democracy and Privileged Clases

A large democracy, in James Fenimore Cooper’s view, allow the people to “become the dupes of demagogues and political schemers” with “most of the crimes of democracies arising from the faults and designs of men of this character.”  Democracy’s ever-present manipulation of public opinion, inflamed by narrow and self-serving interests, is too often a substitute for the rule of law.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democracy and Its Privileged Classes:

“The dogma of political equality produces the dogma of majority rule, and the old monarchical claim to arbitrary power is transferred to the popular majority. Hence the danger almost inevitably arises in a democracy that the state will be perverted to “a system of favoring a new privileged class of the many and the poor.”

On the other hand, there is the equally grave danger that the modern representative state will be captured by the capitalist class and transformed into a plutocracy. As the nineteenth century has progressed, democracy has found it more and more difficult to resist these twin tendencies, either of which would be fatal to the regime of economic liberty . . . [A] class conflict between capitalism and the proletariat will soon write and end to centuries of societal development.

Democracy has also led increasingly to a new and degraded form of political decision-making. Inevitably, “the consequence [of legislators at the mercy of clamorous factions] is the immense power of the lobby, and the legislation comes to be an affair of coalition between interests to make up a majority.”

(American Conservatism, In the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910, Robert Green McCloskey, Harper, 1951, pp. 58-60)

Apr 19, 2015 - Democracy    No Comments

Democracy's Demagogic Plutocracy

It was Plato who observed that “Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.” One of the greatest fears of American statesman John C. Calhoun was that democracy in the United States would evolve into a class warfare system whereby the taxpaying class would be perpetually looted by the tax-consuming class.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democracy’s Demagogic Plutocracy

“The late Vilfredo Pareto – although recognizing that the democratic dogma, like other political myths, has important practical consequences in impelling men to act in certain ways – maintained that all the terms we use to distinguish forms of political rule are worthless “from the logico-experimental point of view.”

In other words, actual power is never where we imply that it is when we describe a given state as a monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy. Almost everywhere “there is a not very numerous governing class, which keeps itself in power partly by force and partly by consent of the much more numerous class of the governed.” The proportions of force and consent and the ways in which they are applied vary in different communities, but the variations do not follow the differences in the legal or theoretical forms of the state.

Behind the parliaments of so-called democracies, as well as behind all public despots, there is a minority that plays the major part in the real decisions of government. At times, it is true, the actual rulers have to do obeisance to the whims of princes and parliaments, but not for long; soon they resume their power and exercise it with a greater effectiveness than that of the occasional power wielded by the formal government.

In democracies the people are permitted to believe that the official government is actually controlled by their will. The ruling minority concedes to the populace a formal right to decide “general” questions, to which the proper officials may only give “concrete” application; but in the exercise of this latter function, the officers have all the freedom they need to make any sort of application which they, or the minority whom they serve, desire.

“A governmental system in which the “people” expresses its “will” (if we could suppose that the people has a will), without factions, intrigues and cliques, exists only in the state of the pious desires of theorists. Our democracies in France, Italy, England and the United States tend more and more to be demagogic plutocracies. [Pareto]”

(Recent Political Thought, Francis W. Coker, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1934, pp. 328-329)

 

Korea's Temporary American Intervention

Far from being a sterling example of democracy exported from the US, South Korea has been “an unrepresentative and unpopular dictatorship since the early days of American occupation.” Author Bruce Cumings (The Origins of the Korean War) suggests that the claimed North Korean surprise attack in June 1950 was in fact an armed response to frequent border incursions by the American-appointed puppet Syngman Rhee’s military. Not content with ruling only South Korea for his American friends, instigating war with the North could increase his realm.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Korea’s Temporary American Intervention

“America’s three-decade intervention in Korea has shattered an ancient East Asian society. Millions were killed and wounded; millions more became refugees separated from their families and birthplaces. Twenty-nine years after World War II and twenty-one years after the Korean War, the Korean people and peninsula are still divided into two hostile regimes.

The consequences for the United States have also been grave. America suffered casualties of 33,629 killed and 150,000 wounded in the Korean War and has spent tens of billions of dollars for the security and economic development of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The belief that US policies in Korea were a successful model for resisting communism in Asia led directly to the US intervention in Vietnam.

Ironically, although American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam . . . the US expeditionary force remains in South Korea to “ensure stability in Northeast Asia,” a hostage to strategies and ambitions of the cold war past.

American involvement in Korea occurred at a moment of singular renaissance for the Korean people. Japan’s crushing defeat in 1945 meant political and cultural liberation [and a chance] to re-establish the Korean nation after thirty-five years of harsh Japanese colonial rule . . . Korea was a unified country when it lost independence to Japan in 1910. A homogenous population speaking a common language lived on a distinct geographical unit, the Korean peninsula, where they had lived for over a thousand years.

The American forces that landed at Inch’on, Korea, in September 1945 . . . were a harbinger of America’s new role in postwar Asia. The US-USSR agreement in August 1945 on a temporary zonal division of the peninsula to accept the surrender of Japanese forces gave America a limited “temporary” responsibility for southern Korea. Since 1948 the United States has paid directly a large percentage of the ROK’s annual budget and has trained, armed and supplied its military forces.

The post-World War II involvement in Korea differs from areas where US power was traditionally paramount. No United Fruit Company dabbled in Korean politics. The Korean peninsula lacked natural resources and market potential . . . Congress might have limited the US involvement, but instead it passively and indifferently acquiesced to executive branch policies.

The most striking instance was allowing President Harry S. Truman to go to war in Korea in June 1950 without a declaration of war by the Congress, as required by the Constitution. This fateful lapse contributed to the plunge into Vietnam a decade later.

The US intervention in Korea to block the Soviet Union overlooked one factor: the Koreans. Whether the Korean demands for immediate self-government and reforms were communist-inspired or advocated by non-communist radicals and liberals, the US command would not risk a potential challenge to its control [and] Washington ruled that there could be no retreat.

The United States intervention [in June, 1950] prolonged the war [between Korean political factions] by more than three years, bringing an estimated 4.5 million Korean, Chinese and American casualties. The United States attained its objective of keeping the southern half of the peninsula non-communist, but the Koreas remain divided almost three decades later.”

(Without Parallel, The American-Korean Relationship Since 1945, Frank Baldwin, Pantheon Books, 1971, excerpts, pp. 3-16)

French Experiment with Equality

The French Revolution’s promise of equality ended with anarchy and Bonaparte in France; the lofty experiment of equality in St. Domingo terminated not in freedom, but military despotism after a fearful destruction of human life. After all the horrors of their bloody revolution, the blacks in Haiti only effected a change of masters. “The white man had disappeared, and the black man , one of their own race and color, had assumed his pace and his authority.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

French Experiment with Equality

“[We shall quote] from the language of Dr. [W.E.] Channing, the scholar-like and the eloquent, though visionary, advocate of British [slave] emancipation. Even as early as 1842, in an address delivered on the anniversary of that event, he burst into the following strain of impassioned eulogy: “Emancipation works well, far better than could have been anticipated . . . Freedom, simple freedom, is in my estimation just, far prized above all price.”

In these high-sounding praises, which hold up personal freedom as “our proper good,” as “our end,” it is assumed that man was made for liberty, and not liberty for man. It is, indeed, one of the fundamental errors of the abolitionist to regard personal freedom as a great substantive good, or as in itself a blessing, and not merely as a relative good.

It may be, and indeed often it is, an unspeakable benefit, but then it is so only as a means to an end. The end of our existence, the proper good, is the improvement of our intellectual and moral powers, the perfection of our rational and immortal natures.

When freedom subserves this end, it is a good; when it defeats this end, it is an evil. Hence there may be a world of evil as well as a world of good in “this one word.”

The wise man adapts the means to the end. It were the very height of folly to sacrifice the end to the means. No man gives personal freedom to his child because he deems it always and in all cases a good. His heart teaches him a better doctrine when the highest good of his child is concerned. Should we not be permitted then, to have something of the same feeling in regard to those who Providence has placed under our care, especially since . . . they stand in utmost need of guidance and direction?

Few of the abolitionists are disposed to offer any substitute for our method. They are satisfied merely to pull down and destroy, without the least thought or care in regard to consequences.

But what is meant by the freedom of the emancipated slaves, on which so many exalted eulogies have been pronounced? Its first element, it is plain, is a freedom from labor – freedom from the very first law of nature. In one word, its sum and substance is a power on the part of the freed black to act pretty much as he pleases. Now . . . would it not be well to see how he would be pleased to act?

This kind of freedom, it should be remembered, was born in France and cradled in the revolution. May it never be forgotten that the “Friends of the Blacks” at Boston had their exact prototypes in “les Amis des Noirs” of Paris. Of this last society Robespierre was the ruling spirit, and Brissot the orator. By the dark machinations of the one, and the fiery eloquence of the other, the French people . . . were induced, in 1791, to proclaim the principle of equality to and for the free blacks of St. Domingo. This beautiful island . . . thus became the first of the West Indies in which the dreadful experiment of a forced equality was tried.

The authors of that experiment were solemnly warned of the horrors into which it would inevitably plunge both the whites and the blacks of the island. Yet firm and unmovable as death, Robespierre sternly replied, then “Perish the colonies rather than sacrifice one iota of our principles.”

The atrocities of this awful massacre have had . . . no parallel in the annals of human crime. “The Negroes,” says Alison, “marched with spiked infants on their spears instead of colors; they sawed asunder the male prisoners, and violated the females on the dead bodies of their husbands.” The work of death, thus completed with such outbursts of unutterable brutality, constituted and closed the first act in the grand drama of Haytian freedom.

But equality was not yet established. Equality had been proclaimed, and anarchy produced. In this frightful chaos, the ambitious mulattoes, whose insatiable desire for equality had first disturbed the peace of the island, perished miserably beneath the vengeance of the very slaves whom they had roused from subjection and elevated into irresistible power. Thus ended the second act of the horrible drama.”

(An Essay on Liberty and Slavery, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1856, pp. 269-278; available from www.confederatereprint.com)

Chase's Loyal and Disloyal Americans

Salmon P. Chase seemed not aware that as defined in the United States Constitution only States themselves can establish the privilege of suffrage, not the agent created by the States. That same Constitution holds that treason can only be committed against a State, by waging war against it or adhering to its enemies, which is precisely what Chase and his revolutionary cohorts were engaged in. Secession was a valid act in 1861, and equally as valid as that in 1776.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Chase’s Loyal and Disloyal Americans

“Salmon P. Chase . . . emerged as an early advocate of self-determination as the best solution to disorder in the South. Throughout the war, Chase argued that the federal government’s policy toward the rebellious South should be based on the principle that “the loyal citizens of a State constitute a State.” He defined as loyal those “who desire the suppression of the rebellion, and consent to the means which the government found necessary for its suppression.”

Loyal citizens included virtually all of the black population together with those whites who accepted emancipation and Negro suffrage. Chase thought it was vital that the federal government make “no distinctions between colored and white loyalists,” and he attributed the shortcomings of Lincoln’s efforts in Louisiana, where Chase believed “the old secession element is rapidly gaining the ascendancy,” to the exclusion of blacks from the ballot.

Chase believed that universal suffrage, incorporating the principle of equal suffrage for blacks, would provide the foundation necessary for universal amnesty and for the final reconciliation of North and South. Touring the South in May 1865, Chase wrote to Secretary of War Stanton that “universal suffrage is essential to thorough pacification.” Most important, he believed, “the white population will acquiesce in this policy without serious opposition if it is clearly announced, & firmly but kindly pursued.”

Like all reformers, Chase accepted the necessity of a period of military reconstruction and, indeed, insisted as chief justice that “military rule must be supreme” until civil order and civil law could be fully and safely restored. Similarly . . . Chase stood with most reformers in opposing [Gerrit] Smith’s dictum that the rebels loyalty to the de facto Confederate government could not be distinguished morally from unionist loyalty to the federal government. “If the rebels waging war against the government are not traitors, Chase responded, “secession was a valid act; and our war was one of conquest.”

(Morality and Utility in American Antislavery Reform, Louis S. Gerteis, UNC Press, 1987, pp. 198-199)

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