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War to Recover the Southern Export Trade

War to Recover the Southern Export Trade

During 1862, Washington was constantly threatened with capture by Lee and Jackson’s men, not to mention some very tense moments for Lincoln as the North’s ironclad dueled with the CSS Virginia.  The latter was poised to sail up the Potomac after destroying anything wooden that she came across in the Chesapeake Bay which sent Lincoln’s Cabinet into emergency session. The capture of Washington would have likely triggered European recognition of the South.

Secretary of State William Seward had unmistakably suggested that should England or France recognize the Confederacy, war would result – though Lincoln could ill-afford to take on additional enemies.  His subsequent cultivation of friendship with the Russian Czar was created simply for an ally to stand with him against Europe; ironically both Czar Alexander II and Lincoln freed serfs and slaves simultaneously while crushing the independence movements of the Poles and the South, respectively.

The growing might of Lincoln’s navy was a great concern to England as Lord Palmerston and Earl Russell both saw their assistance in building Confederate war vessels as a way to combat this.  Emperor Napoleon III of France was prepared to recognize the Confederacy for much the same reason as well as seeing the cause of royalist Mexico as identical to the cause of the South. Confederate Commissioner John Slidell obtained a fifteen million dollar loan at very favorable terms from French financier Baron d’Erlanger, and hopes were that an independent Confederacy would look favorably upon French ships carrying their trade.

The underlying reason for the North’s war on the South is well-presented by Bank of England agent John Welsford Cowell in his “France and the Confederate States, published in 1865.  He observed that “The vast proportions which [the North’s] maritime power has assumed during the last fifty years have sprung entirely from the monopoly which the Southerners accorded to them of the carrying trade of their raw produce in cotton, tobacco, etc., and of the commercial returns to it.”

Cowell explains the economic contrast of North and South in 1860: “[In the last year of the Union, the total exports of the whole Union, omitting the gold of California, amounted to the value of 70 [million pounds] in round numbers. Separating this total into two parts, and distinguishing between Northern and Southern products . . . the value of exported Northern products . . . did not exceed 18 [million pounds] while the value of exported Southern produce exceeded 50 [million pounds].”

He adds that “The Protective Tariff of 1816 practically threw into the hands of Yankee shippers the transport of all Southern products . . . Now, connecting these several points together, it becomes obvious that not less than two-thirds of what was the mercantile marine of the Yankees in 1860 had been called into existence to supply the transportation of Southern exports and imports, and that this portion of their marine must cease to exist as theirs, when the transport of Southern produce is withdrawn from their hands.”

It now becomes clear what the North was fighting for and to maintain.  As the South, through the tariffs paid on imported and exported goods, was paying nearly ninety-percent of the monies flowing into the federal treasury, it becomes clear what the South was trying to break free of.

Cowell continued and exposed the Northern drive for war.  “It is to recover possession of this grand instrument of political power and of private profit that the Yankees are now murdering men, women, and children throughout the South, being determined, as is at last manifest to all, to exterminate the Southerners altogether (unless they will return to that fiscal, commercial and maritime subjection to the Yankees from which they emancipated themselves in 1861), and to occupy their lands and houses themselves.”

With the South lacking the ships to carry their produce to distant markets, both England and France could take the place of the Yankee merchant marine if the Confederacy held its own. Cowell states that “But while one of the two main objects of the Yankees in their war against the South is to repossess control of Southern exports, essentially necessary for the support of two-thirds of their marine, it is in the absolute pleasure of the South, having no ships of their own, to bestow this great instrument of power and wealth upon whichever nation she may choose.”

The North also fought to maintain is the South’s is their tariff protective system which Cowell describes as being adopted “unreservedly, and founded on it the future fortunes of their usurped domination over the rest of the Sovereign States of the Union.” The South was catching on to the system in the mid-1820s and began to chafe – secession was threatened in the early 1850s and by late 1860 the Southern withdrawals from the unequal Union began.

When the North “awakened to the terrible effect of the Southern secession on their artificial prosperity, they rushed to war, and the war has, for the moment, provided much of their invested capital with temporary employment. Thus far the war has staved off for a very short time the ruin which must inevitably overtake them . . .

Thus are brought into light the two governing points in the position of the Yankees – viz., the recovery of the Southern carrying trade and the recovery of the monopoly of the Southern market.”

Mr. Cowell refers to the national character of the Yankee, pointedly the New Englanders. He described the “narrow, fanatical, and originally sincere puritanism of their ancestors [which] has, in the course of six generations, degenerated into that amalgam of hypocrisy, cruelty, falsehood, unconsciousness of the faintest sentiment of self-respect, coarseness of self-assertion, insensibility to the opinions of others, utter callousness to right, barbarous delight in wrong, and thorough moral ruffianism, which is now fully revealed to the world as the genuine Yankee nature, and of which Butler, Seward [and other high Northern political leaders] are pure representative Yankees, [and] afford such finished examples.”

 

Driving the South to Secession

It is said that if the Crittenden Compromise of December, 1861 had been submitted to the people, it would have had far-reaching effect in arresting the secession movement except for the already-departed South Carolina. By January, the opportunity had passed though the Republicans showed by their support of the proposed 13th Amendment that slavery was truly not an issue, and that their coming war against the American South was waged for other reasons.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Driving the South to Secession:

“From Buffalo, on January 18, 1861, he [Horatio Seymour] wrote Senator Crittenden of Kentucky in support of his scheme of compromise. It was in his opinion that this “great measure of reconciliation” struck “the popular heart.” [Senator William] Bigler of Pennsylvania had proposed that the Crittenden Compromise be submitted to popular vote, and Seymour assured the senator that Bigler’s suggestion was “here regarded as vastly important.” He thought the measure would carry New York by 150,000 votes in a referendum . . . [and] Republican congressmen who feared to support the compromise would be glad of the chance to throw the responsibility on their constituents.

[Author] James Ford Rhodes fortified one’s belief in the good judgment of Seymour when he studied the defeat of Senator Crittenden’s proposals. In view of the appalling consequences the responsibility of both Lincoln and Seward for the defeat is heavy, if not dark — in spite of all that historians of the inevitable have written of “this best of all possible worlds.”

The committee to which Crittenden’s bill for compromise was referred consisted of thirteen men. Crittenden himself was the most prominent of the three representatives from the Border States. Of three Northern Democrats, Douglas, of Illinois was the leader; of five Republicans, [William] Seward was the moving spirit. Only two men sat from the Cotton States, [Jefferson] Davis and [Robert] Toombs. Commenting on the fateful vote of the committee, Rhodes observed:

“No fact is clearer than that the Republicans in December defeated the Crittenden compromise; few historic probabilities have better evidence to support them than the one which asserts that the adoption of this measure would have prevented the secession of the Cotton States, other than South Carolina, and the beginning of the civil war in 1861 . . . It is unquestionable, as I have previously shown, that in December the Republicans defeated the Crittenden proposition; and it seems to me likewise clear that, of all the influences tending to this result, the influence of Lincoln was the most potent.”

In January the House refused, by a vote of 113 to 80, to submit the Crittenden Compromise to the people. About the same time the Senate joined this action by a vote of 20 to 19. Two-thirds of each House, however, recommended to the States a compromise thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, as follows: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” Conservative Republicans voted with the Democrats to carry this measure of which Lincoln approved in his inaugural address.”

(Horatio Seymour of New York, Stewart Mitchell, Harvard University Press, 1938, pp 222-224)

 

Deception Leads to War

After Buchanan’s failed Star of the West mission to resupply Fort Sumter in early January, 1861, Lincoln attempted the same in early April while promising to maintain the peaceful status quo. Judge John A. Campbell was a respected Supreme Court Justice who tried honestly to facilitate a peaceful settlement between North and South, but was deceived by those leading the war party of the North. Unionists North and South advised Lincoln to abandon Sumter to avoid a conflict between Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Deception Leads to War

“Judge Campbell to the President of the Confederate States.

Montgomery, Alabama, May 7, 1861

Sir:  I submit to you two letters that were addressed by me to the Hon. W. H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, that contain an explanation of the nature and result of an intervention by me in the intercourse of the commissioners of the Confederate States with that officer.

I considered that I could perform no duty in which the entire American people, whether of the Federal Union or of the Confederate States, were more interested than that of promoting the counsels and the policy that had for their object the preservation of peace. This motive dictated my intervention.

Besides the interview referred to in these letters, I informed the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States (not being able to see the Secretary) on the 11th April, ultimo, of the existence of a telegram of that date, from General Beauregard to the commissioners, in which he informed the commissioners that he had demanded the evacuation of Sumter, and if refused he would proceed to reduce it.

On the same day, I had been told that President Lincoln had said that none of the vessels sent to Charleston were war vessels, and that force was not to be used in the attempt to resupply the Fort. I had no means of testing the accuracy of this information; but offered that if the information was accurate, I would send a telegram to the authorities at Charleston, and it might prevent the disastrous consequences of a collision at that fort between the opposing forces. It was the last effort that I would make to avert the calamities of war.

The Assistant Secretary promised to give the matter attention, but I had no other intercourse with him or any other person on the subject, nor have I had any reply to the letters submitted to you.

Very respectfully,

John A. Campbell

To: General Davis, President of the Confederate States”

(Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, James D. Richardson, US Publishing Company, 1906, Volume I, pp. 97-98)

 

Canny Theorist in the White House

Author Simkins observed that the South’s leaders “had committed a crime against the dominant patriotism of the nineteenth century” by “preaching national disintegration” – Lincoln the nationalist responded with “You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend it.” He would not recognize the right of Americans in the South to create a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Canny Theorist in the White House

“Southerners were convinced that what they lacked in military and naval equipment would be outweighed by their superior intelligence, bravery and hardihood. Had not the American colonies, who were weaker than the South, defeated England, a nation stronger than the North? The Confederacy need only stand on the defensive, win a few victories, and the unheroic Yankees would quickly withdraw from the hornets’ nest. Jefferson Davis and other thoughtful leaders, however, did not share such popular fallacies; they believed there would be a long war against a merciless foe.

It was true that in Abraham Lincoln the Confederacy had an implacable enemy. Behind the white face and black beard of a St. John the Baptist was the statesmen willing to use the methods by which great leaders of modern times have built or maintained empires. This meant nothing less than imposing forcibly the will of the strong upon the weak. With Lincoln the word was “charity to all men,” the reality “blood and iron.”

The President’s objective was clear: the complete destruction of the Confederate government, and the restoration of its constituent States to the Union. In his opinion the contest was not a war, but an attempt to put down domestic insurrection which had become too formidable for ordinary officers of the law.

The withdrawal of the Southern States and their subsequent organization into a new nation was declared illegal. To come to terms with the new Confederacy necessitated a great war, but the canny theorist in the White House called it an endeavor to re-establish constitutional authority. Accordingly the President mobilized armies and inaugurated a military struggle without asking Congress for a declaration of war.

He launched an invasion against powerful armies without extending to them the formal belligerent rights customary among civilized warmakers. The Confederacy was blockaded to deprive it of basic necessities. The Federal armies moved forward not to come to terms with a legal enemy, but to possess militarily and politically the territory of outlawed rebels. When the policies of blockade and invasion were not immediately successful, novel methods of warfare were employed.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued after Lee’s advance into the North had been stopped at [Sharpsburg], at least by implication, was designed to demoralize Southern Society and to give the war the character of a crusade in which righteousness was buttressed by vengeance. Provinces were devastated to break their will to resist.

When victory and the cessation of hostilities came, there was no armistice or peace treaty with [a] humbled foe, but surrender by an adversary who had been cut to pieces. The Confederacy was dissolved and its constituent parts re-incorporated into the United States.”

(The South Old and New, A History, 1820–1947, Francis Butler Simkins, Albert A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 140-141)

Revolution and the Law of Necessity

In early 1850 Northern Ultras like Wendell Phillips trumpeted that “we are disunionists,” and Horace Mann admitted that Northern intransigence would produce a Southern rebellion against outrage and oppression. Daniel Webster could only produce useless Union speeches which had little effect upon Northern radicals who wanted revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Revolution and the Law of Necessity

“[Webster] had not been speaking long [on 7 March 1850] before a tall, emaciated figure, with deep, cavernous eyes and a thick mass of snow-white hair advanced with feeble step, and sank into a chair on the other side of the Chamber. Webster, who had not seen him enter . . . soon referred again to Calhoun. The latter nervously grasped the arm of his chair, his black eyes glared, and half-rising, he exclaimed in a feeble, sepulchral voice: “The Senator from South Carolina is in his seat.” Startled, Webster turned, bowed, smiled and continued his excoriation of disunion.

He turned to Calhoun and exclaimed with profound emotion: “Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility.” When Webster sat down the applause could not be stilled . . . But Calhoun checked the congratulatory chorus. In faltering tones he expressed vehement dissent.

“I cannot agree,” he shrilled, “with the Senator from Massachusetts that this Union cannot be dissolved. Am I to understand him that no degree of oppression, no outrage, no broken faith, can produce the destruction of this Union?”

“Why Sir,” he continued, if that becomes a fixed fact, it will itself become the great instrument of producing oppression, outrage and broken faith. No, Sir, the Union can be broken. Great moral causes will break it, if they go on, and it can only be preserved by justice, good faith and an adherence to the Constitution.”

As he took his seat, Webster arose to answer the question. “I know, Sir,” he said, “that this Union can be broken up – every government can be – and I admit that there may be such a degree of oppression as will warrant resistance and forcible severance. That is revolution – that is revolution! Of that ultimate right of revolution I have not been speaking. I know that the law of necessity does exist.”

(The Eve of Conflict, Stephen A. Douglas and the Needless War, George Fort Milton, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934, pp. 62-63)

Buchanan Initiates War

Though President James Buchanan disagreed with the political remedy of State secession from the Union, he publicly stated that as President he was powerless to oppose it. But it was Buchanan who later began hostilities when he dispatched the Star of West with armed troops aboard from New York harbor and destined for Charleston.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Buchanan’s Initiates War

“Buchanan had firmly endorsed the war policy since the attack on Fort Sumter, and in September, 1861, sent a letter to a Democratic political meeting in Chester County [Pennsylvania]. He emphasized in this message that the war would have to be loyally sustained until the bitter end and urged the Democrats to stop wasting their time on a futile demand for peace proposals. The minute he saw this letter, [Jeremiah] Black wrote:

“Your endorsement of Lincoln’s policy will be a very serious drawback upon the defense of your own. It is vain to think that the two administrations can be made consistent. The fire upon the Star of the West was as bad as the fire on Fort Sumter; and the taking of Fort Moultrie & Pinckney was worse than either. If this war is right and politic and wise and constitutional, I cannot but think you ought to have made it. I am willing to vindicate the last administration . . . but I can’t do it on the ground which you now occupy.”

“. . . Buchanan would not agree with Black that there was anything but a superficial similarity between the threatening incidents at the end of his Administration and the sustained bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12.

He also disagreed with Black’s view that the war itself was unconstitutional, that Lincoln started it, and that it ought to be stopped as soon as possible by a negotiated peace. “. . . [As] to my course since the wicked bombardment of Fort Sumter,” he told Black, “it is but a regular consequence of my whole policy towards the seceding States. They had been informed over and over again by me what would be the consequence of an attack upon it. They chose to commence civil war, & Mr. Lincoln had no alternative but to defend the country against dismemberment. I certainly should have done the same thing had they begun the war in my time, & this they well knew.”

(President James Buchanan, A Biography, Philip S. Klein, American Political Biography Press, 1962, pp. 416-417)

 

Abolitionists Drunk on the Fumes of Blood

Abolitionist hatred of Americans in the South seemed boundless with people like Wendell Phillips desiring their near-extermination, and Parson Brownlow preaching that “We will crowd the rebels into the Gulf of Mexico, and drown the entire race, as the devil did the hogs in the Sea of Galilee.” The South was only asking for political independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Abolitionists Drunk on the Fumes of Blood

“Wendell Phillips, who, before the blood began to flow, eloquently declared that the South was in the right, that Lincoln had no right to send armed men to coerce her, after battles begun seemed to become drunk on the fumes of blood and mad for more than battlefields afforded. In a speech delivered in [Henry Ward] Beecher’s church, to a large and presumably a Christian congregation, Phillips made the following remarkable declaration:

“I do not believe in battles ending this war. You may plant a fort in every district of the South, you may take possession of her capitals and hold them with your armies, but you have not begun to subdue her people. I know it seems something like absolute barbarian conquest, I allow it, but I do not believe there will be any peace until 347,000 men of the South are either hanged or exiled (Cheers).”

Why the precise number, 347,000, does not appear. If the hanging at one fell swoop of 347,000 men and women seemed to Phillips something like barbarian conquest, it would be interesting to know what would have appeared truly barbarian. History records some crimes of such stupendous magnitude, even to this day men shudder at their mention.”

(Facts and Falsehoods, Concerning the War on the South, George Edmonds, Spence Hall Lamb, 1904, pp. 235-236)