Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

Politicizing the Soldier Vote

At their 7 June 1864 meeting in Vichy Baltimore, the “National Union Party” re-nominated Lincoln for a second term in office. This party was in reality Lincoln’s party of Radical Republicans which began the war, and repackaged as an energized patriotic organization. The soldier volunteers referred to below were paid generous State and federal bounties in appreciation of their volunteerism.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Politicizing the Soldier Vote

“The Union Party appeal also helped to consolidate the support of soldiers for Abraham Lincoln. In November 1864, they gave him an estimated 78 percent of their ballots (as compared to 53 percent of the civilian vote) and, at least in New York and Connecticut, their support probably made the crucial difference that carried those States for the Union Party.

The demographic and ethnic profile of soldiers – especially the volunteers who made up the vast bulk of the Union army – made them more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. It is also undoubtedly the case that intimidation and interference of various kinds meant that a certain amount of bravery was required to cast a Democratic ballot in the army.

Among the most important reasons for the support Lincoln received from the army, though, was that fighting for the Union was a powerful experience that politicized many young men who had previously been unmoved by politics. Moreover, distanced from the pressures of their communities, soldiers were open to the influence, both direct and indirect, of their officers and comrades and, whatever their past political associations may have been, many were apt to see the northern party battle through the sobering lens of their enemies: if Confederates were praying for McClellan’s victory [in 1864], Lincoln must be sustained.”

(No Party Now, Politics in the Civil War North, Adam I.P. Smith, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 156-157)

 

Lincoln's 1864 Reelection Assured

Commenting on the presidential election of 1864, Lincoln’s Assistant Secretary of War, Charles A. Dana, stated that the whole power of the War Department was used to secure Lincoln’s reelection. Dana was in earlier days a Brook Farm socialist, and while employed by Horace Greeley’s prewar New York Tribune, contracted with Karl Marx to write a weekly column on his radical social views. It was Dana who ordered the imprisoned Jefferson Davis to be manacled in irons.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s 1864 Reelection Assured

“During the fall of 1864 it became evident that Pennsylvania was a “doubtful” State. Gen. McClellan, the candidate of the Democratic party, was not only popular there as a native Pennsylvanian, but, even among those loyal to the administration, he had a strong following and great sympathy, from the belief that he had been a much abused man.

Lincoln was advised by the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania that the prospect was very uncertain. It was felt that, on the result of the Keystone State, hinged the fate of the national election. A gentleman belonging to the Republican Committee then, as now, one of the leading politicians of the State, had a consultation with the President on the situation. He thus relates the interview:

“Mr. President,” I said, “the only sure way to organize victory in this contest, is to have some fifteen thousand, or more, Pennsylvania soldiers furloughed and sent home to vote. While their votes in the field would count man for man, their presence at the polls at home would exert an influence not easily to be estimated, by exciting enthusiasm and building up party moral[e]. I would advise you to send a private message to Gen. Grant, to be given in an unofficial way, asking for such issuance of furloughs to Pennsylvania soldiers in the field.”

Lincoln was silent for some moments and seemed to be pondering. Then he answered: “I have never had any intimation from Gen. Grant as to his feelings for me. I don’t know how far he would be disposed to be my friend in the matter, nor do I think it would be safe to trust him.”

The President’s interlocutor responded . . . ”Then, let it be done through Gen. [George] Meade, the direct commander of the Army of the Potomac – and Gen. [Philip] Sheridan, how about him?” At this question, Lincoln’s face grew sunny and bright. “I can trust Phil.” He said; “he’s all right!”

As a result of this conference, one of the assistant secretaries of war was sent to Petersburg with a strictly unofficial message to Gen. Meade, and another agent was deputed to visit Gen. Sheridan. Some 10,000 or more Pennsylvania soldiers went home to vote when the time came, and Pennsylvania was carried by a handsome majority for the [Lincoln] administration.”

(The South’s Burden, The Curse of Sectionalism, Benjamin Franklin Grady, Nash Brothers, 1906, pp. 131-132)

Coolidge's Manufactured Lies Passing as History

Long before the Fort Sumter collision at Charleston, efforts to avoid armed conflict were pursued by the South to settle its differences with the North and avoid bloodshed. From the Crittenden Compromise of late 1860 to the Confederate commissioners sent to Washington in March of 1861 — to the Hampton Roads Conference of February 1865, the Southern statesmen worked diligently to both avert and end the war. It becomes very clear that as one reviews the timeline of peace initiatives and conferences that one side wanted peace, and the other wanted war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Coolidge’s Manufactured Lies Passing as History

“After all, President Coolidge’s first installment of our history to set off Borglum’s group on a Western mountainside did not please the sculptor, and he wrote the history himself which is to be chiseled in stone and go down the ages! Who can say that it was not least as good as the ex-President’s?

At Gettysburg, on May 30, President [Herbert] Hoover exhibited to a marked degree that strange ignorance or that determined avoidance of the truth of history which we see when a speaker has to place Abraham Lincoln in that niche which had been fashioned for him by what Mr. Mencken calls “prostitute historians,” and which has now been accepted by the north, by the world, and even by the larger part of the South, which is both servile and ignorant, and yet it is a niche which shames truth and degrades history!

[Hoover] stated, in effect, that all the blood and horror and tears of the “Civil” War might have been avoided had the people been possessed of the human kindness and tolerance of Abraham Lincoln.

There could scarcely have been fashioned a statement which would have done more violence to the truth. The veriest tyro in history research must know that Abraham Lincoln was a part of, and largely cooperated with, that group which thought that “a little bloodletting will be good for this nation.”

Everyone not an ignoramus in Southern history must know that Lincoln opposed sending delegates to that compromise or peace convention which might, at the last moment, have devised some means for avoidance of the holocaust. Everyone not determined to make a point at expense of truth must know that Lincoln, secretly, determinedly, and almost alone, sent that fleet of reinforcements and supplies to Fort Sumter, and thus, as five of his cabinet had told him, brought on the war inevitably.

Lincoln did much to inaugurate war, and there is no word of history which sets forth the fact that he did any act or uttered any word which would have avoided war, and yet, in a speech which was to reach the ears of the world, President Hoover, at Gettysburg, makes the statement, totally devoid of accuracy, that we might have avoided war had we been possessed of the human kindness and tolerance of Abraham Lincoln, the man who more than any other, or any group of others, is responsible, as worthy historians now set forth, for the inauguration of four years of horror in this country.

We sometimes wonder if the Yankees do not get weary themselves of this incessant round of prevarication, or are they so steeped in this false history that they cannot see the truth. We know of many instances, which have come directly to our knowledge, where they refuse the truth when it is demonstrated to them. But are all of them that way?

Or is it just a part of the price, this living lie, which we, as a conquered people here in the South, must pay in order to establish the truth of that time-old statement which sets forth that a conquered people must have their history written by their conquerors, as has been done since Ur of the Chaldees, and submit, gracefully or otherwise, to the inevitable sequence of this, that our history shall be nothing but manufactured lies.”

(Our History in High Places, Arthur H. Jennings, Past Historian in Chief, SCV, Confederate Veteran, July 1930, pp. 254-255)

 

Lincoln, Grant and Beast Butler

President John Tyler’s son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was incensed in 1917 by a New York Times editorial which compared Southern planters to Hohenzollern autocrats plaguing the world. In 1928, Tyler was provoked again when the Virginia legislature adjourned on Lincoln’s birthday and declared publicly that Lincoln did not merit the honor. Time magazine fired back that President Tyler was a dwarf in comparison to the rail splitter, and Lyon published a book in 1929 defending his distinguished father – who had met Thomas Jefferson as a boy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln, Grant and Beast Butler

“The reader of [Dr. Tyler’s] book will also have called to his attention the fact that in the recent World War this country had its flag fired upon time and time again and its citizens killed on the high seas without resorting to war, and Lincoln knew that the capturing of a fort guarding and controlling the most important city of South Carolina meant merely protection for that city and not an attack on the North.

It could be likewise been shown here that just a matter of weeks before the ballyhoo about “firing on the flag” at Sumter had been set to work to enrage the North, the flag had been fired upon when the Star of the West was shot at and turned back, but under Buchanan’s calm rule there was practically no excitement.

As to Lincoln’s cabinet [in contrast to John Tyler’s], “the accounts teems with the insubordinate actions of Seward, Stanton and Chase, to say nothing of Welles, while Stanton and Chase reveled in insults to Lincoln.”

As to the ideas of the two men in regard to personal responsibility and family obligations . . . ”Lincoln wrote to Grant in February 1865 (the war almost over), asking that his son, aged twenty-two, who had been kept at Harvard in spite of the draft, should be put on his staff and “not in the ranks.” President Tyler had four grandsons in the Confederate army, one of whom was killed and another wounded, and two sons by his second marriage who surrendered at Appomattox, aged sixteen and seventeen.”

“When [Beast] Butler issued his notorious “Order N0. 28” at New Orleans (an order that shocked decent humanity), which Lord Palmerson, the Prime Minister of England declared in the British Parliament was “unfit to be written in the English language;” Lincoln did not revoke the order, but on the contrary promoted Butler to responsible positions and wanted him as his running mate for the vice presidency in 1864. Yet Butler is the man who, Dr. John Fiske declared, “could not have understood in the smallest degree the feelings of gentlemen.”

(John Tyler and Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Lyon G. Tyler; book review by A. H. Jennings, Confederate Veteran, June 1929, pp. 213-214)

Republicans Instilled Lessons of Hatred and Hostility

Acclaimed historian Dr. Clyde Wilson has written that the Republican party was solely responsible for carrying out the bloodiest war in American history against the American South, to destroy self-government. In South Carolina, a Republican-rigged postwar convention erected a corrupt political regime kept in power by Northern bayonets, carpetbaggers and freedmen.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Republicans Instilling Lessons of Hatred and Hostility

“When the war came to an end, and the Southern States lay prostrate at the feet of their conqueror, they experienced the bitterest consequences of the humiliation of defeat. There were no revengeful prosecutions (a few judicial murders in the flush of the victory excepted). The Congress devoted itself to the work of reconstruction . . . on the principle of equal rights to all men . . . there seemed to be no reason why the States should not proceed harmoniously in the career of peaceful progress.

But there was an element in the population which rendered such a principle fatal to all peaceful progress. In many of the States, and in South Carolina particularly, a majority of the people had been slaves. All these were suddenly elevated to the rank of citizens. Were this all, even then there might have been hope.

The slaves had always lived well with their masters, bore no resentment for past injuries, and if they were let alone in their own mutual relations, the two races might, and doubtless would have harmonized and soon discovered the art of living together in peace. But this was not to be.

With the progress of Northern arms grew up an institution founded ostensibly, perhaps really, for the protection of the rights of the newly emancipated slaves. This institution, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, became for the time the ruling power in the State. It interfered in all the concerns of whites and blacks, its officers were generally men who not only had no love for the South, but who made it their mission to foster in the minds of the blacks a bitter hatred and mistrust of the whites.

They were, on all occasions, the champions of the Negroes rights, and never failed to instruct them that it was to the Republicans that they were indebted for all the rights which they enjoyed. In the train of the Bureau came the schoolmistresses who instilled into the minds of their pupils the same lessons of hatred and hostility.

The consequence was, that though the personal relations between the races were friendly, though the blacks invariably addressed themselves to the whites as to true friends for all offices of love and kindness, of which they stood in need, they would never listen to them, if the latter wished to talk about politics.

This feeling was intensified by the introduction of the Union League, a secret society, the members of which were solemnly bound never to vote for any but a Republican. By such means, the Negro presented a solid phalanx of Radicalism . . . a new business arose and prospered in Columbia, a sort of political brokerage by which men contracted with speculators to buy the votes of members when they were interested in the passage of any measure. Here was a corruptible Legislature under the influence of men utterly corrupt.

In South Carolina . . . Society was divided into the conquered whites, who were destined to satisfy the voracious appetites of the carpetbagger, and the needy and ignorant Negro, directed by his hungry teachers. The whites had no rights which they were bound to respect; if they paid the enormous taxes which were levied upon him, the Negro was satisfied; he had done all that it was necessary for him to do in the degenerate State.”

(Last Chapter of Reconstruction in South Carolina, Professor F.A. Porcher, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XIII, pp. 76-79)

Republicans Block Schemes of Reconciliation

Seldom mentioned as a direct cause of the War Between the States is the Republican party refusal to compromise with Southerners in Congress in order to save the Union. As president-elect, Lincoln is said have led the resistance to compromise and pushing the South toward secession. After its first national electoral contest in 1856, the Republican party in 1861 would destroy the Founders’ Constitution and the union of fraternal States it had created.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Republican Block Schemes of Conciliation

“Congress was in session beginning December 3 [1860]; and in a bungling, legalistic fashion it was going about the business of saving the country. Incidentally, this should be borne in mind as a sidelight of Buchanan’s policy. With Congress seeking modes of adjustment, the President would have been going counter to the national legislature if he had taken warlike measures against the South.

Panaceas and compromise solutions piled up in such quantity that each house chose its committees to centralize the discussion, sift the numerous schemes, mediate between opposing points of view, and report such solution as seemed most hopeful of success.

In the House of Representatives this function was performed by the “Committee of Thirty-three,” a special “grand committee,” one from each State, created at the suggestion of Representative [Alexander R.] Boteler of Virginia. On the one hand the committee was embarrassed by the attitude of the radical Republicans, in Congress and elsewhere, who seemed intent upon blocking schemes of conciliation . . . [and on] December 13 . . . a group of Southern members of Congress, before secession had been voted in any State, issued an address to their constituents which read as follows:

“The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the Union, through the agency of committees, Congressional legislation, or constitutional amendments, and we trust the South will not be deceived by appearances or the pretence of new guarantees.

The Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the South. We are satisfied the honor, safety, and independence of the Southern people are to be found only in a Southern Confederacy – a result to be obtained only by separate State secession – and that the sole and primary aim of each slaveholding State ought to be its speedy and absolute separation from an unnatural and hostile Union.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall, D.C. Heath and Company, 1937, pp. 200-201)

Lincoln Forces the Issue of War

Lincoln’s failure to find compromise between North and South and intent to wage war upon South Carolina left North Carolina Unionists with no alternative but favor withdrawal from the federated compact. Unionist Jonathan Worth wrote on 30 May 1861: “North Carolina would have stood by the Union but for the conduct of the national administration which for folly and simplicity exceeds anything in modern history . . . ”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln Forces the Issue of War

“The Robert Todd Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress reveal a tremendous pressure put upon the President by Northern men to hold Fort Sumter. Against this policy are a few letters, particularly one of March 13, 1861, from Neal Dow, the famous prohibition champion of Maine, assuring the President that “the evacuation of Fort Sumter will be fully approved by the entire body of Republicans in this State,” if such an action arises from “a military necessity,” but expressing hope that Fort Pickens will be held.

Most of the letters relating to this crisis which have been preserved in the Lincoln collection urge a firm course, not only from motives of patriotism and honor but also from fear that a policy of appeasement would ruin the Republican party. Recent Democratic victories in local and State elections had alarmed the Republicans. Carl Schurz, a leader of the radical wing of the party, urged Lincoln on April 5 to take firm action to reinforce the forts, declaring that the Republicans were disheartened by his indecisive action and warning him of the loss of the fall elections by the Republicans if he failed to do so.

On March 28 a message form General [Winfield] Scott advised the abandonment of both Sumter and Pickens for political reasons. Shocked by the advice of the general in chief, Lincoln consulted his cabinet again (March 29) in regard to Fort Sumter, and this time only three of the seven secretaries clearly advocating holding the fort.

On the following day he ordered an expedition to be prepared in New York harbor for the purpose of relieving the beleaguered garrison at Charleston, to be “used or not according to circumstances.” The next move was up to the South Carolina authorities and the Confederate government. Accordingly, on April 10 President [Jefferson] Davis ordered [General P.G.T.] Beauregard, the Confederate commander at Charleston, to demand the surrender of Fort Sumter and to reduce it if the request should be refused. On April 13 Major Anderson surrendered the fort to Beauregard . . .

A study of public opinion in the North indicates that the mass of Northerners . . . strongly favored reinforcing Fort Sumter. Lincoln responded like a shrewd politician to this popular pressure which also coincided with his own convictions. {Delaying] the Fort Sumter expedition to the last moment . . . His policy was based on what has been aptly called “the strategy of defense,” or making it appear that the Federal government was engaged in the peaceful act of “enforcing the laws” and preserving Federal territory. If a conflict resulted therefrom the South, not the North, would be guilty of striking the first blow.

Lincoln’s purpose in dispatching the Fort Sumter expedition seems to have been non-aggressive, but actually in view of the state of feeling at Charleston this act was virtually forcing the issue of peace and war. One may well raise the question whether [William] Seward’s policy at this juncture, of letting the fort go as a result of military necessity and of continuing to seek a reconciliation, might not have been the wiser course.”

(A History of the Southern Confederacy, Clement Eaton, Free Press, 1965, pp. 24-28)

Making the South a Political and Social Inferno

Famed historian Douglas Southall Freeman edited the Richmond News Leader from 1915 to 1949 and lived by the maxim prominently displayed in his office: “Time alone is irreplaceable. Waste is not.” He lived to regret supporting Woodrow Wilson’s war in 1917, feeling that he had been swept up in the psychosis of war hysteria. In his commentary on the Republican party below, Freeman mentions the notorious GOP method of ballots being “distributed wholesale to rascals who were divided into “blocks of five” and paid to cast them illegally.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Making the South a Political and Social Inferno

“On the political front, Freeman was writing his first partisan editorials on behalf of [Woodrow] Wilson’s reelection. Virginia was reliably Democratic . . . [and] Freeman lashed the Republicans with gusto and turned loose his most vicious attack with a history-laden philippic. “Yes, the country knows” about the Republican party he wrote:

“It knows that during the forty-seven years and more of power of their party since the close of the war between the States the Republicans, in 1876, stole the presidency, and in 1880 bought it with their “blocks of five.” It knows that they forced upon the South the reconstruction additions to the Constitution in violation of that instrument; it knows that they turned loose upon the South an army of alien cormorants to prey upon what little substance was left us after the wreck of the war.

It knows that they made parts of the South political and social infernos, and that in malice and envy they aimed to uproot and destroy the very foundations of Southern civilization. The country also knows that they, the Republicans . . . retarded Southern industrial recuperation and Development . . . bound the nation to a juggernaut of robber protection . . . and perpetuated a banking and currency system that entrenched a currency monopoly.”

Freeman tended to be more restrained in his attacks on the Republican nominee for president, former Supreme Court justice Charles Evans Hughes. “We have had in previous years a high respect for Mr. Hughes,” he wrote, “and we have believed him a man of courage and capacity.” Now that he was the leader of “the party responsible for the most criminal class legislation the United States has ever seen,” Freeman dismissed him as a “camp-following wagon-driver.”

(Douglas Southall Freeman, David E. Johnson, Pelican Publishing, 2002, pp. 120-121)