Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

The Sack of Williamsburg

The Sack of Williamsburg

“Our [25th Pennsylvania Regiment] picket line extended from the York to the James Rivers, about four miles; and with gunboats on either flank was a strong one.

One of the pickets posted at Williamsburg was at the old brick house once occupied by Governor Page of Virginia. It was built of brick imported from England. The library in the mansion was a room about eighteen by twenty feet, and the walls had been covered with books from floor to ceiling; but now the shelving had been torn down and the floor was piled with books in wretched disorder – trampled upon – most pitiful to see. In the attic of this old house the boys found trunks and boxes of papers of a century past – documents, letters, etc.

Among the latter were those bearing the signatures of such men as Jefferson, Madison, Richard Henry Lee; and one more signed by Washington.”

(25th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Samuel H. Putnam. Putnam, Davis and Company, Publishers. 1886, pp. 249-250)

Looking Back at Wilmington’s “1898”

Largely, if not totally ignored in today’s discussion regarding November 1898’s unfortunate “newspaper editorial confrontation turned-violent” is the lack of perspective regarding the long lead-up to it. The local government, media and university are all complicit in beating the drums of racial animosity which will lead to less racial harmony, not more. The most detailed and informed book regarding this sad event is not a book, but a hard-to-find 800-page doctoral dissertation found at the end. Unfortunately, there are only several poorly researched and outright fictional books which do nothing to enlighten the reader.

Looking Back at Wilmington’s “1898”

First, it is probable that had the war of 1861-1865 not occurred and the South was left on its own to solve the riddle of racial coexistence, no November 1898 violence would have occurred. This racial conundrum was imposed on the American South by African tribes enslaving their own people and selling them to English, and later New England traders. After the Civil War the Republican party, anxious to maintain political hegemony over the country, enfranchised black men. These, along with Union veterans bought with pension money, kept Republicans in power.

The Democratic party finally rid North Carolina of Republican/Carpetbag rule by 1872, but Wilmington remained a holdout of Republican power due to its majority black population. The Democratic party dominated State politics through the early 1890s.

After the Republican-Populist victory in State politics in 1896, the Republicans began a program common to political parties – they dismantle and rearrange legislation the opposition party had erected to establish their own barriers to their opponents ever returning to power. This political strategy continues today.

In the run-up to the 1896 elections, Populists realized their plight as described by Hal W. Ayer, chair of the New Hanover County Populist party: “If the Democrats won, they would continue to ignore the farmers; if Republicans won, independently of Populists, they would be forced by the large black constituency which constitutes the great body of the party into some of the [Reconstruction] recklessness of 1868; and this is something to be feared as much as Democratic rule.”

These Populists, many of them farmers who believe the Democrats should have been more politically-attentive to them in the past, and “who distrusted the large black element of the Republican party,” decided to cooperate with the Republicans in order to “defeat the arrogant and hypocritical Democrats, and at the same time secure by such cooperation a balance of power in the State Legislature that would effectually check any wild or reckless plan that might be advocated by the Republican party.” As with many partnerships, the Republicans would forget their Populist associates once in power.

Both the Wilmington Messenger and Wilmington Morning Star newspapers wrote of the specter of corrupt Reconstruction politics returning to bedevil white residents. The black-owned Wilmington Sentinel endorsed Daniel Russell for governor – who was nominally a Republican and ignored by party leadership – to ensure black unity within Republican ranks. To the dismay of white Democratic voters, Russell, who promised patronage positions to those lieutenants delivering the vote, was elected thanks to strong turnout in sixteen black-dominated counties, with 87 percent of eligible blacks voting. It is noteworthy that 20 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots for the Democratic candidate, and 8 percent voted for the Populist candidate.

An irony within white Republican ranks was though they preached racial equality publicly, “they resented black officeholding and activity in Republican party affairs.” While earlier a superior court judge, Russell himself stated that “Negroes are natural-born thieves. They will steal six days in the week and go to church on Sunday to shout and pray it off.” However, by the mid-1890s white Republicans were a minority in their party and only constituted those hungry for political employment.

Prior to the elections of 1898, black newspaper editor Alex Manly penned an unfortunate editorial which insulted white women and predictably incurred the wrath of the area’s white menfolk. Many prominent men in Wilmington demanded that the city’s Republican mayor and aldermen close down the paper and force the editor to leave town. The Republicans did little or nothing which eventually led to a violent confrontation.

But lost in today’s rhetoric is the very basis of Manly’s editorial and what prompted it. Why is this ignored and not identified as the primary cause? Manly was commenting on an earlier speech of Rebecca Felton of Georgia, wife of a legislator, who addressed a group of Savannah women earlier and denounced the rape of white farm women by black men while their husbands were far off in the fields working. Mrs. Felton demanded that the Republican party, the political home of most black voters and which preached hatred toward Democrats, do something to end the heinous crimes of their constituents.

Manly’s later editorial claimed that the white women had somehow encouraged the advances of the black men attacking them in their homes. This predictably led an enraged group of white residents to march to Manly’s establishment to escort him to the rail station. Not finding Manly, on the march back to their homes these men were fired upon by black men concealed in houses being passed, and they returned fire. This entire episode was preventable.

The black New Hanover County Coroner, David Jacobs, summoned a Coroner’s Jury the following day to investigate the deaths of five black men from gunshot wounds. Three white men were wounded in the affair, one seriously. Though there are numerous unsubstantiated estimates of those killed or wounded, we have only the coroner’s investigation as an official source. On November 15th, black resident Thomas Lane was tried for firing a pistol into the group of men marching to Manly’s news office. Lane quickly ran out the back, but the return fire unfortunately caused the death of an occupant, Josh Halsey.

An important but marginalized voice in this 1898 affair is Collector of Customs John C. Dancy, a black Edgecombe County native appointed by Republican presidential patronage to his position, and the highest-paid person in North Carolina at the time. In this influential position he was considered the head of the Republican party and expected to foster and deliver the vote, and he surrounded himself with black employees at the Custom house who were expected to promote party interests. After the violence of November 1898, Dancy concluded that all blame be placed upon Manly’s editorial, which lit the flame.

A question to be put to rest is the often-heard claim that the conflict ended democratically elected government in Wilmington. The Republican-Populist legislature, once in power in 1895, altered municipal charters to benefit themselves. They amended Wilmington’s charter “so as to establish a partly elected and partly appointed Board of Aldermen.

The amended charter did not alter ward lines but allowed “qualified voters of each ward to elect one alderman and empowered the Governor to appoint one alderman from each of the five wards.” (McDuffie, pg. 460-461).  Under the guise of “preventing misrule by the propertyless and ignorant elements,” the Republicans strictly controlled Wilmington’s municipal government.

(Politics in Wilmington and New Hanover County, NC: 1865-1900. Jerome A. McDuffie, PhD dissertation, 1979, Kent State University, pp. 442-453; 738)

North Carolina Union Men of 1861

North Carolina Union Men of 1861

“Many a gallant Tar Heel has maintained that he did not fight against the flag of the United States, but against the man who was carrying it and endeavoring to use it to overturn the constitutional principles in support of which it gained a place among the proud ensigns of the nations. These “Unionists” were the only true loyal men of 1860 who said, ‘I will stand by the Union as long as the obligations under which it was formed are observed.’”

(North Carolina Union Men of 1861.  W.A. Graham, North Carolina Booklet, Vol. XI, No. 1, July 1911, pp. 11-12)

Lincoln’s View of Carpetbag Politicians in the South

Lincoln’s View of Carpetbag Politicians in the South

“Executive Mansion, Washington.

November 27, 1862.

Hon. Geo. F. Shepley, Military Governor of Louisiana:

“Dear Sir: Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for Congress in that State. In my view there could be no possible object in such an election.

To send a parcel of Northern men here as Representatives, elected, as would be understood, (and perhaps really so,) at the point of a bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous; and were I a member Congress here, I would vote against admitting such men to a seat.

Yours, very truly, A. Lincoln.”

(Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall. D.C. Heath and Company, 1937. pg. 701)

The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War

The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War

The article in this number on the “Sudden Change in Northern Sentiment as to Coercion in 1861,” by Dr. James H. McNeilly of Nashville, shows that there was evidently a deeply laid plan to force the South into making the first hostile demonstration in order to arouse that sentiment which would respond to the call for troops necessary to invade this section. It is well-known that the general sentiment in the North was against making war on the seceding Southern States, but there was a powerful political element which really wanted war and could see the value of forcing the South into making an offensive move. Forcibly illustrating this spirit is the following quotation from a thoughtful writer of the South:

“On February 2, 1861, Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, in a letter published in the Memphis Appeal, wrote of the Republican leaders as follows:

‘They are bold, determined men. They are striving to break up the Union under the pretense of serving it. They are struggling to overthrow the Constitution while professing undying attachment to it and a willingness to make any sacrifice to maintain it. They are trying to plunge the country into a cruel war as the surest way of destroying the Union upon the plea of enforcing the laws and protecting public property.’

Shortly after Douglas wrote this letter Senator Zach Chandler of Michigan, wrote to Gov. Austin Blair which proves the conspiracy of the men determined on war. Virginia had solicited a conference of States to see if some plan could not be devised and agreed upon to prevent war and save the Union. Chandler wrote Governor Blair that he opposed the conference and that no Republican State should send a delegate. He implored the governor to send stiff-necked [anti-compromise] delegates or none, as the whole idea of compromise was against his judgement. Chandler added to his letter these sinister words: ‘Some of the manufacturing States think that a war would be awful; without a little bloodletting this Union will not be worth a curse.’”

(The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War. Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXIV, No. 10, October 1916. pg. 436)

 

Shaking the Instincts of Our Youth

Gen. Samuel G. French, a Southern officer born in New Jersey, wrote postwar of the extreme sacrifices Americans in the South had made in their drive for political independence. Speaking to a group regarding their memorial efforts, he said:

“I am not unmindful, ladies, of the power you possess & can exercise in preserving the true story of the war & the memory of the South’s soldiers. Tell the true story to your children. Because if you don’t, their teachers will tell them their version.”

Shaking the Instincts of Our Youth

“She arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina before dawn on December 30, 1866. Had she been superstitious, Amy Bradley might have felt that even the elements were trying to tell her that “the mission was doomed, for “the snow was falling fast, making the prospect cold and cheerless.” Undaunted by her chilly reception in town, she got to work shortly after light.

She first presented a letter of introduction to Rev. S.A. Ashley, a New Englander who represented the interests of the American Missionary Society, the Freedman’s Bureau and who was described to her as “the superintendent of Wilmington Schools.”

Their conference was followed by a tour of Dry Pond, one of the city’s poorest white neighborhoods. Amy then paid formal calls upon several local carpetbag politicians, men of substance who might be empathetic to her “mission,” because of a shared New England background or identification with Republican party politics. These gentlemen, “though courteous in their reception, frankly, told her it was impossible for her to succeed.”

Their pessimism sprang from an understanding of Wilmington’s attitudes rather than any personal distaste for Amy or disdain for her proposed school. However, they knew full well that in the emotional aftermath of defeat and devastation of Reconstruction, Wilmington’s old-line Conservatives would not be so charitable. “Do-gooders from the north were not held in high esteem. As one observer put it:

“Following the destruction of the Southern States by armies of northern radicals, swarms of the riffraff of northern cities, the dregs of northern society, poured into the South. Among them were the female “missionaries,” as they styled themselves, with a “holier than thou” attitude. “How much better it is to do it our way,” said those arrogant New England schoolmarms.”

Amy soon became a familiar Wilmington figure as she went house to house drumming up interest in her proposed school. Despite many town women pulling their skirts aside when she passed, or spat on her, she held her head high and continued the rounds. In early January 1867 one local carpetbagger capitulated to her badgering and gave her the key to the old Dry Pond schoolhouse, abandoned in 1862.  Within four days she had the school cleaned and welcomed the first three students.

After two months Amy had sixty-two members of the Benevolent Society meeting there to sew book satchels for prospective students. On March 1, 1867, she brought in teacher Miss Claribel Gerrish from New Hampshire to assist in school. Amy now had someone to talk to, walk with and share the teaching.

To make it clear that Bradley and company were unwelcome, the Wilmington Dispatch ran a front-page article:

“Equally obnoxious and pernicious is to have Yankee teachers in our midst, forming the minds and shaking the instincts of our youth – alienating them, in fact, from the principles of their fathers and sowing the seeds of their pernicious doctrine upon the un-furrowed soil. The South has heretofore been free from the puritanical schisms and isms New England, and we regret to see the any indication of the establishment here of a foothold by their societies professing the doctrines of Free Love-ism, Communism, Universalism, Unitarianism and all the multiplicity of evil teachings that corrupt society and overthrow religion.”

Although Amy considered herself a woman of the world, she was probably too naïve to realize why her school merited such an attack. Her background as an active member of the Unitarian-Universalist establishment probably made it impossible for her to understand how a religion so well-accepted in Boston was such an anathema to Wilmington. The editorialist’s more accurate charge that she was teaching a doctrine offensive to her pupils’ forefathers did have merit, for Amy never missed an opportunity to promote her political philosophy.”

(Headstrong: The Biography of Amy Morris Bradley. DC Cashman, Broadfoot Publishing, 1990, pp. 159-176).

 

Doubtful Elections

Doubtful Elections

“All American presidential elections have been contested except for the first, in 1789, and the ninth, in 1820. In the ninth, President James Monroe ran for reelection and won 231 out of 235 electoral votes (with three abstentions and one dissenting vote for John Quincy Adams). That election is evidence of an organic national unity that is now as extinct as the western frontier.

America has also had at least two stolen presidential elections, as well as one that was almost stolen in 1800, and one in 1860 whose outcome was rejected by half the country, leading to a four-year civil war and a geopolitical division that persists to this day. That America “survived” this civil war depends on the meaning of the verb and ignores the obvious implication that what happened once can happen again.

One of the stolen elections happened in 1960, when tow Democrat political machines, one in Texas and the other in Illinois, manufactured enough votes to decide a close election in favor of John F. Kennedy. The closeness of the vote likely made it easier to steal – Kennedy won the popular vote by only 118,000 votes out of 68 million cast. The shift of two States in the Electoral College would have elected Nixon.

The other definitely stolen election, in 1876, is worth examining in detail . . . and about what a party in power will do to stay in power – especially when it is convinced that it deserves to do so. This time it was the Republicans who stole it. After suffering a severe defeat in congressional elections two years before, a Grant administration wracked by scandals and the country still reeling from the financial panic of 1873, the Republicans entered 1876 with a weak hand.

Yet the Republicans won the election with a bold plan to disenfranchise white voters in three Southern States still under military occupation 11 years after the war: Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina.

By midnight of election day, it appeared Democrat Samuel Tilden of New York had defeated Republican Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio.

Northern General Daniel Sickles arrived at Republican headquarters and hatched a plan. The defeated Republican governors were instructed to not concede the election; the New York Times was enlisted to promote a narrative of a contested election; and finally, a delegation of Republican leaders, lawyers and bags of Lincoln greenbacks headed for New Orleans, Columbia, Tallahassee and Baton Rouge, to oversee election audits.

Sickle’s strategy for challenging the legitimacy of the result was to have his bagmen allege that white Democrats intimidated freedmen to keep them from voting, which was grounds under reconstruction law for canceling an equal number of white votes.

The morning edition of the New York Times declared the new reality: “A Doubtful Election.” The second morning edition proclaimed not only Oregon but South Carolina and Louisiana for Hayes. As Republican leaders had worked out their plan to steal the 1876 election, they knew their party still controlled all the levers of power and the trappings of legitimacy necessary: the Supreme Court, the White House, the Senate, and most importantly, the State canvassing boards in the three Southern States.”

(“As American as a Stolen Election,” H.A. Scott Trask. Chronicles Magazine, August 2023, excerpts pp. 7-8)

Inciting Insurrection

After his military’s defeat at Second Manassas in August 1862, Lincoln thought that threatening to free black laborers at the South might help his prospects in his war against the South. Despite those who thought it a barbarity to incite insurrections, he replied: “Nor do I urge objections of a moral nature in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South.”

In New York City, a French-language newspaper opined: “Does the Government at Washington mean to say on January 1st, 1863, it will call for a servile war to aid in his conquest of the South? And after the blacks have killed the white people of the South, they themselves must be drowned in their own blood?”

Inciting Insurrection

“In the Senate, Stephen A. Douglas, pursuant to the Constitution, introduced a bill to punish those people who seek to incite slave insurrections. “Abraham Lincoln, in his speech at New York, declared it was a seditious speech” – “His press and party hooted it.” “It received their jeers and jibes.” (pg. 663, Stephen’s Pictorial History).

Then came the election of President. The party of [black] insurrection swept the Northern States. The people of the South had realized the possible results. With the people of the North making a saint of [John Brown] who planned and started to murder the slaveholders . . . and the Northern States all going in favor of the Republican party which protected those engaged in such plans.  Naturally there were in every Southern State those who thought it best to guard against such massacres by separating from those States where John Brown was deified.

When news came that Abraham Lincoln was elected, the South Carolina Legislature, being in session, called a State Convention. When the Convention met it withdrew ratification of the US Constitution and declared South Carolina an independent State.

In its declaration it said: “Those States have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who have remained have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing until it has now secured to its aid the power of the general government. “

So, to escape insurrections and ensure public safety, South Carolina separated itself from the United States government to free itself from a government led by a man who was not opposed to the massacre of the Southern people.”

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-1865. Capt. S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, North Carolina, pp. 46-47)

“Such Was the Spirit of Those Who Made the War”

The US Constitution clearly states that only Congress may declare war against a foreign enemy, and Article III, Section 3 of the same document clearly defines the definition of treason committed against the United States.

‘Such Was the Spirit of Those Who Made the War’

“And so, without any authorization from Congress, Lincoln began a war on the Southern States which had formed themselves into a more perfect union. A few months after he began the war, he had the United States Congress to meet and the first thing offered was a resolution confirming and legalizing his acts, as if they had been authorized.

This particular resolution was before the Senate fifteen times between July 6 and August 6 and never passed. Then, after twenty months of warfare, the Supreme Court of the United States (67 US Reports, pg. 668) said Congress had no power delegated to it to make war upon a State, and that the President held no authority to make war – only Congress could do so.

That ‘the Civil War between the Northern and Southern States arose because the citizens of the States owed a supreme allegiance to the United States which the Southern States sought to absolve themselves from, by State secession, and the right of a State to do what was now being decided by wager of battle.’

There was no reason or ground stated to justify the above claim that “the citizens of each State owed supreme allegiance to the United States.” It was a war by the Northern States to hold the Southern States in union with them; a conquest of free, sovereign and independent States to be held under the domination of the more numerous States.

As Senator Baker, of Oregon, declared in the Senate that he favored ‘reducing the population of the Southern States to abject to the sway of the federal government.’ ‘We may reduce the Southern States to the condition of territories and send to them from Massachusetts or from Illinois, loyal governors to control them. I would do that.’ (Cong. Globe LW, pg. 48). Such was the spirit of those who made the war.”

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-1865. Capt. S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, North Carolina. Pg. 53)

Jul 2, 2023 - Carnage, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Myth of Saving the Union, No Compromise, Pleading for Peace, Republican Party    Comments Off on The Slaughter of Lincoln’s War

The Slaughter of Lincoln’s War

Prodded by Lincoln to be on the offensive in early September 1862, the north’s early savior Gen. George McClellan began his pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army into Maryland. Though his army was numerically inferior, Lee audaciously scattered his forces into strong positions, invited costly enemy assaults and then concentrated all for his opponent to fruitlessly assault. McClellan declined the bait and to Lincoln’s chagrin, retreated. After the carnage and burials, Lincoln demanded yet more troops to continue the invasion.

The Slaughter of Lincoln’s War

“Except for a belch of musketry here and there, the roar of battle at Sharpsburg subsided all along the lines as day turned to dusk. When men’s ears stopped ringing, they began to perceive the agonized groans of the wounded, piercing and plaintive nearer by but rolling like the rumble of distant thunder over the rest of the battlefield. Nearly four thousand Americans had died that day, and close to twenty thousand had been wounded – some of them horribly and many fatally – but the road still lay open to Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

“We do not boast a victory,” wrote one of Lee’s personal staff two days after the return to Virginia; “it was not sufficiently decisive for that. The Yankees would have claimed a glorious victory had they been on our side & they no doubt claim it anyhow.”

Certainly, McClellan counted it a “complete” victory for he had rid Maryland of the invader and had hurt him more than a little in the process. What he had not done, as Abraham Lincoln observed with great disappointment, was to prevent Lee’s escape and compel his surrender.

A short truce on the day after the battle allowed for the retrieval of some of the wounded and burial of a few of the dead. The work demonstrated how abrupt a transformation overcame good men who had become heartless killers in the tumult of battle. A young northern lieutenant from western Virginia suddenly recoiled at the bloodshed between men who spoke the same dialect. “The thought struck me,” he wrote his family, “this is unnatural.” Seeking respite from the slaughter, the lieutenant tried to resign soon after the battle.

The sheer devastation of Sharpsburg contributed substantially to a new epidemic of resignations from the northern army. The colonel of the 107th New York promptly departed in the wake of their brutal initiation, while one of their freshly-commissioned captains – whose company was criticized for faltering under fire – spend the next five weeks conniving for a safe home-front assignment as a drillmaster or clerk. A New Hampshire sergeant who had made the charge against Burnside’s Bridge damned Republicans up and down as he toured the battlefield; he supposed that if they could see such carnage, even they might change their minds and demand a settlement “in the name of God.”

Southern prisoners elicited abundant comment, particularly among recruits who had never seen their enemies at a speaking distance. “They are naturally more lithe & active that we”; and much more serious in defense of their homeland than the northern soldiers who had enlisted to stifle the South’s desire for political independence. “There is,” he added,” “a look of savageness in their eyes not observable in the good-natured countenance of our men.”

A romantic, reflective sergeant who had left his New Hampshire home less than a month before watched a mass burial of his fellow soldiers that Friday. He supposed that decay alone would dissuade most families from retrieving their loved ones’ remains, and reflected that no mothers, sisters, daughters, or wives would ever weep over these men folks’ graves at twilight or cast flowers on them as anniversaries passed. Only “the sighing wind shall be their funeral dirge.”

(Lincoln’s Darkest Year: The War in 1862. William Marvel. Houghton-Mifflin, 2008, pp. 217-226)

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