Browsing "Lincoln’s Patriots"

Rochester's Spirit of Hate

The vigilante justice of lynching was not confined to the South as is commonly believed, and race relations in the North, before and after the war, were not as harmonious as abolitionists and accounts of the mythical underground railroad claimed.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865

 

Rochester’s Spirit of Hate

“After his Rochester, New York, home was burned to the ground by incendiary on June 1, 1872, Frederick Douglass expressed his anger in his weekly New National Era: “Was it for plunder, or was it for spite? One thing I do know and that is, while Rochester is among the most liberal of Northern cities, and its people are among the most humane and highly civilized, it nevertheless has its full share of the Ku-Klux spirit . . . It is the spirit of hate, the spirit of murder.”

Race relations were often contentious in Rochester due in part to Douglass’s strong civil rights voice. By 1870, although Rochester’s African-American population was minute – just 427 out of a total population of 62,386 – racial tension, especially over employment, prompted concern by whites.

On Saturday, December 30, 1871, the [Rochester Daily] Union’s third edition published the city’s first report of the rape of an eight-year-old German girl by a black man after she had returned from a church event. News of the crime “spread like wild fire” after the child was returned to her parents. She had been brutally beaten but described her attacker to the police who began a frantic search for him.

Early Monday morning officers arrested William Edward Howard, and he was identified as the rapist by the girl at her home. Her father later “apologized to [a] reporter for not having killed the Negro when he was in the house.” Howard was not a stranger to the city’s police. In early 1871, he was arrested for voting illegally, and he served six months in jail. At the time of his arrest for rape, there was a warrant for his arrest for stealing from a local German woman.

Douglass’s son, Charles, who worked with his father on New National Era, wrote to his father on January 20: “That Howard boy was in my company in the 5th Cavalry. He came to the regiment as a [paid] substitute, and asked to be in my Co. I had to tie him up by the thumbs quite often. His offence was stealing.”

Outside the jail an agitated mob assembled . . . composed mainly of Germans, was intent on taking the law into its own hands, and the jail became Howard’s fortress. The [Rochester Daily] Union’s reportage was most descriptive: “Threats were made to lynch him and matters looked serious . . . four or five hundred people in the assemblage . . . [and cries of] “kill the nigger, give us the nigger” were loud and frequent.” [Judge R. Darwin Smith pronounced] “The sentence of the Court is that you be confined to Auburn State Prison for the period of twenty years at hard labor. The law formerly punished your crime with death.”

At the prison entrance, Howard turned toward [an angry crowd of several hundred men] and with his free hand placed his thumb on his nose and waved his fingers to mock them. Once in jail, Howard renounced his guilty plea, and professed his innocence.”

(The Spirit of Hate and Frederick Douglass, Richard H. White, Civil War History, A Journal of the Middle Period, Volume 46, Number 1, March 2000, pp. 41-47)

The Life and Soul of the United States Government

Marylander Reverdy Johnson defended Mary Surratt in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy trial, argued that his client and others charged were civilians, and that the military commission Judge Advocate John A. Bingham convened had no jurisdiction – but to no avail. Major Bingham was a Pennsylvanian and Radical Republican appointed by Lincoln. In contrast to Bingham, Alexander H. Stephens and Jefferson Davis were the ablest constitutional scholars in the country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Life and Soul of the United States Government

“Read Judge Advocate Bingham’s argument before the Military Commission in Washington in reply to Hon. Reverdy Johnson. It is rhetorical sophistry, specious and plausible to the careless and uninformed reader; but it is utterly fallacious. It affects me in nothing so much as in the sadness it produces when I view it as but an additional evidence that Power, in its incipient and dangerous strides in trampling on the liberties of a country, is never wanting in able and brilliant advocates and defenders.

[Bingham’s] main ground, [is] that the Constitution . . . is intended and made for peace only and not for war, is fundamentally wrong. The Constitution was made for war as well as peace. To the various questions put by the Judge Advocate: Whether in war, men are not slain, prisoners captured, property taken, all without due process of law; the answer is, that they are not; no more than a man who, in peace, puts himself in defiance of the law officers, and is shot down by the sheriff or his posse: that is due process of law in such case. So in war.

In the cases of rebellion and insurrection, the only military forces known to the Constitution are such as are called out in the nature and character of the posse comitatus. For their government, when so called out, laws are made, as well as for the government of such permanent force as may be kept on hand. What a soldier rightfully does in taking life in battle he does according to law prescribed, and orders given in accordance with that law.

No soldiers, even in war, can be rightfully quartered on any man’s premises except in accordance with law previously described. This is an express provision of the Constitution. The idea that the Constitutional guarantees are all suspended in war and that during war martial law takes the place of the Constitution is monstrous.

The Judge Advocate’s remark about the natural principles of self-defence, and that the nation, as a man, may resort to any means to save its life, is rhetoric and not argument; its sentiment is ruinous to liberty. The life and soul of the United States Government is the Constitution and the principles with all the rights therein guaranteed. Whoever strikes at them, or at one of the least of them, strikes a deadly blow at the life of the Republic.

Nothing can be more absurd than that the life of a man can be preserved by an extinction or suspension of all the vital functions of his organism; and yet this is no more absurd than is the argument of those who speak of warding off a blow at the life of the nation, by a suspension or violation of the guarantees of the Constitution.”

(Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens, His Diary, Myrta Lockett Avary, LSU Press, 1998 (Original 1910), pp. 291-293)

Forebodings of Unequal Equality

Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia thought African slavery “one of the greatest problems of this interesting age,” and wondered “what is to be the fate of the poor African God only knows. His condition as a slave is certainly not a good one” though far better in the American South than in “his own barbarous clime.” Stephens believed the problem of Africans selling their own people into slavery to be a Christian nation’s duty to solve, and this was something European nations fairly accomplished in the late 19th century.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Forebodings of Unequal Equality

“I see in the Boston Herald that there was a riot yesterday in Washington, D.C., between Federal soldiers and Negroes; attack by the former upon the latter; 150 or 200 soldiers engaged. The military, or provost guard was called on to suppress it. Several were wounded and some killed on both sides.

Is this but the beginning of deplorable conflicts hereafter to be enacted between the races, until one or the other is extinguished? Sad forebodings haunt me. I apprehend intestine strifes, riots, bloodshed, wars of the most furious character, springing from antipathies of castes and races.

Equality does not exist between blacks and whites. The one race is by nature inferior in many respects, physically and mentally, to the other. This should be received as a fixed invincible fact in all dealings with the subject. It is useless to war against the decrees of nature in attempting to make things equal which the Creator has made unequal; the wise, humane, and philosophical statesman will deal with facts as he finds them. In the new order of things, I shall hope and, if permitted, strive, for the best; yet I cannot divest myself of forebodings of many evils.

My own judgment was that those who elected to go to a free State would not be so well off as those who should remain at home with masters of their choice. Still, that was a matter for their own decision and which I did not feel at liberty to control.

So far as my own Negroes are concerned, there is nothing now that would give me more pleasure, under the changed order of things, than to try the experiment and see what can be done for them in their new condition.

(Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens, His Diary, Myrta Lockett Avary, LSU Press, 1998 (Original 1910), pp. 207-208)

Soviets Eliminate Religious Prejudices

Lincoln’s war against the American South was seen by Karl Marx as justified with he and Engels serving competently as Northern propagandists in Europe.  Lincoln’s Assistant Secretary of War Charles Dana before the war worked for the New York Tribune and invited Marx to contribute a regular column on European events.  As author Al Benson writes in Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists: “. . . communists had a completely different view of abolition.”  Marx saw the war as a revolution of the proletariat, and an opportunity to establish communism as the peoples’ new religious faith.  With a few words of the following changed, the following could be written of the United States today.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Soviets Eliminate Religious Prejudices

“Relations between religious groups and the Soviet state were also shaped by the regime’s tendency to extend its control and direction into every type of social relations, to absorb into the all-embracing pattern of the Bolshevik dictatorship all social institutions and to destroy those of them which could not be transformed into the transmission belts of the [Communist] party will.

“ . . . Lenin committed the Bolsheviks, from 1905, to a systematic antireligious propaganda aiming at the eventual elimination of “religious prejudices.” In 1903 he wrote: “Everyone should have full freedom to not only to adhere to the faith of his choice but also to propagate any creed . . . All confessions may be equal before the law.”

(Religion and the Soviet State, Max Hayward & William Fletcher, editors, Praeger Publishers, 1969)

Sherman's Civilian Enemies

Sherman personalized American civilians in the South as his enemy — he branded their acts of self-defense as “cowardly” and deserving of swift retaliation — in effect denying that the South had the right to resist an invasion of its own country. While Sherman’s mental health is held in question by many, he was in truth only carrying out the orders of his master, Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sherman’s Civilian Enemies

“Article 44 [of US Army General Orders No. 100] . . . specified that “All wanton violence committed against persons in the invaded country, all destruction of property not commanded by the authorized officer, all robbery, all pillage or sacking, even after taking a place by main force, all rape, wounding, maiming, or killing of such inhabitants, are prohibited under penalty of death, or other such severe punishment as may seem adequate for the gravity of the offense.”

Paradoxically, it was . . . Union general, William Tecumseh Sherman, [who] gradually evolved his own personal philosophy of war along line which were clearly at variance with the official pronouncements, and in his practical application of that philosophy became one of the first of the modern generals to revert to the idea of the use of force against the civilian population of the enemy.

On the eve of the Civil War, Sherman could look back upon a career of dependence, frustrations, and failures. “I am doomed to be a vagabond, and shall no longer struggle against my fate,” he wrote his wife from Kansas in 1859. As he travelled northward in late February, 1861, to face once more the prospect of renewed dependence upon his father-in-law, his brooding over the ghosts of his own failures became mingled with gloomy forebodings concerning the future of the nation itself.

Passing from the South, where it seemed to him that the people showed a unanimity of purpose and a fierce, earnest determination in their hurried organization for action, into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where he found no apparent signs of preparation . . . he began to develop the deep conviction that he was one of the few people who understood the real state of affairs. It was only a short step from there to resentment against those who seemed unwilling to heed his warning or advice.

Convinced that Washington’s failure to act promptly on his requests [as a brigadier in Kentucky] was due either to indifference to the situation or to a willingness to sacrifice him, he developed a state of nervous tension in which his irritability and his unreasonable treatment of those about him antagonized the newspaper correspondents and led some . . . to publish stories questioning his sanity.

[He was relieved of command and] It was during this period of inactivity that the full import of these charges of insanity began to bear in upon him and to create in his mind an agonizing sense of humiliation. [He wrote his brother John] “that I do think I should have committed suicide were it not for my children. I do not think I can ever again be entrusted with a command.”

Two months later . . . he wrote to his brother that the civilian population of the South would have to be reckoned with in the months of war ahead . . . “the country is full of Secessionists, and it takes all [of a Northern] command to watch them.” Having become convinced that [telegraph] destruction was being accomplished by civilians rather than military personnel, he found it easy to judge the whole South on the basis of what he saw . . . Here was a manifestation of his tendency to arrive at generalizations by leaping over wide gaps of fact and reason and to proceed on the basis of his inspirations and convictions with the utmost faith in the soundness of his conclusions.

In this case his generalization led him to visualize the people themselves as a significant factor in the conduct of the war and to think in terms of a campaign against them as well as against their armies. [Writing to the Secretary of the Treasury], “When one nation is at war with another,” he said, “all the people of the one are enemies of the other: then the rules are plain and easy of understanding.”

[He continued]: “The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all in the South are enemies of all in the North; and not only are they unfriendly, but all who can procure arms now bear them as organized regiments or as guerrillas.”

Sherman’s disposition to consider all resistance as treacherous acts of the civilian population prepared the way for the next steps in the development of his attitude on the conduct of the war.”

(General William T. Sherman and Total War, John Bennett Walters, Journal of Southern History, Volume XIV, No. 4, November, 1948, pp. 448-450, 454-455, 457-460,

Drugged, Kidnapped and Dragooned Army of the James

Northern villages, towns, cities, counties and State’s contributed generously to buy exemptions and substitutes for residents, with the promise of additional bounties upon mustering. State agents swarmed into the Northern-occupied South to capture and enlist black slaves, which were counted toward the State quota of troops thus relieving white citizens from military duty.  In Europe, immigrants were enticed by promises of free or cheap land, and found blue uniforms awaiting them on US soil.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drugged, Kidnapped and Dragooned Army of the James

“The Army of the James was the quintessential Yankee command. Among all Union armies, it boasted the highest percentage of units recruited in New England [and] . . . More than any other Federal army, [it] was a bastion of Republican and Union Party sentiment. While Lincoln enjoyed the support of most troops in every command, he had a special confidence in voters in [General B.F.] Butler’s force.

When the 1864 presidential contest heated up, [Secretary of War] Stanton confided to one of Butler’s staff officers that although Lincoln was not so confident about [General George G.] Meade’s army, he had no doubt as to the loyalty of the Army of the James [in delivering the soldier vote to him].

Butler went out of his way to fill his ranks with prewar office holders, editors of partisan newspapers, and political hangers-on. Of course, politics dominated every Union fighting force; each had to answer continually to political influences. Many had to spend as much time vying for power as they did fighting the Confederacy.

Another factor that sapped the fighting strength of the XVIII Corps was an abundance of soldiers who would fight only under duress, if at all. Especially among its New England regiments, unit effectiveness was compromised by the many men dragooned into service by unscrupulous agents employed by States anxious to enlist enough volunteers that they would not have to submit to federal conscription.

Many of these unfortunates were recent immigrants, “mostly speaking foreign languages,” who had been “drugged and kidnapped….then heavily ironed [shackled], confined in boxcars, and shipped like cattle” to designated regiments. [General Isaac J.] Wistar, whose district contained hundreds of unwilling recruits, noted that in one New Hampshire regiment alone, eighty men deserted during their first night in Virginia.

Other XVIII Corps outfits were found to contain an even less desirable brand of recruits. In the course of a few weeks, a couple hundred “bounty jumpers” deserted and returned north to enlist in distant cities under assumed names and collect additional money.

If many of the white troops were unreliable, the army’s contingent of black troops, untested in battle, did not inspire widespread confidence. To many of their white comrades, the blacks were am amusing novelty, a social experiment gone too far, and a source of unease and concern. Many were liberated and runaway slaves, used to lives of docility and subserviency. Could they display the martial skill, the initiative, the fidelity of whites? In the spring of 1864 most whites thought not.

The cavalry and artillery units of the Army of the James were of uneven quality . . . [a colonel] complained of “this villainous Cavalry of [Gen. August V.] Kautz’s Division which has been so blowed about and exalted to the sky by reporters” but that appeared more effective at looting than fighting. Even Butler, who defended the cavalry against all critics, privately acknowledged its low quality.

(Army of Amateurs, General Benjamin F. Butler and the Army of the James, 1863-1865, Edward G. Longacre, Stackpole Books, 1997, pp. 45-49)

Drafts and Bounty-Enriched Patriots

Dwindling enlistments by mid-1862 and Lincoln’s insatiable requests for troops resulted in threats of conscription which in reality was a whip to force volunteering and usually accompanied by generous bounty monies. Trainloads of Northern dead coming home from Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg virtually ended enlistments; black men captured from Southern plantations provided a new source of enlistments and conscripts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drafts and Bounty-Enriched Patriots

“The declining power of the States received further illustration as the [Northern] governors faced the necessity of drafting their men into the State militia. Lincoln’s call of July 2 [1862] for 300,000 men for three years had been based on a spurious “request” extracted from the governors . . . on August 4, the President, without warning, called on them to furnish an additional 300,000 militiamen for a period of nine months.

None of the [Northern] governors wanted to draft their constituents – though a number of them, seeing the 1862 elections approaching, wished they could find a way to draft Democrats. The next best thing to drafting Democrats was to use the threat of the draft to discourage political opponents. Each governor sought and obtained permission to postpone the draft until after the elections, but in the meantime the enrollment for the draft went on.

Citizens who obstructed enrollment officers were arrested and held without benefit of habeas corpus until after election day. In some places enrollment officers went to the polls to write down the names of the voters. Democrats were sure that these fraudulent activities were designed to suppress popular liberties.

To avoid a draft, the governors tried hard to raise their quotas by volunteering. States, cities, counties, and townships offered bounties for enlistment, while every form of social pressure induced men to enter the ranks.

[Massachusetts Governor John] Andrew faced the necessity of raising 4,000 men by a draft. Expecting a riot in Boston, he held troops in readiness and asked Secretary Stanton to institute courts martial for dissatisfied citizens. In Ohio, the State’s provost marshal used troops to break up one encampment of a thousand men who had assembled to resist the enrollment officers. Still, Governor Todd found that the draft went off harmoniously and that by offering bounties to the militia draftees he could get four-fifths of them to enlist in the three-year regiments. He avoided further trouble by permitting conscientious objectors to pay $300 commutation, and with the $50,000 he collected from them he hired substitutes and provided care for the sick and wounded.

In Schuykill County, Pennsylvania, the enrollment officers met such resistance that Governor Curtin begged Stanton to call off the draft. The Governor feared the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish miners’ society, which was well-organized and strongly opposed conscription. Enrollment officers had attempted to get lists of workers from the mine-owners, but the employers, fearing retaliation from the workers, refused to cooperate. [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton . . . had no sympathy with Curtin’s difficulties . . . and he sent two regiments to aid the work.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 277-280)

Few Patriots Found in New York City

Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed brokered a deal with local politicians to solve Lincoln’s problem of obtaining soldiers after the draft riots of July 1863. Locating substitute recruits for drafted city residents, he would use the city treasury to pay whatever signing bonus the competitive market required and tap a special $2 million substitute fund financed by Wall Street bonds. Should a resident get caught in Lincoln’s draft net, he could either use the fund to buy his way out, or join the army and keep the money. With this scheme, Lincoln used Tammany Hall to run his draft in New York, though Tweed’s recruitment drive eventually attracted scandal with abusive bounty brokers, unqualified soldiers (from local prisons or immigrants literally straight from Europe) and middlemen who made fortunes from graft.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Few Patriots Found in New York City

“For four days terror reigned, marked by a series of grisly lynchings. A mob even swarmed onto a British ship in the harbor, and despite the Captain’s protests, cruelly beat up the foreign Negroes among the crew. The police were barely able to save the Tribune Building from total destruction. Men searched for the Tribune’s editor, singing, “We’ll hang Horace Greeley from a sour apple tree.”

A Negro orphanage on Fifth Avenue was burned to the ground. Looters had a field day, among them screeching women who opposed conscription. Troops were rushed from Gettysburg [immediately after the battle]; cadets from West Point came to aid the police; the entire naval force in the region was called upon to quell the disturbance. Finally, in desperation, the military raked the streets with cannon fire. But what really stopped the rioting was a posted notice: “the draft has been suspended in New York City and Brooklyn.”

The newspapers carried the word in huge print. Order was finally restored. According to the Tribune of July 25, some 350 people had been killed; but other estimates went much higher. Casualties, including the injured, amounted to 1,000 and private property damage was estimated at $1,500,000. Republican newspapers claimed the outbreak had been sparked by Confederate agents. But Democratic party feeling and a sincere desire for peace were mingled with race prejudice and resentment against what the anti-Lincoln papers called the “incompetence” of the Administration.

Men resented fighting against their convictions and were indignant at “governmental “frauds and profiteering.” Apparently, from the magnitude of the outbreak, the London Times had not been far wrong in predicting that if the South won in Pennsylvania, Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee would

receive a rousing welcome along Broadway. Soon after the tumult subsided, the Democratic City Council of New York voted that the exemption [from military service] money of four hundred dollars for impecunious draftees would be paid from the city treasury. To meet Governor [Horatio] Seymour’s charge that the conscription as practiced was “unequal, fraudulent and a disgrace,” President Lincoln reduced the New York quotas [for troops].

When the draft was resumed a month later, he took the precaution of sending 10,000 infantrymen and three artillery batteries from the Army of the Potomac to see that the business went off quietly.

During New York’s bloody pandemonium, [British Colonel Arthur] Freemantle had been surprised to hear everyone talking of the “total demoralization of the Rebels.” To him it sounded absurd, since only a few days previously he had left Lee’s army “as full of fight as ever,” much stronger and more efficient from every military point of view than when it had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland the previous September. In the Colonel’s opinion, Lee’s army had “not lost any of its prestige at the battle of Gettysburg, in which it had most gallantly stormed strong entrenchments defended by the whole Army of the Potomac.”

Freemantle took ship for England and completed his book of observations at sea. “The mass of respectable Northerners,” he wrote, “though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition and conquest . . . The more I think of all I have seen in the Confederate States of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk—“How can you subjugate such a people as this?”

[And] even supposing that their extermination were a feasible plan, as some Northerners have suggested, I never can believe that in the nineteenth century the civilized world will be condemned to witness the destruction of such a gallant race.”

(Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, Hudson Strode, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1959, pp. 458-460)

Lincoln's Scarce But Well-Compensated Patriots

Lincoln’s Scarce But Well-Compensated Patriots

Russian Minister to Washington Baron de Stoeckl supported his government’s intrigues with Lincoln’s regime but privately believed a negotiated settlement between North and South and Confederate independence was preferable to the bloodbath instigated by Lincoln and the Radicals.  It is said that he had easy access to Secretary of State William Seward’s office — the latter was obviously courting Russian favor and an alliance against England and France, both of which came close to recognizing the Southern Confederacy.

With his unique position to view internal American affairs, “Stoeckl persisted in his belief that the North could never subjugate the South. The Union, he felt, could not endure . . . he was sure it was divided forever. “It is difficult to witness events without being convinced that a return to the old system is impossible.” His communiques during the war are well-preserved and one excellent source is “Lincoln and the Russians” written by Albert A. Woldman in 1952.

When Washington was again in danger of attack in mid-1862, Stoeckl wrote that “General Halleck has been ordered to Washington to take charge of military operations.” He wrote that Lincoln was experiencing great difficulty in replenishing the depleted military ranks and “the government has been compelled to offer a premium of $25 a man.” Later he reported that premiums up to $50 have been offered, yet there are few volunteers. Two weeks later, Lincoln issued another call for volunteers, with premiums up to $300.

“Mr. Lincoln told me himself one day that in case of necessity he could count upon two or three million men. Experience has demonstrated that such estimates are inaccurate . . . at the outset the armed services absorbed the adventurous types, the poor, the unemployed laborers and the foreigners who filled the large cities. Not many of these classes remain. The new recruits must come from the farmers, businessmen and, in general, the prosperous classes who are opposed to the war.”

He added that “those who volunteered at the outset never dreamed of the dangers and privations which awaited them. It was generally believed that the mere presence of the Northern army would coerce the South into rejoining the Union. The ever-increasing number of mangled, sick, crippled or maimed soldiers who have returned to their homes has opened the eyes of the Northerners to the horrors of war.

Men no longer volunteer for military service. Bonuses of $250 to $300 are being offered to volunteers without spurring enlistments. As a result, the government was forced to resort to conscription . . . But it is doubtful if the government will succeed in recruiting the number Lincoln has fixed in his call.”

When the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the President to arm 150,000 Negroes, Stoeckl reported that “the Democratic Party regarded this measure as humiliating for the nation” since it was an admission that “an army of a million men cannot win without the help of some 100,000 Negroes.” Stoeckl continues, “Mr. [Thaddeus] Stevens, the author of this measure, said that the federal army . . . scarcely numbered 500,000 men under arms; that half these troops were scheduled to return home soon since their term of service expired next May; that volunteers are no longer enlisting; and that conscription was so unpopular that the government hesitated to invoke it again.”

“At the beginning of the war men came forward in large numbers. It is difficult to procure volunteers even by offering them bounties of $700 to $800. This state of affairs is not surprising. All the adventurous spirits that there were — all the unemployed in the great cities — immigrants brought here from Europe by poverty, have been absorbed by the army. Only force will be able to drag (the prosperous classes) away from their homes, and it is doubtful they will submit willingly to it.”

His perspective on Radical Republican leaders was revealing: Stoeckl wrote that “Peace, no matter what the terms, is the only means of resolving this situation. But the leaders in charge of affairs do not want it.  Thier slogan is all-out war.  Any compromise would endanger their political existence. They are politicians of low-caliber — men without conscience, ready to do anything for money . . . They constitute the swarm of speculators, suppliers of material, war profiteers through whose hands pass a large portion of the millions of dollars spent daily by the federal government.  Aside from these and some fanatics, practically everybody else desires the cessation of hostilities.”

Baron de Stoeckl held a low opinion of Lincoln’s commanding general, Ulysses Grant.  Grant earned the nickname “butcher” as a general who could count on limitless recruits to hurl against the enemy.  Stoeckl wrote Russian Prince Gortchakov in late May 1864 that “General Grant has so far given no proof of being a great strategist. It appears that he undertakes no maneuvers, and that he simply drives his masses of men against the fortified positions of Lee trying to crush him by sheer superiority of numbers.”

Sumner the Accidental Senator

After his richly deserved gutta-percha thrashing by Preston Brooks, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner feigned serious injury for advantage over his political opponent. As a Radical Republican and abolitionist, he provided much of the impetus for bringing on the war that destroyed the Founders’ Republic.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sumner the Accidental Senator

“If (Charles) Sumner had been given to self-criticism, the firing of Fort Sumter might have caused him to ponder what part he himself had played in bringing on the sectional conflict. In the minds of many Southerners, extremists like Sumner were responsible for the breakup of the Union. As a “Conscience Whig,” he had helped kill the national Whig party, which had once bound together conservatives of both North and South.

As a Free Soil senator, he had seized every opportunity to attack the South and embitter sectional feelings. As Republican martyr, he had been instrumental in keeping his party committed to an antislavery course and in scotching efforts at compromise. “By degrees,” as Carl Sandburg has remarked, “”Sumner had come to stand for something the South wanted exterminated from the Union; he was perhaps the most perfect impersonation of what the South wanted to secede from.”

He might also have reflected upon the role that chance had played in elevating him to his prominent position. He had stumbled into politics largely by accident. He rose to leadership in the Massachusetts Free Soil movement as much through the unavailability of his rivals as through his own talents and exertions. Candidate of a minority party, he was first chosen to the Senate through the devious workings of a political coalition.

At nearly every point during his first five years in office, had he been up for reelection, he would almost certainly have been defeated. Then Preston Brook’s attack gave him his second term in the Senate and thereby assured him seniority and prestige within the Republican party.

Never chosen by direct popular vote for any office, Sumner, by 1861, nevertheless had become one of the most powerful men in the United States.”

(Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, David H. Donald, Fawcett Columbine, 1960, pp. 387-388)