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Effecting a Change of Masters

The examples of Jamaica and Haiti were clear to most in the antebellum period, though the abolitionists seemed unconcerned with the predictable result of emancipation in America. With the result of Lincoln’s revolution, the African slave had only changed masters as he became the chattel and ward of the now all-powerful federal government at Washington. The Republican party now needed the freedmen’s vote to ensure their victory at the polls, and worked ruthlessly through its Union League to keep Republican ballots in black hands.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Effecting a Change of Masters

“It is scarcely in the power of human language to describe the enthusiastic delight with which the abolitionists, both in England and in America, were inspired by the spectacle of West India Emancipation. We might easily adduce a hundred illustrations of the almost frantic joy with which it intoxicated their brains [but we might also illustrate] how indignant [the abolitionist] became that others were not equally disposed to part with their sober senses.

In one day, probably seven hundred thousand of human beings were rescued from bondage to full, unqualified freedom. The crowning glory of this day was the fact that the work of emancipation was wholly due to the principles of Christianity. The West Indies were freed, not boy force, or human policy, but by the reverence of a great people for justice and humanity.

[The good people of the free States] did not go into raptures over so fearful an experiment before they had some little time to see how it would work. They did, no doubt, most truly and profoundly love liberty. But then they had some reason to suspect, perhaps, that liberty may be one thing, and abolitionism quite another. Liberty, they knew, was a thing of light and love; but as for abolitionism, it was, for all they knew, a demon of destruction.

We shall begin with Jamaica. The very first year after the complete emancipation of the slaves of this island, its prosperity began to manifest symptoms of decay. The abolitionist not only closed his eyes on every appearance of decline in the prosperity of the West Indies, he also seized with avidity every indication of the successful operation of his [emancipation] scheme, and magnified it to both himself and to the world.

[But] “Shipping has deserted her ports; her magnificent plantations of sugar and coffee are running to weeds; her private dwellings are falling to decay . . .”It is impossible [to not arrive] at the conclusion that the freedom granted to the negro has had little effect except that of enabling him to live at the expense of the planter so long as anything remained. Sixteen years of freedom did not appear to its author to have “advanced the dignity of labor or of the laboring classes one particle,” while it had ruined the land, and this great damage had been done to the one class without benefit of any kind to the other.”

In relation to Jamaica, another witness says: “The marks of decay abound . . . People who have nothing, and can no longer keep up their domestic establishments, take refuge in the abodes of others, where some means of subsistence are still left;. . . the lives of crowded thousands appear to be preserved from day to day by a species of miracle.

We might fill volumes with extracts to the same effect. We might in like manner point to other regions, especially to Guatemala, to the British colony on the southern coast of Africa, and to the island of Hayti, in all of which emancipation was followed by precisely similar events. By the act of emancipation, Great Britain paralyzed the right arm of her colonial industry. The laborer would not work except occasionally, and the planter was ruined. The morals of the Negro disappeared with his industry, and he speedily retraced his steps toward his original barbarism. All this had been clearly foretold.

Precisely the same thing had been foretold by the Calhoun’s and Clays of this country. The calmest, the profoundest, the wisest statesman of Great Britain likewise forewarned the agitators of the desolation and the woes they were about to bring upon the West Indies. But the madness of the day would confide in no wisdom except its own, and listen to no testimony except the clamor of fanatics. Hence the frightful experiment was made . . .

But what is meant by freedom of the emancipated slaves, on which so many exalted eulogies have been pronounced? Its first element, it is plain, is a freedom from labor – freedom from the very first law of nature. In one word, its sum and substance is a power on the part of the freed black to act pretty much as he pleases.”

The magnificent colony of St. Domingo did not quite perish . . . the entire white population soon melted, like successive snowflakes of snow, in a furnace of that freedom that Robespierre had kindled. The atrocities of this awful massacre have had, as the historian has said, no parallel in the annals of human crime. “The Negroes,” says Alison, “marched with spiked infants on their spears instead of colors; they sawed asunder the [white] male prisoners, and violated the females on the dead bodies of their husbands.”

The work of death, thus completed with such outbursts of unutterable brutality, constituted and closed the first act in the grand drama of Haytian freedom. In this frightful chaos, the ambitious mulattoes, whose insatiable desire for equality had first disturbed the peace of the island, perished miserably beneath the vengeance of the very slaves whom they had themselves roused from subjection and elevated into irresistible power. Thus ended the second act of the horrible drama.

[In the new independent Negro state, the lands] were divided out among the officers of the army, while the privates were compelled to cultivate the soil under their former military commanders . . . No better could have been expected except by fools or fanatics. The blacks might preach equality, it is true, but yet, like the more enlightened ruffians of Paris, they would of course take good care not to practice what they had preached.

Hence, by all the horrors of their bloody revolution, they had only effected a change of masters. The white man had disappeared, and the black man, one of their own race and color, had assumed his place and his authority.”

(Liberty and Slavery, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, J.B. Lippincott & Company, 1856, pp. 229-278; reprinted 2000 by www.confederatereprint.com)

British Philanthropic Hypocrisy

Replying to Hinton Helper’s “Impending Crisis,” Elias Peissner chastised the British for the hypocrisy of emancipating African slaves while still oppressing its Hindu subjects in India. John C. Calhoun in 1844 saw British emancipation as combining philanthropy, profit and power, and a belief that free labor would reduce overhead and increase profit. In British Jamaica, freedmen bankrupted plantations by not being industrious, and England then promoted wholesale emancipation to cripple or destroy her more successful trade rivals, the French and Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

British Philanthropic Hypocrisy

“We are not yet through with the Testimony of England, who is always loudest in condemning our Slavery. We will give her a fair hearing. How closely she watches those poor Hindoos! How effectually she keeps them down, whenever they express any dissatisfaction with the happiness she forces upon them!

She has instituted among those “half-naked barbarians” an awful solidarite’, by which the province is responsible for the labor of all its men and women. But still, England is philanthropic! She has carried rails and Bibles, free-schools and steamboats, telegraphs and libraries to India, all for the benefit of those half-naked barbarians!

And should telegraphs and Bibles not have the requisite effect of happyfying, opium will be administered to them, and to “all the world, and to the rest of mankind.” She will no longer permit those savage Hindoos to roast as witches wrinkled old women, for she knows too well from her own experience, the unfairness of such proceedings; nor does she, in these days, allow anywhere the Hand of Justice to cut the ears of those who speak against State or Church. Now, this is decided progress!

England is the civilizer and Christianizer of the world! To be sure, there is still robbing and flogging, murdering and starving enough in the “dominions of the Gracious Queen, where the sun never setteth;” but England, nevertheless, dislikes Slavery in general, and Negro Slavery in the United States in particular, and her lords and ladies are ever ready to eat and drink with the poor commoners of the West, eager of philanthropic royalty!

But England emancipated her slaves in the West India Islands! She expended 20,000,000 [pounds], we suppose, from sheer philanthropy, and may we ask: Whom did her philanthropic measure benefit? Jamaica, that brilliant island, saw her land and people degenerate, says H.C. Carey; the planter sold cheaply and left, the slave did not work.

Such must be the effect of all revolutionary or sudden abolition; and, though the emancipated lands may gradually recover from the ill-advised blow, they can only do so with much loss of property and at the cost of much human misery.”

(The American Question, in its National Aspect, Elias Peissner, Negro Universities Press, 1970, pp. 64-65, originally published in 1861)

They Have Made a Nation

Lincoln appointed no one to his cabinet who were familiar with Southern sentiment or sensitivities – an act which might have avoided a collision and perhaps have truly “saved the Union.” The Republican Party won the contest and would not be denied the fruits of victory no matter the cost. Charles Francis Adams was appointed minister at London by Lincoln, somewhat appropriate as Adam’s grandfather himself viewed the presidency as monarchical. More important, Adams was a Republican politician with little regard for the American South or its concerns within the Union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

They Have Made a Nation

“For the post at London Lincoln had made one of his best appointments. As a boy [Charles Francis Adams] had witnessed stirring events in Europe; in the company of his mother he had taken the long and arduous winter journey by carriage from St. Petersburg to Paris to join his father John Quincy Adams. Passing through the Allied lines, he reached Paris after Napoleon’s return from Elba.

By 1861 he had served as legislator in Massachusetts, had become prominent as a leader of the “conscience” Whigs and the Free-Soilers, and had achieved the position of an influential leader of the national House of Representatives where his main contribution was as a moderate Republican earnestly engaged in the work of avoiding war.

Though depressed at the nomination of Lincoln, whom he never fully admired, he accepted appointment as minister to England and gave of his best as a loyal servant of the Lincoln administration.

Through all the diplomatic maneuvers there ran the central question of recognition of the Confederacy and the related questions of mediation, intervention and the demand for an armistice. Had the South won on any of these points, victory would have been well-nigh assured. By September of 1862 [Lord] Palmerston and Russell’s deliberations had reached the point where, in view of the failures of McClellan and Pope and the prospects of Lee’s offensive, Palmerston suggested “an arrangement upon the basis of separation” (i.e., Southern victory); while Russell, the foreign minister, wrote in answer that his opinion the time had come “for offering mediation . . . with a view to the recognition of the independence of the Confederates.”

[Just] at this juncture there came a bombshell in the speech of the chancellor of the exchequer, W.E. Gladstone, at Newcastle (October 7) in which he said:

“Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more important than either, — they have made a nation . . . We may anticipate with certainty the success of the Southern States so far as regards their separation from the North.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall, D.C. Heath & Company, 1937, pp. 461-462; 468-469)

Aug 4, 2016 - Foreign Viewpoints, Sharp Yankees    Comments Off on British View of Yankees

British View of Yankees

British View of Yankees

“In England the term “Yankee” was applied to all Americans, South as well as North, and “carried with it the implication of crass commercial dealings, shrewd bargaining, and even sharp practices.” By 1815 the word “Yankee” in England evoked a general image of uncouth and curious rustics whose energies were almost exclusively given over to pursuit of economic gain. Southerners attempted to free themselves from this stigma.

For instance, William C. Preston, while traveling in England, insisted in a conversation with an English lady that he was a “Virginian,” not a “Yankee.” But she replied: “Aye, a proud Virginian. But to us you are all Yankees, rascals who cheat the whole world.”

Northerners also resented the charge that they were greedy, selfish, grasping, and lacking in genteel taste, intellectual distinction, and private as well as public decorum. Henry David Thoreau wrote that “the Yankee, though undisciplined, had this advantage at least, and he is especially a man who, everywhere and under all circumstances, is fully resolved to better his condition.”

(The Role of the Yankee in the Old South, Fletcher Green, UGA Press, 1972, page 2)

Jul 31, 2016 - Antebellum Realities, Foreign Viewpoints, Myth of Saving the Union    Comments Off on Irish and Southern Nationalists

Irish and Southern Nationalists

Irish nationalists John Mitchel and Thomas Meagher were prewar supporters of Southern secession, comparing it to their desire for an Ireland independent of British rule. Oddly, Meagher was somehow converted to Northern sympathy, possibly from assurances that a victorious Union side would invade Ireland and free it from the hated English. One recalls the Fenians, mostly former Union troops, invading Canada in 1866. It is said the Northern government turned a blind-eye to this in retaliation for Canadian and British support of the Confederacy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Irish and Southern Nationalists

“[John] Mitchel was a nationalist star among the Irish constellation of Confederate leaders. In Ireland, he was one of the greatest political writers of his age. Ina three-year period, 1845 to 1848, the iconoclastic Ulsterman used the hot lead of the press to exhort the Irish to violent revolution. Mitchel was the first leader of his generation in Ireland to openly advocate armed rebellion against Great Britain. Only the cold steel of the pike, he believed, would win Irish national independence.

During the same period Mitchel came to accept the political ideals that would be represented later by Southern nationalists in America. Among these ideals were self-determination and local control of government, an economy free from taxation and regulation by a distant and powerful central government, and trade policies that favored agricultural interests over industrial lobbies. While Ireland and the Confederacy traveled similar political paths, Mitchel’s journey to the American South was an arduous one.

True to his revolutionary ideals, Mitchel acknowledged the right of slaves to gain their freedom by force. Most notable among Mitchel’s comments on slavery was his negative reaction to the inherent hypocrisy of Britain’s abolitionist stance. The empire, Mitchel contended, had grown wealthy from the slave labor in its colonies while abolishing the slave trade at home. He carried this philosophy to the center of the slavery crisis –in America – in 1853.

On the dock to meet him [at New York] . . . was his rebel compatriot, Thomas Meagher. Meagher had been convicted for his part in the rising of 1848 [and escaped prison]. As prewar tensions rose, both men announced their sympathies for the Southern position. The two Irishmen adhered to the Irish nationalist orthodoxy that believed the South’s claim to the right of secession was tantamount to Ireland’s attempt to sever ties with Great Britain.

In Charleston [before the war, Meagher] delivered a speech that raised $800 to help build a monument to . . . John C. Calhoun. (Calhoun himself was the son of Irish immigrant Patrick Calhoun of Donegal, Ireland.) A staunch Democrat, Meagher stated as late as April 1861, “I tell you candidly and openly that in this controversy my sympathies are entirely with the South.” At that time, Meagher also felt the South had a right to secede. “You cannot call eight millions of white freemen “rebels,” sir. You may call them revolutionists, if you will,” he told a Republican Party acquaintance.

On the question of slavery, Mitchel thought it “the best state of existence for the Negro, and the best for his master; and if Negro slavery in itself be good, then taking the Negroes out of their brutal slavery in Africa and promoting them to a human and responsible slavery here is also good.” Mitchel’s view of slavery was one widely held by most Southerners of the period – a rationalization that since slavery existed in the world, American slavery was preferable to the African variety.

At that time, Mitchel was more concerned with what he saw as industrial slaves in [Northern] factories, and with the Know-Nothing assault on Irish Americans. He connected the Northern abolitionists with Know-Nothings and linked them with unscrupulous industrial barons in the North. The Northern industrialists, he contended, had no compunction about slavery when they purchased raw materials produced by Southern slave labor.

At the same time, he argued, many [New England cotton] mill owners exploited their own workers, especially immigrants, as if they were slaves. Mitchel believed the mill workers of New England were more in need of emancipation than the slaves of the South.”

(Clear the Confederate Way!, The Irish in the Army of Northern Virginia, Kelly J. O’Grady, Savas Publishing Company, 2000, excerpts, pp. 36-41)

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

England’s 1914 guarantee of Belgian sovereignty resulted in a death struggle with Germany that only US intervention and 53,000 American dead could rescue it from . England took the same path in 1939 when it guaranteed the sovereignty of Poland, which it could do nothing to secure (Poland’s sovereignty was lost to the Soviets in 1945). The action of 1914 lost England it naval preeminence; the 1939 action lost England’s empire, bankrupted the country, and cost the US over 292,000 battle deaths by 1945.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

“Although the war had begun in Europe the scattered empires of friend and enemy were drawn ineluctably into the struggle. “Neutralization-plans,” said Sir Eyre Crowe, “are a futile absurdity. What is wanted is to strike hard with all our might in all the four corners of the world.” [The] Foreign Secretary told Colonel House, President Woodrow Wilson’s personal emissary, in February 1915, England would continue the war indefinitely. Publicly, the government was committed to the Prime Minister’s pledge given at the Guildhall on November 9:

“We shall never sheath the sword which we have not lightly drawn until Belgium recovers in full measure all . . . and until the military domination of Prussia is wholly and finally destroyed.”

In pursuit of victory, the cabinet explored many schemes. A naval blockade would hasten the process by cutting off vital shipments of war material and food. Sensitive consciences – not yet anaesthetized by casualty lists from Flanders – were disturbed by the stringency of the blockade policy.

[Board of Trade President] Walter Runciman was warned by his erstwhile colleague Charles Trevelyan:

“I feel great uneasiness about the trend in action of the Government towards trying to exclude German food-supplies passing through neutral countries . . . I do implore you to take care what you are doing. It would be bad enough to alienate Dutch opinion. But it would be infinitely worse if you alienate the USA. Remember that under very analogous circumstances the USA went to war with us against its will.”

Trevelyan feared that the government would act precipitately, especially if Winston Churchill’s influence were not checked. But the Foreign Office was alive to the danger of antagonizing the Americans. As Professor Link has written in the third volume of his biography of Woodrow Wilson: “Conciliation of America was perhaps the Foreign Office’s chief concern at this early juncture.”

The War Lords,” wrote Walter Runciman on 6 January 1915, “are sad in their stalemate, & Winston in particular sees no success for the Navy (& himself) anywhere” [and it seemed that] sturdy endurance as a method of waging war had a limited appeal. The [British] war council and the cabinet weighed great strategic alternatives and investigated the promise of mechanical contrivance in tipping the balance against Germany and Austria. On 25 February 1915, the minutes of the war council record:

“Hankey proposed (a) igniting German crops and (b) distributing a “blight” over the crops. Mr. Lloyd George approved the idea: Mr. Churchill saw no objection to burning the crops, but drew the line at sowing a blight, which was analogous to poisoning food. Mr. Lloyd George did not agree. A blight did not poison but merely deteriorated the crop.”

Churchill’s finely calibrated conscience gave him no trouble when he dealt with the desirability of entangling the United States in the war on the allied side. Walter Runciman, while trying to decide on new rates of insurance for neutral shipping [coming to England], was assailed by the First Lord [Churchill] who wrote three letters in five days urging that the rates should not go up.

“My Dear Walter,” began the first entreaty:

“It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope of embroiling the U.S. with Germany. For our part, we want the traffic – the more the better; & if some of it gets into trouble, better still. The more that come, the greater our safety & the German embarrassment.”

(Politicians at War, July 1914 to May 1915, A Prologue to the Triumph of Lloyd George, Cameron Hazlehurst, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, excerpts, pp. 185-189)

Jul 10, 2016 - America Transformed, Foreign Viewpoints, Historians on History, Lincoln Revealed, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy, Lost Cultures    Comments Off on The Confederacy and Churchill’s English Speaking Association

The Confederacy and Churchill’s English Speaking Association

Churchill wrote in 1931 that JEB Stuart was the key to victory in early July, 1863 at Gettysburg. Had Stuart crashed into the rear of the enemy army at the time of Pettigrew’s Charge, a full rout would have ensued and the South gaining its independence. Churchill imagined a Southern victory at Gettysburg as the beginning of a great alliance of English-speaking countries that would spread wealth and prosperity in the world.  He wrote derisively about what might have followed a Northern victory: “Let us only think what would have happened supposing the liberation of slaves had been followed by some idiotic assertion of racial equality, and even attempts to graft white institutions upon the simple, docile, gifted African race belonging to a much earlier chapter of human history.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Confederacy and Churchill’s English Speaking Association

“In 1932, with reparations and war debts frozen and the world in the depths of the Depression, the writer J.C. Squire published an entertaining (though now largely forgotten) collection of what he called “lapses into imaginary history.” Three of his eleven contributors chose to rewrite history in such a way as to “avoid” the First World War.

Andres Maurois did it by imagining away the French Revolution. As his omniscient “Archangel” explains, the imaginary world after a century and a half of Bourbon rule in France “is divided a bit differently. The United States did not break away from England, but so vast have they grown that they now dominate the British Empire . . . The Imperial Parliament sits in Kansas City . . . the capital of . . . the United States of Europe . . . in Vienna.” There has been no “war of 1914 – 1918.”

Winston Churchill entertained a similar fantasy by assuming a Confederate victory at Gettysburg and the subsequent emergence in 1905 of an “English Speaking Association” of Britain, the Confederacy and the Northern United States:

“Once the perils of 1914 had been successfully averted and the disarmament of Europe had been brought into harmony with that already effected by the [English Speaking Association], the idea of “An United States of Europe” was bound to occur continually. The glittering spectacle of the great English-speaking combination, its assured safety, its boundless power, the rapidity with which wealth was created and widely distributed within its bounds, the sense of buoyancy and hope which seemed to pervade entire populations; all this pointed to European eyes a moral which none but the dullest could ignore.”

(The Pity of War, Explaining World War One, Niall Ferguson, Basic Books, 1999, pg. 457)

“They Have Made a Nation”

Lincoln appointed no men to his cabinet who were familiar with Southern sentiment or sensitivities – an act which might have avoided a collision and perhaps have truly “saved the Union.” The Republican Party won the contest and would not be denied the fruits of victory no matter the cost. Charles Francis Adams was appointed minister at London by Lincoln, somewhat appropriate as Adam’s grandfather himself viewed the presidency as monarchical. More important, Adams was a Republican politician with little regard for the American South and put party above the welfare of the country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“They Have Made a Nation”

“For the post at London Lincoln had made one of his best appointments. As a boy [Charles Francis Adams] had witnessed stirring events in Europe; in the company of his mother he had taken the long and arduous winter journey by carriage from St. Petersburg to Paris to join his father John Quincy Adams. Passing through the Allied lines, he reached Paris after Napoleon’s return from Elba.

By 1861 he had served as legislator in Massachusetts, had become prominent as a leader of the “conscience” Whigs and the Free-Soilers, and had achieved the position of an influential leader of the national House of Representatives where his main contribution was as a moderate Republican earnestly engaged in the work of avoiding war.

Though depressed at the nomination of Lincoln, whom he never fully admired, he accepted appointment as minister to England and gave of his best as a loyal servant of the Lincoln administration.

Through all the diplomatic maneuvers there ran the central question of recognition of the Confederacy and the related questions of mediation, intervention and the demand for an armistice. Had the South won on any of these points, victory would have been well-nigh assured. By September of 1862 [Lord] Palmerston and Russell’s deliberations had reached the point where, in view of the failures of McClellan and Pope and the prospects of Lee’s offensive, Palmerston suggested “an arrangement upon the basis of separation” (i.e., Southern victory); while Russell, the foreign minister, wrote in answer that his opinion the time had come “for offering mediation . . . with a view to the recognition of the independence of the Confederates.”

[Just] at this juncture there came a bombshell in the speech of the chancellor of the exchequer, W.E. Gladstone, at Newcastle (October 7) in which he said:

“Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more important than either, — they have made a nation . . . We may anticipate with certainty the success of the Southern States so far as regards their separation from the North.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall, D.C. Heath & Company, 1937, pp. 461-462; 468-469)

Voodoo Economics, Circa 1864

Lincoln’s choice for the cabinet post of treasury, Salmon P. Chase, was no financial expert yet he was to advise Congress on the framing of financial bills, obtaining money from “keen-minded bankers and investors” like Jay Gould, as well as loans and paper money. The taxes collected were far smaller than expenditures and throughout the war the total amount received in loans was 2621 million dollars, against 667 million dollars obtained from taxation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Voodoo Economics Circa 1864

[Diary Entry] July 2, 1864:

“There is discord in the Cabinet. Mr. Seward represents the moderates, while Mr. Chase, the abolitionist and the inventor of paper money, represents the Radicals. He is regarded here, rightly or wrongly, as the greatest financier in the world. It seems to me that his entire science has consisted of keeping the ship afloat by throwing the provisions overboard. It is easier to borrow than to repay, and I fear Mr. Chase is leaving the difficult task to those who will follow him.

The failure of his financial policy and the defeat of a bill on gold that he recently submitted to Congress have led Mr. Chase to hand in his resignation.”

[Diary Entry] July 5, 1864:

“A financial crisis can, from one day to the next, reduce the value of paper money to virtually nothing. Everything now hangs on the hope of taking Richmond. But because Grant moves this way and that without gaining ground, because Petersburg, a town defended by children and schoolmasters, continues to stand firm against a hundred thousand men, and because the Confederates, far from giving in, are threatening Maryland with an invasion which is forcing the President to call up the militia and because, in a word, nobody sees an end to the war, public confidence is growing weaker.

The government itself, obliged to pay interest on the public debt in gold, is requiring that all customs duties be paid in gold. Nothing depreciates the currency so much as this self-distrust manifested in the Treasury. Until now the “greenbacks” have had more value in actual trading than that indicated by the rates quoted for them on the official gold market. But if ever the small businessmen should refuse to take them and if ever they should cease to circulate freely among the people, the poor Mr. [William P.] Fessenden (who has just succeeded Mr. Chase) will have to take over the direction of the Treasury only to associate his name with the impending national bankruptcy.

Let us return to Mr. Chase. He had a single obsession: to strangle speculation and force down the price of gold. He thought that to do this he needed only to decree an increase in the value of paper money, and that economic interests could be manipulated so easily as the parts of a machine. Thus he proposed a law prohibiting overdraft operations, speculative transactions which result in a paper loss or gain on balance. Judge for yourselves whether the waving of the Treasurer’s wand has had the magical effect he expected it to have.

By the very next day the speculators had taken fright and activity was concentrated in a small number of hands; now it is continued in secret, without competition, and this quasi-monopoly has immediately raised the price of gold by 40 percent. Congress wanted the bill withdrawn. Mr. Chase insisted that it be acted upon, and it was himself who had to withdraw.

If the moment of crisis ever comes when paper money is forced into the hands of only a few holders, the public will think only of getting rid of it, and America will offer to the world in a twofold sense the spectacle of “hideous bankruptcy.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, Donnelly & Sons, 1974, pp. 77-88)

Vote for Abraham Lincoln!

Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, testified after the war that the whole power of the war department was used to secure Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. It was essential to obtain the soldier vote and politically-connected Northern officers helped distribute Republican ballots to their commands while Democrat ballots were lost. In cities Republican newspapers spread fear among voters should Democrat George B. McClellan be elected.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vote for Abraham Lincoln!

[Diary entry] Chicago, November 5, 1864:

“It was one of those amazing [newspaper] appeals to the voters that is half circus poster and half sermon . . . the sort of thing that shows how the Americans excel in catering to the lowest levels of public taste.

It carried this portentous title in large black type: “THE TRUTH!” There followed a long list of the dire consequences that will be sure to follow the election of [George B.] McClellan.

“Twenty million people under the heel of 300,000 slave-owners!” – “A Confederacy of the Northwest!” – “A Democratic insurrection (see the threats in the World and the Chicago Times)!” – “McClellan leading the revolt (see the speeches at the Chicago Convention)!” –“The theatre of war shifted from Atlanta and Richmond to New York, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Chicago (see the Richmond papers supporting the Copperheads)!” – “Barricades; civil war” — “Our streets drenched with blood – our countryside laid waste – Our country’s credit ruined – Gold at 2,000 and the price of necessities in proportion (see the history of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in Paris)!”

Do you doubt any of this? Here is a table comparing “Republican Prices,” Democratic Prices,” McClellan Prices (those that would result from his compromise with Jefferson Davis – that is, guaranteeing the Rebel debt and paying the Southern States for their war costs,” – and finally, “Rebel Prices” such as will be seen “if [August] Belmont succeeds in raising a Democratic insurrection.”

But if, on the contrary, you want the Union’s flag to “float gloriously from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, over a hundred free States without a single despot, over fifty million — soon to be a hundred million — people without a single slave, then sweep the country clean, once and for all, of the party that is so greedy . . . this gang of slave-merchants and perpetrators of rebellion, debts and taxes that calls itself the Democratic party! . . . Vote for Abraham Lincoln!”

One must distrust all such accounts of triumphal demonstrations, of “gigantic mass-meetings,” that fill the newspapers of the two parties at this time. People lie as shamelessly in America as in Europe, with the sole difference that since here everyone has the right to lie, no one has the privilege of being believed.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, Ernest Duvergier de Huaranne, Donnelly & Sons, 1975, pp. 3-7)