Browsing "Foreign Viewpoints"
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)

 

 

Skeleton at the Feast

Confederate Lieutenant-General Richard “Dick” Taylor was a Kentuckian and son of President Zachary Taylor, who arranged the surrender of Southern forces under his command in Alabama in 1865. At the truce convention, General Taylor received a stern lecture on the error of striking for political independence from a recently-arrived and high-ranking German mercenary.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Skeleton at the Feast

“Intelligence of the Johnston-Sherman convention [at Durham, North Carolina] reached us, and [Northern Gen. Edward] Canby and I were requested by the officers making it to conform to its terms until the civil authorities acted. A meeting was arranged to take place a few miles north of Mobile, where the appearance of the two parties contrasted the fortunes of our respective causes.

Canby, who preceded me at the appointed spot, a house near the railway, was escorted by a brigade with a military band, and accompanied by many officers in “full fig.” With one officer, Colonel William Levy, since a member of Congress from Louisiana, I made my appearance on a hand-car, the motive power of which was two Negroes. Descendants of the ancient race of Abraham, dealers in cast-off raiment, would have scorned a bargain for our rusty suits of Confederate grey. General Canby met me with much urbanity.

We retired to a room, and in a few moments agreed upon a truce, terminable after forty-eight hours’ notice by either party. Then, rejoining the throng of officers, introductions and many pleasant civilities passed. A bountiful luncheon was spread, of which we partook, with joyous popping of champagne corks for accompaniment, the first agreeable explosive sounds I had heard in years.

The air of “Hail Columbia,” which the band in attendance struck up, was instantly changed by Canby’s order to that of “Dixie”; but I insisted on the first, and expressed a hope that Columbia would be again a happy land, a sentiment honored by many libations.

There was, as ever, a skeleton at the feast, in the person of a general officer who had recently left Germany to become a citizen and soldier of the United States. This person, with the strong accent and idioms of the Fatherland, comforted me by assurances that we of the South would speedily recognize our ignorance and errors, especially about slavery and the rights of States, and rejoice in the results of the war. In vain, Canby and [Commodore James] Palmer tried to suppress him.

On a celebrated occasion an Emperor of Germany proclaimed himself above grammar, and this earnest philosopher was not to be retrained by canons of taste.

I apologized meekly for my ignorance, on the ground that my ancestors had come from England to Virginia in 1608, and, in the short intervening period of two hundred and fifty-odd years, had found no time to transmit to me correct ideas of the duties of American citizenship. Moreover, my grandfather, commanding the 9th Virginia Regiment in our Revolutionary army, had assisted in the defeat and capture of the Hessian mercenaries at Trenton, and I lamented that he had not, by association with these worthies, enlightened his understanding.

My friend smiled blandly, and assured me of his willingness to instruct me. Happily for the world, since the days of Huss and Luther, neither tyranny nor taste can repress the Teutonic intellect in search of truth or exposure of error. A kindly, worthy people, the Germans, but wearing on occasions.”

(Destruction and Reconstruction, Personal Experiences of the Late War; Richard Taylor, Appleton and Company, 1879, excerpt, pp. 224-225)

Total War Comes to France

Otto von Bismarck saw Lincoln’s war as one of unification and centralization, as he had accomplished with the German states; Bismarck also promoted the purchase of US government bonds to support Lincoln’s war. In 1870, the Northern general who visited total war on the Shenandoah Valley and its people was an official observer of Bismarck’s war on France, and undoubtedly influenced the war against civilians. The “francs-tireurs” noted below were French partisans who were shot if caught.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Total War Comes to France

“Moreover as the war dragged on into the winter and fancs-tireur activity grew, the Germans learned an ever-deeper hatred of the nation which was in their eyes prolonging the struggle so uselessly, and by such underhand means. “The War,” wrote a German officer campaigning on the Loire in November, “is gradually acquiring a hideous character. Murder and burning is now the order of the day on both sides, and one cannot beg Almighty God finally to make an end to it.”

“We are learning to hate them more every day, wrote another, a sane and civilized man who watched with horror the deterioration which bitterness and brutality were working among his troops. “I can assure you that it is also in the interests of the civilization of our own people that such a racial struggle should be brought to an end. Atrocious attacks are avenged by atrocities which remind one of the Thirty Years’ War.”

The discipline which during the summer had forced the German troops to respect civilian property was gradually relaxed.

“At first we were forbidden with the severest penalties, to burn vine-posts in bivouacs, and woe to him who used unthreshed corn for his palliasse. Child-like innocence! Now no one asks whether you are using garden fences . . . no Frenchman can any longer lay claim to property or means of livelihood.”

Thus throughout the autumn and winter of 1870 the terrorism of the francs-tireurs and the reprisals of the Germans spiraled down to new depths of savagery. If the French refused to admit military defeat, then other means must be found to break their will.

The same problem had confronted the United States in dealing with the Confederacy six years earlier, and Sherman had solved it by his relentless march through the South. [General Helmuth von] Moltke had believed war to consist in the movement of armies; but General Sheridan, who was observing the war from German headquarters, pointed out that this was only the first requirement of victory. [He stated:]

“The proper strategy [he declared after Sedan] consists in inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy’s army, then in causing the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.”

Bismarck took this advice more seriously than did Moltke. The more Frenchmen who suffered from the war, he pointed out, the greater would be the number who would long for peace at any price. “It will come to this, that we will have shoot down every male inhabitant.” Every village, he demanded, in which an act of treachery had been committed, should be burned to the ground and all male inhabitants hanged. To show mercy was “culpable laziness in killing.”

(The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-71; Michael Howard, Routledge, 1989 (original 1961), excerpts, pp. 379-380)

Feb 12, 2017 - Foreign Viewpoints, Myth of Saving the Union, No Compromise, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on Southern Nationhood and Foreign Recognition

Southern Nationhood and Foreign Recognition

 

Southern Americans believed themselves the “heirs of the American Revolutionary tradition of 1776,” underscored by their President being inaugurated on Washington’s birthday and stating that “We hope to perpetuate the principles of our revolutionary fathers.” President Jefferson Davis told his countrymen, “you assumed to yourselves the right, as your fathers had done before you, to declare yourselves independent.” Also, when considering the failure of British and French recognition of the Confederacy, the Russian fleets in San Francisco and New York harbors in the fall of 1863 had far more to do with this than a foreign abhorrence of slavery.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Nationhood and Foreign Recognition

“[General Robert E. Lee] and Davis had decided to take the offensive in the east. As he had done the previous fall, Lee drove his army west of his enemy, crossed the Potomac upstream, and sent widely dispersed columns into Maryland. This time the Confederates continued up into Pennsylvania and posed a distinct threat to Washington and Baltimore.

The invasion would not draw off troops from Vicksburg, but should Vicksburg fall, its loss would be small indeed compared to a major victory before Washington. Lee had no illusions about besieging the enemy capital immediately. He and Davis hoped to draw Hooker into another Chancellorsville; this time the ultimate prize would be Washington instead of Richmond, and this time perhaps the Southerners could achieve a battle of annihilation and at the same time a diplomatic coup.

Once in Pennsylvania, Lee expanded his thinking about the campaign and urged that Davis collect all available troops from the Carolinas, place Beauregard in command, and order an assault on Washington from the South. The idea might have had a decisive effect upon what began as a limited offensive, but Davis believed it too complicated and too risky.

Emperor Napoleon III . . . [in the late spring of 1863] came as close as he ever would [to recognizing the Confederacy]. While Napoleon was fretting anew about his nation’s need for cotton, . . . and digesting reports of the Southern victory at Chancellorsville, in England John A. Roebuck announced his intention to place before Parliament a resolution supporting immediate Anglo-French recognition of the Confederacy.

The Palmerston government let it be known that it opposed the project and justified the opposition on the ground that Napoleon had lost all enthusiasm for recognition. Such was not the case, though, though, and on June 18 the Emperor told Confederate diplomat John Slidell that he would “make a direct proposition to England for joint recognition.” Thus Roebuck confidently prepared to introduce his resolution on June 30, and Europe became an active front, along with Pennsylvania and Vicksburg in the Confederate war.

During June of 1863 the tide of Confederate independence and nationhood probably reached its flood. [At] the time Southerners had a right to be optimistic, or at least hopeful, that their revolution would prevail, or at least endure. In the minds of its citizens the Confederacy was more a nation in June of 1863 than ever before or after.

Two years of war had transformed Southern political and economic institutions and the Southern people. War and Confederate nationalism also conditioned Southerners creative energies in music, art, literature and learning. The black experience during wartime underwent subtle but profound metamorphosis, and slavery in the Confederate South was an unsettled institution. The end product of these Confederate alterations of antebellum norms was a distinctive national life behind the battle lines.”

(The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865, Emory M. Thomas, Harper & Row, 1979, excerpt, pp. 219-221)

A Conquered and Foreign People

Most, if not all, foreign observers recognized the fiction that the Union was saved by Lincoln. Americans in the South were put under military rule and the Republican Party moved quickly to enlist and manipulate the freedmen vote to attain political dominance and ensure the election of Grant in 1868 – lest their military victory be lost with the election of New York Democrat Horatio Seymour.  Grant won a narrow victory over Seymour, by a mere 300,000 votes of the 500,000 newly enfranchised freedmen.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Conquered and Foreign People

“Not everything was settled on the day the Federal flag was raised once again over the capitol building in Richmond. The nation had to go forward resolutely to complete the revolution begun by the Civil War . . . It was needful not only to impose obedience on the conquered inhabitants but also to raise them up again after having subjugated them, to bring them back into the bosom of the Union; to rebuild the devastated countryside and enlist the people’s sincere acceptance of the great reform about to be inaugurated.

They must be made to feel the firm hand of a determined government that would not, however, be a threat to their liberties. Armed repression must give way to politics . . .

[In dealing with the Southern States, they] might be considered conquered territory and be told that when they left the Union they gave up all their rights under the Federal Constitution that they had ceased to be sovereign States.

In that case they must be treated as a conquered foreign people; their State and local governments must be destroyed or allowed to collapse and then reorganized as territories . . . Then someday, when the memory of the Civil War had been completely erased, they would be readmitted to the Union.

This procedure, the Radicals argued, would be merely the literal application of the United States Constitution, the sole method of ensuring respect for national authority. It would be the only way to restore the former Union on a solid foundation, having levelled the ground beforehand by stamping out all tendencies to rebellion . . .

It would be a good thing for the Southern States to be subjected for a time to the rigors of military rule and arbitrary power, or at least for them to be kept for a number of years under the guardianship of Congress, that is to say, under the domination of the North.

Their delegates might come, like those from the territories, and present their grievances or defend their interests; but they would only have a consultative voice in Congress and would have no share in the government. Great care must be taken not to give back to the South the preponderant influence it had exercised for so long.

The rebellion is not yet dead, the Radical orators declared; it has only been knocked down and it may get back on its feet if we are not vigilant. Never has the Union been in such danger as in this moment of victory when peace seems to prevail, but when the future depends on the decisions the people and the government now adopt.

If the [Democratic Party] is once again allowed to reorganize, if the Southerners renew their alliance with the Northern Democrats, it will be all up for national greatness and liberty. The same arrogant claims and the same quarrels will reappear . . . all this will someday or another lead to another civil war which will encompass the total destruction of America.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, 1864-1865, Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, Volume II, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 1975 (original 1866), pp. 543-545