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Lincoln’s Dark Days

Many European observers saw Lincoln’s early proclamation of September 1862 as simply imitating the actions of Virginia’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore eighty-six years earlier. In the face of “insurrection,” Dunmore demanded loyalty oaths from colonists while proclaiming African slaves “free.” A desperate Lincoln did the same.

Lincoln’s Dark Days

“The war had indeed approached a crisis in late July [1861]. There had been little encouraging news from the Western theater since April, when the victory at Shiloh had been followed by the occupation of New Orleans. These victories were disappointing in that they seemed to be leading nowhere. The high hopes accompanying McClellan’s advance up the peninsula below Richmond had been cruelly dashed.

Waiting for victories, [Lincoln’s] Cabinet received news in late August of the most humiliating defeat of the entire war. General John Pope allowed his army to be trapped at Manassas, Virginia, practically on the doorstep of the Capitol, between the armies of Longstreet and Jackson; it was hurled back toward Washington in a retreat that was actually a rout.

When the full impact of this latest disaster was at last known in the North, a real desperation gripped the public. “That we are in serious danger of being whipped cannot be denied” wrote Edward Atkinson, “and there is scarce a man now in Boston, who would not thank God to hear of a serious insurrection among the slaves, such a change has this disaster wrought.”

Dr. Milton Hawks, perhaps the most fanatical missionary at Port Royal [South Carolina], repeated his belief that, unless emancipation were the goal of the war, the South would establish her independence. “The greatest kindness that a man could do this government today,” he wrote furiously, “would be to assassinate Pres. Lincoln – He stands directly in the way.”

Lincoln’s course was mysterious to the general public [but after the dubious victory at Antietam], the President seized the slim occasion for his [preliminary emancipation] Proclamation . . .”

(Rehearsal for Reconstruction: The Port Royal Experiment. Willie Lee Rose. Oxford University Press, 1964, pp. 184-185)

Lincoln’s War to Establish Government Superiority

Lincoln’s War to Establish Government Superiority

“Abraham Lincoln, we are taught, fought the Civil War to free the Negro slaves. The truth is that the war was fought primarily because the Southern States, whom the Northern States had continually burdened with stifling tariffs and levies, wanted to secede from the Union.

What Lincoln accomplished was to reestablish government’s superiority over the individual, i.e., that men had to “belong to the country whether they wanted to or not.” After the North’s victory, the issue of the federal government’s authority over all people within “its” borders was never again seriously challenged.

In a letter to Horace Greeley in 1862, Lincoln wrote “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. And in a [prewar] debate with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln stated: “I am not nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of white and black races . . . there must be the position of the superior and inferior, and as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

(Restoring the American Dream, Robert J. Ringer. Fawcett Crest Books, 1979, pp. 294-295)

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)

 

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)

The Morrill Tariff War

The Morrill Tariff War

The United States House and Senate passed on March 2, 1861, a pro-slavery amendment by the required 2/3 vote which received the endorsement of newly elected President Abraham Lincoln. This would prohibit the United States government from ever interfering with the domestic institution of African slavery in any State. The amendment was ratified by at least three States prior to Lincoln’s ill-advised attempt to reinforce and supply Fort Sumter in mid-April, after which he began raising an army which a president is forbidden to do.

The amendment, as a clear assessment of northern political feeling at the time, indicates that the ensuing war was not prosecuted by the north for emancipation. If the American South’s only interest was “preserving slavery” it need only remain in the 1789 union and join the other States in ratifying the amendment.

At the very same time in early March the northern-dominated Congress passed the oppressive Morrill Tariff Act, which imposed a 40% sales tax on imported goods shipped primarily to the Southern States. This Act protected northern commercial interests.

The only way the American South could avoid the tariff was to withdraw from political union with the north, and initially the northern press supported this. Editor Horace Greeley wrote of “erring sisters” departing the union but entitled to determine their own political future – and not “pinned to the other States with a bayonet.”

In early March 1861 the Confederate States Congress convened and passed a minor 10% tariff which would bring the world’s shipping traffic to Southern ports instead of high-tariff northern ports. This sent a veritable shock wave through the commercial north as it would bankrupt those ports and business interests.

The north’s attitude of letting the “erring sisters” enjoy their political independence changed to invasion and conquest as the only remaining path to collecting their all-important tariff.  Hence, all Southern ports from Virginia to Texas had to be brought under northern control.

As only Congress is authorized to raise and supply an army and would not convene until July, it looked the other way while State governors in the north supplied Lincoln with troops after the provocation at Fort Sumter.

 

A Great Evil to the Cause of Human Liberty Itself

A Great Evil to the Cause of Human Liberty Itself

“We must remember that by 1860 a “Cold War” had been in progress between the North and the South for some thirty years. There were political and ideological extremists on both sides. If Southern leaders were determined that the US Constitution would be followed to the letter or they would withdraw, Northern extremists were just as determined to dominate the South and force it to remain in the 1789 federation.

Politically the South felt she was being “frozen out” of a voice in the federal government. The Democratic party was split between opposing views of its Northern and Southern wings, and there appeared no way of resolving their differences. The Whig party was dying as an audible voice in government with no hope of recovery. The new Republican party was controlled by radical leaders who were bent upon winning an election with the surest way being the destruction of the South’s labor system of African bondage. This institution was already in its twilight years for in 1860 only 10 percent of Southerners owned slaves. Only one man in the South owned over 1000 slaves with 187,356 owning less than five Negro servants.

However, the great majority of Southerners felt that the Constitution gave no authority to Congress to interfere with a State’s internal labor system – North or South. But if slavery were to be legalized out of existence, there should be some way for the country as a whole to assume the responsibility for dissolving the institution without putting the burden or the stigma upon one section where slave-labor happened to form a basis of its economic system. The slave-labor system was essentially mass-production agriculture and New England mills hummed with the product of this labor system.

That said, the slave-labor system in the South did not arise because the Englishmen who settled Virginia were particularly committed to the enslavement of their fellow human beings. It arose for the same reason and at the same time that the transatlantic slave trade arose in New England – because it was profitable. Slavery came to the South for the same reason that cattle-raising came to Texas, cattle-slaughter to Chicago, the exploitation of Okies to California, and the exploitation of immigrants to Northern factory owners. It came because, in a new and vast land where everyone had come for opportunity. The soil and the climate of the American South were peculiarly adapted to the use of chattel labor imported from the hot climate of Africa.

From 1831 to 1861 Southerners were aroused to defense by the vindictiveness of the fanatics who were as callously indifferent to the means as they were irresponsible for the ends.

To Northern abolitionists, the emancipation of slaves achieved the goal of “freedom”; to all Southerners, four million black people in a society of five and a half million whites created an appalling problem. It was a problem that Lincoln, contrary to the myth of a logical progression toward human liberty, understood very well. He wrote on slavery: “I think no wise man has yet perceived how it could be at once eradicated without producing a great evil even to the cause of human liberty itself.”

(Martin County During the Civil War. James H. McCallum, M.D., Enterprise Publishing Co., 1971, pp. 4-6)

Recollection of Great Deeds in Bronze and Marble

Recollection of Great Actions in Bronze and Marble

“We are told by historians of an earlier age that whenever the renowned men of the Roman commonwealth looked upon the statues of their ancestry, they felt their minds vehemently excited to virtue. It could not have been the bronze or marble that possessed this power, but the recollection of great actions which kindled a generous flame in their souls, not to be quelled until they also, by virtue and heroic deeds, had acquired equal fame and glory.

When a call to arms resounds throughout the land and people relinquish the pleasant scenes of tranquil life and rally to their country’s call, such action is the result of an honest conviction that the act is commendable. In recalling such an epoch, the wish that a true record of the deeds done should be transmitted to posterity must dominate every patriot heart.

Loyalty to brave men who for four long years of desolating war – years of undimmed glory – stood by each other and fought to the bitter end with indomitable heroism which characterized the American soldier in grey, demands from posterity a preservation of the memories of the great struggle.

We cannot find in the annals of history a grander record or prouder roll of honor, no more just fame for bravery, patient endurance of hardships, and sacrifices. But what caused the four long years of desolating war?

Opposition to the to the right of equality within the political union of our fathers has been fostered and inflamed until it had taken possession of the public mind at the North to such an extent that it overwhelmed every other influence. The Republican party, soon to take possession of the powers of the national government, was sectional, irresponsible to the Southern States, and driven by an infuriated, fanatical madness that defied all opposition which must inevitably destroy every of vestige of our political rights.

The consideration for which our State’s gave assent to become members of the federal union of 1789 had wholly failed when they were not to enjoy equal rights within it. The compact was therefore willfully and materially broken.”

(Military History of Florida, Col. J.J. Dickison; Confederate Military History, Vol. XI.   Confederate Publishing Co., 1899, pp. 3; 8)

Unable to Settle the Great Differences

“The South in 1860 knew only that the party which was hotly intolerant of the whole body of Southern institutions and interests had triumphed in the elections and was about to take possession of the government, and that it was morally impossible to preserve the Union any longer.

“If you who represent the stronger portion,” Senator John C. Calhoun stated in 1850, in words which perfectly convey this feeling in their quiet cadences, cannot agree to settle the great questions at issue on the broad principle of justice and duty, say so; and let the States we both represent agree to separate and depart in peace.”  (Division and Reunion, 1829-1909. Woodrow Wilson. Longmans, Green and Co., 1912; pp. 209-210)

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