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What is Wrong With America?

What Is Wrong With America?

“There was once indeed a time when Americans plumed themselves on their individualism; but the fine trait of self-help is not so common now, and what we hear nowadays is rather the enervating cry, “Let the government do it.”

So obsessed are the people with politics, so omnipotent in action and so all-sufficing in providence do they deem the government that to some of them it seems either that legislative statutes are a substitute for moral principles, or that virtue can be legislated into persons whether they want it or not.

This acceptance of legislation as a species of miracle-performing leads to remarkable consequences. If legality can be substituted for morality, it follows that no one need have any character; and, if an individual could be terrorized into goodness by the penalties of man-made laws, why should a person put forth any effort to acquire the habits of goodness?

But the law cannot make the people good; it can only make them pretend to be.

Puritanical blue laws defeat their own object; the futility and perniciousness of such laws are the evidence of their essential quackery . . . There are many credulous Americans who can be interested in the League of Nations, for such a league of governments appears to afford an alternative to the duty of cultivating intelligence and morality and might work a miracle by the quick and east way of erecting more political machinery. Apparently therefore, it is not the saints, not the teachers, but the politicians who are going to save mankind.

Although it was the statesmen who did nothing to prevent, but everything they could to bring about, the World War, yet such is the incurable gullibility of some Americans that they will doubtless enjoy the brief but false security when, by entrance into the League, the American masses are persuaded to imagine that they have succeeded in shifting off their own shoulders and onto the shoulders of a group of secret diplomatists, the responsibility of maintaining peace.

Thus the adoption of a panacea will provide a welcome inducement to abandon the slow and hard work, [and] only adequate method, which is to go to the root of a matter and remove all the causes of the trouble.”

(Editorial, What Is Wrong With America? The Libertarian Magazine, March 1924)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Lincoln Accomplished

What Lincoln Accomplished

“The world claims now, and rightly, that Lincoln made the United States of America a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Lincoln found the United States of America a government of the States, by the States and for the States. He changed it by force of a four-year war into a nation.

Up to 1861, the Federal government was a republic of sovereign States of such wisdom and power as to win the respect and love of all true lovers of political liberty, but too wise and not powerful enough to coerce sovereign States.

Now, since 1861, we are a nation with sovereign States reduced to provinces, State rights gone (for what rights have they who dare not strike for them?); a nation, admired still by the world, but feared and mistrusted as a nation boastful and overbearing, ready and willing to regulate, if not to rule, the world like old Rome. O what a fall was there, my countrymen!”

(What Lincoln Accomplished, Berkeley Minor, Charlottesville, VA, Confederate Veteran, September 1926, page 324)

Lincoln’s Cotton Dilemma

To underscore that the war was fought by the North against secession – not to end slavery – Lincoln and his Secretary of State William Seward early sought the capture Southern ports to restore tariff collection and supply slave-produced cotton for starved New England mills. Also, if the ports were opened by force and cotton exported once again, the chance of European recognition of the new American republic was further diminished.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Cotton Dilemma

“During the winter of 1861-62 Seward assured Britain and France that a significant volume of cotton would soon be exported to Europe through Confederate ports captured by Union forces. Lincoln thought that the United States should “show the world we were fair in this matter favoring outsiders as much as ourselves.”

Although he was “by no means sure that [the planters] would bring their cotton to the port after we opened it, it would be well to show Europe that it was secession that distressed them and not we.”

The Confederates soon demonstrated that they would rather burn their cotton than allow it to fall into Yankee hands. The French consul estimated that about a quarter of a million bales were burned at New Orleans just prior to its capture by Union forces in April 1862. In August of that year the British consul in Charleston estimated that “about 1,000,000 bales have been destroyed at various places to prevent them falling into the hands of Federals.”

The unsuccessful Federal effort to promote cotton exports through captured Confederate ports was described in a pamphlet published in England in 1862:

“No sooner did the Government succeed in regaining possession . . . of cotton markets, than it made provision for reopening of the cotton trade. The blockade . . . was removed from the ports of Beaufort in North Carolina, Port Royal in South Carolina, and New Orleans in Louisiana on the 12th of May 1862. Cotton agents accompanied the armies of the North, who were licensed to purchase cotton . . . The United States Government assured the British government of their anxiety to grant every facility for the obtaining of cotton, and gave the rebels every facility to sell it. But the net result has been what? Simply an order from Jefferson Davis to burn the cotton and starve the English.”

Seward was delighted by the increased cotton production in other countries: “The insurrectionary cotton States will be blind to their own welfare if they do not see how their prosperity and all their hopes are passing away, when they find that Egypt, Asia Minor and India supplying the world with cotton.”

Nevertheless, cotton exports made a major contribution to the Confederate economy and war effort. Lincoln’s frustration with the Union’s inability to eliminate this trade is indicated in a letter he wrote in December 1864:

“By the external blockade, the [cotton] price is made certainly six times as great as it was. And yet the enemy gets through at least one sixth part as much in a given period . . . as if there were no blockade, and receives as much for it as he would for a full crop in time of peace. The effect . . . is that we give him six ordinary crops, without the trouble of producing any but the first and . . . leave his fields and laborers free to produce provisions . . . This keeps up his armies at home and procures supplies from abroad.”

(One War at a Time, The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Dean B. Mahin, Brassey’s, 1999, pp. 85-86; 90-91)

The Forces Lincoln Unleashed

By initiating war against his own people, overturning the Constitution, creating fiat money and fusing government with corporations, Lincoln destroyed the Founders’ republic and ushered in the Gilded Age.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

The Forces Lincoln Unleashed

“As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until wealth is aggregated in the hands of the few and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”   Abraham Lincoln.

(Collective Speeches of Louis T. McFadden, Omni Publications, pg. vi, 1970)

Major Anderson’s Reluctance at Fort Sumter

In his “Rise and Fall”, Jefferson Davis wrote that it is “undeniably that the ground on which Fort Sumter was built was ceded by South Carolina to the United State IN TRUST for the defense of her own soil and her own chief harbor. No other State or combination of States could have any distinct interest or concern in the maintenance of a fortress at that point, unless as a means of aggression against South Carolina herself.” He added that the North’s claim that it was public property was untenable unless stated from an imperial view of total control over the people of that State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Major Anderson’s Reluctance at Fort Sumter

“The course pursued by the government of the United States with regard to the forts had not passed without earnest remonstrance from the most intelligent and patriotic of its own friends . . . [Senator Stephen] Douglas of Illinois – who was certainly not suspected of sympathy with secession, or lack of devotion to the Union – on March 15th offered a resolution recommending the withdrawal of the garrisons from all forts within the limits of the States that had seceded, except those at Key West and the Dry Tortugas. In support of the resolution he said:

“We certainly cannot justify the holding of forts there, much less the recapturing of those which have been taken, unless we intend to reduce those States themselves into subjection. I take it for granted, no man may deny the proposition, that whoever permanently holds Charleston and South Carolina is entitled to possession of Fort Sumter.

Whoever permanently holds Pensacola and Florida is entitled to the possession of Fort Pickens. Whoever holds the States in whose limits those forts are placed is entitled to the forts themselves. Unless there is something peculiar in the location of some particular fort that makes it important for us to hold it for the general defense of the whole country, its commerce and interests, instead of being useful only for the defense of a particular city or locality.

It is true that Forts Taylor and Jefferson, at Key West and Tortugas, are so situated as to be essentially national, and therefore important to us without reference to the seceded States. Not so with Moultrie, Johnson, Castle Pinckney, and Sumter, in Charleston Harbor; not so with Pulaski, on the Savannah River . . .

We cannot deny that there is a Southern Confederacy, de facto, in existence, with its capital in Montgomery. We may regret it. I regret it most profoundly; but I cannot deny the truth of the fact, painful and mortifying as it is . . . I proclaim boldly the policy of those of with whom I act. We are for peace.”

Mr. Douglas, in urging the maintenance of peace as a motive for the evacuation of the forts, was no doubt aware of the full force of his words. He knew that their continued occupation [by Lincoln] was virtually a declaration of war [on the South].

The general-in-chief of the United States Army, also, it is well-known, urgently advised the evacuation of the forts. But the most striking protest against the coercive measure finally adopted was that of [Fort Sumter commander] Major Anderson himself. The letter in which his views were expressed has been carefully suppressed in the partisan narratives of that period and well-nigh lost sight of, although it does the highest honor to his patriotism and integrity.

It was written on the same day on which the announcement was made to Governor Pickens of the purpose of the United States government to send supplies to the fort, and it is worthy of reproduction here:

“Letter of Major Anderson . . . Protesting Against [Secretary of War] Fox’s Plan for Relieving Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter, April 8, 1861

To Colonel L. Thomas, Adjutant-General, United States Army.

Colonel: . . . I had the honor to receive, by yesterday’s mail, the letter of the Honorable Secretary of War, dated April 4th, and confess that what he states surprises me very greatly – following, as it does, and contradicting so positively, the assurance Mr. Crawford telegraphed he was “authorized” to make.

I trust that this matter will be at once put in a correct light, as a movement made now, when the South has been erroneously informed that none such would be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. It is, of course, now too late for me to give any advice in reference to the proposed scheme of Captain Fox.

We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in this war, which I see is about to be thus commenced. That God will still avert it, and cause us to revert to pacific means to maintain our rights, is my ardent prayer.

Your obedient servant, Robert Anderson, Major, 1st Artillery, commanding.”

This frank and manly letter . . . fully vindicates Major Anderson from all suspicion of complicity or sympathy with the bad faith of the government he was serving. The “relief squadron,” as with unconscious irony it was termed, was already underway for Charleston, consisting, according to their own statement, of eight vessels, carrying twenty-six guns and about fourteen hundred men, including the troops sent for reinforcement of the garrison.

These facts became known to the Confederate government, and it was obvious that no time was to be lost in preparing for, and if possible anticipating the impending assault.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume I, Jefferson Davis, D. Appleton & Company, 1881, pp. 281-284)

Lincoln’s Deception Leads to War

After President James Buchanan’s failed Star of the West mission to resupply Fort Sumter in early January, 1861, Lincoln attempted the same in early April while promising to maintain the peaceful status quo. Judge John A. Campbell was a respected Supreme Court Justice who tried honestly to facilitate a peaceful settlement between North and South, but was deceived by those leading the war party of the North. Unionists North and South advised Lincoln to abandon Sumter to avoid a conflict between Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Deception Leads to War

Judge Campbell to the President of the Confederate States.

Montgomery, Alabama, May 7, 1861

“Sir:  I submit to you two letters that were addressed by me to the Hon. W. H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, that contain an explanation of the nature and result of an intervention by me in the intercourse of the commissioners of the Confederate States with that officer.

I considered that I could perform no duty in which the entire American people, whether of the Federal Union or of the Confederate States, were more interested than that of promoting the counsels and the policy that had for their object the preservation of peace. This motive dictated my intervention.

Besides the interview referred to in these letters, I informed the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States (not being able to see the Secretary) on the 11th April, ultimo, of the existence of a telegram of that date, from General Beauregard to the commissioners, in which he informed the commissioners that he had demanded the evacuation of Sumter, and if refused he would proceed to reduce it.

On the same day, I had been told that President Lincoln had said that none of the vessels sent to Charleston were war vessels, and that force was not to be used in the attempt to resupply the Fort. I had no means of testing the accuracy of this information; but offered that if the information was accurate, I would send a telegram to the authorities at Charleston, and it might prevent the disastrous consequences of a collision at that fort between the opposing forces. It was the last effort that I would make to avert the calamities of war.

The Assistant Secretary promised to give the matter attention, but I had no other intercourse with him or any other person on the subject, nor have I had any reply to the letters submitted to you.

Very respectfully,

John A. Campbell

To: General Davis, President of the Confederate States.”

(Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, James D. Richardson, US Publishing Company, 1906, Volume I, pp. 97-98)

 

A Fort on South Carolina’s Sovereign Soil

When foreign troops occupy your land and sufficient warning is given, a sovereign State will expel them. “The ultimate ownership of the soil, or eminent domain, remains with the people of the State in which it lies, by virtue of their sovereignty.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Fort on South Carolina’s Sovereign Soil

“For well over one hundred years, uninformed and liberal historians and others have charged South Carolina with starting the Civil War when the shore batteries at Charleston fired on the Federally-held Fort Sumter in the bay. These writers have stated that this fort was the property of the federal government. This statement is false.

On March 24, 1794, the US Congress passed an act to provide for the defense of certain ports and harbors of the United States. The sites of forts, arsenals, navy yards and other public property of the federal government were ceded or assigned by the States within whose limits they were, and subject to the condition, either expressed or implied, that they should be used solely and exclusively for the purpose for which they were granted. The ultimate ownership of the soil, or eminent domain, remains with the people of the State in which it lies, by virtue of their sovereignty.

South Carolina, in 1805 by legislative enactment, ceded to the United States in Charleston Harbor and on the Beaufort River, various forts and fortifications and sites for the erection of forts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted the same in its legislature in 1836. New York State, in granting the use of the site for the Brooklyn Navy Yard says: “The United States are to retain such use and jurisdiction so long as said tract shall be applied to the defense and safety of the city and port of New York and no longer . . .” The cession of the site of Watervliet Arsenal was made on the same terms.

It has been said by many historians that these sites were purchased outright by the federal government. This is also false. The Act of 1794 clearly states, “that no purchase shall be made where such lands are the property of the State.”

When General George B. McClellan and his federal army of 112,000 men landed on the tip of the Virginia peninsula April12, 1862 and occupied Fortress Monroe, this action verified the Southern charge of Northern aggression.

A State withdrawing from the union would necessarily assume the control theretofore exercised by the general government over all public defenses and other public property within her limits. The South, on the verge of withdrawal (from the union) had prepared to give adequate compensation to an agent of the Northern government for the forts and other public works erected on the land. Therefore, three commissioners from South Carolina, one from Georgia, and one from Alabama were sent to Washington to negotiate for the removal of federal garrisons from Southern forts.

The commissioners, all prominent men, were Messrs. Robert W. Barnwell, James H. Adams, and James L. Orr of South Carolina; Martin Crawford of Georgia, and John Forsythe of Alabama, and arrived in Washington on the 5th of March.

On March 12th they addressed an official communication to Mr. [William] Seward, Secretary of State, explaining their functions and their purpose. Mr. Seward declined to make any formal recognition of the commissioners, but assured them in verbal conferences of the determination of the government at Washington to evacuate Fort Sumter; of the peaceful intentions of the government, and that no changes in the status prejudicially to the Confederate States were in contemplation; but in the event of any change, notice would be given to the commissioners.

The commissioners waited for a reply to their official communication until April 8th, at which time they received a reply dated March 15th by which they were advised that the president had decided not to receive them, nor was he interested in any proposals they had to offer. During this time the cabinet of the Northern government had been working in secrecy in New York preparing an extensive military and naval expedition to reinforce the garrison at Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

As they had tried to deceive the people of the North and South in January 1861 with the Star of the West (expedition to Sumter), loaded with troops and ammunition, the radical Republicans again advised the press that this mission was also a mission of mercy for the garrison of Fort Sumter, and on April 7th the expedition set sail southward bound loaded with troops and arms.

At 2PM, April 11, 1861, General Beauregard demanded that Major Anderson of Fort Sumter evacuate the works, which Anderson refused to do. At a little after 3AM, General Beauregard advised Major Anderson that “in one hour’s time I will open fire.”  At 4:40AM, from Fort Johnson the battery opened on Fort Sumter, which fire was followed by the batteries of Moultrie, Cummings Point and the floating battery.

At this time a part of the federal naval force had arrived at the Charleston bar, but strange to say, Captain Fox, after hearing the heavy guns of the bombardment decided that his government did not expect any gallant sacrifices on his part, and took no part in the battle. On April 13 after the Confederate guns had reduced Sumter to a smoking heap of ruin, Major Anderson surrendered, with no loss of life on either side.

“On one side of the conflict was the South led by the descendants of the Cavaliers, who with all their faults had inherited from a long line of ancestors a manly contempt for moral littleness, a high sense of honor, a lofty regard for plighted faith, a strong tendency for conservatism, a profound respect for law and order, and an unfaltering loyalty to constitutional government.”

Against the South was arrayed the power of the North, dominated by the spirit of Puritanism which, with all its virtues, has ever been characterized by the pharisaism which worships itself, and is unable to perceive any goodness apart from itself, which has ever arrogantly held its ideas, its interests, and its will, higher than fundamental law and covenanted obligations; which has always “lived and moved and had its being, in rebellion against constituted authority.

The Reverend R.C. Cave, 1894″

(Not Civil War But Northern Aggression, Land of the Golden River, Vol. II, Lewis P. Hall, Hall’s Enterprises, 1980, pp. 77-78)

Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy

Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy

April 11, 1861:

[Biographer Hudson Strode would continue]:

“The next morning supported by the majority of his Cabinet, but with [Robert] Toombs not voting, the President asked [General] Beauregard to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter, and if the ultimatum should be refused, to reduce it.”

On the afternoon of April 11, under a flag of truce, Beauregard’s aides, former Senator James Chesnut, of South Carolina, and Captain Stephen Lee, set out in a small boat and conveyed the ultimatum. Deeply perturbed, [Fort Sumter commander] Major [Robert] Anderson debated with himself. Because of the recent letter from his government, he decided that he could not in honor comply. As he handed his formal reply to Chesnut, he remarked sadly, with a resigned smile, “I will await the first shot.” Then he added, as if casually, “If you do not batter us to pieces we will be starved out in a few days.” Along with the result of the visit, Beauregard communicated to Montgomery Anderson’s significant remark.

When President Davis received the report, he understood the miserable quandary of his old friend Bob Anderson, as clearly as he saw through Lincoln’s maneuver to make the [Confederacy] shoot. Knowing that the fort must not be reinforced and that time was running out, he yet made one last effort to avoid [armed engagement]. He had Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Walker telegraph Beauregard:

“We do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time . . . at which he will evacuate, and agree that in the meantime he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire. You are thus to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgment decides to be the most practicable.”

Far to the north in Hartford, Connecticut, the editor of the Hartford Daily Courant wrote in his editorial for the following day’s edition, “Public opinion in the [northern States] seems to be gradually settling down in favor of recognition of the new Confederacy by the Federal Government.” But the Lincoln Administration was well along in executing plans to remake that “opinion.”

Hudson Strode would continue the story:

The missive was presented, Anderson held a midnight conference with his top officers. A dutiful soldier and a loyal [Federalist], Anderson was also a Kentuckian, and married to a Georgian; he loved the Southern . . . people. If he had not misguidedly moved from [Fort] Moultrie to Sumter on that fateful Christmas night, “to prevent an effusion of blood,” he would not be in his present miserable dilemma! If to avoid a war between the States he now agreed to evacuation before the garrison’s last slab of salt pork was gone, Anderson knew he would be branded as a traitor. After painful, almost unbearable, deliberation, at half-past two in the morning of April 12, Robert Anderson took up his pen to compose a formal reply:

“I will, if provided with the proper and necessary means of transportation, evacuate Fort Sumter by noon [April 15], and I will not in the meantime open my fire upon your forces unless compelled to do so by some hostile act against this fort or the flag of my Government by the forces under your command should I not receive prior to that time controlling instructions from my Government or additional supplies.”

Time had run out, for the Federal fleet was already overdue. Records show that the Harriet Lane had already arrived at the designated rendezvous point off Charleston Harbor, and within minutes her commander would communicate with [US Navy official] Gustavus Fox who was on the Baltic. The warships were gathering.”

(Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy, excerpted from Bloodstains, an Epic History of the Politics that Produced the American Civil War,” Howard Ray White, 2011, pp. 31-33)

Several Views of the Fort Sumter Affair

Several Views of  the Fort Sumter Affair

“On the night of 26/27 December [1860], Major Robert Anderson . . . withdrew his small force from the unfinished Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, the most defensible of the various posts scattered about the harbor, spiking the guns and burning the gun carriages at Moultrie. This surprise move greatly alarmed the public in South Carolina.

It was the first federal act that could be interpreted as overly hostile in intent, and it seemed to South Carolinians an act of bad faith, violating their understanding of a tacit agreement with Washington to maintain a status quo until a political settlement could be worked out by the delegates the State had sent there. Indeed, it was this act and not the firing on Fort Sumter that South Carolinians regarded as the commencement of hostilities.”

(Carolina Cavalier, Clyde N. Wilson, Chronicles Pres, 2002, page 137)

 

From Mr. Toombs, Secretary of State, CSA, April 24, 1861:

[to Hon. W.L. Yancy, P. Rost, Dudley Mann, Commissioners of the Confederate States]

“When you left this city [Montgomery] you were aware that Commissioners from this government had been sent to Washington with the view to open negotiations with the government of the United States for the peaceful settlement of all matters in controversy, and for the settlement of relations of amity and good will between the two countries.

They promptly made known to the Administration at Washington the object of their mission; gave the most explicit assurance that it was the earnest desire of the President, Congress, and the people of the Confederate States to preserve peace; that they had no demand to make which was not founded on the strictest justice, and that they had no wish to do any act to injure their late confederates, [and] they did not press their demand for a formal reception or a recognition of the independence of the Confederate States.

So long as moderation and forbearance were consistent with the honor and dignity of their government, they forebore from taking any steps which could possibly add to the difficulties by which the Cabinet of Mr. Lincoln was beset.

[They] received the most positive assurances from Mr. Seward that the policy of his government was peace; that Fort Sumter would be evacuated immediately; that Fort Pickens would soon be abandoned; that no measure was contemplated “to change the existing status of things prejudicially to the Confederate States;” and that, if any change were resolved upon, due notice would be given to the Commissioners.

Incredible as it may seem, it is nevertheless perfectly true that while the Government of the United States was thus addressing the Confederate States with words of conciliation and promises of peace, a large naval and military expedition was being fitted out by its order for the purpose of invading our soil and imposing on us an authority which we have forever repudiated, and which it was well known we would resist to the last extremity.

Having knowledge that a large fleet was expected hourly to arrive at Charleston harbor with orders to force and entrance and attempt to victual and reinforce the fortress, and that the troops of the Confederate States would be thus exposed to a double attack, General Beauregard had no alternative left but to dislodge the enemy and take possession of the fort, and thus command absolutely all the approaches to the port of Charleston, so that the entrance of a hostile fleet would be almost impossible.”

(Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 1861-1865, J. D. Richardson, Editor, US Publishing Company, pp. 13-16)

 

Who Bears the Guilt?

“Perhaps a word should be inserted here as to which side was the aggressor in this historic conflict. Who bears the guilt of starting the war? The North has sought to lay this stigma upon the South since we fired the first shot.

But the courts (and common sense as well) have decreed that the aggressor is not the one who strikes the first blow, but the one who makes that blow necessary. The ground on which Fort Sumter stood had been lent to the Federal Government by the State of South Carolina for the erection of a fort to guard its chief harbor, but when South Carolina withdrew from the Union, the property automatically reverted to the State.

Morally and legally, the first blow was not struck at Charleston, but when this fleet with hostile intent weighed anchor in the harbor of New York. Hence the guilt of aggression lies at the door of the Federal government at Washington. (See Stephens History of the US, pp. 421-429)

(Some Things For Which the South Did Not Fight, Henry Tucker Graham, 1946)

Lincoln Launches His War Against the South

North Carolina retained strong Unionist sentiments until Lincoln’s provocations at Fort Sumter resulted in open warfare. Governor John W. Ellis was well aware of Constitutional limitations of presidential authority, and knew a president could not wage war against a State – an act of treason.  Read more about “A State Forced Out of the Union” at the North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial website, www.ncwbts150.com.   

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com   

 

Lincoln Launches His War Against the South

“In manipulating the Fort Sumter crisis to produce that “first shot,” Abe Lincoln had followed the advice of his long-time political friend, Orville Browning, of Illinois. Lincoln had first met Browning during brief service in the Illinois Militia, when they were both chasing after Black Hawk’s Native Americans. Well-educated, Browning practiced law in Quincy, Illinois, and was a Whig politician during the years that Lincoln was active in the Whig party. Then, like Lincoln, Browning became a major figure in the founding of the Illinois Republican party in 1856.

But Browning’s instruction about manipulating the Fort Sumter crisis to produce that most valuable “first shot” had been his most fearsome influence on Lincoln. Before the inauguration, Browning had written Lincoln: “In any conflict…between the [Federal] Government and the seceding States, it is very important that the [Secessionists] shall be [perceived] as the aggressors, and that they be kept constantly and palpable [allegedly] in the wrong. The first attempt…to furnish supplies or reinforcements to Sumter will induce [a military response] by South Carolina, and then the [Federal] Government will stand justified, before the entire [Federation], in repelling the aggression, and retaking the forts.”

Later that summer Lincoln would happily tell Browning, “The plan succeeded. They attacked Sumter – it fell, and thus, did more service than it otherwise could.”

Lieutenant [Gustavus] Fox was very discouraged by his failure to resupply Fort Sumter, and would soon write Abe Lincoln a letter of apology. To Fox, Lincoln would reply: “You and I both anticipated that the cause of the [Federation] would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the results.”  Having in his hand his coveted “first shot,” Abe Lincoln lost no time in launching a war against the Confederacy. 

On the very next day, April 15, Lincoln issued an Executive Proclamation directing the Army and Navy to invade the Confederacy and force her States to submit to Federal authority. Lincoln cloaked his rhetoric in awkward language that avoided referring to the Confederacy by name, ignored the fact that seven States had seceded prior to his taking office, ignored Fort Sumter, alleged the existence of lawlessness and rebellion on the part of some of the people in seven States, and inferred that the northern States were somehow in harm’s way.

The Proclamation was set in legal language to circumvent the authority vested in the Federal House and Senate to declare war, and to suppress the notion that the Confederacy even existed. Instead of naming the Confederacy, he called his adversary, “combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.”

In his proclamation Abe Lincoln had totally ignored the action of his fleet of warships and the Confederate eviction of the Federal regiment from Fort Sumter. To have done so would have required that he admit that 7 States had seceded and formed a new nation, that the States into which he was dispatching militiamen were actually members of a peaceful foreign nation.

(Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy, excerpted from Bloodstains, an Epic History of the Politics that Produced the American Civil War,” Howard Ray White, 2011, pp. 38-43)

 

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