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Foreign-Born Tip the 1860 Election

Crucial to the immigrant vote for Lincoln in the 1860 election was Republican Party support for a Homestead bill, the transcontinental railroad, and not allowing black people into western lands — thus reserving those lands for white immigrants. The foreign-born who had already filled up Middle West States were eager for western lands to settle where government property was still available, which also meant clearing those lands of Indians. Future Republican administrations would accomplish that task. With a bare 39% percent of the popular vote, a lower foreign-born vote could have put Stephen Douglas in the White House and avoided war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Foreign-Born Tip the 1860 Election

“Scholars, particularly those interested in the impact of ethnic groups on key national elections, have long been intrigued by Abraham Lincoln’s victory in 1860. Ever since Professor William E. Dodd’s classic article [The Fight for the Northwest, 1860, American Historical Review, XVI, (1910), 786)] it has been axiomatic in the works of historians that the foreign-born of the Old Northwest, voting in solid blocs according to the dictates of their leaders, cast the decisive ballots.

Lincoln could not have won the presidency, Dodd suggested, “but for the loyal support of the Germans and other foreign citizens led by Carl Shurz, Gustav Keorner, and the editors of the Staatzeitung of Chicago.”

A decade later . . . Donnal V. Smith scrutinized the immigrant vote in 1860 and confidently declared that “without the vote of the foreign-born, Lincoln could not have carried the Northwest, and without the Northwest . . . he would have been defeated.”

Smith’s statistics also confirmed the premise that the social solidarity characteristic of ethnic groups invariably translated itself into political solidarity, and that because of the language barrier the immigrants needed leaders to formulate the political issues for them.

“The leaders who were so trusted,” Smith maintained, “were in a splendid to control the political strength of the foreign-born.” And in the election of 1860, he continued, even to the “casual observer” the ethnic leaders of the Middle West were solidly Republican . . . [and] except for isolated, insignificant minorities, the foreign-born of the Old Northwest voted Republican.

Foreign language newspapers generally carried the Lincoln-Hamlin banner of their mastheads; prominent immigrants campaigned actively for Old Abe and played key roles at the Chicago convention.”

(The Ethnic Voter and the First Lincoln Election, Robert P. Swierenga, Civil War History, Volume 11, No. 1, March 1965, excerpts, pp. 27-28)

Jun 4, 2017 - Foreign Viewpoints, Hatred of the American South, Lincoln Revealed, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Culture Laid Bare, Race and the North    Comments Off on Seward Declares the War Not Over Slavery

Seward Declares the War Not Over Slavery

Observers in Europe saw the North’s war upon the South as nothing more than conquest from the beginning, and especially as the Republican Party expressed its intention of only saving the Union. When Lincoln announced his proclamation regarding slavery in 1863, it was seen as simply a newer version of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation in November 1775, and Sir Alexander Cochrane’s in 1814 – all desperate actions with the intention of inciting race war in the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Seward Declares the War Not Over Slavery

“For years the Old South had been close to Great Britain in both business and society, and it was easy to see in the Southern planters an equivalent of the English gentry. British aristocrats like the Marquis of Lothian, the Marquis of Bath, Lord Robert Cecil, and Lord Wharncliffe thought that the success of the Confederacy would give a much-needed check to democracy, both in America and in Europe.

More liberal Englishmen, too, could favor the South, supposing its desire to escape Northern “tyranny” was something comparable to the fulfillment of Italian and German national aspirations. The character of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy inspired respect abroad, and the chivalric bearing of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson enlisted the Englishman’s deepest admiration.

At first it seemed that the North muffed every opportunity to enlist British support. Already fearful of Northern economic competition, which threatened the supremacy of the British merchant marine and challenged the pre-eminence of British manufactures, the English middle classes were alienated when the Republicans adopted the Morrill tariff of 1861.

Northern appeals to British idealism were undercut when [Secretary of State William] Seward, early in the war, explicitly declared that the conflict was not being waged over slavery and would not disturb the South’s peculiar institution.

Even a staunch friend of the Union like the Duke of Argyll was obliged to conclude “that the North is not entitled to claim all the sympathy which belongs to a cause which they do not avow; and which is promoted only as an indirect consequence of a contest which (on their side at least) is waged for other objects, and on other grounds.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall, D.C. Heath and Company, 1969, pp. 356-357)

The Unknown Tongues of Lincoln’s Army

With some of the North’s major cities boasting nearly 50% foreign populations, many drawn into Lincoln’s armies spoke little or no English and had little comprehension of original American political ideals and history. New York City itself in 1860 held nearly 400,000 foreigners out of a total of 805,000, with Irishmen and Germans amounting to 323,000 of that total number. Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward, actively recruited in Ireland, England and Germany; by 1864 nearly one-quarter of the Northern army was German-speaking.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Unknown Tongues of Lincoln’s Army

“Probably no war has ever been fought in modern times . . . [which has] drawn men in whom justice burns brightly – knights errant; and no war has ever been fought to which have not gravitated men to whom fighting was as the breath of life – soldiers of fortune. Europe poured into the Union army hundreds of her best artillery, cavalry, and infantry officers.

Perhaps no better picture of the situation in regard to these adventurers is to be found than the one presented by the English journalist William Howard Russell. Writing on August 4, 1861, he said:

“There are daily arrivals at Washington of military adventurers from all parts of the world, some of them with many extraordinary certificates and qualifications; but, as Mr. Seward says, it is best to detain them with the hope of employment on the Northern side, lest some legally good men should get among the rebels.

Garibaldians, Hungarians, Poles, officers of Turkish and other contingents, the executory devises and reminders of European revolutions and wars, surround the State Department, and infest unsuspecting politicians with illegible testimonials in unknown tongues.”

There can be no question but that Seward approved and sought the enrollment of trained European officers in the undisciplined and raw American army. Through the American consuls abroad and through agents expressly sent to Europe, Seward encouraged war-eager officers of the Old World to cross the sea to find the fighting for which their souls thirsted.

[General George] McClellan received from General George Klapka, who had distinguished himself in the Hungarian [socialist] revolutionary army of 1849, a communication in which that Hungarian leader revealed that he had been invited by one of Seward’s agents to enter the Union army. Klapka was indeed ready to come, but shamelessly stipulated such conditions in his letter sent McClellan storming to President Lincoln, furiously demanding prohibition of such dabbling in military affairs by the Secretary of State.

As a matter of wonder and interest it should be recorded that Klapka demanded merely advance payment of a bonus of $100,000, a later salary of $25,000 a year, for a short period the position of chief of general staff, and later, after he had acquired a greater facility with the English language, appointment to McClellan’s place as general in chief of all armies!

How many German and Austrian officers were sought out through Seward’s agents cannot be established. Seward felt that volunteers should not be refused because they could not speak English.”

(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, excerpts, pp. 273-274)

May 14, 2017 - Foreign Viewpoints, Memorials to the Past    Comments Off on The Tao on Historic Places

The Tao on Historic Places

Loosely meaning “the way” or “the path,” Taosim originated in prehistoric China and has exerted a strong influence over Chinese thinking for ages. During China’s cultural revolution of 1966-1976, many Taoist temples were desecrated and monks sent to hard labor camps. Nonetheless, the Taoist view of historic places and memorials to the past resonate today.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Tao on Historic Places

“Autumn trees swept with dawn,

Look as if they’ve been lacquered,

Rooted around an old battlefield,

The mists linger here like ghosts.”

There are still places where you can walk and feel a profound gloom. Such is the case with old battlefields. People died there. The force of their determination still resonates.

You can find such places in every country. Often, no one builds anything there, even when land is dear. We say that we do not want to forget our dead. We say there should be a memorial. Others say that the disturbance there is so great that the living cannot abide with the dead.

History is essential to our understanding of the present. Unless we are conscious of the way in which we came to this point in time as a people, then we shall never fully be able to plan the present and the future. We need to know what roots are still alive.

We need to know how things came to be so that we can project from here. We also need to know the failures of the past so that we can avoid repeating them.

History is not always glorious. Sometimes our history is melancholy. We must accept that. This life is terrible and people do terrible things to each other. If we are to live for the sake of the good and strong, then we should have as much of a background as possible.”

(365 Tao, Daily Meditations, Deng Ming-Dao, Harper San Francisco, 1992, pg. 278)

 

May 7, 2017 - Antebellum Realities, Foreign Viewpoints, New England History, Northern Culture Laid Bare, Sharp Yankees    Comments Off on Sly, Grinding, Selfish and Tricking People

Sly, Grinding, Selfish and Tricking People

This detached foreign opinion of antebellum New Englanders reveals the deep cultural chasm between the sections in antebellum times, and somewhat persistent to this day as the North has nearly accomplished its avowed postwar purpose of repopulating the South with its people, mannerisms and traditions.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Sly, Grinding, Selfish and Tricking People

“I heard an Englishman, who had been long resident in America, declare that in the following, in meeting, or in overtaking, in the street, on the road, or in the field, at the theatre, the coffee-house, or the home, he had never overheard Americans conversing without the word DOLLAR being pronounced between them. Such unity of purpose, such sympathy of feeling, can, I believe, be found nowhere else, except perhaps in an ant’s nest.

The result is exactly what might be anticipated. This sordid object, forever before their eyes, must inevitably produce a sordid tone of mind, and, worse still, it produces a seared and blunted conscience on all questions of probity. I know not a more striking evidence of the low tone of morality which is generated by this universal pursuit of money than the manner in which the New England States are described by Americans.

All agree in saying that they present a spectacle of industry and prosperity delightful to behold, and this is the district and the population most constantly quoted as the finest specimen of their admirable country; yet I never met a single individual in any part of the Union who did not paint these New Englanders as sly, grinding, selfish, and tricking.

The Yankees (as the New Englanders are called) will avow these qualities themselves with a complacent smile, and boast that no people on earth can match them in over-reaching in a bargain. I have heard them unblushingly relate stories of their cronies and friends, which, if believed among us, would banish the heroes from the fellowship of honest men forever . . . yet the Americans declare that “they are the most moral persons on earth.”

(America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, editor, Oxford University Press, 1948, excerpt, pp. 136-137)

 

May 7, 2017 - America Transformed, Foreign Viewpoints, Recurring Southern Conservatism, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on The South is America’s Hope

The South is America’s Hope

Count Herman Keyserling (1880-1946) was born in Estonia and married the granddaughter of Otto von Bismarck. He was an aristocrat who interested himself in philosophy and the natural sciences; Keyserling deeply believed that gifted individuals were born to rule.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South is America’s Hope

“Count Herman Keyserling, philosopher and psychologist, world traveler and author, writes in the November Atlantic Monthly that the South is the hope of America, and proceeds, from the philosopher’s and ethnologist’s standpoint, to prove his assertion.

Count Keyserling sets up the contention that the theory of the North and East is that success comes through dynamics, through working feverishly; that if one only works a little harder, one will be more successful.

The Southerner, upon the other hand, fulfills the dictum that man is essentially the child of the earth, even though he rules it; that the Southerner realizes that there is no lasting happiness for man unless he is in harmony with the rhythm of the earth and that the only state that can endure is one which is comparatively static. That is, the restless, feverish dynamic state is apt to fade from the earth.

Alexander and Napoleon were vanquished; the Huns died out in a short while; the Normans overran Europe and even England, but the Norman culture was absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon culture of England, and the Angles and Saxons predominate to-day in England. It is not, therefore, the feverish and restless people who predominate in the end, but the more static people. “Speed is not an expression of strength and vitality,” it is an expression “merely of neurotic restlessness.”

The Northerner will continue to exist, Count Keyserling grants, but “in days to come he will be recognized as the poorest, the least superior type; he will mean to America at large what the most narrow type of Prussian means within the German nation. The Middle West will in all likelihood continue to represent America’s national foundation. But if a culture develops and the stress is laid on culture, then the hegemony will invariably pass over to the South. There alone can there be a question of an enduring culture.” (Macon Telegraph)

In this compliment to the South there is much for sober thought. There is a strong movement to commercialize the South, to create here the same money-seeking atmosphere, to change her distinctiveness into a likeness of other sections, in fact, to destroy those characteristics upon which our “culture” depends. Such effort should be combated and the South should remain distinctive among the sections. In that is distinction and culture and hope for the future.”

(“The South – America’s Hope,” Confederate Veteran Magazine, February, 1930, pp. 63-64)

Lincoln Feared Re-election Loss

Rudolf Mathias Schleiden was Minister to the US from the Bremen Republic from 1853 through the War Between the States. He reported to his government on February 26 [1861] that “like a thief in the night, the future President arrived here [Washington] on the morning of the 23rd.” Schleiden offered to mediate the coming conflict, but met indifference and resistance at Washington.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln Feared Re-election Loss

“Immediately upon arriving in Richmond, Schleiden wrote to Vice President [Alexander H.] Stephens asking for an interview, to which the latter replied that he would be happy to see him immediately. During the course of a confidential talk which lasted for three hours Stephens declared that he believed all attempts to settle peacefully the differences between the two sections were futile.

“The actions of Seward and Lincoln had filled the South with suspicion,” Stephens said, “but neither the Government at Montgomery nor the authorities of Virginia contemplated an attack on Washington. Public opinion was embittered against the United States because of its strengthening of Fort Pickens and Fort Monroe, and the destruction of the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and the navy yard at Norfolk . . . ”

In a formal letter written after the conference Schleiden asked for a frank statement of the terms which the South would be ready to grant and accept for the purpose of securing the maintenance peace and gaining time for reflection. To this letter Stephens replied, stating that the Government of the Confederacy had resorted to every honorable means to avoid war, and that if the United States had any desire to adjust amicably the question at issue it should indicate a willingness in some authoritative way to the South.

However, he added . . . ”it seems to be their policy to wage a war for the recapture of former possessions looking to the ultimate coercion and subjugation of the people of the Confederate States to their power and domain. With such an object on their part persevered in, no power on earth can arrest or prevent a most bloody conflict.”

The reelection of Lincoln was almost unanimously predicted by the diplomatic corps in January 1864. In February Schleiden mentioned in a dispatch that Lincoln said to Judge Thomas, of Massachusetts, that he would be satisfied if his successor was elected from the Republican Party. If that did not take place the President feared that he would spend the rest of his life in jail for repeated violations of the Constitution. About this time [Salmon P.] Chase remarked to Schleiden that the war would never end so long as Lincoln was president.”

(Rudolf Schleiden and the Visit to Richmond, April 25, 1861, Ralph Haswell Lutz, American Historical Association Annual Report, 1915, Washington, 1917, pp. 212-216)

Apr 30, 2017 - Foreign Viewpoints, Slavery Comes to America, Slavery Worldwide, Uncategorized    Comments Off on An Early Canadian Slave Transaction

An Early Canadian Slave Transaction

The erroneous belief in today’s popular culture that the American South was the only region in North America tainted by African slavery is contradicted by Carter Woodson’s writings. He states “[In] my article on “The Slave in Canada,” printed in The Journal of Negro History for July, 1920, (Vol. V, No. 3), several instances of Negro slavery in Canada were given. The latest is mentioned in Le Bulletin des Recherches Historiques for October, 1927, (Vol. XXXIII, No. 10), at p. 584. I translate it from the French the article referred to.”  Additionally, while Michigan was still a territory, complaints of Canadian slaves escaping across the border into Michigan were common.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

An Early Canadian Slave Transaction

“Honorable William Renwick Riddell, Justice of Appeal, Ontario.

In July, 1748, Jean-Pierre Roma, Commandant for the (French) King at the island of St. Jean (now Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence), on his passage to Quebec, made a singular gift to his friend, Fleury de la Gorgendiere, (the younger). He gave him a mulatto girl, five months old and named Marie.

The gift made to Mr. Fleury de la Gorgendiere is explained by the fact that the mother of the child, the slave of Roma, died in giving it birth. Roma not being able to charge himself with raising the orphan, preferred to give it to M. Fleury de la Gorgendiere.

The deed of gift was drawn up by the Notary, Jean-Claude Panet, July 15, 1748; and in it is the stipulation that in case of the death of Fleury and his wife, the mulatto will return Mdll. Roma (her grandmother). If she cannot take her it is stipulated that she will receive her freedom.

Such sales of the creatures of God may seem curious – they were, however, according to the customs of the time and were made almost in every country.”

(Journal of Negro History, Carter G. Woodson, editor, Vol. XIII, No. 2, April, 1928, page 207)

Apr 16, 2017 - Foreign Viewpoints, Historians on History, Historical Accuracy    Comments Off on The Historian’s Only Source of Value

The Historian’s Only Source of Value

“Reading contemporary accounts brings home the fact that of any battle or campaign there are at least four different versions.

One is that of those who fought in it; two is of the generals who commanded in it; three is of those who reported on it at the time and made what they could of a mass of confused and often misleading information; and four is the version of those who had a theory about it and reported those facts which happened to fit the version they were trying to portray.

Of all these sources the first and second are the ones which are given least credence because their authors are probably unskilled in literary matters. But for the historian they are the only source of value.”

(The Crimean War, A Reappraisal; Philip Warner, Wordsworth Editions, 2001 (original, 1972), pg. 2)

Mar 26, 2017 - America Transformed, Carnage, Foreign Viewpoints, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy    Comments Off on A Northern Tomb at Fredericksburg

A Northern Tomb at Fredericksburg

Prussian Major Heros von Borcke accompanied Gen. JEB Stuart as the latter observed Northern soldiers burying their dead after Burnside’s disaster at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Von Borcke expressed shock at the rough manner in which Northern soldiers handled their dead, watching corpses being tossed into a nearby abandoned ice house pit “until the solid mass of human flesh had reached near the surface, when a covering of logs, chalk and mud closed the mouth of this vast and awful tomb.” To the Prussian officer, it seemed as if the Federal were more interested in doing the job quickly than doing it well. Had he been appalled at the carnage in late 1862 as Americans slaughtered each other, Lincoln might have called for an armistice and peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Northern Tomb at Fredericksburg

“On December 15, 1862, two days after Fredericksburg, [Gen. Ambrose] Burnside, his units having crossed back across the Rappahannock, asked Lee’s permission to remove his dead from the battlefield. The manner in which they performed their duties caused many of Lee’s soldiers to believe that what they were seeing before their eyes revealed another seamy side of the Yankee character, by their treating their fallen comrades, “these brave soldiers,” as one Gray observer termed them, like so many lumps of inert matter, dumping them into common graves “without even a blanket or words of prayer.”

Different in appearance but representing the same lack of feeling was an abandoned ice house, which the grave diggers converted into a “vast and awful tomb.” (Opened months later it revealed within a ghastly “hecatomb of skeletons.”)

These acts of desecration completed, the bulk of the Northerners disappeared, their pickets on the north side of the river about the only evidence of their presence nearby.”

(wha hae wi [Pender] . . . bled, A.L. Diket, Vantage Press, 1979, excerpt, pg. 106)

 

 

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