Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

Party Above Country

Trying to save his party and opposed to any compromise with the South, Lincoln wrote Pennsylvania Congressman James Hale that accepting the Crittenden Compromise would mean the end of their Republican party and control of the national government.  Lincoln had sent similar letters to other important Republicans well before the Committee of Thirteen met to consider Crittenden’s solution to the sectional divide.

Party Above Country

“The Republican decision to frustrate compromise efforts was one of the most significant political decisions in American history. Although it would be unreasonable to assert that had the Republicans supported compromise they would definitely have ended the secession movement and prevented the Civil War, such a result was quite possible given the wide support that Crittenden’s plan attracted.

The Republican motivation for opposing Crittenden’s plan is, therefore, of prime importance.

Why didn’t Republicans promote conciliation and save Abraham Lincoln from the terrible burden of having to decide whether to allow secession or fight a civil war to restore the union?

Although Republicans explained at the Washington Peace Conference that they did not want to tie Lincoln’s hands, the answer lies much deeper. All the pro-southern aspects of the compromise disturbed Republicans; but their ire was raised in particular by the territorial provisions.

The Republican party’s strength was contained in its anti-slavery wing, which was held together by opposition to any [Southern labor taken into the territories or new States]. Had Republicans abandoned opposition to [this] in 1860, they would have committed political suicide.

Such a concession to the South would have constituted a repudiation of their own platform, “an admission that Southern complaints were valid,” and a confession that Lincoln’s election as president warranted secession. The result could only have been Republican disintegration.”

(The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy, Sheldon Vanauken, Regnery Gateway, 1989, excerpt pg. 216-217)

 

 

War was Lincoln’s Choice

President James Buchanan disagreed with secession as the prerogative of a State, but admitted that he as president held no authority to levy war to stop it — and his attorney general concurred. Both were well-aware of Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying was against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Buchanan could not use military force against a State without committing treason.

War was Lincoln’s Choice

“The States of the deep South dissolved their connection with the voluntary union of the United States with marked legality at the beginning of 1861. For a quarter of a year no one knew that there was to be a war. Then Lincoln (unauthorized by the Constitution) called for troops; and the upper South, led by Virginia, seceded.

The point is, Lincoln could have chosen to let the South go in peace on the grounds that a just government depends on the consent of the governed, and the Southern States had withdrawn that consent.

But, said the North, the majority do consent, since there are more people in the North. Even if most of the people in the South do not consent, we in the North are the majority of the whole nation. Thus, the rights of a minority, although a minority of millions, mean nothing.

This is precisely what [Alexis] de Tocqueville warned against: the tyranny of the majority. And Lord Acton was deeply convinced that the principle of States’ rights was the best limitation upon the tyranny of the majority that had ever been devised.

Thus Lee did represent the cause of freedom, and Lord Acton broke his heart over Lee’s surrender because the principle of States’ rights was finally and forever denied.

The America of today is the America that won that immense triumph in the war – the triumph of unlimited, equalitarian democracy. And its leaders have blurred the distinction between freedom and equality to the point where many people use those words as virtually interchangeable terms.”

(The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy, Sheldon Vanauken, Regnery Gateway, 1989, excerpt pg. 142)

Lincoln’s Triumph over the States

Contrary to the following passage, there was no “constitutional riddle of the American federal system” to be discovered as it was crystal clear in the document, but certainly the Founders’ constitution was powerless against designing men and a lack of virtuous citizens. The Founders’ created no nation – but a federated system of sovereign States which had delegated specific powers for a federal agent to exercise, and strictly forbidding any others. The years 1789 through 1860 were filled with steady encroachments and usurpations by the federal agent of the States.

Observing and experiencing the faults of that constitution, the Southern Founders’ altered the former document to better serve those it was intended to govern and protect, with more chains and locks affixed to the agent.

As President Jefferson Davis departed Richmond in 1865 with federal armies at the gates, he mused: “The principle for which we contended is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form.” (Lost Cause, Pollard, pg. 749)

Lincoln’s Triumph over the States

“The election of 1864 demonstrated, conclusively and finally, that Abraham Lincoln had made a nation. At the same moment on the battlefields of the Civil War the constitutional riddle of the American federal system was being resolved.  Within a few months of the election Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Courthouse, and the Southern Confederacy – which had been founded upon the dogma of States’ rights, collapsed. But in the North, Abraham Lincoln had already determined that the nation was supreme and States’ rights outmoded in theory and practice.

Under Lincoln’s leadership the national government had won military control over the manpower of the States. A national economic system based on national banks, the nation-made financial centers, government-subsidized railroads, and a protective tariff had grown strong during the war. And, of necessity, State politics revolved in the national orbit.

In 1860, the [United States] had been on the eve of dissolution. In that year the Republican party, which Abraham Lincoln was to make into a new nationalizing agency, had only a nominal existence. In 1860 the Republican platform had solemnly declared that “the Rights of the States . . . must and shall be preserved,” and had added: “the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment . . .”

Within four years the exigencies of the Civil War had made a mockery of these platform phrases. The governors of the [Northern] States had elected Lincoln and had demanded war upon the States of the South. The governors had failed to raise men for the armies by their unaided efforts, and they had failed to keep political control of their States.

As the governors’ influence declined, Lincoln’s grew. By suspending the writ of habeas corpus, by conscription, and by the use of troops at the polls, Lincoln had saved the Republican party and had made it an instrument to save the Union.

Yet all of this merely confirmed the facts that Lincoln had triumphed over the governors, and the nation had emerged victorious over the States.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knoph, 1955, excerpt pp. 385-386; 389)

Americans Unable to Control Their Future

Author Howard Ray White writes in his new “Rebirthing Lincoln” that Northern forces concentrating black refugees together in “contraband camps” promoted sickness and disease. He notes as well a smallpox epidemic “was first noted in 1862 among black congregations in Washington, DC . . . It subsequently spread south reaching epidemic levels among blacks and arriving in Texas in 1868.” This excellent and timely book is available in print or audiobook formats at www.Amazon.com.

The book helps make it clear that had the war been avoided through patience, diplomacy and a constitutional convention of States to solve their differences peacefully, the lives noted below would have been saved and the Founders’ republic perpetuated. Or perhaps two or more American republics, as Jefferson anticipated.

Americans Unable to Control Their Future

“The December 2011 issue of Civil War History, a scholarly journal published quarterly be The Kent State University Press, presented a highly-praised, 41-page census quantitative study by J. David Hacker, titled “A Census-Based Count of the Civil War Dead.” Hacker, presently at the University of Minnesota, reports that his study indicates that our ancestors suffered 750,000 soldier deaths instead of the 620,000 traditional number, an increase of 130,000.  He believes the Confederate deaths from disease and accidents have been seriously undercounted.

Due to the North’s scorched-earth policy, food, clothing and shoes were often scarce, increasing the death rate from exposure and disease, so we assign 70% of those 130,000 deaths to Confederates, elevating their death total from 260,000 to 350,000. The death toll for Lincoln’s invaders rises to 400,000. Hacker’s figures include war injuries that resulted in death up to 4 years after surrender.

A death toll of 350,000 Southern men represents 30 percent of the white male population, aged 18 to 48, that were living in the seceded States when Lincoln launched his invasion. And a death toll of 400,000 Northern men, many, many just-arriving immigrants, represents 9 percent of that population, aged 18 to 48.

Applying 30 percent to today’s American population (2010 census), calculates to 21 million deaths – a war death toll that today’s Americans cannot comprehend. Only the region between the Rhine and Volga in World War II suffered greater mortality.

White civilian deaths during Lincoln’s invasion and the first four years of the political Reconstruction that followed are a very sad historical story. William Cawthon estimated that 35,000 white civilians died. Historian James McPherson calculates that the North’s war against civilians destroyed two-thirds of the assessed value of wealth in the Confederate States, two-fifths of their livestock and over half of their farm machinery, resulting in a destitute people, struggling to find enough to eat, unable to control their future.”

(Rebirthing Lincoln: A Biography, Howard Ray White, Southern Books, 2021, excerpt pg. 258)

Seward on God’s Poor

It is erroneous that the Republican party of Lincoln was an “anti-slavery” party and hostile to slavery. The party depended greatly upon new and recent immigrant votes, those who wanted cheap or free land and no labor competition from black people. The western territories were to be reserved for immigrant whites, the South was not to be allowed to bring their workers to the west.  The war of course destroyed the South’s economy and political strength, forced Southerners to accept Northern decrees, and to keep its black people in the South where they could not take jobs from white Northerners.

Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward, viewed black people as did Lincoln, who, when asked of their postwar future stated that they must “root-hog or die.” And he meant that they had to do this in the South and nowhere else in the country. This would quickly change with Radical Republican control of the party and the imperative that Grant be elected president in 1868. To effect this they enfranchised 500,000 illiterate men to vote against New York’s Horatio Seymour, who lost that election by some 300,000 votes.

Seward on God’s Poor

“But Seward viewed the Black Codes as an issue of secondary importance. He was now concerned more with reconciliation between the white majorities, North and South, than he was with the fate of the blacks, for whom the war had already brought freedom. In April, 1866 he gave an interview to Charles Eliot Norton and Edwin Godkin, publishers of the influential magazine Nation.

According to Seward there should be no question about re-admitting the South to full representation in Congress; it had as much right to representation as did the North. He then responded to a question about the blacks:

“The North has nothing to do with the Negroes. I have no more concern for them than I have for the Hottentots. They are God’s poor; they always have been and always will be so everywhere . . . the laws of political economy will determine their position and the relations of the two races.”

(William Henry Seward: Lincoln’s Right Hand, John M. Taylor, Harper Collins, 1991, excerpt pg. 260)

Converting Preachers into Devils

John Hay was one of three Lincoln secretaries, along with John Nicolay and William Stoddard, and it was they who most likely revised the Gettysburg speech which was described as “a wet blanket,” for publication. Hay was a young man who idolized Lincoln from his prewar days, and was quickly admitted to his inner circle at president.

Converting Preachers into Devils

“On April 29 we have this entry [in Hay’s diary]: “Going to Nicolay’s room this morning, C. [Carl] Schurz and J. [James] Lane were sitting. Jim was at the window, filling his soul with gall by steady telescopic contemplation of a Secession flag impudently flaunting over a roof in Alexandria. ‘Let me tell you,’ said he to the elegant Teuton, ‘we have got to whip those scoundrels like hell, C. Schurz. They did a good thing stoning our men at Baltimore and shooting away the flag at Sumter. It has set the great North a-howling for blood, and they’ll have it.’

‘I heard,’ said Schurz, ‘you preached a sermon to your men yesterday.’

“No, sir! This is not a time for preaching. When I went to Mexico there were four preachers in my regiment. In less than a week I issued orders for them all to stop preaching and go to playing cards. In a month or so, they were the biggest devils and best fighters I had.’

‘An hour afterwards, C. Schurz told me he was going home to arm his [German] clansmen for the wars. He has obtained three months’ leave of absence from his diplomatic duties, and permission to raise a cavalry regiment. He will make a wonderful land pirate; bold, quick, brilliant and reckless. He will be hard to control and difficult to direct.’

Hay and Nicolay, drawn to Lincoln by his unusual geniality, little suspected at first that he was destined to be . . . the savior of the Republic.

Hay [later] referred to [Orville] Browning’s suggestion that the North should subjugate the South, exterminate the whites, set up a black republic, and protect the Negroes “while they raised our cotton.” Optimists predicted that at the first reverse the Southern Confederacy would collapse . . . The North, however, clamored for action. It felt the sting of the humiliation of Sumter and Baltimore and of more recent rebuffs: it believed that the Government was now strong enough to crush the Rebellion . . .

Monday, the 22nd of July, was one of the [most dismal] days Washington had ever seen. Before afternoon the news spread that the Rebels, having given up the pursuit [after victory at Manassas], were not about to attack the outposts; but everyone realized that the war, alternately dreaded and doubted for forty years, had come in earnest.”

(The Life of John Hay, Vol. I, William R. Thayer, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1908, excerpts pp. 102-105; 107-110)

A Powerful Force of Militant Democracy

Had England gone to war against the United States in late 1861 over the seizure of two Confederate States diplomats from the RMS Trent, Lincoln’s ports would have been blockaded by the Royal Navy, and Northern shipping destroyed on the high seas in concert with Confederate privateers. Also contemplated was invasion of the undefended American northwest, as well as Canada West — today’s Ontario – thus creating a Northern war front.  Added to this was Maximillian’s French army in Mexico, which may have marched northward to help American’s achieve independence a second time.

A Powerful Force of Militant Democracy

“The prime minister, Viscount Palmerston, was seventy-seven years old in 1861. Born in 1784, just after the American Revolution, he was twenty-eight when Britain went to war again with the United States in 1812. Palmerston had served as foreign secretary in three British governments for a total of about fifteen years.

His involvement with several major US-British disputes had left him with the view that the Americans were pushy, ill-mannered, unyielding in their demands that their rights be respected, and totally lacking in awe of the imperial power of Britain. His continuing fears that the United States would eventually invade and annex Canada ultimately prevented him from supporting a more aggressive British policy toward the American Civil War.

One of Palmerston’s biographers, Jasper Ridley, wrote that “he believed that the British constitution and social system . . . was the best in the world . . . He was a liberal abroad because he wished to see this system replace the absolute monarchies of the Continent.”  But when he looked toward America, Palmerston was no liberal. He was hostile to the idea of a government elected by all of the citizens and, as Ridley noted, was very dubious about militant democracy in America:

“Palmerston had played a very active role in the suppression of the international slave trade . . .  But though Palmerston was delighted when slaves in the intercepted slave ships were liberated by officers and gentlemen of the Royal Navy, he was not pleased at the prospect of the slaves on cotton plantations in the Confederate States being freed by large armies . . . commanded by cigar-chomping generals in ill-fitting uniforms.  And he was as conscious as [John] Bright and the [British] Radicals that the Union armies were the most powerful force of militant democracy since the French revolutionary armies of 1793.”

Oxford professor H.C. Allen wrote that Palmerston “privately . . . hoped for success of the Confederacy because it would weaken a potential rival of Britain’s – and a democratic one . . .”

(One War at a Time: The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Dean B. Mahin, Brassey’s, 1999, excerpt, pp. 32-33)

The Real Motives of the War

The British were comfortable with a near-aristocratic political system in the American South and feared the popular democracy of the North. They clearly saw the division since the early 1840s of the United States into two distinct peoples splitting into two independent countries.

The Real Motives of the War

“The ruling classes in Britain were inclined to accept the Confederacy’s leaders’ portrayals of themselves as defenders of liberty and independence and their portrayals of Northern leaders as tyrants seeking to impose their will on the South. The Liberal Party in England stood for the kind of political and economic liberalism that stressed limits on the powers of government.

A British scholar, Martin Crawford, described the newspaper’s persistent belief that the North could not win the war and that continued separation of North and South was inevitable:

“The longer the conflict lasted, the more convinced The Times became that Lincoln’s government should accept disunion for what it was, a sad and irrevocable fact . . . The critique of the American conflict which The Times fashioned in the late summer and autumn of 1861 would remain virtually unchanged for the duration of the war . . . Britain’s leading newspaper had established itself as a committed opponent of the federal cause, with the result that its capacity for independent judgment of American affairs was substantially impaired.”

The Times had no monopoly on anti-Northern prejudices. The conservative London Dispatch compressed into a single sentence most of the upper class prejudices against the North:

“The real motives of the civil war are the continuance of the power of the North to tax the industry of the South and the consolidation of the huge confederation to sweep every other power from the American continent, to enter into the politics of Europe with a Republican propaganda, and to bully the world.”

(One War at a Time: The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Dean B. Mahin, Brassey’s, 1999, excerpt, pp. 27-30)

The High Functionary’s War

President Jefferson Davis’ message to the Third Session of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States at Richmond, Virginia, July 20, 1861 (excerpts):

“Commencing in March last, with an affectation of ignoring the secession of the seven States which first organized this Government; persisting in April in the idle and absurd assumption of the existence of a riot which was to be dispersed by a posse comitatus; continuing in successive months the false representation that these States intended offensive war, in spite of conclusive evidence to the contrary . . . the President of the United States and his advisors have succeeded in deceiving the people of those States into the belief that the purpose of [the Confederate] Government was not peace at home, but conquest abroad; not the defense of its own liberties, but the subversion of those of the people of the United States.”

Under cover of [an] unfounded pretense that the Confederate States are the assailants, that high functionary, after expressing his concern that some foreign nations “had so shaped their action as if they supposed the early destruction of our National Union was probable,” abandons all further disguise, and proposes “to make this conflict a short and decisive one,” by placing at the control of the Government for the work at least 400,000 men and $400,000,000. The Congress, concurring in the doubt thus intimated as to the sufficiency of the force demanded, has increased it to a half a million of men.

These enormous preparations in men and money, for the conduct of a war on a scale more gigantic than any which the world has ever witnessed, is a distinct avowal, in the eyes of civilized man, that the United States are engaged in a conflict with a great and powerful nation; they are at last compelled to abandon the pretense of being engaged in dispersing rioters and suppressing insurrections . . . and are driven to the acknowledgement that the ancient Union has been dissolved.

In 1781 Great Britain, when invading her revolted colonies, took possession of the very district of country near Fortress Monroe, now occupied by troops of the United States. The houses then inhabited by the people, after being respected and protected by avowed invaders, are now pillaged and destroyed by men who pretend that the victims are their fellow-citizens.

Mankind will shudder to hear the tales of outrage committed on defenseless females by soldiers of the United States now invading our homes; yet these outrages are prompted by inflamed passions and the madness of intoxication. But who shall depict the horror with which they will regard the cool and deliberate malignity which, under pretext of suppressing an insurrection, said by themselves to be upheld by a minority only of our people, makes special war on the sick, including the women and the children, by carefully devised measures to prevent their obtaining the medicines necessary for their cure.

The sacred claims of humanity, respected even during the fury of actual battle, by careful diversion of attack from the hospitals containing wounded enemies, are outraged in cold blood by a government and people that pretend to desire a continuance of fraternal connections . . . The humanity of our [Southern] people would shrink instinctively from the bare idea of waging a like war upon the sick, the women, and the children of the enemy.”

(Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 1861-1865, Volume I, James D. Richardson, editor, US Publishing Company, 1906, excerpts, pp. 118-120)

Goths and Vandals in Florida

Captain J.J. Dickison, renowned for his fearless role in leading Florida’s “Cow Cavalry” during the war, is said to have always carried three revolvers – two in holsters and one on his saber belt. On more than one occasion after emptying his pistols and dashing up to an enemy cavalryman who was ordered to surrender, but refused to do, he would strike an unerring blow with his trusty saber.

Goths and Vandals in Florida

“Gainesville, Fla., August 19, 1864

The enemy’s cavalry [from Ohio and Massachusetts], reported to be four hundred strong, reached this place on the 17th, at four o’clock, a.m., with the view to sacking and burning the town. Upon their arrival, we had but one company of militia and a few citizens, who had assembled suddenly upon the emergency, under command of Judge Thomas F. King, to repel them.

Finding that they were unable, in consequence of the largely superior force, to successfully resist them, they retired . . . anxiously hoping for the arrival of our cavalry.

The enemy, or, at least a majority of them, were stationed at the railroad and depot, while the remaining began an indiscriminate robbery and plunder of the citizens of the town. Just in the midst of their thieving operations, and conduct such as would have been a disgrace even to the names and character of the Goths and Vandals, Captain [J.J.] Dickison . . . with his noble command, dashed in the town from nearly every direction.

When nearly opposite the residence of Colonel Dozier, Captain Dickison directed Lt. Bruton of the artillery, to open upon the enemy with the two pieces under his command. A portion of our cavalry then charged upon the enemy, and opened such a terrific fire upon them that they scampered through the town in every direction like a flock without a shepherd.

The fighting between our troops and the enemy then became indiscriminate and general. The Yankees tried to secret themselves in and under the houses in town, while many of them sought to remain near the ladies for protection, knowing full well our gallant men would not aim their trusty rifles at them thus situated.  Finding that they were completely hemmed in . . . a large number surrendered.

A number of the enemy, after being routed . . . started pell-mell on the road leading to Newnansville, where they were met by a detachment of militia cavalry, commanded by Captain Williams, who captured twenty-four of them.”

(Dickison and His Men: Reminiscences of the War in Florida, Mary Elizabeth Dickison, Courier-Journal Printing Co., 1890, excerpts pp. 100-102)

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