Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

The Governor's Coffin

The occupation troops of Northern General Ambrose Burnside at New Bern in mid-1862 not only loaded their empty transports with furniture, carpets and jewelry for the return trip North, but also found New Bern cemeteries full of coffins to appropriate.  Even Lincoln’s hand-picked proconsul, Edward Stanly, who was appointed “governor” of North Carolina, resigned in disgust after observing the looting by Northern soldiers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Governor’s Coffin

Richard Dobbs Spaight (1796-1850), son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was also a member of the North Carolina Legislature, United States Congressman and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, served as governor of The Old North State from 1835 to 1837.

He was born in New Bern, and prior to being governor, he served in the State Legislature from 1819 to 1822, and again from 1825 to 1834. Spaight was the last governor to be elected by the legislature, and was a member of the 1837 Constitutional Convention which transferred the gubernatorial election to popular vote. During the War Between the States, Northern occupation troops used the Stevenson House (corner Pollock & George Streets) in New Bern as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

In a truly unbelievable act of barbarism, “the body of Governor Spaight was dug up by Northern soldiers, the skull placed on a gate post, and the metal coffin used to send the body of a federal soldier back North.”

(A New Geography of North Carolina, Bill Sharpe, Sharpe’s Publishing Company 1961, page 1232)

Longstreet Finds Adversaries Lacking Honor

Southern commanders like James Longstreet expected their Northern counterparts to embrace the conviction that enemies no less than comrades merited honorable treatment, from officers down to enlisted men. To encourage a Southern soldier to desert was unthinkable; A letter from a Southern woman in 1862 stated that “the black title of tory and deserter will cling to them, disgracing their children’s children.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Longstreet Finds Adversaries Lacking Honor

Letter from General Longstreet to General [J.G.] Foster:

“Headquarters, Confederate Forces, East Tennessee, Jan. 3, 1864:

To the Commanding General, United States Forces, East Tennessee –

Sir – I find the proclamation of President Lincoln, of the 8th of December last, in circulation in handbills among our soldiers. The immediate object of this proclamation seems to be to induce our soldiers to quit our ranks and take the oath of allegiance to the United States government.

I presume, however, that the great object and end in view is to hasten the day of peace. I respectfully suggest, for your consideration, the propriety of communicating any views that your government may have upon this subject through me, rather than by handbills circulated amongst our soldiers.

The few men who may desert under the promise held out in the proclamation, cannot be men of character or standing. If they desert their cause, they disgrace themselves in the eyes of God and man. They can do your cause no good, nor can they injure ours.

As a great nation, you can accept none but an honorable peace. As a noble people, you could have us accept nothing less.

I submit, therefore, whether the mode that I suggest would not be more likely to lead to an honorable end than such a circulation of a partial promise of pardon.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, Commanding

 

Headquarters, Confederate Forces, East Tennessee, Jan. 11, 1864:

“Sir – I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th of January, with its inclosures, etc.

The disingenuous manner in which you have misconstrued my letter of the 3d, has disappointed me. Let me remind you, too, that the spirit and tone of my letter were to meet honorable sentiments.

I have read your order announcing the favorable terms on which deserters will be received. Step by step you have gone on in violation of the laws of honorable warfare. Our farms have been destroyed, our women and children have been robbed, and our houses have been pillaged and burnt. You have laid your plans and worked diligently to produce wholesale murder by servile insurrection. And now, the most ignoble of all, you propose to degrade the human race by inducing soldiers to dishonor and forswear themselves.

Soldiers who have met your own on so many honorable fields, who have breasted the storm of battle in defence of their honor, their families, and their homes, for three long years, have a right to expect more of honor, even in their adversaries. I beg leave to return the copies of the proclamation, and your order.

I have the honor to renew to you the assurance of great respect, your obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, Commanding.”

(Lee and His Generals, Profiles of Robert E. Lee and Seventeen other Generals of the Confederacy, Captain William P. Snow, Gramercy Books, 1867/1996, pp. 333-334)

Terror, Looting and Banishment in Tennessee

General Eleazer A. Payne (Paine) was an Ohio lawyer and prewar friend of Abraham Lincoln. Formally reprimanded for brutality toward civilians in western Kentucky, he was known to have allowed Southern prisoners to ride away on old horses to be chased down and killed by his men.  After the war Mrs. T.J. Latham became president of the Tennessee Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy and State Agent for the Jefferson Davis Monument Fund. She also raised funds for the Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument.

www.Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Terror, Looting and Banishment in Tennessee

“Mrs. Latham was married at her home in Memphis just at the beginning of the war to T.J. Latham, a young attorney and Unionist of Dresden, Tenn., their home till the close of war.

Dresden was debatable ground, subject to raids by “bushwhackers” and “guerillas,” one week by one side, and the next week by the other. These incursions, frequent and without notice, were sometimes to arrest “disloyal” citizens and always to secure every good horse, or any moveable article they could make available.

From these harassing surroundings, Mr. Latham sought refuge by making Paducah his homes, but passing much of his time in New York. The notorious Gen. Payne was in charge at Paducah, and soon became a terror to every one suspected of being a Southern sympathizer. Soon after the famous Forrest raid into Paducah, Payne’s reign became much more oppressive and unbearable. Nero in his prime did not exceed him in heartless cruelty.

The couple with whom Mr. and Mrs. Latham boarded also came from Dresden. They were highly estimable people and had a son in the army. [The gentleman] was quite old and feeble, and under excitement subject to apoplectic attacks. Payne had him arrested. [His wife] fainted and he became alarmingly excited, appealing to Mrs. Latham to go with him, fearing, he said, that Payne’s Negroes would shoot him.

She went, and the first sight that confronted her at headquarters was a lovely woman at on her knees at Payne’s feet, praying for the release of her son, who was arrested the day before while plowing in the field a few miles from the city. Being refused, she asked what in deepest anguish: “What will you do with him?”  “Have him shot before midnight, Madam, for harboring his brother, who is a Forrest Rebel,” and [Payne then] executed his threat.

Mrs. Latham was more fortunate, securing the release of her friend; but Gen. Payne then, addressing her, said he would pardon her and furnish carriage and the best white escort, if she would return to her home in Dresden and point out the Rebels.

Instantly she replied: “Never! Sooner than betray my country and three brothers in the army, I would die!”

Turning savagely to Mrs. Latham, he said: “You will hear from me soon, and T.J. Latham though now in New York, will be attended to. He is a fine Union man to have the impudence to visit Gen. [Napoleon] Dana, at Memphis, my commanding officer; and, with others, induce him to annul my order that no person having sons or brothers in the Southern army should engage in business of any kind in the Paducah district. I will teach him a lesson in loyalty he will remember.”

Next morning a lieutenant went to Mrs. Latham’s and ordered her to get ready, as Gen. Payne had banished her with about ten other women to Canada. He advised her that he had selected Negro soldiers as a guard.  At Detroit the militia was ordered out to insure the safe transportation of a dozen women and children prisoners across to Windsor. On landing, John [Hunt] Morgan and many of his men and others gave them a joyous greeting, and at the hotel they sang Dixie war songs till a late hour.

Thence Mrs. Latham went to New York to join her husband. Mrs. Payne advised [her husband and others] of Payne’s despotic rule, and it was soon known to “honest old Abe” and Gen. Grant. A committee of investigation and a court-martial soon followed, with the speedy relief of Paducah of the most obnoxious and cruel tyrant.

In [Gen. Payne’s] desk were found letters [to his subordinates] saying: “Don’t send any more pianos or plated silver or pictures; all the kin are supplied. But you can send bed linen and solid silverware.”

(United Daughters of the Confederacy, Annual Convention at Montgomery, Alabama; Confederate Veteran, December, 1900, pp. 522-523)

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

Karl Marx, European correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, saw the American war1861-65 as a struggle of workers versus capital. He was brought to the Tribune by socialist editor Charles A. Dana who became Lincoln’s assistant secretary of war, and it was Dana who ordered Jefferson Davis manacled at Fortress Monroe.  Below, the late columnist Sam Francis writes of the effort to remove a symbol of South Carolina’s proud heritage in 1997 — David Beasley was a one-term governor of that State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

“A people separated from their heritage are easily persuaded,” wrote a correspondent for the New York Times during the American Civil War who zealously supported the Northern side in that conflict. If you erase the symbols pf a peoples’ heritage, you erase their public memory and identity, and then you can “persuade” them of whatever you want. For once the correspondent knew what he was talking about.

His name was Karl Marx, and his legacy lives on in the Republican governor of South Carolina.

Last month, Gov. David Beasley unveiled his plan to remove the Confederate Battle Flag that flutters on top of South Carolina’s State capitol, and he’s lined up an impressive coalition of former governors, white business leaders, black political activists and the antediluvian Sen. Strom Thurmond to go along with him.

This month, the State legislature will vote on his proposal to remove the flag to a more obscure location on the capital grounds, and the only thing between separating the people of the State from the heritage the flag symbolizes is the people themselves.

Why Gov. Beasley is so intent about his proposal is something of a mystery. In 1994 he supported keeping the flag where it is and has been since 1962, and his betrayal explicit pledges to retain the banner can bring him no political gains. Indeed, with several Southern heritage groups mobilizing against him, it seems more likely that he has committed a major blunder that will haunt his re-election efforts in 1998.

In a televised speech to the State in November, the governor came up with a number of transparently phony reasons why the flag has to go. “I have a question for us tonight,” he intoned to his fellow Carolinians, “Do we want our children to be debating the Confederate flag in ten years? . . . And the debate will not subside, but intensify. I don’t want that for my children or yours.”

But of course there would be no debate at all if it were not for the governor’s own proposal to get rid of the flag. Similar proposals were roundly rejected in 1994, and State law now requires that the flag continue to fly. The debate was settled. Only by reviving this divisive issue himself has Mr. Beasley insured that the “debate” will intensify.

And so what if the “debate” does live on? Why is it a bad thing for South Carolinians to think, talk and argue about the flag and its meaning? Maybe in the process of doing so, some of them – not least the governor and his allies – will learn something about their own heritage and why erasing it is not a good idea.

Mr. Beasley also maundered on about the evils of “racism” and alluded to several recent “hate crimes,” while denying that the flag itself was a racist symbol. If it isn’t, then why drag in the hate crimes, and why take it down at all?

“Hate-filled cowards cover their heads and meet under the cloak of night, scattering their seeds of racism in the winds of deceit about the flag and its meaning.”

The governor’s argument seems to be that since many blacks and not a few whites have come to regard the Confederate Flag as a symbol of “racism” and “hate,” then the flag is divisive and needs to come down. There is no question of trying to correct their flawed view of the flag’s meaning. The burden is not on those who invest the flag with meaning it never had but on those who want to retain the meanings it has always represented.

For the business elites, the flag and the controversy about it are “hurting economic growth,” according to the New York Times. How they do so is not quite so clear, nor is it clear why economic growth should take precedence over preservation of a cultural identity, but then Economic Man never likes to consider that question.

For the racial enemies of the flag, the goal is their own empowerment, a goal they know cannot be attained until the flag is removed and the heritage it represents and they despise is wiped clean. “That symbol only embraces the heritage of a particular people,” sneers one flag enemy, black lawyer Carl Grant. It’s not the flag but the heritage he seeks to destroy.

But whether driven by race or greed, the foes of the flag agree on one thing, that as long as the flag over the Capitol waves, the people of South Carolina will know that the heritage it represents retains some official meaning.

Only when it is removed will the people be separated from their heritage, and only then can they be easily persuaded to pursue whatever goals the enemies of their real heritage desire.” (published January 7, 1997)

 

Unrestricted Presidential Foreign Policy

Eisenhower was an internationalist and moved ahead of conservative Robert A. Taft for that reason by the GOP leadership in 1951. This successor to FDR and Truman would not relinquish control of United States foreign policy to Congress and helped organize opposition to the Bricker Amendment in 1953. For reference, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that the President “shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur . . .”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Unrestricted Presidential Foreign Policy

“[Eisenhower] usually had Democratic support for an activist, presidentially-dominated foreign policy. Many of his fellow Republicans, however, had a lingering fear from the Roosevelt-Truman years of the chief executive’s preeminence in international affairs. Such Republicans – basically the Midwestern and Western, formerly [Robert A. Taft supporter], element in the GOP – furnished most of the support for the effort to limit presidential power in foreign policy. That effort took the form of the Bricker Amendment.

As early as 1951 Republican Senator John Bricker of Ohio had introduced a constitutional amendment which, though taking several different forms over the next three years, retained three main provisions: (1) The executive branch could enter into no treaty that conflicted with the Constitution. (2) Any treaty, to become effective as internal law in the United States, must have supporting legislation “which would be valid in the absence of a treaty.” (3) In addition to the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the Senate must approve a treaty, Congress would gain the power to reject or regulate all executive agreements with foreign countries just as if they were formal treaties.

Although Bricker had originally offered his amendment out of opposition to Democrat foreign policy, especially the Yalta agreements, he revived the measure early in the Eisenhower administration with the backing of a majority of Republican senators. The amendment also had the support of the American Bar Association, the American Legion, the American Medical Association, and other powerful organizations.

It was the second article . . . evocation of States’ rights — that generated the greatest controversy, rallied the opposition in both parties, and eventually caused the amendment’s demise. The administration could charge that the “which” clause, by forcing the State Department to square every treaty with existing laws in every State, would reduce foreign policy to its feeble condition under the Articles of Confederation.

Contenting himself with platitudes and suggestions for compromise, Eisenhower shrewdly left the major attack on the Bricker Amendment in the hands of the State Department. Privately . . . Eisenhower exploded, “I’m so sick of this I could scream. The whole damn thing is senseless and plain damaging to the prestige of the United States.”

As the debate over the amendment dragged through 1953 into the next year, the administration finally succeeded in organizing the “internationalist” opposition inside and outside Congress. In the end the administration narrowly won its case [and defeated the amendment].

The failure of the Bricker Amendment left the Eisenhower administration with a relatively free hand in foreign policy. Building upon the inherited frameworks of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States (OAS), the ANZUS treaty with Australia and New Zealand, and various bilateral pacts, Secretary [John Foster] Dulles brought into being an elaborate global system of alliances. Supplemented by more bilateral treaties, the expanded American alliance system encircled and pointed SAC’s nuclear power at the hearts of the Soviet Union and mainland China.

Moreover, while they paid more heed to congressional opinion than would their successors, the President and Secretary of State were usually able to commit American armed forces whenever and wherever they perceived a threat to the global status quo.

Finally, the Central Intelligence Agency, with Eisenhower’s full approval and indeed enthusiastic support, vastly broadened its role and functions. Under Director Allen Dulles the CIA went beyond its original statutory responsibility for gathering data on conditions in foreign countries (i.e., espionage) and became a powerful instrument for implementing American policy and objectives.

On a number of occasions the CIA intervened clandestinely in the internal politics of other nations, sometimes to shore up shaky regimes favored by the United States, or at times to subvert and overthrow objectionable governments. The first occasion was in Iran within six months after Eisenhower entered the White House . . . [when] key portions of the American national security bureaucracy had come not only to share the British view of overthrowing [Mohammed] Mossadeq was necessary to insure Western access to Iranian oil, but to believe that Mossadeq was sympathetic to his country’s Marxist Tudeh party and was moving into the Soviet orbit.

After Mossadeq refused to give in to the new administration’s threats to withdraw its aid, the CIA began working undercover to bring him down. Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and the CIA’s top covert agent in the Middle East, operated closely with the American Military Assistance Mission in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

Late in August the Mossadeq government capitulated, [pro-Western Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi] made a triumphant return, and an army general friendly to the Western powers was installed as premier.”

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 71-74)

 

Indispensable African Slaves

In his message to Congress on 29 April 1861, President Jefferson Davis cited the Northern threat to the South’s labor system as a cause of withdrawal from political union with the North. The murderous raid of John Brown in 1859 had convinced the South of the North’s violent intentions, which were supported by influential and wealthy men.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Indispensable African Slaves

“As soon . . . as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves . . .

Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra-fanaticism, and whose business was . . . to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States, by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of . . . reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority.

In the meantime, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction.

Under the supervision of a superior race, their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South . . . and the productions of cotton, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man.

With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced.”

(The Causes of the Civil War, Kenneth M. Stampp, editor, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1965, pp. 134-135)

War Against a Free Trade South

It is clear that the withdrawal of the Southern States in early 1861 was caused by Northern hostility, especially with regard to the South’s political conservatism and domestic institutions. More obvious is that secession did not necessitate war, as the North could have let the South form its more perfect union peaceably. The North waged war for economic reasons and to thwart the free trade policies of the new American Confederacy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

War Against a Free Trade South

“When the Southern States began to secede after Lincoln’s election, it soon became evident that the great majority of Northerners considered disunion intolerable. Among the reasons, they foresaw disastrous economic consequences; and this explains in part their demand that Lincoln “enforce the laws” in the South. The Boston Herald (November 12, 1860), predicted some of the evils that would result from disunion:

“Should the South succeed in carrying out her designs, she will immediately form commercial alliances with European countries who will readily acquiesce in any arrangement which will help English manufacturing at the expense of New England.

The first move the South would make would impose a heavy tax upon the manufactures of the North, and an export tax upon the cotton used by Northern manufacturers. In this way she would seek to cripple the North. The carrying trade, which is now done by American {Northern] vessels, would be transferred to British ships, which would be a heavy blow aimed at our commerce.

It will also seriously affect our shoe trade and the manufacture of ready-made clothing, while it would derange the monetary affairs of the country.”

Boston Transcript, March 18, 1861:

“It does not require extraordinary sagacity to perceive that trade is perhaps the controlling motive operating to prevent the return of the seceding States to the Union, which they have abandoned. Alleged grievances in regard to slavery were originally the causes for the separation of the cotton States; but the mask has been thrown off, and it is apparent that the people of the principal seceding States are now for commercial independence.

They dream that the centres of traffic can be changed from Northern to Southern ports. The merchants of New Orleans, Charleston and Savannah are possessed with the idea that New York, Boston and Philadelphia may be shorn, in the future, of their mercantile greatness, by a revenue system verging upon free trade. If the Southern Confederation is allowed to carry out a policy by which only a nominal duty is laid upon imports, no doubt the business of the chief Northern cities will be seriously injured thereby.

The difference is so great between the tariff of the Union and that of the Confederated States, that the entire Northwest must find it to their advantage to purchase their imported goods at New Orleans rather than at New York. In addition to this, the manufacturing interest of the country will suffer from the increased importations resulting from the low duties . . . The . . . [government] would be false to all of its obligations, if this state of things were not provided against.”

(The Causes of the Civil War, Kenneth M. Stampp, editor, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1965, pp. 78-80)

Red Cards in Minnesota

One of the most radical State leaders in 1934 was Floyd Bjerstjerne Olsen, elected governor of Minnesota in 1932. While a student at the University of Minnesota he tried to stir a revolt against compulsory military training and ended his private career on the Seattle docks and as a  labor union agitator. Lincoln’s army included many socialist refugees from Europe, including the “Swedish communistic venture [of Bishop Hill, Illinois which] raised a company in 1860, the Svenska Uniongardet . . .“ (Foreigners in the Union Army & Navy, Lonn). Scandinavian immigrants were scattered throughout the Northern army.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

“For all his jauntiness, Olsen conveyed a deep and biting dislike for the existing economic system. “You bet your life I’m a radical,” he told one interviewer. “You might say I’m radical as hell.” And he rode upon a tradition of social conflict which had torn his State from the days of Ignatius Donnelly and the Populists.

The violent truck strike of the spring and summer of 1934 showed the degree of genuine class bitterness. In addition, even middle-class Scandinavians had long chafed under their exclusion from places of social and business prestige by the old New England families of Lowry Hill. Feelings were explosive and Floyd Olsen was prepared to give these feelings full expression.

Shortly after Roosevelt’s inauguration, Olsen told him that this was no ordinary depression but a collapse of the economic order. “If the so-called “depression” deepens,” Olsen said, “I strongly recommend to you, Mr. President, that the Government ought to take and operate the key industries of the country.”

Unless and until this was done, he repeated in August 1933, there could be no “economic security for the common man.”

He wanted the government to begin by using unemployed workers in production-fir-use factories which, by underselling private firms, would gradually put them out of business, until the major part of industry would be government-owned, producing for use, not for profit. At other times he talked of abolishing the profit system through the extension of co-operative ownership and control, presumably on the Scandinavian model.

Within Minnesota, he promised to call out the State militia if that were necessary, to see that the hungry were fed and the homeless sheltered. “I shall declare martial law. A lot of people who are now fighting the [relief] measures because they happen to possess considerable wealth will be brought in by the provost guard.”

“You go back to Washington,” he told an emissary of Harry Hopkins’s in the anxious days of 1933, “and tell ‘em that Olsen isn’t taking anybody who doesn’t carry a Red Card.” “Minnesota,” he boasted, “”is definitely a left-wing State.”

Such pronouncements were enormously exciting to American intellectuals seeking radical leadership. Here at last was a practical and successful politician, authentically American, governor of the very State which had inspired Gopher Prairie and Zenith, who yet saw clearly through the pretenses of capitalism and proposed his rough Midwestern way to build the good society.

By 1934 he was an object of attention in the national liberal press. He received the pilgrims from the East, signed articles for their magazines, and played affably with the general idea of a new party and a new society.

He declared that he was tired of tinkering and patching and wanted to change the system . . . he added, “When the final clash comes between Americanism and fascism, we will find a so-called “red” as the defender of democracy.”

(The Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960, pp. 99-101)

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

The United States of 1868 was unrecognizable to someone returning to this country after a ten year absence – the Founders’ republic had been replaced by a virtual military dictatorship of one-party rule, government informants and a nouveau-rich class of corporations and congressmen.  The adminstration of Grant — enabled by the military subjugation of the American South, enfranchising illiterates while disenfranchising literates, and fraudulent Republican regimes governing defeated States — became the first such in American history known for rampant corruption, vote-buying and outright incompetency.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

“The great omnipresence during this pivotal decade [1860-1870] in American thought was, of course, the Civil War and its aftermath. In that crucible were produced not merely a new South but a new nation. Said Henry Adams, referring to his return to American soil in 1868: “Had they been Tyrian traders of the year B.C. 1000, landing from a galley fresh from Gibraltar, they could hardly have been stranger on the shore of a world, so changed from what it had been ten years before.”

The cataclysm had compressed a profound economic upheaval into a few short years; it had introduced almost overnight the vast complexities of an industrial society; it had bred up a new race of entrepreneurs who acknowledged no morality but pecuniary success. The nation had been brought to a point of ethical exhaustion.

“The old idealism had been burnt away, the hopes of the patriot fathers, the youthful and generous dreams of the early republic. The war, with its fearful tension, draining the national vitality, had left the mind of the people morally flabby.”

The effect of the war . . . was not only to waste away the old democratic values of American life, but to raise up new gods and new ideals in their vacated places. The new capitalism required a gospel of assertion as well as of negation; its position would not be secure if it rested only on moral indifference: it needed discipleship.”

(American Conservatism, In the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910, Robert Green McCloskey, Harper, 1951, pp. 100-101)

 

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

The belief that the Northern soldier fought for the emancipation of the black man is a long-standing myth and coupled with the parallel myth that Lincoln saved the Union. The army of occupation brought an alien culture to the South which looted farms and left destitute American women and children without food or the means to survive.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

[Diary Entry] June 5, Monday [1865]:

“A Yankee came this morning before breakfast and took one of father’s mules out of the plow. He showed an order from “Marse” Abraham and said he would bring the mule back, but of course we never expect to see it again. I peeped through the blinds, and such a looking creature, I thought, would be quite capable of burning Columbia. [Northern] Capt. Schaeffer . . . He not only will not descend to associate with Negroes himself, but tries to keep his men from doing it, and when runaways come to town, he either has them thrashed and sent back home, or put to work on the streets and made to earn their rations.

People are so outraged at the indecent behavior going on in our midst that many good Christians have absented themselves from the Communion Table because they say they don’t feel fit to go there while such bitter hatred as they feel towards the Yankees has a place in their hearts. The Methodists have a revival meeting going on, and last night one of our soldier boys went up to be prayed for, and a Yankee went right up after and knelt at his side. The Reb was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t know a Yankee was kneeling beside him . . . Some of the boys who were there told me they were sorry to see a good Confederate going to heaven in such bad company.”

[Diary Entry] June 6, Tuesday:

Strange to say the Yankee brought back father’s mule that was taken yesterday — which Garnett says is pretty good evidence that it wasn’t worth stealing.

They are making a great ado in their Northern newspapers, about the “robbing of the Virginia banks by the Confederates” but not a word is said in their public prints about the $300,000 they stole from the bank at Greenville, S.C., not the thousands they have taken in spoils from private houses, as well as the banks, since these angels of peace descended upon us. They have everything their own way now, and can tell what tales they please on us, but justice will come yet. Time brings its revenges, though it may move but slowly.

Some future Motley or Macaulay will tell the truth about our cause, and some unborn Walter Scott will spread the halo of romance around it. In all the poems and romances that shall be written about this war, I prophesy that the heroes will all be rebels, or if Yankees, from some loyal Southern State. The bare idea of a full-blown Yankee hero or heroine is preposterous. They made no sacrifices, they suffered no loss, and there is nothing on their side to call up scenes of pathos or heroism.

(The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, Eliza Frances Andrews, D. Appleton, 1908, pp. 287-290)