Browsing "Enemies of the Republic"

The South, Forever Tobacco Road

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South, Forever Tobacco Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

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

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

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

 

The Wrath of the North

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Wrath of the North

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yancey’s Prophetic Foresight

Born at Ogeechee Falls, Georgia in 1814, educated at academies in New York and New England, South Carolina and later Alabama editor, William Lowndes Yancey prophetically predicted the rise of the consolidationist Republican party. He foresaw the States becoming “but tributaries to the powers of the General Government,” and their sovereignty enfeebled.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yancey’s Prophetic Foresight

“. . . Yancey had been an unconditional Unionist . . . But in 1838 disturbing reports, which led him to pause, study the Constitution, and consider the nature of the Union, began to reach his desk. His indignation and fears seem to have been first aroused by the abolitionist petitions which were agitating Congress and the country, and in one of his editorials declared:

“The Vermont resolutions have afforded those deluded fanatics – the Abolitionists – another opportunity for abusing our citizens, and endeavoring to throw firebrands into the South, to gratify a malevolent spirit. They well know that they have no right to . . . meddle with our rights, secured to us by the Constitution; but to gratify the worst of feelings, while at the same time and in many instances, the endanger our safety, they press upon Congress the consideration of this subject.”

This editorial went on to express a fear that there was “a settled determination, on the part of those fanatics, to form themselves into a small band of partisans,” and thereby to gain the balance of power and determine elections.

Yancey’s fears of despotism under the cloak of the Federal Union were intensified by the election of the friends of the United States Bank. He reported a series of resolutions condemning the bank, supporting the President [Jackson] in his fight on it, and approving “well conducted State Banks.” The second resolution [declared]:

“We deem the struggle now going on between the people, and the United States Bank partisans, to be a struggle for pre-eminence between the State-Rights principles of 1798, and Federalism in its rankest state; and that in the triumph of the Bank, if destined to triumph, we would mournfully witness the destruction of the barriers and safeguards of our Liberties.”

In the spring of 1839 Yancey and his brother bought and consolidated the Wetumpka [Alabama] Commercial Advertiser and the Wetumpka Argus. The next spring when Yancey took personal charge of the newspaper, he announced that it would support a policy of strict construction in national politics and a State policy of reform in banking, internal improvements, and public education within reach of every child.

[With the] opening of the presidential campaign of 1840, [Yancey] believed the issue between State rights and consolidation to have been clearly drawn. Twelve years of Jacksonian democracy had destroyed the bank, provided for the extinction of the protective features of the tariff, and checked internal improvements at federal expense. Therefore, if the friends of the bank, the protective tariff, and internal improvements expected to enjoy the beneficence of a paternalistic government, they must gain control of the administration at Washington, and consolidate its powers. Thus to them the selection of a Whig candidate for the presidency was an important question, and from their point of view Henry Clay seemed to be the logical choice.

[Yancey editorialized] to show that the abolitionists, having defeated [Henry] Clay in the convention, now contemplated using their power to defeat Martin Van Buren in the election, disrupt the Democratic party, and absorb the Whigs.

To Yancey it seemed clear that [a] coalition of Whigs and abolitionists would put the South in a minority position . . . that the minority position of the South demanded “of its citizens a strict adherence to the States Rights Creed.”

He declared:

“Once let the will of the majority become the rule of [Constitutional] construction, and hard-featured self-interest will become the presiding genius in our national councils – the riches of our favored lands offering but the greater incentive to political rapacity.”

Furthermore, he foresaw with inexorable logic that once the general government was permitted to exercise powers, not expressly given to it, for subsidies to industry and for the building of roads and canals, it was as reasonable to claim constitutional authority for subsidies for agriculture and labor.

Yancey foretold with prophetic insight the consequences of the application of the consolidationists creed. He said it would result in a “national system of politics, which makes the members of the confederacy but tributaries to the powers of the General Government – enfeebling the sovereign powers of the States – in fact forming us into a great consolidated nation, receiving all its impulses from the Federal Capitol.”

And in strikingly modern language he warned the people that, if the tendencies toward consolidation continued, the Constitution would “have its plainly marked lines obliterated, and its meaning . . . left to be interpreted by interested majorities – thus assembling every hungry and greedy speculator around the Capitol, making the President a King in all but name – and Washington a “St. Petersburg,” – the center of a vast, consolidated domain.”

(William L. Yancey’s Transition from Unionism to State Rights, Austin L. Venable, Journal of Southern History, Volume X, Number 1, February 1944, pp. 336-342)

Yankee’s Issued Matches

The hatred of the North engendered by Sherman’s devastation in Georgia and the Carolina’s would not easily subside. In 1898 President William McKinley, himself a Northern major during the war, visited Atlanta in December 1898 for a Peace Jubilee. McKinley wore a Confederate badge on his lapel and declared in an address to the Georgia legislature that “Confederate graves were “graves of honor” and it was the duty of the United States government to keep them green.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yankee’s Issued Matches

“When word [of Sherman’s invasion of South Carolina] reached the plantations of the Low County, terror bordering on panic swept the towns and countryside . . . and with only old men, women, children and a few slaves who had not deserted left on the lands, [all] lay vulnerable before the invaders.

Some of the families moved farther north, ostensibly out of Sherman’s path. Three families who lived in the area south of Allendale fled to the plantation of Dr. Benjamin William Lawton. An occupied house was less subject to being burn; deserted houses, left vacant, were usually torched.

But the three families who set up housekeeping in the basement of Dr. Lawton’s house in Allendale were no safer than they might have been in their own homes. Sherman’s forces routed out the families, and set fire to the house of that signer of the Ordinance of Secession, Dr. Benjamin W. Lawton. All Lawton’s possessions dissolved in flames.

Lawton’s wife, Josephine, was warned [of this] and hastily took her children and house servants to Gaffney, South Carolina, where they were given haven by friends . . . There Josephine’s seventh child was born. In early 1865 another Lawton, Dr. James Stoney . . . returned [from Georgia] to find his house in ashes.

At least one Lawton home escaped destruction by fire. Major-General High Judson Kilpatrick . . . ordered his men to keep their issue of matches in their pockets while he occupied Rose Lawn, the home of Reverend and Mrs. Joseph A. Lawton in Allendale, as his headquarters during the days of battle and destruction in the area.

With his mistress said to have been ensconced in a large front bedroom – she accompanied [Kilpatrick] from one headquarters to another in his sweep from Savannah to Columbia – he delegated a small back room to the elderly owners. To the godly couple who had to stand by while the woman of “ill-repute” occupied their bedchamber, this must surely have added basest insult to dastardly injury.

[South Carolina] lay in ruins, and the Southern cities of Richmond, Atlanta, Charleston and Columbia were blackened rubble. Sherman’s men under [Kilpatrick] had used their issues of matches to fire countless towns, villages, plantations, farms, and railroads; open fields and pine forests were reduced to shambles.”

(Kith and Kin, A Portrait of a Southern Family, 1630-1934, Carolyn L. Harrell, pp. 209-212)

Minnesotans for Lincoln’s Army

Immediately after Fort Sumter surrendered, Governor Alexander Ramsey “tender[ed] to Secretary of War Simon Cameron 1,000 men from Minnesota “to defend the Government.” This was the first State to offer men to Lincoln’s regime, though Minnesota’s principal Democratic newspaper pointed out that it was the only Northern State which demanded federal money before troops were released to Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Minnesotans for Lincoln’s Army

“Ramsey’s patriotic tender [of April 14] was not as magnanimous as it appeared at first glance. In the written tender he commented that since the Minnesota legislature was not in session [until early 1862], he felt justified in requesting the Federal government to provide the “reasonable expenses” involved in readying the men for service.

On the following day, April 15, Lincoln issues a call for 75,000 militiamen to serve for three months . . . His authority was an act of Congress passed in 1795. Included in the act were provisions that no militiaman could be compelled to serve longer than three months; nor could the militia as a whole be continued on active duty thirty days after the commencement of the next session of Congress.

The response of the [Minnesota] volunteer militia was less than gratifying [to the Governor]. The Clearwater Guards held a meeting on April 22. In reply to the query “Will the Guard volunteer its services . . . for a term of three months . . .” the vote was twenty yeas and twenty three nays; eleven members were absent. Similarly, the volunteer militia company near St. Cloud, a German unit, decided against being activated. The members argued that if both they and the regular army troops who had been guarding the frontier left the State, there would be no protection for the settlers from Indian raids.

The companies from Chatfield, Mankato, and New Ulm were also conspicuously absent later at St. Paul. The remaining three companies: the Minnesota Pioneer guard from St. Paul, the St. Anthony Zouaves, and the Stillwater guard, were likewise reluctant to enlist for three months.

The Minnesota Pioneer Guard was the oldest, best known, and at the time thought to be the best trained of the three. Social exclusiveness rather than military efficiency was reflected by the qualifications for membership. As a bona fide member of the Pioneer Guard the recruit could look forward to active participation in 4th of July celebrations, steamboat excursions . . ., and other festive doings. Military activities, while of some significance, were not the primary concern of the company.

Cameron’s [new] directive was determined by a proclamation by Lincoln on May 3 [1861] which called for 42,034 volunteers to serve for three years unless discharged at an earlier date. Lincoln had no authority to issue an executive order requiring men to serve as volunteers for three years. In illegally doing so, he indicated that Congressional approval would be asked for as soon as possible.

Many of the men were hesitant to sign up for the extended term. Few were of the opinion that the war would be a short one. They did not relish the thought of continuing their present mode of living for the next three years. Approximately 600 of the original three-month men signed up for the three-year tour of duty. A total of 345 declined. No company re-enlisted as a single unit. Whether undue pressure was exerted upon the men is difficult to determine.

[A] letter from a member of the Wabasha company to [Lt. Governor Ignatius] Donnelly stated that: “The officers went to work to get the consent of the men. The Col. Gets drunk – rolls out half a dozen kegs of beer, issues orders that clothing shall not be given to those who will not enlist. Those who don’t enlist will be discharged and disgraced . . .”

In addition to the enlistment problem . . . Mage Eustis of Minneapolis and John Lamb of St. Paul negotiated a contract to provide rations for the regiment at a rate of fifty cents per man per day. The first meal on April 29 . . . was satisfactory. Complaining commenced with the breakfast the following morning and eventually resulted in the so-called “bad beef riots.” The men pelted the cooks and the cookhouse with plates along with their contents consisting mainly of foul-smelling beef.”

(The First Minnesota, John Quinn Imholte, Ross and Haines, 1963, excerpts, pp. 6-10; 19-22)

Sherman’s War of Terror

Despite claiming malice toward none and charity for all, the following is what Abraham Lincoln authorized and unleashed upon the American South. Young Jane Dickinson Cowan lived in Sherman’s path near Laurinburg, North Carolina, and later wrote: “My mother had a spoon in which she was mixing medicine for her sick children snatched from her, and she was obliged to mix it in her hand and put it into their mouths with her finger. They pulled the rings from her fingers as she was holding in her lap, and kicked the cradle in which the other one was lying, with the remark, “That one is dead already.”

The unnecessary killing of the animals was most assuredly done to starve the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Sherman’s War of Terror

“Like most Northerners, William T. Sherman profoundly misunderstood Southern “Unionism.” Upon entering North Carolina he issued an order to Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick that the cavalry chief “deal as moderately, and fairly by North Carolinians as possible, and fan the flame of discord already subsisting between them and their proud cousins of South Carolina.

Sherman’s admonition to deal “moderately” was generally ignored, and he must have quickly realized that these people were not about to embrace his Union. “Poor North Carolina will have a hard time,” the general wrote privately after a month in the State, “for we sweep the country like a swarm of locusts. Thousands of people may perish, but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting.”

Monroe and Wadesboro were among the first to “have a hard time” at the hands of Kilpatrick’s troopers. Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, Thomas Atkinson, was threatened with death if he did not give up his watch, horse and possessions. Another Anson County man was robbed of his watch and money, and the next band of Federals to arrive at his home demanded the very same items [and] killed him when he could not produce them.

At a nearby home Yankees chopped furniture to pieces with an axe and scattered feathers from pillows on a bedroom floor and then poured buckets of molasses and stirred thoroughly. Ten wagons filled with unlucky refugees were overtaken and their possessions captured.

Anson County native Esther Alden grieved about the suffering of her neighbors as well over what the Yankees did to the animals:

“It is like some horrid nightmare. When I shut my eyes I see nothing but creatures and human beings in agony. The poor suffering horses! Some fortunately dead and out of their misery, others groaning in death pains, some with disabled limbs freely hobbling about to glean a blade of grass; the cows and oxen slaughtered and left to rot! I counted eight beautiful calves lying dead in one pen; many times we saw two or three lying dead side by side!”

In Fayetteville the Yankees destroyed one thousand horses and mules they had no use for. There were two killing grounds: one a field on the bank of the Cape Fear River, the other a corral in town. It took hours to kill them all. Trying to run, some of the terrified animals plunged into the river. Most were left where they fell, with no effort made by the Federals to dispose of the carcasses as the troops abandoned the town.

A dozen miles outside Fayetteville, at the home of Duncan Murchison, Kilpatrick’s cavalrymen charged into the bedroom of a small girl desperately sick with typhoid. They were looking for items to steal but found nothing . . . Seventy year-old Mr. Murchison was dragged to the swamp and assaulted while vandals destroyed furniture, slashed family portraits, and poured molasses into the piano. The little girl died while the troopers were still in her home. Federal horses left a little uneaten corn on the ground, for that was all the family had to live on after the invaders moved on.”

(War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Walter Brian Cisco, Pelican Publishing Company, 2007, pp. 163-165)

Exporting Revolution and the Rights of Man

The French Revolution unleashed the idea of the Rights of Man and Nations, an unstoppable force which led to the 1848 socialist revolutions in Europe. The latter sent radical German revolutionaries, the “Forty-eighters,” who controlled the powerful German-American press which Lincoln did not ignore in 1860. The Federal host invading the American South included divisions of Germans, Irish, the Red Shirts of Garibaldi, some who had followed the Hungarian revolutionary, Kossuth, and all served Lincoln’s revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Exporting Revolution and the Rights of Man

“The French Revolution was different [than previous revolutions] because it brought into the world and Europe in particular, a new idea, the Rights of Man, and with the Rights of Man went the Rights of Nations. Where previously states had been based on dynastic power they were now based on national existence. In the old days, right up to 1789, the state was simply the property of the ruler . . . Then suddenly there appeared the French people who said, “We are France.”

This was a challenge to all the dynasties of Europe and there was a competition of propaganda and of assertion, with, as the [revolution] developed, first the liberal and then the radical, and then the revolutionary leaders staking out more aggressively the claims of the people of France and in time the claims of others. After all, if France had the right to be a nation . . . this applied to others.

One of the factors which produced the revolutionary war was the provocative declaration which the French legislative assembly made on 19 November 1792, promising help and fraternity to every nation seeking to recover its liberty.

The word recover is curious. Most of the nations had never had their liberty, but it was already a myth that there had been a distant time when peoples had all been free and had then been enslaved by their kings.

Something else was curious about it. Although two great forces, the one of monarchy, of tradition, of conservatism, the other of liberalism and nationalism, were moving against each other, neither of them looked at it in practical terms [and action beyond issuing threats].

Strangely enough, though France was the one threatened [by the other monarchies seeking a restoration of Louis XVI], it was the French revolutionary government which finally plunged into war, declared war – threatened Austria in April 1792, and then actually went to war, though unable to do very much.

Why? Because as one of them said: “The time has come to start a new crusade, a crusade for universal liberty.” When the French revolutionary armies encountered the armies of the old [French] regime and were defeated, the cry arose, as it does in a war, of “Treason.” “We are betrayed.” The very same cry that the French raised in 1940 when they were again defeated.

[As the French revolutionary armies] began to achieve victories, [they] certainly brought liberation from the traditional institutions, liberation from the kings and princes, liberation from the Christian religion. At the same time, they brought demands . . .”After all,” the French said, “We have done the fighting, we have liberated you, we have presented you with the Rights of Man, we not only had to pay the money for these armies, we had actually to do the fighting for you as well. Therefore you must pay us.”

Wherever the armies of liberty went in Europe, they imposed indemnities. They collected so much that there was a time when the French revolutionary wars were practically paying for themselves. Moreover, as the armies grew greater and more powerful, the apprehensions of the civilian politicians in Paris grew greater also.

What they wanted was that these revolutionary armies . . . devoted as they were to liberty and equality and fraternity, should not exert power in Paris itself. As one of the revolutionaries said “We must get these scoundrels to march as far away from France as possible.” Revolution had become something for export.”

(How Wars Begin, A.J.P. Taylor, Atheneum Press, 1979, excerpts pp. 20-33)

The Yankee Rebels of 1815

Not only did New England advance secession from the Union at 1814’s Hartford Convention, but the sharp Yankees found that trading with the enemy was a highly profitable venture.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Yankee Rebels of 1815

Diary Entry: January 9, 1864

“A remarkable parallel is found between the law proposed in our [Confederate] Congress to prevent trade with the enemy and one enacted by the United States Congress in 1815 to stop the Yankees from trading with the British — a business in which New England was largely and constantly engaged. Judge [John A.] Campbell tells me he knew intimately an old gentleman, who lived at that time in the same house with Amos Lawrence and who narrated to him particularly how that . . . Yankee and his brother brought vast quantities of goods from Canada to Lake Champlain in enormous trains of sleighs.

The country was a wilderness and there was small risk of detection, except by those [Yankees] who sympathized with the trade. At the same time, Yankee rebels were carrying supplies to Wellington in Spain under licenses from the British Admiral on the North Atlantic station.

(Inside the Confederate Government, The Diary of Robert Garlick Hill Kean, LSU Press, 1993, pp. 131-132)

Frederick Douglas, Disunionist

Frederick Douglas was an admitted confidant of the murderous John Brown, and fled to Canada after Brown’s 1859 raid to avoid prosecution for his part as an accessory to violent insurrection against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Douglas followed the path of radical abolitionists by fomenting hatred and murder, rather than peaceful and practical efforts to solve the riddle of African slavery established by the British and perpetuated by New England slavers — the ancestors of his new friends up North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Frederick Douglas, Disunionist

“In a letter to the American Slaves from those who have fled from American slavery, “ [Frederick] Douglas asserted, “When the insurrection of the Southern slaves shall take place, as take place it will, unless speedily prevented by voluntary emancipation, the great mass of the colored men of the North, however much to the grief of us, will be found by your side, with deep-stored and long-accumulated revenge in their hearts, and with death-dealing weapons in their hands . . . We tell you these things not to encourage, or justify your resort to physical force; but simply, that you may know, be it your joy or sorrow know it, what your Northern brethren are, in these important respects.”

The vast majority of black New Yorkers supported John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. In New York, leading black abolitionists such as Douglas, Garnet and McCune Smith had been informed of Brown’s plan. After the raid, black abolitionists published some of the most thoughtful justifications of the right to rebellion against Southern slaveholders.

Douglas argued eloquently, “They have by the single act of slave-holding, voluntarily placed themselves beyond the laws of justice and honor, and have become only fitted for companionship with thieves and pirates — the common enemies of God and mankind.”

(Slavery in New York, Ira Berlin and Leslie Harris, editors, The New Press, 2005, pp. 258-259)

 

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