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“Jim Crow” Sections Up North

When discussing segregation and Jim Crow laws in America one immediately thinks of the South, though it was truly a Northern institution that gradually made its way South. New York did not eliminate slavery officially until the late 1820’s, though the children of slaves remained in bondage until reaching age 21. That State also habitually restricted the black vote through property-holding qualifications that effectively disenfranchised them.  The State of Ohio outright refused black settlers, and the new Republican party of 1856 was not antislavery — it wanted to ban black people from the western territories and restrict slavery to the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“Jim Crow” Sections Up North

“One of the strangest things about the career of Jim Crow was that the system was born in the North and reached an advanced age before moving South . . . and one might consider Northern conditions with profit. By 1830 slavery was virtually abolished by one means or another throughout the North, with only about 3500 Negroes remaining in bondage in the nominally free States.

The Northern free Negro [had his or her freedom] circumscribed in many ways . . . the Northern Negro was made painfully aware that he lived in a society dedicated to the doctrine of white supremacy and Negro inferiority. The major political parties, whatever their positions on slavery, vied with each other on this doctrine, and extremely few politicians of importance dared question them.

Their [Northern] constituencies firmly believed that the Negroes were incapable of being assimilated politically, socially, or physically into white society. They made sure in numerous ways that the Negro understood his “place” and that he was severely confined to it. One of these ways was segregation, and with the backing of legal and extra-legal codes, the system permeated all aspects of Negro life in the free States by 1860.

Leon Litwack, in his authoritative account, “North of Slavery,” describes the system in full development. “In virtually every phase of existence,” he writes, “Negroes found themselves systematically separated from whites.

They were either excluded from railway cars, omnibuses, stagecoaches, and steamboats or assigned to special “Jim Crow” sections; they sat, when permitted, in secluded and remote corners of theaters and lecture halls; they could not enter most hotels, restaurants and resorts, except as servants; they prayed in “Negro pews” in the white churches, and if partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, they waited until the whites had been served the bread and wine. Moreover, they were often educated in segregated schools, punished in segregated prisons, nursed in segregated hospitals, and buried in segregated cemeteries.”

Whites of South Boston boasted in 1847 that “not a single colored family” lived among them. Boston had her “Nigger Hill” and her “New Guinea,” Cincinnati her “Little Africa,” and New York and Philadelphia their comparable ghettoes – for which Richmond, Charleston, New Orleans, and St. Louis had no counterparts.”

(The Strange Career of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward, Oxford University Press, 1966 (original 1955), excerpts, pp. 17-19)

A Slippery Senator from Massachusetts

The colony of Massachusetts was the first to codify slavery in its law in 1641, three years after the first ship brought Africans from the West Indies. The defiant Pequot Indians enslaved by the Puritan settlers were often traded for Africans who made better workers. Massachusetts became preeminent in the transatlantic slave trade, shipping rum and Yankee notions to be used to buy slaves from African tribes. Senator Sumner seemed unaware of his State’s history.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Slippery Senator from Massachusetts

“Extracts from the debate between Senators Charles Sumner and Andrew P. Butler in June, 1854, beginning on page 1.013 of the Appendix to the Congressional Globe, First Session, Thirty-third Congress:

Mr. Sumner: “Sir, slavery never flourished in Massachusetts; nor did it ever prevail there at any time, even in the early Colonial days, to such a degree as to be a distinctive feature of her powerful civilization. And let me add that when this Senator [Butler] presumes to say that American Independence was won by the arms and treasure of slave-holding communities, he speaks either in irony or ignorance.”

Mr. Butler: “When the Declaration of Independence was made, was not Connecticut a slave-holding State?”

Mr. Sumner: “Not in any just sense.”

Mr. Butler: “Sir, you are not the judge of that. Was not New York a slave-holding State?”

Mr. Sumner: “Let the Senator [Seward] from New York answer that.”

Mr. Butler: “Sir, if he answers, he will answer the truth, and perhaps it might not be exactly agreeable to you. Was not New Jersey a slave-holding State? Was not Rhode Island a slave-holding State?

Mr. Seward: “It is due the honorable gentleman from South Carolina that I should answer his question in reference to New York, since it has been referred it to me. At the time of the Revolution, every sixteenth man in the State of New York was a slave.”

Mr. Butler: “Was not New Hampshire a slave-holding State? Was not Pennsylvania a slave-holding State? Was not Delaware a slave-holding State?

Mr. Seward: “I am requested to make my answer a little more accurate, according to the truth. I understand, that at the time of the Revolution, every twelfth man in New York was a slave.”

Mr. Butler: “They can afford no refuge for historical falsehood such as the gentleman [Sumner] has committed in the fallacy of his sectional vision. I have shown that twelve of the original States were slave-holding communities.

Now sir, I prove that the thirteenth, Massachusetts, was a slave-holding State before, and at the commencement of, the Revolution. As to the character of slavery in that State, that may be somewhat a different thing, which can not contradict the fact stated in the newspapers of the day, that Negroes were held, were advertised for sale, with another truth, that many were sent to other slave-holding States in the way of traffic.

When slavery was abolished [in Massachusetts], many that had been slaves and might have been freemen were sold into bondage.”

Mr. Sumner: “By slave-holding States, of course, I mean States which were peculiarly, distinctively, essentially slave-holding, and not States which the holding of slaves seems to have been rather the accident of the hour, and in which all the people, or the greater part of the people, were ready to welcome emancipation.”

Mr. Butler: “Mr. President, I think the remarks of the Senator verify exactly what I said, that when he chooses to be rhetorical, it is upon an assumption of facts, upon his own construction, and by an accumulation of adjectives.”

(The Case of the South Against the North, B.F. Grady, Edwards & Broughton, 1899, 225-226)

Oct 18, 2016 - Black Slaveowners, Historical Amnesia/Cleansing, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Slavery in Korea

Slavery in Korea

The Puyo group of tribes is first known to have lived along the banks of Sungari River in northern Manchuria, and was a “considerable tribal power” by the first century AD, and somewhat equal in power to the Koguryo, or Korean, tribes south of it. The Puyo held commonly slaves, who were either prisoners of war or criminals. The Yi Dynasty of 14th & 19th centuries, continued the practice of holding slaves – paralleling the Arab slave trade of the Bantu’s in southeast Africa which predated the transatlantic slave trade by 700 years.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Slavery in Korea

“At the bottom of [Korea’s Yi Dynasty] social ladder were the ch’on-min. The majority of them were slaves serving either the government or private individuals, and they were regarded as hardly human and treated accordingly, though government slaves had a somewhat easier time of it than private ones.

The government slaves worked mostly in the workshops which supplied court and bureaucracy with various manufactured goods and performed various menial tasks for the officials. Private slaves served as household servants and also tilled the soil, their labor being much less expensive than that of sangmin farmers.

While slave status was hereditary, it was sometimes possible for a man to be a slave of a given person while his family was not. It was sometimes even possible for a slave to own slaves. Marriage outside the ch’on-min class, however, was impossible, and the children of slave women were classified as slaves no matter what their father’s status might have been.

In addition to slavery, certain other occupations were regarded as so demeaning as to merit ch’on-min status. These included strolling actors (there were no actresses), kisaengs [prostitutes], and butchers. Butchering was the most despised of all occupations, so much so that butchers and their families were often compelled to live in segregated villages.

The numbers of slaves held by the government had been greatly increased at the outset of the Yi Dynasty by the expropriation of many thousands of slaves held by Buddhist temples and monasteries.

[With the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 and after], the government pressed many slaves into military service . . . and this often entailed an automatic rise in status. And when at last the country was at peace, many of the government offices found that they were unable to support as many slaves as formerly.

Often the government had no option but to emancipate large numbers of slaves because it was unable to feed and house them . . . and large numbers of slaves became artisans or farmers. Eventually it became government policy to give official yangmin [farmer] status to all slaves who had served the government for two generations in positions formerly reserved for yangmin.”

(The History of Korea, Han Woo-Keun, Grafton Mintz, editor, Eul-Yoo Publishing Company, 1970, excerpts, pp. 252-253; 313-315)

 

 

The Changed North

Well before 1860 the American experiment in government was severely fractured and the territorial Union split ideologically into two warring camps. The first shots of the coming war between them could be said to have been threatened over nullification in 1832, but open warfare was a reality by 1854 in Kansas. The North had changed greatly as it achieved a huge numerical advantage over the South, and its ascent to national power in 1860 with a mere 39% plurality gave it the political, military and financial control it craved. The North could have allowed the peaceful departure of the South, had it wanted.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Changed North

“An Anti-Slavery man per se cannot be elected; but a [protective] Tariff, River-and-Harbor [improvements], Pacific Railroad [subsidies]. Free Homestead [for immigrants] man, may succeed although he is Anti-Slavery.” Horace Greeley on the 1860 Republican Convention.

Ask any trendy student of history today and he will tell you that without question the cause of the great American bloodletting of 1861-1865 was slavery. Slavery and nothing but slavery. The unstated and usually unconscious assumption being that only people warped by a vicious institution could possibly fight against being part of “the greatest nation on earth.”

There is an even deeper and less conscious assumption here: malicious, unprovoked hatred of Southern people that is endemic in many American elements. Thus, according to the wisdom of current “scholars” no credit is to be given to anything that Southerners might say about their own reasoning and motives. They are all merely repeating “Lost Cause myths” to cover up their evil deeds.

One of Lincoln’s many deceptions was the claim that the Founders had intended to abolish slavery but had not quite got around to it. The Southerners of his time, thus, were rebelling against the true Founding by insisting on non-interference, while he and his party were upholding the settled understanding of the Founders.

James McPherson, perhaps the “leading” historian of today in regard to the Great Unpleasantness and no Southern apologist, along with many others, points out that it was the North that had changed by 1860. Now one may be glad, as McPherson is, that the North changed and triumphed with a new version of America, but to deny which side was revolutionary is merely dishonest.

Historians have devoted vast attention to the South, feeling it was necessary to explain where the South went wrong, find the source if the perversion that led it to a doomed attempt to escape the greatest country on earth. For, after all, “American” is the norm of the universe and any divergence is a pathology. But if it was the North that changed, ought our primary focus in understanding American history to be on why and how the north changed during the pre-war period?”

(The Yankee Problem, an American Dilemma, Clyde N. Wilson, Shotwell Publishing, 2016, excerpts, pp. 52-53)

 

Oct 5, 2016 - Antebellum Realities, Historical Amnesia/Cleansing, Slavery Comes to America    Comments Off on White Slaves Prior to Black

White Slaves Prior to Black

No race or ethnicity has an exclusive claim to being enslaved by others in the past or present, and the peopling of North America clearly shows white indentured servants preceding the arrival of Africans purchased from the tribes that had enslaved them.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

White Slaves Prior to Black

“More than half of all persons who came to the colonies south of New England were [white indentured] servants. The Puritan communities, scanty in their agriculture, chary of favors, hostile to newcomers as they were, received few. Farther south, on the contrary, they were hailed with delight by planters and farmers who wanted cheap labor . . . They formed the principal labor supply of earlier settlements.

Not until the eighteenth century were they superseded in this respect by Negroes, and not until the nineteenth century did an influx on free white workers wholly remove the need for indentured labor. Seldom did the supply of good white servants equal the demand.

Labor was one of the few European importations which even the earliest colonists would sacrifice much to procure, and the system of indentured servitude was the most convenient system next to slavery by which labor became a commodity to be bought and sold.

It was profitable for English merchants trading to the colonies to load their outgoing ships with a cargo of servants, for the labor of these servants could be transferred to colonial planters at a price well above the cost of transporting them.

The English government was well content that the handling of emigration should be in the hands of private business men. It liked to see the establishment and peopling of colonies go slowly forward without requiring from the state either financial commitments or moral responsibility.

Few planters could journey to England and select their own servants. Hence they were practically always indentured to a merchant, an emigrant agent, a ship captain, or even to one of the seamen, and then exported like any other cargo of commodities. Upon arrival in the colonies they were displayed on deck, the planters came on board to inspect them, and they were “set-over” to the highest bidder.

If the servant had a document of indenture, a note of the sale and of the date of arrival was often made on [his or her] back, and the transaction was then complete. During all the seventeenth century indentured servitude was the only method by which a poor person could get to the colonies or by which white labor could be supplied to planters.”

(Colonists in Bondage, White Servitude and Convict Labor in America, 1607-1776, Abbott Emerson Smith, Norton Press, 1971 (original 1947), pp. 5-20)

 

The North’s Union League Created the Klan

To paraphrase Southern leaders during Reconstruction hearings in Congress, if they would disband the northern Union and Loyal Leagues that set black against white in the South, the Klan would disappear from the face of the earth. It is clear from literature of the day that the disarmed South saw the Klan as a defensive measure against the Union League; the Klansmen flew no flag.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The North’s Union League Created the Klan

“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 . . . [they] 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.

[Northern officer 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)

Fourteenth Amendment a Disgrace to Free Government

David Lawrence, editor of the US News and World Report, argued in late September 1957 that the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was never ratified by the requisite number of States, and is therefore null and void. This amendment has been used since 1865 as the basis for federal intervention into the constitutionally-specified authority of the individual States, both North and South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Fourteenth Amendment a Disgrace to Free Government

“A mistaken belief — that there is a valid article in the Constitution known as the “Fourteenth Amendment” — is responsible for the Supreme Court decision of 1954 and the ensuing controversy over desegregation in the public schools of America

No such amendment was ever legally ratified by three-fourths of the States of the union as required by the Constitution itself.  The so-called “Fourteenth Amendment” was dubiously proclaimed by the Secretary of State on July 20, 1868. The President shared that doubt.  There were 37 States in the union at that time, so ratification by at least 28 was necessary to make the amendment an integral part of the Constitution. Actually, only 21 States legally ratified it.

So it failed ratification.  The undisputed record, attested by official journals and the unanimous writings of historians, establishes these events as occurring in 1867 and 1868:

  1. Outside the South, six States — New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, California, Delaware and Maryland — failed to ratify the proposed amendment.
  2. In the South, ten States — Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana — by formal action of their legislatures, rejected it under the normal processes of civil law.
  3. A total of 16 legislatures out of 37 failed legally to ratify the “Fourteenth Amendment”.
  4. Congress — which had deprived the Southern States of their seats in the Senate—did not lawfully pass the resolution of submission in the first instance.
  5. The Southern States which had rejected the amendment were coerced by a federal statute passed in 1867 that took away the right to vote or hold office from all citizens who had served in the Confederate army. Military governors were appointed and instructed to prepare a roll of voters. All this happened in spite of the presidential proclamation of amnesty previously issued by the president. New legislatures were thereupon chosen and forced to “ratify” under penalty of continued exile from the union. In Louisiana, a General sent down from the north presided over the State legislature.
  6. Abraham Lincoln had declared many times that the union was “inseparable” and “indivisible”. After his death and when the war was over, the ratification by the Southern States of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery had been accepted as legal. But Congress in the 1867 law imposed the specific conditions under which the Southern States would be “entitled to representation in Congress.”
  7. Congress, in passing the 1867 law that declared the Southern States could not have their seats in either the Senate or House in the next session unless they ratified the “Fourteenth Amendment”, took an unprecedented step. No such right — to compel a State by an act of Congress to ratify a constitutional amendment — is to be found anywhere in the Constitution. Nor has this procedure ever been sanctioned by the Supreme Court of the United States.
  8. President Andrew Johnson publicly denounced this law as unconstitutional. But it was passed over his veto.
  9. Secretary of State [William] Seward was on the spot in July 1868 when the various “ratifications” of a spurious nature were placed before him. The legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey had notified him that they rescinded their earlier action of ratification. He said in his official proclamation that he was not authorized as Secretary of State “to determine and decide doubtful questions as to the authenticity of the organization of State legislatures or as to the power of State legislatures to recall a previous act or resolution of ratification”.

He added that the amendment was valid “if the resolutions of the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey, ratifying the aforesaid amendment, are to be deemed as remaining of full force and effect, notwithstanding the subsequent resolutions of the legislatures of these States.”

This was a very big “if.” It will be noted that the real issue therefore is not only whether the forced “ratification” by the ten Southern States was lawful, but whether the withdrawal by the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey — two northern States — was legal.

The right of a State, by action of its legislature to change its mind at any time before the final proclamation of ratification is issued by the Secretary of State has been confirmed with other constitutional amendments.

  1. The Oregon Legislature in October 1868 — three months after the Secretary’s proclamation was issued—passed a rescinding resolution, which argued that the “Fourteenth Amendment” had not been ratified by three-fourths of the States and that the “ratifications” in the Southern States “were usurpations, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void” and that “until such ratification is completed, any State has a right to withdraw its assent to any proposed amendment.”

This is the tragic history of the so-called “Fourteenth Amendment” — a record that is a disgrace to free government and a “government of law.”  Isn’t the use of military force to override local government what we deplored in Hungary?

It is never too late to correct an injustice. The people of America should have an opportunity to pass on an amendment to the Constitution that sets forth the right of the federal Government to control education and regulate attendance at public schools either with federal power alone or concurrently with the States.

That’s the honest way, the just way to deal with the problem of segregation or integration in the schools. Until such an amendment is adopted, the “Fourteenth Amendment” should be considered null and void.  There is only one supreme tribunal — it is the people themselves.

Their sovereign will is expressed through the procedures set forth in the Constitution itself.”

(There Is No Fourteenth Amendment” David Lawrence, Editor, US News & World Report, September 27, 1957, inside rear cover)

 

Slavery Up North

The New England colonies (and later States) of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, were primarily responsible for perpetuating African slavery in North America as their shipping interests brought slaves from the Gold Coast. Beginning in the early 1800s, Massachusetts mills depended on slave-produced cotton from the South and Manhattan banks provided easy credit for planters, both Southern and Northern, to expand their plantations. For more on the history of slaves in the North, see “North of Slavery” by Leon Litwack (University of Chicago Press, 1861).

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Slavery Up North

“[The North’s] . . . teachers, its preachers, its writers, its orators, its philosophers, its politicians, have with one voice, and that a mighty voice, been for a hundred years instilling into its mind the un-contradicted doctrine that the South brought the Negro here and bound him in slavery; that the South kept the Negro in slavery; that to perpetuate this enormity the South plunged the nation in war and attempted to destroy the Union; that the South still desires the re-establishment of slavery, and that meantime it oppresses the Negro, defies the North, and stands a constant menace to the Union.

The great body of Northern people, bred on this food, never having heard any other relation, believes this implicitly, and all the more dangerously because honestly. If they are wrong and we right, it behooves us to enlighten them.

There are a multitude of men and women at the North who do not know that slavery ever really existed at the North. They may accept it historically in a dim, sort of theoretical way, as we accept the fact that men and women were once hanged for forgery or for stealing a shilling; but they do not take it as a vital fact.

Massachusetts has the honor of being the first community in America to legalize the slave-trade and slavery by legislative act; the first to send out a slave-ship, and the first to secure a fugitive slave law. Slavery having been planted here, not by the South as has been reiterated until it is the generally received doctrine, but by a Dutch ship which in 1619 landed a cargo of [20 Negroes] in a famished condition at Jamestown . . .

Indeed it flourished here and elsewhere, so that in 1636, only sixteen years later, a ship, the Desire, was built and fitted out at Marblehead as a slaver and thus became the first American slave-ship, but by no means the last. In the early period of the institution, it was . . .

Justified to on the ground that the slaves were heathen, conversion to Christianity might operate to emancipate them. In Virginia, the leading Southern colony . . . Negroes are shown by church records, to have been baptized.

In Massachusetts at that time, baptism was expressly prohibited.  Many of the good people of Massachusetts, in their zeal and their misapprehension of the facts, have been accustomed to regard their own skirts as free from all taint of the accursed doctrine of property in human beings. In Mr. Sumner’s famous speech in the Senate, June 28, 1854, he boldly asserted that “in all her annals no person was ever born a slave on the soil of Massachusetts . . .”

The fugitive slave law . . . which is generally believed to have been the product of only Southern cupidity and brutality, had its prototype in the Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England (19th May, 1643), in which Massachusetts was the ruling colony.

It was not at the South, but at the North in Connecticut, that Prudence Crandall was, for teaching colored girls, subjected to persecution as barbarous as it was persistent. After being sued and pursued by every process of law which a New England community could devise, she was finally driven forth into exile in Kansas.

She opened her school in Canterbury, Connecticut in April 1833 . . . [and] the town-meeting promptly voted to “petition for a law against the bringing of colored people from other towns and States for any purpose . . .”

In May an act prohibiting private schools for non-resident colored persons and for the expulsion of the latter was procured from the legislature amid great rejoicing in Canterbury, even to the ringing of church bells.”

(The Old South, Essays Social and Political, Thomas Nelson Page, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896, excerpts, pp. 287-298)

 

Sep 11, 2016 - America Transformed, Historians on History, Historical Accuracy, Historical Amnesia/Cleansing    Comments Off on American Historians and Their History

American Historians and Their History

The following is excerpted from Dr. Clyde N. Wilson’s “Defending Dixie, Searching for Fleas.”  (Foundation for American Education, 2006, pp. 44-45).

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

American Historians and Their History

“Almost a lifetime of considering what historianship is, I am satisfied that what it is or should be is storytelling. Assuredly it cant be a scientific experiment, nor a logical proposition, nor the illustration of a theory. Our existence is drama, that is, a story, taking place in the mind of God. Through history we have our only knowledge of the mysterious drama of our existence beyond what has been granted us as Revelation.

I like the delightful saying of the English historian Veronica Wedgewood: “History is not a science – it is an art, like all the other sciences.” Or more seriously, we can make the same point by calling on John Lukacs perfect definition: “History is a kind of memory, organized and supported by evidence.” With emphasis on the evidence. In asserting that history is not certainty, I don’t deny that there are varying degrees of honesty and competence in the handling of evidence that allow us to judge the quality of a historian’s work.

If history is best understood as a story, at least two things follow. First, a story – like that of the Alamo – is somebody’s story – it is not everybody’s story as is claimed by those with an agenda, whether they be nationalist ideologues or multiculturalists. Everybody can learn from a story, but if it is to be real and valid, it is some people’s story. It follows that American in our time cannot have a real history because America today does not have a real people.

There was a time, peaking in the World War II era, when the inhabitants of this vast and diverse nation-state almost mingled into one people. That opportunity is now past. The inhabitants of the United States are corralled under the same territorial monopoly of force and exploitation; they share the same bread and circuses.

They are not a people, only the motley subjects of an empire. Aggregations of Oprah watchers, sports fans, and mall shoppers do not make a people. After Augustus the story of Rome ceases to be the story of a heroic and patriotic people. The Roman people pass from sight. The history of Rome becomes only an account of more or less evil emperors and a chaos of peoples without stories. Such is American in the era of Bush. The future history of the last national election can be written only as a meaningless contest in which the jocks barely beat out the nerds for possession of the imperial palace.

Most of the work of academic historians today can portray the American story in no other terms except as an abstract fantasy of oppressors and oppressed. No society has ever had more professional historians and devoted more resources to historical work of all kinds than modern America – or produced so many useless, irrelevant, and downright pernicious products. I know a historian who teaches that the great Virginians of the American Revolution were like the Taliban. Presumably because they carried weapons and were not feminists. This is to reduce human experience to a paltry and partial perspective, to remove from it everything that is worthwhile and ennobling, usable and true. But this is what academic historians mostly do these days.

A historian should be trying to say something true and useful about human beings, and doing so modestly and cautiously. No historian can discover indisputable truth, at least not about anything important. But that is what historians are claiming to do these days by reducing the drama of human experience to abstract, supposedly universal theory.”

 

Mr. Critcher Replies to Mr. Hoar

In this remarkable statement by Mr. Hoar of Massachusetts, he forgets his own State’s heavy involvement in the notorious transatlantic slave trade as he arraigns the South for a supposed absence of morals.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Mr. Critcher Replies to Mr. Hoar

“In the debate on Education in the House of Representatives, Mr. Hoar, of Massachusetts remarked that slavery in the South was not so observable in the degradation of the slave as in the depravity of the master.

Mr. Critcher, of Virginia replied:

“Reminding the gentleman from Massachusetts that every signer of the Declaration of Independence, except those from his State, and perhaps one or two others, were slave-owners, he would venture to make a bold assertion; he would venture to say that he could name more eminent men from the parish of his residence, than the gentleman could name from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He would proceed to name them, and yield the floor to the gentleman to match them if he could.

On one side of his estate is Wakefield, the birthplace of Washington. On the other side is Stratford, the residence of Light Horse Harry Lee, of glorious Revolutionary memory. Adjoining Stratford is Chantilly, the residence of Richard Henry Lee, the mover of the Declaration of Independence, and the Cicero of the American Revolution.

There lived Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Charles Lee, at one time Washington’s Attorney General; and Arthur Lee, the accomplished negotiator of the treaty of commerce and alliance between the Colonies and France in 1777.

Returning, as said before, you come first to the birthplace of Washington; another hour’s drive will bring you to the birthplace of Monroe; another hour’s drive to the birthplace of Madison, and if the gentleman supposes that the present generation is unworthy of their illustrious ancestors, he has but to stand on the same estate to see the massive chimneys of the baronial mansion that witnessed the birth of Robert E. Lee.

These are some of the eminent men from the parish of his residence, and he yielded the floor that the gentleman might match them, if he could, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

(Southern Historical Society Papers, “Degrading Influence of Slavery,” Volume 12, Barefoot Publishing, page 59)

 

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