Browsing "Lincoln’s Revolutionary Legacy"

Lincoln’s Minority Government

Voter turnout in 1860 presidential election was 81.2%, the largest to that date. Lincoln won the Electoral College with only 39% of the popular vote – all in Northern States and the emerging West. Due somewhat to the split in the Democratic Party, his victory, refusal to compromise and constitutional usurpations led to a devastating war and political upheaval from which the country has yet to recover.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Minority Government

“In view of the fact that three-fifths of the American people voted against Lincoln, and that probably more than four-fifths of the American people preferred compromise to civil war or to a dissolution of the Union, it is important to note that Lincoln based his attack upon secession and refusal to acknowledge it as one of the rights of a State upon the fact that secessionists were not a majority, but a minority of the American people.

“If the minority,” he said, “will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the government must cease. There is no other alternative; for continuing the government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case secede rather than acquiesce they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them: for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such a minority.”

This is a very true statement.

A majority had voted against Lincoln and a majority had wanted compromise, while Lincoln, representing a minority, refused to accede to the wishes of the majority. It was perfectly true that the majority of the nation were opposed to secession or the breaking up of the nation, but they were in favor of preserving the national unity, not by war, but by the time-honored method of conciliation.

It is highly probable that a majority of Americans believed that Lincoln’s above statement applied to the secessionist per se minority – because a majority of American voters did not know then, and do not know now, that a man can be legally elected President when a vast majority have voted against him.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861: A Study in Public Opinion, Mary Scrugham, Columbia University Press, 1921, excerpts pp. 85-86)

 

The Gist of the Matter

The cause of the War Between the States was the Republican Party. This party fielded its first purely sectional presidential candidate in 1856, and only five years later elected, with a bare plurality, such an objectionable president as to drive several States to independence. After launching total war against the States desiring independence, and in the face of dwindling enlistments to fight his war, Lincoln resorted to William Seward’s view of the South’s internal vulnerability. Lincoln’s proclamation mimicked Lord Dunmore’s in 1775, and Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane’s in 1814, and for the same purpose: to emancipate slaves and to enslave free men.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

The Gist of the Matter

“Given secession as a fact, the gist of the matter was then: “Were the northern people willing either to sacrifice the union or to engage in civil war (accepting force as an essential principle of government for the South), for the sake of making a declaration in favor of freedom in the Territories where freedom was to exist anyway by the law of nature?”

Thus, the northern people were called upon to consider not only whether they were in favor of a declaration of freedom for the Territories, but also, to decide how badly they wanted to make such a declaration.

The Republican platform contained a “rotten plank” on the main point at issue, namely, what the party would do in case of secession. This plank consisted in a quotation from the Declaration of Independence in regard to the inalienable rights of man, and to a government’s deriving its just power from the consent of the governed.

This quotation was incorporated to gain the allegiance of the abolitionists whom Lincoln had held out hopes to in the House-Divided speech and whom Seward had catered to in his “Irrepressible Conflict” oration. It was understood to have reference to including the Negroes within the scope of the liberty mentioned among the inalienable rights of man.

Furthermore, the “rotten” planks use of the words of Andrew Jackson in regard to the preservation of the union of the States . . . [suggesting] the words “must and shall be preserved” in regard to the union of the States when South Carolina nullified the federal tariff law of 1832.

It so happened in 1860, a number of northern States had acts on their statute books, nullifying the federal fugitive slave law. Nullification and secession were both rights of a State according to the States’ Rights School of statesmen.

The references to the preservation of the union and the rights of the States in the Republican platform condoned the nullification of the northern States and at the same time condemned that of the southern States.

The Republican leaders sought to convince the northern voters that there would be no just cause for secession in the event of the election of a sectional president: that the Southern leaders were only bluffing and were trying to intimidate the northern voter into voting against the dictates of his conscience.

Seward, the author of the “Irrepressible Conflict” oration, explained that the South would never in a moment of resentment expose themselves to war with the North while they have such a great domestic population of slaves ready to embrace any opportunity to assert their freedom and inflict revenge.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861: A Study in Public Opinion, Mary Scrugham, Columbia University Press, 1921, excerpts pp. 42-45)

A “Forbidden Journey”

New Hampshire native President Franklin Pierce was well-aware of the increasing sectionalism pushing the South toward secession, and Northern States erecting laws in conflict with federal law. He would not countenance State obstruction of constitutional obligations while they remained within the Union. He also understood, as Lincoln seemed not to, that the comity of the States was the glue binding the Union together. Without this, the Union was at an end and brute force could not save it.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

A “Forbidden Journey”

“President Pierce’s affinity for the rule OF law in contrast to the rule BY law explains why such scorn has been heaped upon his presidency.

President Lincoln, had he complied with the rule of law and deferred to the U.S. Constitution on the issues of secession, the writ of habeas corpus, the blockade of Southern ports, etc., may have presided over the realignment of the Union, but he also would have placed the rule of law on a constitutional pedestal that would have constrained subsequent presidents from disregarding constitutional constraints in the quest for power.

But Lincoln’s claim to fame is not that he adhered to the rule of law, but that he had the audacity to disregard it.

Lincoln’s unfortunate legacy is that he destroyed American federalism by creating a coercive indissoluble Union. Consequently, the policy prerogatives of imposition, nullification, and secession are now placed beyond the grasp of the States. Nevertheless, the ever-expanding national government’s powers continued to occupy the efforts of the courts in post-bellum America.

A case in point is Justice [George A.] Sutherland’s opinion in Carter v. Carter Coal Company (1936) a case which stemmed from FDR’s expansion of national powers vis-à-vis the States Tenth Amendment police powers. Justice Sutherland articulates the anti-Lincoln premise that “The States were before the Constitution; and consequently, their legislative powers antedated the Constitution.”

To concede otherwise is to begin a “forbidden journey” through which the national government takes over the “powers of the States” and the States “are so despoiled of their powers” that they are reduced to “little more than geographical subdivisions of the national domain. It is safe to say that when the Constitution was under consideration, it had been thought that any such danger lurked behind its plain words, it never would have been ratified.”

Justice Sutherland’s logic is just as applicable today, with the qualification that the “forbidden journey” has progressed to where the national government may be so “despoiled of its powers” that it will be reduced to “little more than geographical subdivisions” of the international domain.

In conclusion, America is in trouble. With unmanageable public debt . . . and fiscal obligations in excess of one hundred trillion dollars, not to mention the cultural and political state of the Union, Americans continue to pay homage to the villains that laid the tracks to our present sorry state of affairs.”

(President Franklin Pierce and the War for Southern Independence, Marshall DeRosa; Northern Opposition to Mr. Lincoln’s War, D. Jonathan White, editor, Abbeville Institute Press, 2014, excerpts pp. 38-40)

 

History as a Tool for Manipulating the Masses

History as a Tool for Manipulating the Masses

“[Mitch] Landrieu’s speech praising his own actions in the advancement of the Eternal Reconstruction of his beloved “bubbling cauldron of many cultures” was hailed far and wide, and the local leftist paper, the Times-Picayune, proclaimed him the inevitable frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election.

[That] oration at Gallier Hall was scheduled to coincide with the conclusion of the removal of the 16’-6” Robert E. Lee statue, which had, since 1884, presided over Lee Circle atop a column some 70 feet tall.

In its obituary [of Lee’s passing in 1870], the New York Times praised Lee’s character and singular talents, though it decried his participation in the “rebellion” and referred to his perceived duty not to “raise his hand against his relatives, his children, and his home” as an “error of judgment,” a participation in a “wicked plot.”

Two days later, the Times declared that “The English journals are teeming with eulogistic obituary notices of Gen. Lee.” One week later, it reported glowingly on a gathering at none other than Cooper Union, “in a tribute to Robert E. Lee.”

It is noteworthy that none of these papers, Northern, Southern, or European, mentioned a war prosecuted either to extinguish or to defend Southern slavery, let alone a conflict to settle the future of “white supremacy.” For the South, it was a defensive war against an overweening, nationalist invader. For the North, it was a war to quell a “rebellion” against a Union that was somehow sacred and indissoluble.

Abraham Lincoln, remembering his revenues, had not threatened slavery where it already existed, had promoted an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing that the peculiar institution would live in the South in perpetuity (the “Corwin Amendment”), and in his 1862 Emancipation Proclamation held out the promise that any State in “rebellion” which would rejoin the Union could keep its slaves.

White supremacy was quite simply the status quo in every State, North and South, whether blacks were enslaved or free, before and after the war.

[So long] as race-baiting politicians can incite resentment to garner votes from a near-permanent black underclass and (now) a generation of white adults taught to hate their ancestors and view all history through the lens of Critical Race Theory. It is a clever means of changing the subject while the percentage of blacks in New Orleans living in poverty (and subject to violent crime) soars above that of the rest of America, a reality attested to by Ben C. Toledano in “New Orleans: An Autopsy” ten years ago.

The rule of Leftist Supremacists, from Moon Landrieu in the 70’s through six black Democratic mayors and up to Moon’s son Mitch, hasn’t altered these deplorable conditions, nor has the removal of Confederate monuments which, Landrieu admits, he never paid any mind to when growing up in New Orleans. The past is only a tool for manipulating the masses in the name of Progress, which translates into power for men like Landrieu.”

(The Discarded Image, Aaron D. Wolf, Chronicles, July 2017, excerpts pp. 36-37, www.chroniclesmagazine.org)

Jefferson Davis Placed in Irons

Massachusetts-born General Nelson A. Miles rose from a lowly lieutenant of volunteers to major-general by the end of the war. He was specifically chosen by Lincoln’s Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Gen. Ulysses Grant to command President Jefferson Davis’ guard detachment “because he was not from the line of West Point-trained professionals who might treat the former officer with military courtesy.” (Leonard Wood, Jack McCallum, 2006). It was Assistant Secretary of War Charles Dana, manipulator of the soldier vote to help ensure Lincoln’s reelection in 1864, who ordered Davis to be placed in irons.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Jefferson Davis Placed in Irons

“On the morning of the 23rd of May [1865], Captain Jerome E. Titlow of the Third Pennsylvania Artillery, entered the prisoner’s cell. “I have an unpleasant duty to perform, Sir”; and as he spoke, the senior blacksmith took the shackles from his assistant.

Davis leaped instantly from his recumbent attitude, a flush passing over his face for a moment, and then his countenance growing livid and rigid as death.

“My God! You cannot have been sent to iron me?” “Such are my orders Sir,” replied the officer, beckoning the blacksmith to approach . . . These fetters were of heavy iron, probably five-eights of an inch in thickness, and connected together by a chain of like weight.

“This is too monstrous,” groaned the prisoner, glaring hurriedly around the room, as if for some weapon, or means of self-destruction. “I demand, Captain, that you let me see the commanding officer. Can he pretend that such shackles are required to secure the safe custody of a weak old man, so guarded and in such a fort as this?”

“I tell you the world will ring with this disgrace. The war is over; the South is conquered; I have no longer any country but America, and it is for the honor of America, as for my own honor and life that I plead against this degradation. Kill me! Kill me!” he cried, passionately, throwing his arms wide open and exposing his breast, “rather than inflict on me, and my People through me, this insult worse than death.”

“I am a prisoner of war” . . . “I have been a soldier in the armies of America, and know how to die. Only kill me, and my last breath shall be a blessing on your head. But while I have life and strength to resist, for myself and my people, this thing shall never be done.”

[The sergeant] advanced to seize the prisoner . . . Immediately Mr. Davis flew on him, seized his musket and attempted to wrench it from his grasp. There was a short passionate scuffle. In a moment Davis was flung upon his bed [by four powerful assailants].”

(The Prison Life of Jefferson Davis, John D. Craven, Geo. D. Carleton Publisher, 1866, excerpts pp. 35-36)

 

Hamilton Envisions an American Pericles

Hamilton and Washington both foresaw ways in which future demagogues would undermine the Constitution by usurping powers reserved to other branches, and leading the country into war to hold onto power and increase their wealth. The usurper would be Lincoln, who wielded the power of an absolute dictator between April and July 1861, and by the time Congress had assembled in the latter month, could arrest and imprison anyone as he launched a ruinous and bloody war upon his own people.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Hamilton Envisions an American Pericles

“The Founders all knew war first hand; war on American soil, with a full third of their own countrymen against them, often in arms alongside the enemy. They built into their [Constitution] machinery to handle treason and rebellion. But they knew that crisis and war were favorite tools of demagogues. Hamilton reminded his readers of “the celebrated Pericles,” leader of Athens, motivated by fear and pique, who led his nation into a bloody and ruinous war to save his own political skin and to escape economic damage he had helped visit upon the state.

Hamilton saw that a leader who took America into war could use the circumstance to rob her of cherished liberties: “The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort to repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”

“If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, Washington wrote, “let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can any time yield.”

In Washington’s “Farewell Address,” the connection between perpetual voluntary union, and obedience to the Constitution, is explicit. His prayer for the country, he said, was “that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained.”

The cult of the union, as it evolved in the Civil War era, identified “liberty” and “union” as essentially identical. But to the Founders, “liberty” was tied to the balance of powers they had carefully woven into the Constitution: “Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian.” Washington wrote.

A little-known fact of the Constitution is that two of the largest States — Virginia and New York – made the right to withdraw from the union explicit in their acceptance of the Constitution. And in such an agreement between parties as is represented by the Constitution, a right claimed by one is allowed to all.”

(The Legality of Secession, excerpts, www.etymonline.com)

 

Black Democrats Jeered and Hissed in 1876

During the 1876 gubernatorial campaign to rescue his State from the Radical rule of the corrupt Massachusetts-born governor, Daniel Chamberlain, Democratic candidate Wade Hampton challenged the many blacks in his audiences to advance to a new level of freedom. “You have, ever since emancipation been slaves to your political masters [of the Republican Party]. As members of the Loyal [Union] League you have been fettered slaves to a party.” Since the war’s end, Radical Republicans used the Union League to elect its candidates, suppress political opposition, and terrorize black men who sided with Democrats.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Black Democrats Jeered and Hissed in 1876

“City of Dreadful Night.” Always the words recall two nights in Charleston almost exactly ten years apart – September 1, 1886, the night after the earthquake, September 6, 1876, [the] night of the King Street riot. The riot was the worse, by far, to live through.

The riot night there was tumult and confusion of hate and fear and pistol shots, howls of wild rage, savage threats and curses, appeals of pursued and bloody men for rescue, mercy and life. The riot could have been prevented. All know that now.

It was one of the tragic incidents of the 1876 campaign and . . . it gave Charleston perhaps the most fearful night of her eventful history. The white people were overconfident. They knew unrest and anger were seething and increasing among the Negroes and were prepared to resist and suppress an outbreak; but the outbreak came before it was expected . . .

Looking back it is easy to see that the storm signals were plain. The Radical Republican leaders had noted with growing dismay and fury the slow but steady additions to the number of Negroes enrolling in Democratic [party] clubs, for one reason or another. A riotous attack had been made on the Negro club in Mount Pleasant.

The meeting of the Democratic club of Ward 8, August 31, in the old carriage factory, Spring Street near Rutledge Avenue, was invaded by a number of boisterous [Republican] Negroes who interrupted . . . [as they sought an] opportunity to injure Isaac Rivers, a huge black man and an effective speaker, working for the Democrats, and J.W. Sawyer, another colored speaker. Rivers and Sawyer were hustled, threatened and cursed, but escaped uninjured.

On the night of September 5 . . . On motion of Colonel J.D. Aiken a committee of seven was appointed charged especially with protection of colored Democrats.

[A] mob of Negroes packed the street around the entrance to the meeting place of Ward 5. The white men formed a square, with Rivers and other Negro Democrats in the middle, and marched into King Street through a roar of jeers and hisses. They were aided by police and the disturbance ended.

A meeting of the colored Democratic club of Ward 4 was held the night of the sixth at Archer’s Hall, King Street, J.B. Jenkins, vice-president, presiding. The Hunkidories and Live Oaks, Negro Radical Republican secret organizations had gathered their forces and were massed, waiting, in King Street, armed with pistols, clubs and sling shots, the last made with a pound of lead attached to a twelve-inch leather strap and providing a deadly weapon at close range.

Mr. Barnwell led the white men gallantly. They checked to mob by firing pistols just over the heads of those in the front rank . . . the police arrived at the nick of time, charged, used their clubs and were resisted fiercely. At Citadel Green the fighting became desperate . . . and several police were insensible or disabled.

A new mob of Negroes poured out of John Street, shrieking “Blood!” A black policeman named Green and J.M. Buckner, white, were shot, fell, and were drawn out of the fighting crowd with difficulty. The fifteen white men who remained on their feet struggled into the Citadel grounds and delivered the Negro Democrats, none of whom was injured.

Then the whites fled as they could and the Negro mob took the street [and] divided into gangs of fifty to one-hundred and paraded, firing pistols, defying the police, chasing and mercilessly beating every white man they could see and catch, smashing store windows, shouting threats to exterminate the white population.

The main guard house was filled with wounded white men, some of them picked up insensible and probably left for dead. Mr. Buckner was seen to be dying. Several policemen were fearfully wounded. Two reporters for the News and Courier sent to the scene of the riot were beaten, struck with stones and rescued by police only with much effort.

Panic spread fast and everywhere as people understood that war had begun on race lines and that Negroes appeared to have possession of the city. White men were compelled to stay in their homes with shivering and terror-stricken families because any white man venturing on the street alone invited death uselessly.”

(Hampton and His Red Shirts: South Carolina’s Deliverance in 1876, Alfred B. Williams, Crown Rights Books, 2001 (original 1935), excerpts pp. 119-121)

Neutralizing Maryland

After the armed resistance by Marylanders against Northern troops passing through their State in April 1861, the “Northern press howled for revenge on Baltimore and for the subjugation of Maryland.” Business in that city was at a standstill and the Potomac was patrolled by an armed flotilla aimed at cutting off Maryland from Virginia and the Southern Confederacy. On May 2, the New York Times suggested employing the same “experiment so successfully tried in Maryland” on Virginia. Secession, wrote the newspaper, was simply the result of a mob, and the “army . . . should immediately advance South to act as a local police. The mob at Richmond would prove to be as cowardly and contemptible as at Baltimore.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Neutralizing Maryland

“While other States of the South seceded peacefully and of their own free will, Maryland could not. In the final analysis, Maryland was forced to stay in the Union.

The end of the secession movement in Maryland, at least the de jure end, came on November 6, 1861, with the Union Party’s overwhelming victory in the State legislative contests and the election of their candidate, Augustus W. Bradford, as governor.

The election destroyed secessionist hopes of taking Maryland into the Confederacy, and many Marylanders who sympathized with the South fled across the Potomac to join fellow citizens who had already been recruited to Confederate arms by a station set up in Baltimore.

Following the election, federal authorities with State cooperation “promptly suppressed all signs of secession sympathy of an active nature . . . Maryland became in fact as well as in name a loyal State.”

Bradford, until 1861 a relatively little known politician, was an unconditional Unionist and therefore received the support of the Lincoln administration, as did his Union Party. Indeed, he scored an impressive victory – the margins of which were so skewed that many question their authenticity. Bradford won with 57,000 votes to his opponent’s 26,000, and his party won sixty-eight seats in the House of Delegates to only six for the opposition. Secessionists and others opposed to Lincoln naturally cried foul.

The Baltimore South gave its “Union friends . . . great credit for the moderation exercised as there was no earthly reason, beyond the expense of ticket printing, why the majority (in Baltimore) should have been 40,000 instead of 14,000.” The journal had been “reliably informed that the Federal troops from every section of the country kindly aided their Union friends here, and deposited their ballots in as many wards and precincts as suited their convenience.”

This wry report from a secessionist newspaper should be read for what it is, but [one writer] makes the compelling point that, “The size of the majority made no difference for the Lincoln administration could have made it what it chose by applying the test oath more strictly, and by arresting the State Rights men.”

Bradford did appear to be elected by fraudulent means, and some question, given the results, why an election was held at all. It was held, of course, because the Lincoln administration badly wanted the country, and the European governments closely watching developments across the Atlantic, to believe that, constitutionally speaking, things were still working normally and that most Americans supported the Administration.

Once Lincoln and the War Department determined that Maryland had to be neutralized, they were forced to implement drastic policies.”

(A Southern Star for Maryland, Maryland and the Secession Crisis, 1860-1861, Lawrence M. Denton, Publishing Concepts, excerpts pp. 116-119)

Lincoln Acts Alone and By Decree

As Lincoln never accepted the independence of those States which had withdrawn to form a more perfect union, his actions can be judged in a light illuminated by the United States Constitution and the strictly enumerated powers delegated to his branch. The crime of treason is clearly defined in Article III, Section 3 of that document: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against Them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Note the emphasis on “Them,” individually. By commencing hostilities against South Carolina and other States, he violated Section III, Article 3.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Lincoln Acts Alone and By Decree

“By his selective use of the American past, his devotion of the nation to an abstract proposition, and his expansive vision of America’s role in the world, Lincoln undermined the old federated republic. He rewrote the history of the founding, and then waged total war to see his version of the past vindicated by success.

But in the course of subjugating the “insurrectionary” and “revolutionary” combination in the South, and in creating a unitary nation, he also compromised the integrity of the Presidency as a Constitutional office, first by invading the powers of the other two branches and then by assuming further powers nowhere mentioned in the Constitution.

He may have claimed that in the midst of an unprecedented national crisis necessity knew no law, but the Constitution in fact recognized the possibility of emergencies and delegated necessary and appropriate powers to the President and Congress. As historian Clinton Rossiter wrote: “The Constitution looks to the maintenance of the pattern of regular government in even the most stringent of crises.” But Lincoln acted alone.

From the fall of Fort Sumter in April, 1861, to the convening of a special session of Congress in July of 1861, President Lincoln ruled by decree, and on his own initiative and authority he commenced hostilities against the Confederacy. For 11 weeks that spring and early summer, Lincoln exercised dictatorial powers, combining them within his person the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the national government in Washington.

In his inaugural speech in March he had announced that the union had the right and the will to preserve itself. He promised to secure federal property in the seceded States, to collect all duties and to deliver the mails – all steps short of invasion but intended nonetheless to subjugate the South.

He assumed so-called “war-powers” – a familiar feature of the modern Presidency, but them a novelty – and proceeded to wage war without a declaration from Congress. The oft-raised concern that Lincoln could not have proceeded otherwise and still have preserved the Union should not obscure the problem of the means he resorted to.

The Constitutionality of his acts cannot be, as one historian claimed, “a rather minor issue,” for at stake was the integrity of free institutions.”

(The Costs of War, America’s Pyrrhic Victories, John V. Denson, Transaction Publishers, 1999, excerpts pp. 138-139)

The True Result of Appomattox

Lincoln’s war administration and deficit financing ushered in the modern American state which remains in existence today. The various Bureaus, Departments and revolutionary measures created for the purpose of increasing federal power were all linked to his total war-effort, including the restructuring of currency and banking. Author Bruce D. Porter (War and the Rise of the State, Free Press, 2002) wrote that “Appomattox thus represented not just the defeat of the South, but the defeat of the whole Southern economic and political system, and the triumph of a state-fostered industrial and financial complex in the North.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

The True Result of Appomattox

“[in Herman Melville’s postwar] poems he recognized the tremendous costs, especially through the loss of freedom and the end of the founders’ dream for America as a result of the North’s victory. He viewed the construction of the new iron dome on the Capitol in Washington, DC, which replaced the wooden one, as a symbol of America’s future.

Bruce Porter’s well-documented study [of the war] relates some of the economic costs of the Civil War:

In connection with the war the Lincoln administration attempted to intervene in areas of the national life that the federal government had never touched before . . . Prior to 1861, the national government had been a minor purchaser in the American economy. During the war, it became the largest single purchaser in the country, a catalyst of rapid growth in key industries such as iron, textiles, shoe manufacturing, and meat packing . . .

The Civil War spawned a revolution in taxation that permanently altered the structure of American federalism and the relationship of the central government to the national economy. Prior to the war, over 80 percent of federal revenue had come from customs duties, but despite several upward revisions of the tariffs during the war, those could provide only a fraction of what was needed to sustain the union armies.

On August 5, 1861, the first income tax in US history came into effect, followed by the Internal Revenue Act of 1862, which levied a whole series of new taxes: stamp taxes, excise taxes, luxury taxes, gross receipt taxes, and inheritance tax, and value-added taxes on manufactured goods. The latter Act created the Bureau of Internal Revenue, perhaps the single most effective vehicle of federal power ever created . . .

Neither taxes nor paper dollars, however, came close to covering the enormous costs of the war. Dire fiscal straits forced the federal government to borrow over 80 percent of its cost, or more than $2.6 billion. [The] Lincoln administration created a captive source of credit by granting a monopoly on issuance of the new national currency to banks that agreed to purchase large quantities of federal bonds . . . [and] agree to accept federal regulation and federal charters. Thus, almost overnight, a national banking system came into being.

[Author] Eric Foner writes that the fiscal measures represented in their “unprecedented expansion of federal power . . . what might be called the birth of the modern American state . . .”

(The Costs of War, America’s Pyrrhic Victories, John V. Denson, Transaction Publishers, 1999, excerpts pp. 28-29)

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