Browsing "Democracy"

Calhoun on the Evils of Government Patronage

Like Jefferson, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina was well-aware of the corrupting and polarizing effect that political parties, patronage and news publications exerted on the American public. He observed that their object was “under form of law to take from others and appropriate to themselves more than would otherwise be so taken and appropriated.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Calhoun on the Evils of Government Patronage

“Were a premium offered for the best means of extending to the utmost the power of patronage, to destroy the love of country, and to substitute a spirit of subserviency and man-worship; to encourage vice and discourage virtue, and, in a word, to prepare for the subversion of liberty and the establishment of despotism, no scheme more perfect could be devised; and such must be the tendency of the practice, with whatever intention adopted, or to whatever extent pursued.

If to this difficulty . . . there be added others of a formidable character . . . .on the part of government, in large communities , to seize on and corrupt all the organs of public opinion, and thus to delude and impose on the people; the greater tendency in such communities to the formation of parties on local and separate interests . . . some conception may be formed of the vast superiority which that organized and central party, consisting of office-holders and office-seekers, with their dependents, forming one compact, disciplined corps, wielded by a single individual, without conflict of opinion within . . . and aiming at the single object of re-taming and perpetuating power in their own ranks, must have, in such country as ours, over the people, a superiority so decisive that it may safely be asserted that, whenever the patronage and influence of the government are sufficiently strong to form such a party, liberty, without a speedy reform, must inevitably be lost.

Every lover of this country, and of its institutions, be his party what it may, must see and deplore the rapid growth of patronage, with all its attendant evils, and the certain catastrophe which awaits its further progress, if not timely arrested.

Among [the patronage interests], the first and most powerful is that active, vigilant and well-trained corps which lives on the government, or expects to live on it, which prospers most when the revenue is the greatest, the treasury the fullest, and expenditures the most profuse, and, of course, is ever the firm and faithful supporter of whatever system shall extract the most from the pockets of the rest of the community, to be emptied into theirs.”

(The Life of John C. Calhoun, Gustavus M. Pinckney, Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1903, pp. 106-110)

The Cloak of Social Revolution

New York Times correspondent and CFR member Herbert L. Matthews interviewed Fidel Castro in April 1957 at his mountain retreat. In three successive front page articles he compared Castro to Lincoln, and presented him as a “peasant patriot,” “a strong anti-communist,” a “Robin Hood,” and a “defender of the people.” The State Department’s William Wieland looked the other way as Battista set the stage for a new Cuban nationalist to emerge.

Bernhard Thiuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Cloak of Social Revolution

“A Senate Internal Security sub-committee, on September 10, 1960, blamed US State Department officials and segments of the American press for helping bring Castro to power. Senators James O. Eastland, Democrat of Mississippi, and Thomas J. Dodd, Democrat, of Connecticut, members of the sub-committee, after hearing testimony of former Ambassadors Earl E.T. Smith and Arthur Gardner said: “Cuba was handed to Castro in the same way China was handed to the communists.”

The two Ambassadors singled out William Wieland, director of the State Department’s Caribbean division, Roy R. Runbottom, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, at the time Ambassador to Argentina, and Herbert Matthews of the New York Times. The Senators charged that the State Department group “misguided the American people.”

When Wieland was in Havana during the Castro revolution, I asked him why the State Department did not tell Batista to stop torturing and killing, either oust his corrupt military men or get out and let the OAS or the UN hold elections. Wieland insisted that the United States could not “interfere.”

I pointed out that the United States was interfering all over the world – so why not in Cuba before the United States had something worse to contend with there?

This idea of “social revolution” has a great appeal for our so-called “liberals,” who do not realize that social revolution is the cloak under which the Communists hide.

About that time an old Cuban friend came into the office much excited over a book on Communist brainwashing. He had been a devout follower of Castro and now was completely disillusioned.

“I haven’t read the book,” I said, “but I can tell you the American who is the easiest to brainwash. It is the educated person who has usually gone through college and is trying to be a liberal. He is frightened by any talk of conservatism and really doesn’t know what he believes. You were one of them when Castro got hold of you.”

The Cuban grinned and said, “You are right, that is about what the book said. Now tell me, who is the hardest to brainwash?”

“A person, not too well educated perhaps, but one who has been raised by a God-fearing family, who has been taught honesty and respect of property and all the virtues we are supposed to have in the United States.”

“How right you are,” he said. “The book points out that the Communists were unable to brainwash the Southern Negro prisoners they captured in Korea who had been raised in such religious families as you describe.” Then he added, “There must be something wrong with the American education.” He [the Cuban] was a graduate of one of the United States great universities.”

(The Cuban Dilemma, R. Hart Phillips, Ivan Obolensky Publishing, 1962, pp. 251-252)

 

The Brahmin Aristocracy Must Save the Union

Frances Parkman was a militant New England war hawk who disliked the black man but considered the Boston aristocracy superior to the Southern leadership, though it must emulate the military expertise exhibited by Southern men. The Brahmin class may have indeed been tested by the battles Parkman lists, but they were no great victories. At Ball’s Bluff, Northern scouts mistook a row of trees as Confederate tents, and the 17th Mississippi delivered the Brahmin’s a severe thrashing when their regiments later assaulted the “encampment.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Brahmin Aristocracy Must Save the Union

“Parkman had always detested the abolitionists, and he had little concern for the Negro, but he was [Robert Gould] Shaw’s cousin, and he took great pride in later years pointing this out to distant correspondents. One suspects, however, that he was almost ashamed that Shaw led Negroes [of the 54th Massachusetts], since he never mentioned this fact.

[In] two letters [of November 1862], he further developed the odd propaganda line that the best way to whip the South was to emulate certain aspects of its civilization. He went from praising the military education of the Southern aristocrat to praising his political education. Compared to the North, where an “organized scramble of mean men for petty spoils” had driven the better elements from politics, the South had made politics “a battleground” for the well-born, “where passion, self-interest, self-preservation, urge to [the most intense] action every power of their nature.” This explained “the vigor of their development.”

By comparison, the education of Northern gentlemen had been too academic. Now, however, the war was altering the picture. The South, which had identified the North with three classes: the merchants, the politicians and the “abolitionist agitators” and therefore, with “extravagance, fanaticism and obstreperous weakness,” was learning how, “under a surface of froth and scum, the great national heart still beat with the pulsations of patriotic manhood.” In other words, they underestimated the ability of the Northern gentry to adapt to military life.

It was in his letter of July 21, 1863, published only three days after the death of [Col. Robert G.] Shaw, that Parkman revealed most fully what was really on his mind. Repeating his charge that “the culture of the nation” had become a “political nullity,” Parkman referred specifically to the “Brahmin cast”, which had “yielded a progeny of gentlemen and scholars since the days of the Puritans,” but had “long since ceased to play any active part in the dusty arena of political turmoil.”

This class, however, had at last found an outlet for its energies. Brahmins had been tested in battle at places like Ball’s Bluff, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg and removed all doubts about their vigor and character. Pointing to the “necrology” of Harvard University” as an example to the nation, Parkman clearly suggested that the American people had no further excuse for rejecting the political and social authority of what was now a tried and true aristocracy. Perhaps a patrician could finally say that the age of “ultra-democratic fallacies” was coming to an end.

There were very genteel New Englanders who professed to see the war as a vindication of democracy and egalitarianism. Charles Eliot Norton and others claimed that their wavering belief in democracy had been revived by the proofs of obedience and endurance shown by the common people and by the Negroes in the struggle.

It depended on the preservation of the model which had been suggested by the assault on Fort Wagner. If the “inferior elements,” whether Negro or white, consented to be led by “the best culture [of aristocratic New England],” then their rights were assured; if however, they struck out in directions of their own, democracy and equality might again be questioned.”

(The Inner Civil War, Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union, George M. Frederickson, Harper & Row, 1965, pp. 161-165)

Vindicating the South

The articles of Dr. Albert Taylor Bledsoe would often express “in vigorous language . . . the best types of literature of the conservative point of view” from the South. In battling against the inevitable tendencies of modernity changing the postwar South, he reminded Southerners that their civilization was one to cherish and perpetuate.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Vindicating the South:

“The most indefatigable champion of the Southern cause was the Southern Review, established January, 1867, by Alfred Taylor Bledsoe, formerly professor of mathematics in the University of Virginia and the author of the noteworthy book entitled “Is Davis a Traitor?” A man of undoubted intellectual power and with remarkable energy and resourcefulness, he had already during the war, by his studies in the British Museum, made himself familiar with the first hand sources necessary for the study of early American history.

He brought back into the South the point of view of John C. Calhoun and gave forth the arguments in favor of secession with searching logic and a scholarship that was more exact than that of the great statesman himself. He conceived it to be his duty through the Review to give permanent statements to the ideas that had been fought for by the Southern people. He would not let any criticism of his course to change him in his desire to set forth the Southern point of view.

“Shall we bury in the grave of the grandest cause that has ever perished on earth, all the little stores of history and philosophy which a not altogether idle life has enabled us to enmass, and so leave the just cause, merely because it has fallen, to go without our humble advocacy? We would rather die.”

He quoted with great gusto the words of Robert E. Lee: “Doctor, you must take care of yourself; you have a great work to do; we all look to you for our vindication.” None of the discouragement incident to the management of the Review or threatened poverty could for one moment cause him to swerve from his frequently expressed object. In a long article in Vol. VIII, in pleading with the Southern people to stand by him in the fight, he says:

“To abandon The Southern Review would be like the pain of death to me. It is the child of my affections. Money is not my object. I am willing to work for the South; nay, I am willing to be a slave for the South. Nothing but an unconquerable zeal in the cause of the South and of the truth, could have sustained us under the heavy pressure of its doubts, its difficulties, its trials, and its vexations in spirit.”

He has no sympathy for modern democracy, for to him it was the child of infidelity. He is opposed to all the tendencies of modern science, for it tends to destroy the faith of mankind. He is opposed to industrialism, looking upon it as the enemy to all that is chivalric and beautiful in civilization. He will have nought to do with German philosophy or German criticism, for they are both the inaugurators of the reign of radicalism and rationalism.”

(The South in the Building of the Nation, Volume VII, Edwin Mims, Southern Historical Publication Society, 1909, pp. 463-465)

Blackout of Honest Government

Even Northerners saw the ill-effects of a vindictive postwar Reconstruction which reduced a free people to bondage and political despotism. It appears that Northern army commanders also felt remorse at what they had wrought in the destruction of the American South. A minority report of a Congressional committee declared that “History, till now, gives no account of a conqueror so cruel as to place his vanquished foes under the domination of their former slaves. That was reserved for the radical [Republican] rulers in this great Republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Blackout of Honest Government

“Psychologically and in every other respect the Negroes were fearfully unprepared to occupy positions of ruler-ship. Race and color came to mean more to them than any other consideration, whether of honest government, of justice to the individual, or even of ultimate protection of their own rights.

Negroes on juries let color blind them, and the rejected the wisest counsel, Northern and Southern, against banding together politically, instead of dividing on issues and policies of government . . . but Negroes proscribed their own race if any voted Democratic — their preachers excommunicating them, their womenfolk bringing all their feminine powers to play against them, and Loyal Leagues intimidating and doing violence to them.

Their idea of the new order was “De bottom rail’s on de top, An we’s gwine to keep it dar.”

Carpetbaggers were as little desirous of promoting Negroes into high office in the South as their Northern colleagues were in their States; and Scalawags, actuated by racial antipathies more than Carpetbaggers, objected to Negroes holding any offices. Both were quite desirous that Negroes vote – but not for Negroes.

A Georgia Negro wrote [Massachusetts Senator] Charles Sumner [in 1869] that there was no other place in the Union where there were so “many miserable hungry unscrupulous politicians . . . and if they could prevent it no colored man would ever occupy any office of profit or trust.” Even so, Negroes frequently held offices far beyond their capacity to administer them.

Radical leaders imposed their views on the Negroes . . . [the Dalton Georgia Citizen wrote on 10 September 1868 that] ”every man knows that the Republican party, under the lead of God, President Lincoln and General Grant, freed the whole colored race from slavery; and every man knows anything, believes that the Democratic party will, if they can, make them slaves again.”

A Carpetbagger characterized Henry M. Turner, preacher, politician and [who] presided at many Negro conventions, as a “licentious robber and counterfeiter, a vulgar blackguard, a sacreligous profaner of God’s name, and a most consummate hypocrite. Yet the Negroes elected him to the Georgia legislature — if he had received his deserts, he would have gone to the penitentiary; he was a thief and a scoundrel, and yet they voted for him.”

“If the colored people have not the elements of morality among them sufficiently to cry down on such shameless characters, they should not expect to command the respect of decent people anywhere.”

General William S. Rosecrans, amidst a [postwar] Confederate atmosphere at White Sulphur Springs, asked General Lee, in writing, whether he thought the South must in reality be ruled by “the poor, simple, uneducated, landless freedmen” under the corrupt leadership of whites still worse. Lee and thirty-one other prominent Southerners signed an answer declaring their opposition, basing it on no enmity toward the freedmen, “but from a deep-seated conviction that at present the Negroes have neither the intelligence nor other qualifications which are necessary to make them depositories of political power.”

As for Federal commanders, Rosecrans, Sherman, George H. Thomas, George G. Meade, Winfield S. Hancock, George B. McClellan, Don Carlos Buell, Henry W. Slocum, John A. McClernand, William S. Franklin and others either were silently ashamed or expressed their abhorrence of what was going on. The editor of Scribner’s Monthly saw Southerners in despair and he blamed the Federal government: “They feel that they were wronged, that they have no future, and they cannot protect themselves, and that nothing but death or voluntary exile will give them relief.”

The editor of The Nation by 1870 had come to view the South with a different light from that of 1865. In the South the people had forgotten “that in free countries men live for more objects than the simple one of keeping robbers’ hands off the earnings of the citizen.” There people were worse off than they were in any South American republic; for in the latter place tyrants could be turned out through the right of revolution, but the South with the army on its back could no longer resort to this ancient remedy.

Southerners must continue to suffer enormities “which the Czar would not venture toward Poland, or the British Empire toward the Sautals of the Indian jungle.” The North with all its charities had done less good than the Carpetbaggers had done harm.

[Carl] Schurz had learned much since his first visit to the South in 1865. He saw fearful acts perpetrated against the South, all in the name of patriotism, and particularly in Louisiana, “a usurpation such as this country has never seen, and probably no citizen of the United States has ever dreamed of.”

(History of the South, Volume VIII: The South During Reconstruction, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1947, (142-146; 160-161)

Scarcity of Black Democrats in North Carolina

New York’s Tammany Hall was notorious for herding recent immigrants to the polls to vote for selected candidates and the selected party. Northern Republicans saw the future of their political hegemony in the South in the freedmen, who were informed that their white neighbors would re-enslave them should blacks vote Democratic. The Klan was formed to counter the infamous Union League of the Republicans, whish taught Southern blacks to hate Sothern whites.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Scarcity of Black Democrats in North Carolina

“Very few whites voted the Republican ticket [in North Carolina]. The notable exception was the Lewellen connection, a large clan of Welsh extraction, substantial farmers dwelling to the east of town. On election day they were apt to steal the show from the Negroes. They were not so loud and “biggetty,” but they were dangerous as fighters, especially when they had liquor aboard. They were known as clannish; anyone who got into a fight with one of them soon found the whole pack on his back.

In this election my father was defeated for justice of the peace, the only office he ever consented to run for, by a coal-black Negro shoemaker; let it be added, however, that this Negro had intelligence and character. I knew him in later years and always respected him. I was sorry for him when his thieving brother was convicted of burning our smokehouse, sent to the chain-gang, and later shot to death by a guard when he tried to escape.

There were only three Negro Democrats in this voting district. Any Negro who was for any reason inclined to vote the Democratic ticket was looked down upon by his race and often threatened with bodily harm. Henry Ward was one of these. In his pocket he carried an ugly knife, threatening to cut to pieces anybody who interfered with his voting. He belonged to the unterrified Democracy. Later he was hanged for burglary.

Another Negro Democrat was Lewis Merritt, a rather handsome buck who worked as a farm hand during the week and dressed up in good taste on Saturday and came to town. He did not drink. He was quiet, poised, and had an air about him. It was whispered around that he carried a revolver. The other Negroes talked darkly about him behind his back but never to his face.

The third man, Candy Parton, voted the Democratic ticket by suggestion. Tall, lanky, old and fragile, he was the body servant of Dr. Frank Smith, a colorful survivor of what the historical writers of today call the slaveholding aristocracy. When he appeared on election day, he was always dressed for the part: high hat, frock coat, flowered waistcoat, and gold-headed cane, chin whiskers like Uncle Sam’s.

He planted himself before the voting window, legs wide apart….”Candy, go up to that window and vote,” he said with emphasis, as he scowled at a group of Negroes who seemed inclined to crowd in on Candy. The old darkey shuffled up to the polls and voted, looking as if he were not quite sure he could go through with it, but Dr. Smith never had a doubt. There stood the Old South.”

(Son of Carolina, Augustus White Long, Duke University Press, 1939, pp. 30-32)

South Sinned Following Massachusetts Example

During the period in which the Constitution was adopted, “it was taken for granted that any State becoming dissatisfied might withdraw from the compact, for cause of which she was to be her own judge.” One of the loudest voices during ratification concerning the encroachment of the federal agent upon the authority of the States was Massachusetts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

South Sinned Following Massachusetts Example

“I shall endeavor to entertain you for a brief space with the ideas and observations of occurrence as they appeared to a Southern man concerning the great civil war. It is proper that you should hear the inscription read upon the other side of the shield.

This generation is yet too near the great struggle to deal with it in true historic spirit. Yet it is well for you to remember that the South is quite as far removed from it as is the North; and the North has industriously undertaken from the beginning to write the history of that contest between the sections, to set forth its causes and to justify its results – and naturally in the interest of the victorious side.

It is both wise and considerate of you to let the losing side be heard in your midst. If you should refuse to do so it will nevertheless be heard in time, before that great bar, the public opinion of the world, whose jurisdiction you cannot avoid, and whose verdict you cannot unduly influence. Neither side acts wisely in attempting to forestall that verdict!

It is well to remember, too, that epithets and hard names, which assume the guilt that is to be proven, will not serve for arguments for [future historians] of the Republic, except for the purpose of warning them against the intemperate partiality of their authors. The modest action of the common law should be imitated in the treatment of historic questions, which considers every accused person as innocent until his guilt is proven. Murder is treated as simply homicide until there is proof that the killing was felonious.

In treating, for example, of all questions pertaining to the war, you assume the guilt of your adversaries at the outset. You speak of the secession movement as a rebellion , and you characterize all who participated in it as “rebels and traitors.” Your daily literature, as well as your daily conversation, teems with it. Your school histories and books of elementary instruction impress it in almost every page upon the young. Your laws, State and Federal, have enacted the terms. Yet every lawyer and intelligent citizen among you must be well aware that in a technical and legal sense there was no rebellion, and there were no rebels!

In attempting to withdraw herself from the Union of the States by repealing, on the 20th of May, 1861, the ordinance by the adoption of which she had entered the Union on the 21st of November 1789, against whom and what did North Carolina rebel?

To whom had she sworn allegiance? Certainly to nobody; to no government; to nothing but the constitution of the United States. Was she violating that oath when she thus withdrew?

When Virginia and New York reserved, upon their accession to the constitution, their right to withdraw from the same, and declared that the powers granted might be resumed whenever the same shall be perverted to “their injury or oppression,” did those States reserve the right to commit treason?

When Massachusetts openly threatened to separate from the union upon the admission of Louisiana as a State, was she conscious that she was threatening treason and rebellion? When her Legislature, in 1803, “resolved that the annexation of Louisiana to the Union transcends the constitutional power of the United States,” and that it “formed a new Confederacy to which the States united by the former compact are not bound to adhere,” was that not a declaration that secession was a constitutional remedy?

Again, the same principle was proclaimed by the authority of Massachusetts in the Hartford Convention, where it was declared “that when emergencies occur which are either beyond the reach of judicial tribunals or too pressing to admit of delay incident to their forms, States which have no common umpire must be their own judges and execute their own decisions.”

With such a record, to which might be added page after page of corroborating quotation from her statesmen and her archives, should not the ancient Commonwealth of Massachusetts be a little modest in denouncing as “traitors” those whose sin consisted in following her example?”

(Life of Zebulon B. Vance, Clement Dowd, Observer Publishing, 1897, pp. 431-433)

Deconstructing Historical Memory

Like Russian Bolsheviks before them, the African National Congress regime in New South Africa renamed established cities and roadways for heroes of the communist revolution. In post-revolution Russia, the Society of Marxist Historians “demanded a review of all existing historical literature, and students of the Institute of Red Professors were formed into brigades preparing assessments of large portions of the existing literature for publication in the press.” This trend continues in New South Africa, and the United States.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Deconstructing Historical Memory

“It may be a trifling issue to deracinated sophisticates, but landmarks in the country’s founding history are slowly being erased, as demonstrated by the ANC’s decision to give an African name to Potchefstroom, a town founded in 1838 by the Vortrekkers. Pretoria is now called Tshwane. Nelspruit, founded by the Nel family (they were not Xhosa), and once the seat of the South African Republic’s government during the first Boer War, has been renamed Mbombela. Polokwane was formerly Pietersburg. Durban’s Moore Road (after Sir John Moore, the hero of the Battle of Corunna, fought in 1808 during the Napoleonic Wars) is Che Guevara Road; Kensington Drive, [now] Fidel Castro Drive.

Perhaps the ultimate in tastelessly hip nomenclature is Yasser Arafat Highway, down which the motorist can careen on the way to the Durban airport.

The Afrikaans tongue, in particular, has come under the ANC’s attack, as the government attempts to compel Afrikaans schools to adopt English. Afrikaans-speaking universities have been labeled as “racist” in the New South Africa, and have been forced to merge with “third-rate black institutions so that campuses may be swamped by blacks demanding instruction in English.”

On the supplanting of the Afrikaans language, Dan Roodt relates: “Not so long ago, and Indian employee at my local branch of the Absa Bank demanded to know if I was a legal resident in South Africa upon hearing me speak a foreign language, Afrikaans.”

The ANC’s attempt to tame and claim South African history mimics the effort by American elites to deconstruct American history and memory, documented by Samuel Huntington in “Who Are We?.” Wishing to purge America of her “sinful European inheritance,” bureaucrats, mediacrats, educrats, assorted policy wonks and intellectuals trashed the concept of America as melting pot.

In its place, they insisted on ensconcing multiculturalism, inherent in which is a denunciation of America’s Western foundation and a glorification of non-Western cultures. This mindset does not permit pedagogues to reject faux Afrocentric faux-history outright. They dare not – not if the goal of education is to be achieved, and that goal is an increase in self esteem among young Africans, in particular.

Other self-styled victim groups, notably natives and women, have had their suppurating historical wounds similarly tended with curricular concessions. Thus, of the 670 stories and articles in “twenty-two readers for grades three and six published in the 1970s and early 1980s . . . none had anything to do with American history since 1780.” The trend, documented by Huntington, accelerated well into the year 2000, when Congress, alarmed by the nation’s historical Alzheimer’s, made an anemic effort to correct decades of deconstruction. It allocated more funds to the Department of Education, which is a lot like letting the proverbial fox guard the historical henhouse.”

(Into the Cannibal’s Pot, Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, Ilana Mercer, Stairway Press, 2011, pp. 80-81)

Betraying the American Republic

William E. Borah was a turn-of-the-century Idaho lawyer and Republican who compared McKinley’s annexation of the Philippines to Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase – he did not overestimate the imperialist appetite of the American people. An ardent supporter of Roosevelt the First in 1902, he lost his appetite for imperialism when a Democrat occupied the White House.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Betraying the American Republic

“[Woodrow Wilson] thought America, both for humanity’s sake and because its own interests were linked with Europe’s, could not stand idly by while Europe moved headlong down the path of destruction. Wilson thought in terms of an international organization with broad authority to draw upon military might to compel obedience and defend the territorial integrity of every member state.

[Senator] Borah argued that Wilson’s proposal to commit American armed forces to the protection of every little country would plunge this nation into the storm center of European politics.

Wilson outlined his plan for the League [of Nations] in his “peace without victory” speech before Congress on January 22, 1917. Though it was approved by the Allies and even by Austrian and German liberals, Henry Cabot Lodge . . . warned that such an organization might compel America to accept Oriental immigration and plunge us into another war.

After hearing the President’s speech, Borah [stated that] “internationalism absolutely destroys the national spirit and patriotic fervor,” [and] it would mean the subordination of the Constitution to a pact with foreign powers. It would mean the betrayal of the American Republic. He thanks God that the United States had such a rocklike national spirit and that its people would never submit questions affecting the country’s honor to arbitration.

[Borah said] “The President is in favor of a League of Nations. If the Savior of mankind would revisit the earth and declare for a League . . . I would be opposed to it . . . “ [He told] packed galleries [in Congress] the League was not only a departure from Washington’s policies but a negation of the Monroe Doctrine as well [and that] every League member would be obligated to preserve the territorial integrity of the British colonies.

{Borah] posed the question, “How are the armies of the League to be raised?” The answer, “ by conscription in peace time,” . . . Such a plan would require the largest navy in the world, at the expense of the American taxpayer, and would inevitably lead to war.

Borah denounced Wilson’s “league of diplomats” with its executive council in which Asiatic and European members could outvote Americans on purely American issues. He assailed his own party for its pusillanimous attitude on the League: “I am getting tired of this creeping, crawling, smelling attitude of the Republican party upon an issue which involves the independence of this Republic . . . The white-livered cowards who are standing around while the diplomats of Europe are undermining our whole system . . .”

(Borah, Marian C. McKenna, University of Michigan Pres, 1961, pp. 151-155)

Bayonets Secure the Ballot Box

Lincoln’s re-election in 1864 “was closer than either the popular or electoral votes” indicated, and without the soldier vote in six crucial States, Lincoln would have lost to George B. McClellan. The slim margins of Republican victory in most States “were probably due largely to the presence of soldiers as guards and as voters at the polls,” and had Illinois, Indiana Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York’s votes gone to McClellan, “he would have had a majority in the electoral college despite Lincoln’s popular plurality.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Bayonets Secure the Ballot Box

“Throughout the summer [of 1864] the Union prospects were in a decline. Grant’s armies, despite repeated reinforcements, made no headway, and the casualty lists from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor mounted alarmingly. Sherman, maneuvering in the mountains of Georgia, seemed totally useless. July and August saw Republican hopes at rock bottom.

Early in July . . . The [Republican] Pennsylvania Governor [Curtin] was “down on things generally,” and on the War Department in particular. Already Curtin had told Lincoln that he would not consider himself responsible for raising troops or for carrying elections. Pennsylvania was 80,000 men behind [its quota] in troops and the Governor believed the draft would meet general opposition from Republicans as well as from Democrats.

At the same time [Massachusetts Governor] John Andrew was disgusted with the situation and was hoping to find some means of getting both Lincoln and [John] Fremont to withdraw in favor of a third [Republican] candidate. The consensus seemed to be that the war languished and Lincoln would not or could not bring peace. War-weariness and a desire for peace was everywhere.

[New York Times editor Henry J.] Raymond asked [Simon] Cameron’s advice . . . let Lincoln propose to Jeff Davis that both sides disband their armies and stop the war “on the basis of recognizing the supremacy of the constitution” and refer all disputed questions to a convention of all the States! Raymond went to Washington to lay the proposal before the President, but Lincoln did not accept it.

Sherman’s victory before Atlanta reinvigorated the Republican campaign. The President wrote to Sherman to let Indiana’s soldiers, “or any part of them, go home to vote at the State election.” This was, Lincoln explained, in no sense an order. Sherman understood that it was a command. He sent soldiers home, and on election day in October the soldiers gathered at the Indiana polls. The Nineteenth Regiment of Vermont Volunteers voted in Indiana that day, but many a Democrat found his vote challenged. When the votes were counted, [Republican Governor Oliver P.] Morton had been elected by a majority of 22,000.

On that same day the need for Lincoln’s aid was illustrated in Pennsylvania. There it was thought not necessary to send the soldiers home. [Governor] Curtin . . . determined to appoint some Democratic commissioners to collect the soldiers’ votes. As the commissioners passed through Washington, however, the Democrats among them disappeared, under [Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton’s orders, into the Old Capitol Prison.

Lincoln conferred with Cameron and [Alexander] McClure and asked [Generals] Meade and Sherman to send 5,000 men to Pennsylvania for the November election. The generals sent 10,000, and Lincoln carried the State by nearly a 6,000 majority, while the soldiers in the field added 14,000 more.

[Illinois Governor Richard Yates] appealed to Lincoln to send troops to vote. It was essential to elect a [Republican] State Senate, three congressional districts depended on the soldiers, and even the Presidential and the State tickets were unsafe without the uniformed voters. Defeat [for the Republicans] in Illinois, added the Governor, would be worse than defeat in the field. Under such pleas the soldiers came, and Lincoln carried his home State by 189,496 to McClellan’s 158,730.

[Many] soldiers voted Democratic in their camps only to have their votes switched in the post offices. Without the soldiers New York would have remained in the Democratic column. Maryland’s vote was clearly the product of federal bayonets. Ohio was safe for Lincoln, and the election clerks at home merely guessed at the distribution of the army’s vote.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 376-382)

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