Browsing "Equality"

The Union League of the Republican Party

In the midst of the mostly inflammatory influence of the Republican’s Union League upon the freedmen, the Ku Klux Klan emerged in the immediate postwar. To underscore the Union League’s destructiveness, an 1870 Congressional Committee report provided this indictment of Republican rule over the conquered South: “[The] hatred of the white race was instilled [by the League] into the minds of these ignorant people by every art and vile that bad men could devise; when the Negroes were formed into military organizations and the white people of these States were denied the use of arms; when arson, rape, robbery and murder were things of daily occurrence, . . . and that what little they had saved from the ravages of war was being confiscated by taxation . . . many of them took the law into their own hands and did deeds of violence which we neither justify or excuse. But all history shows that bad government will make bad citizens.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Union League of the Republican Party

“The nocturnal secrecy of the gatherings, the weird initiation ceremonies, the emblems of virtue and religion, the songs, the appeal to such patriotic shibboleths as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Flag, and the Union, the glittering platitudes in the interest of social uplift — all these characteristics of the League had an irresistible appeal to a ceremony-loving, singing, moralistic and loyal race. That the purposes of the order, when reduced to the practical, meant that the Negro had become the emotional and intellectual slaves of the white Radical did not dull the Negro’s enthusiasm, he was accustomed to be a slave to the white man” [South Carolina During Reconstruction, Simkins & Woody, page 7].

The Union League gave the freedmen their first experience in parliamentary law and debating . . . the members were active in the meetings, joining in the debate and prone to heckle the speakers with questions and points of order. Observers frequently reported the presence of rifles at political rallies, usually stacked in a clump of bushes behind the speaker’s platform, sometimes the womenfolk left to guard them.

In the autumn of 1867, a League chapter made up mostly of blacks, but with a white president named Bryce, was holding a meeting with its usual armed sentries on the perimeter. When a poor white named Smith tried to enter the meeting, shots were fired; there followed a general alarm and, subsequently, a melee with a white debating club nearby. The Negroes rushed out; Smith fled, hotly pursued to the schoolhouse; the members of the debating club broke up in a panic and endeavored to escape; a second pistol was fired and a boy of fourteen named Hunnicutt, the son of a respectable [white] citizen, fell dead.

[Carpetbagger John W. De Forest wrote]: “The Negroes, unaware apparently that they had done anything wrong, believing, on the contrary, that they were re-establishing public order and enforcing justice, commenced patrolling the neighborhood, entering every house and arresting numbers of citizens. They marched in double file, pistol in belt and gun at the shoulder, keeping step to the “hup, hup!” of a fellow called Lame Sam, who acted as drill sergeant and commander. By noon of the next day they had the country for miles around in their power, and the majority of the male whites under their guard.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 29-32)

 

Pennsylvanian Happy as a Private

The North’s version of the war includes the myth of fighting to free the black man and the attendant stories of equality. More often than not, the Northern troops had little use for the Negro other than menial laborers and guards; officers for the colored troops were normally found only among radical abolitionist officers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Pennsylvanian Happy as a Private

“On August 16, 1862, in the battle of Deep River Run, Virginia, Company F of the 85th Pennsylvania assaulted and drove the Confederates from their entrenchments, and Ed Leonard, of said company, had fired at the retreating color bearer, who was unknown to him.

When his gun was empty, he ordered the ensign to halt, which he refused to do. He threw his gun at him thinking he would knock him down with it;  but he was just far enough away for the gun to turn once, and the bayonet went through the body of the color bearer, killing him.

Leonard picked up the flagstaff, tore the flag from it, and concealed it about his person, intending to send it home; but it was discovered and he was required to turn it into headquarters. For this act of bravery Leonard was commissioned a captain. When he was assigned to his command, he found it was a Negro company; he returned the commission and went back to his company as a private.”

“Wouldn’t Command Negroes in Service,” W.T. Rogers, Knoxville, Tennessee; Confederate Veteran Magazine, May 1912, page 213)

Heart of the Race Relations Problem

The disruption of Southern race relations by federal authorities, the Supreme Court and imported agitators, has done more harm than good, according to author William D. Workman, Jr. He writes that “In many respects, the refusal of the North to leave the South alone has had a harmful effect upon the very individuals about whom the Northerners profess most concern – that is, the Southern Negro.” As they “helped” the Southern Negro, they also ruined his good relations with the white neighbors he had to live with.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Heart of the Race Relations Problem

“More [problems] can be expected in the future if Northern integrationists, with or without political backing, continue to pillory the white South under the guise of helping the black South.

Meanwhile, the harried Southern Negro, who may or may not agree with the fulminations made in his behalf, stands to lose more than he gains. In most of the South, he is now possessed of all the purely legal rights which are coming his way, and continued agitation from the North can add little to his political status . . . [and] On the other hand, and this has become quite apparent in the last few years, the Negro becomes – willingly or unwillingly – the object of the white Southerner’s resentment.

Basically, the white Southerner has little quarrel with his Negro neighbor, and frankly despises the Northern propagandists – including the Supreme Court of the United States – with far greater intensity than is ever directed toward the Negro.

When the Northerner preaches the “brotherhood of man,” the Southerner calls for “freedom of association” and proceeds to sever longstanding ties which formerly linked him amicably with his Negro fellow-Southerners.

The net result is that the Northern action brings about almost the reverse reaction from that desired. Instead of bringing Southern whites and Negroes closer together, it drives them farther apart since, in the eyes of the white Southerner, the Negro is identified with those forces which seek to pillory and persecute the South.

The heart of the problem lies in the achievement of community acceptance of whatever pattern of race relations seems best for that community. [Where] there is not acceptance, no amount of pressure – federal, religious, or otherwise – will bring about a satisfactory situation. The matter of race relations is too close a thing . . . and not a thing to be handled by impersonal formula and governmental edict . . . .

In the years preceding the Supreme Court decision of 1954, and in a diminishing degree since then, Southern communities were making notable progress in the expansion of not only racial amity but of bi-racial achievement. The pressures which have built up following the desegregation decision, however, tended in large measure to “freeze” things as they were, and indeed in many cases to undo the good that had been accomplished by slow, patient work over the years.

Florida’s Gov. LeRoy Collins had this to say on March of 1956:

“For as long as I can remember, the Florida A&M [Negro] University choir on Sunday afternoons has held vesper services open to the general public. Many white citizens have over the years attended these concerts with great admiration for the excellence of these Negro voices singing the spirituals of their race. But this has almost completely stopped, I am advised. The singing still goes on each Sunday, and it is as good as it has ever been, but there are no longer white listeners. Fear of being labeled integrationists has intimidated them into staying away . . .

These things don’t make good sense but they are happening nevertheless. They signal not just a halt in the advancement of good race relations, but actually a decided move backward. They show the insidious results when our people are pulled by one side or the other into the fighting pit of the extremists . . . “

(The Case For the South, William D. Workman, Jr., Devin-Adair, 1960, pp. 134-138)

Revolutionary Indemnity Deja Vu

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, and some who had followed the Hungarian revolutionary, Kossuth.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Revolutionary Indemnity Deja Vu

“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)

Jackson's Centralized Popular Democracy

Andrew Jackson, the leveling-democrat, set in motion the elevation of the federal agent above its creators. His view that a common and even unfit man could ascend to the presidency predictably misled many others into believing the same. With the Founding generation in their graves, the democracy they feared would transform the republic they wrought.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jackson’s Centralized Popular Democracy

“Last of the Revolutionary generation to hold the Presidency, the last chief to wear a queue and smallclothes, was the self-effacing Virginian, James Monroe. [Andrew] Jackson, duelist, frontiersman, romantic lover, had no illusions about his abilities. “Do they think I am such a damned fool as to consider myself fit for the Presidency?”

But like other military heroes, before and since, he was drafted into the job. He had been a hero in the old Creek War, living on scorns and holding off mutiny with oaths and an unloaded rifle. He had been a fourteen-year-old soldier of the Revolution, watching the slaughter of the Battle of Camden through the logs of a prison stockade.

He was the peoples’ president. It was under Jackson, not Lincoln, that our modern, centralized popular democracy was born. Jackson first gave the laboring man a voice and vote in the ranks of the Democratic party.

Jackson, in his war with the United States Bank, dramatically demonstrated that the power of Big Business could only be countered by big government in Washington.

Jackson called the bluff on the belief of the Southern Nullifiers that the power of a State was superior to that of the general government. Jackson himself was living proof of Jefferson’s doctrine of the natural aristocracy. Yet he perverted that doctrine. He failed to see the genius in himself. He felt that if he, a common man, could handle the Presidency, so could any other common man.

This was a belief highly-acceptable to the proponents of all-out majority rule. It marked the start of the lowering and leveling process which eventually tainted all national leadership, education and mass entertainment. Not since Jackson’s time has the goal of “Jeffersonian democracy” been to ferret out the natural leadership. Instead, the aim has been to prove literally that all men are equal, and to press all down into a single mold of conformity.”

(The Molders, Margaret L. Coit, This Is the South, Robert West Howard, editor. Rand McNally, 1959, pp. 92-93)

 

Equality and Corporate Tricks

Few Gilded Age tycoons had ever studied economics and all might be described as graduates of the school of hard knocks – but all knew the theories of supply and demand, law of diminishing returns and that bad money drives out bad. They assumed that any man was motivated by the selfish love of gain and most believed in competition, theoretically, and unless bribed government officials could be used to handicap the competition. Grant’s postwar administration of corrupt and bought politicians led the way into the Gilded Age.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Equality and Corporate Tricks

“Nobody expounded the folly of tampering with the laws of economics more eloquently than Yale’s great teacher of political economy, the dynamic William Graham Sumner. In his book What Social Classes Owe to Each Other, published in 1883, he had put the reformers to rout.

“The yearning after equality,” he had written, “”is the offspring of envy and covetousness, and there is no possible plan for satisfying that yearning which can do aught else than rob A to give to B; consequently all such plans nourish some of the meanest vices of human nature, waste capital, and overthrow civilization.”

This emphatically did not mean that Sumner was opposed to a better life for everybody. On the contrary, as a man of high and generous principle – he had begun his working life as a clergyman – he was heartily in favor of it. But he believed in the wider extension of opportunity, not in changing the rules under which business was conducted. He argued that:

“[Instead] of endeavoring to redistribute acquisitions which have been made between the existing classes, our aim should be to increase, multiply, and extend the chances. Such is the work of civilization. Every improvement in education, science, art or government expands the chances of man on earth. Such expansion is no guarantee of equality. On the contrary, if there be liberty, some will profit by the chances eagerly and some will neglect them altogether. Therefore, the greater the chances, the more unequal will be the fortune of these two sets of men. So it ought to be, in all justice and right reason.”

Sumner would not have argued that there were not some ways in which legislation could protect the economically helpless. But he thought that most reform legislation was conceived in ignorance and drafted in folly.

“You need not think it necessary,” he would tell his Yale classes, “to have Washington exercise a political providence over the country. God has done that a good deal better by the laws of political economy.”

The irony of the situation lay in the fact that for generations men have been tinkering with economic law to their own advantage, and in the process had produced institutions which were emphatically not God’s work – as most of Sumner’s hearers presumably supposed them to be – but man’s.

The corporation, for instance, was not an invention of God’s. It was an invention of man’s. It was a creature of the state . . . [and] one of the great inventions of the nineteenth century . . . Yet by taking adroit advantage of the legislative acts which defined its privileges, one could play extraordinary tricks with it. Corporate devices could be used to permit A to rob B – or, let us say, more charitably, to permit A to drain off all the gravy in sight and leave none for B.

It was largely as a result of the discovery of tricks that could be played with corporations, and particularly with their capital stock, that the wealth produced in such a tremendous spate at the turn of the century flowed in large proportion into a few well-placed hands.”

(The Big Change, America Transforms Itself, 1900-1950, Frederick Lewis Allen, Harper & Brothers, 1952, pp. 67-69)

Civil Rights and Extending Executive Power

Barry Goldwater called so-called “civil rights” one of the most badly misunderstood concepts in modern political usage. He states that “as often as not, it is simply a name for describing an activity that someone deems politically or socially desirable. A sociologist writes a paper proposing to abolish some inequity, or a politician makes a speech about it – and, behold, a new “civil right” is born! The Supreme Court has displayed the same creative powers.”  Below, George Wallace predicts the true result of a so-called “civil rights” bill.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Civil Rights and Extending Executive Power

“I took off for my western tour in January 1964. I called the civil rights bill “the involuntary servitude act of 1964,” and I was applauded frequently. Outside a line of pickets carried the usual signs.

A reporter from India began to attack the South and its customs. He did not ask questions, he made accusations. I stopped him promptly. “I suggest you go home to India and work to end the rigid caste system before you criticize my part of the United States. In India a higher caste will not even deign to shake hands with a lower caste. Yet you cannot see the hypocrisy in your double standard.”

It was at UCLA that I told the press, “You know, free speech can get you killed.” My security advisors had warned me that I would have a difficult time and probably wouldn’t be allowed to finish my speech. We entered the auditorium from the rear to avoid a confrontation with the “non-violent” protesters. These “free-speech” advocates were there to make certain I didnt have an opportunity to exercise my right to free speech.

As I expected, most of the students had never read the [proposed] civil rights bill and didn’t know that its passage meant the right of the federal government to control numerous aspects of business, industry and our personal lives. I quoted Lloyd Wright, a Los Angeles attorney and former president of the American Bar Association: “The civil rights aspect of this legislation is but a cloak. Uncontrolled federal executive power is the body. It is 10 per cent civil rights and 90 per cent extension of the federal executive power.”

I denounced lawmaking by executive or court edict. And I lashed out against the press for its eagerness to bury a public official with smearing propaganda. I pointed out that the civil rights bill placed “in the hands of a few men in central government the power to create regulatory police arm unequaled in Western civilization.”

During one of my speaking engagements, a reporter asked me, “Do you have an alternative to the civil rights bill? This was an easy one. “Yes sir, the U.S. Constitution. It guarantees civil rights to all people, without violating the rights of anyone.”

I believe George Washington would have had words to say about the civil rights bill and the growing power of the federal government. These words from his Farewell Address are significant today:

“It is important, likewise, that [leaders] should confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of those powers of one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”

(Stand Up For America, George C. Wallace, Doubleday & Company, 1976, pp. 84-89)

Fleeing Northern Race Prejudice

To quell the fears of Northerners who envisioned emancipated slaves flooding their way in search of employment and wages, Northern leaders began advancing theories. Giving the freedmen political control of the defeated South would “drain the northern Negroes back to the South” as they fled northern race prejudice. Lincoln and other Republicans advanced ideas of colonization; Grant as president gave serious thought to deporting freedmen to Haiti.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Fleeing Northern Race Prejudice

“As the war for the union began to take on the character of a war for freedom, northern attitudes toward the Negro paradoxically began to harden rather than soften. This hardening process was especially prominent in the northwestern or middle western States where the old fear of Negro invasion was intensified by apprehensions that once the millions of slaves below the Ohio River were freed they would push northward – this time by the thousands and tens of thousands, perhaps in mass exodus, instead of in driblets of one or two who came furtively as fugitive slaves.

The prospect of Negro immigration, Negro neighbors, and Negro competition filled the whites with alarm, and their spokesmen voiced their fears with great candor. “There is,” [Illinois Senator] Lyman Trumbull told the Senate, in April, 1862, “a very great aversion in the West – I know it to be so in my State – against having free negroes come among us.”

And about the same time [Senator] John Sherman, who was to give his name to the Radical Reconstruction Act five years later, told Congress that in Ohio “we do not like negroes. We do not disguise our dislike. As my friend from Indiana [Congressman Joseph A. Wright] said yesterday, the whole people of the northwestern States are, for reasons correct or not, opposed to having many negroes among them and the principle or prejudice has been engrafted in the legislation of nearly all the northwestern States.”

So powerful was this anti-Negro feeling that it almost overwhelmed antislavery feeling and seriously imperiled the passage of various confiscation and emancipation laws designed to free the slave. To combat the opposition Republican leaders such as George W. Julian of Indiana, Albert G. Riddle of Ohio, and Salmon P. Chase advanced the theory that emancipation would actually solve northern race problems.

Instead of starting a mass migration of freedmen northward, they argued, the abolition of slavery would not only put a stop to the entry of fugitive slaves but would drain the northern Negroes back to the South. Once slavery [was] ended, the Negro would flee northern race prejudice and return to his natural environment and the congenial climate of the South.

One tentative answer of the Republican party to the northern fear of Negro invasion, however, was deportation of the freedmen and colonization abroad . . . the powerful backing of President Lincoln and the support of western Republicans, Congress overcame [any] opposition. Lincoln was committed to colonization not only as a solution to the race problem but as a means of allaying northern opposition to emancipation and fears of Negro exodus.

(Seeds of Failure in Radical Race Policy, C. Vann Woodward, New Frontiers of the American Reconstruction, Harold M. Hyman, editor, pp. 126-129)

Free Soil Iowa Without Black People

The free soil and anti-slavery mantras of the prewar Republican party meant confining the black man to the South and reserving the western territories to European immigrants who did not want to compete with cheap labor. Lincoln and his fellow Republicans felt that the best use of the territories was “for homes of free white people”; Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois admitted the white supremacy basis of his party, stating that “We, the Republican party, are the white man’s party.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Free Soil Iowa Without Black People

“It is surprising that so many forceful anti-Negro views could be aired on the frontier and yet escape the scrutiny of so many historians. At the constitutional conventions of almost every western State, the single most pressing question was the admission or status of the black population. “Shall the territories be Africanized?” was the way Senator James Harlan of Iowa phrased it.

Both proslavery and antislavery delegates vied with each other in verbalizing their resentment of black people, and their insistence that equality was entirely unacceptable to white residents of the States. Some even jeopardized their State’s admission to the Union by offering anti-Negro laws that were in clear violation of the wishes of Congress. And, as the slavery controversy grew and civil war appeared more imminent, colorphobia increased in the western States.

The 1850 Indiana Constitutional Convention illustrated the fury of this colorphobia. One delegate argued:

“. . . that we can never live together upon an equality is as certain as that no two antagonistic principles can exist together at the same time.”

Comments at the 1844 Iowa Constitutional Convention [were]:

“We could never consent to open the doors of our beautiful State and invite [the black] to settle our lands.”

“The ballot box would fall into his hands and a train of evils would follow that would be incalculable.”

“The Negro not being a party to the government, has no right to partake of its privileges.”

“There are strong reasons to induce the belief that the two races could not exist in the same government upon an equality without discord and violence.”

[The Iowa Journal of History, Vol. I]

(The Black West, William Loren Katz, Open Hand Publishing, 1987, pp. 49-50)

Jefferson's Debatable Equality

Jefferson’s idealistic preamble passage regarding “all men are created equal” has been problemmatic though most agree that creation is where the equality ends — subsequent political equality is established by men.  Regarding the status of blacks at the time of the Constitution being ratifed, Chief Justice Taney found in his Dred Scott decision that Africans were indeed persons but not included in “the political people” of the United States and without standing as citizens. New York’s 1821 suffrage requirement for blacks mentioned below is considered by many to be the origin of “Jim Crow Laws.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jefferson’s Debatable Equality

“In one matter [of antebellum views of democracy] there was a definite reactionary movement. This was the issue of free Negro suffrage. Virginia and North Carolina joined Maryland and Kentucky in taking from the free Negro the ballot he had theretofore possessed. In like manner, all new States of the period, North as well as South, denied suffrage to free Negroes.

The action of the old Southern States was paralleled by that of the Northern States. Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania took the ballot from the Negro. And New York in 1821 limited Negro suffrage by requiring that he possess a freehold valued at two hundred and fifty dollars over and above all indebtedness. Hence only five of the Northern States granted equal suffrage to Negroes.

Whether or not Jefferson, Mason, and other Revolutionary proponents of natural rights philosophy intended to include Negroes in the statement “all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights” is a debatable question, but in actual practice the American people had decided by their constitutional provisions that Negroes were not included in the political people. From the very day of the Declaration of Independence the race problem had caused the American people to make an exception to the doctrine that “all men are created equal.”

(Fletcher M. Green, Democracy in the Old South, paper written for the 1945 Southern Historical Association presidential address. The Pursuit of Southern History, George Brown Tindall, editor, LSU Press, 1964, pp. 186-187)

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