Browsing "No Compromise"

Northern Hatred Shrouded in False Humanitarianism

Lincoln as president-elect had ample opportunity to tour the South to better understand the region, as well as chastise the fanatic abolitionists who fueled the secessionist impulses of the South. He did neither, and after his unconstitutional call for troops to levy war upon a State, gave North Carolina Unionists no alternative but to join their brethren in what they regarding as a more perfect American union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Northern Hatred Shrouded in False Humanitarianism

“Appealing to his constituents on a platform which included a protective tariff, internal improvements, free homesteads to free-soilers, and limiting slavery to its current borders, Abraham Lincoln won the presidency by pulling in the electoral votes of all the Northern States with the exception of New Jersey. In ten Southern States he pulled no votes at all and consequently had no electors from that section. The national voting performance indicated that Lincoln drew considerably fewer votes than the total number of ballots cast for his three rivals, Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell.

In searching for solutions to the troubling problems following the national elections, alert citizens wanted to know more about the kind of program the new president intended to implement during his administration. To effectively counter secession arguments, Southern Unionists needed answers to vital questions – answers only the president-elect could give.

Reflecting the anxiety of many was North Carolina Congressman John A. Gilmer’s letter of December 10, 1860, to Lincoln . . . [that] before assuming his high office, should “give the people of the United States the views and opinions you now entertain on certain public questions now so seriously distract[ing] the country.”

Lincoln, in his return letter . . . chose to continue his policy of silence relative to his pending administration. Giving assurance he did not intend to interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia, [and] seemed to imply flexibility “on everything except the territorial question, and on this he would not yield.”

To those citizens both North and South who were thoroughly convinced that slavery extension existed more in theory than in fact, the president-elect’s position bordered on absurdity. In truth, the plantation system was not destined to expand into any existing territories of the United States. The territory of New Mexico, for ten years open to settlement by slaveholders, recorded not one slave in the census of 1860. Colorado and Nevada were likewise without slaves. A few bondage blacks were to be found in Utah, and for the same year, census statistics indicated that two slaves resided in all of Kansas.

Thoughtful observers knew it would be a tragic mistake for Lincoln to proceed without a thorough understanding of the present South, reflecting the conditions brought on by a decade of intense and often bitter sectional rivalry with the North. Republican leaders, convinced as they were that an inevitable climax to the slavery issue was drawing near, surely would not overlook the strong likelihood that resolution was not attainable without secession and war.

Also, might certain essential observations have escaped Lincoln in his firm belief that there still remained throughout the South a strong residue of Union support and loyalty? In truth, Union sentiment in the region was much weaker than it had been in years past. The loyalty that had made North Carolinians proud to send James K. Polk to the presidency had now been supplanted by new and disturbing sensations.

For reasons valid or otherwise, there was furthermore a persistent suspicion that selfish and sinister forces were behind or perhaps a part of the Northern anti-slavery movement. If an irrepressible conflict lay ahead, as contended by some, how accurate was it to conclude that black people held in forced labor were the major cause of this impending crisis?

Tariffs revised upward, a national government favorable to the industrialization and capital investments so essential to expanding industry and commerce – these and related matters occupied the attention of Northern entrepreneurs and political leaders. Could it be that when spokesmen for these special interests lashed out critically against slavery, very often their zeal was intended not so much to liberate unfortunate black people as to obliterate the political power of the region in which they resided?

Was not the South – represented by its phalanx of representatives in Congress, by its dominance of the Supreme Court and almost continuous control of the executive branch, and by its agriculturally-oriented society . . . the real target of North attacks? Until this establishment was dismantled, impatient but determined Northern economic forces would continue to be held in check. So why not strike at the South’s Achilles’ heel by mounting a convincing humanitarian campaign against its “peculiar” institution?”

(Matt W. Ransom, Confederate General From North Carolina, Clayton C. Marlow, McFarland & Company, 1996, pp. 3-5)

Expelling Unworthy Members of the House

The Democratic opposition during the war believed that “if the Republicans continued in power they would ultimately destroy every shred of democratic choice and free behavior in the name of their conception of the right.” Ohio political leader Clement Vallandigham said “nothing but convulsion can come of this despotism,” and if Lincoln were to be reelected, “our Republican government is gone, gone, gone, and ere it is again revived we must pass through anarchy in its worst form.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Expelling Unworthy Members of the House

“[Clement Vallandigham of Ohio received support] from leading Democrats of the North, not only in his own State but from such men as Governor Seymour and Samuel J. Tilden of New York. We have referred to the plank of the Democratic platform adopted in 1864, which declared the war a failure, and it must be added that the convention was run, and the platform written and adopted, and the nomination made practically at the order of Vallandigham and his sympathizers.

To these instances must be added sentiments such as were uttered by Alexander Long, the Representative of the Second District of Ohio, in the Thirty-eighth Congress, who boldly defended the cause of the Confederacy as follows:

“I now believe that there are but two alternatives, and they are either an acknowledgement of the independence of the South as an independent nation, or their complete subjugation and extermination as a people; and of these alternatives I prefer the former.”

A resolution was offered for the expulsion of Long, declaring that by his speech he had given “aid, countenance and encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility to the United States.” The debate upon the resolution was opened by Mr. [James] Garfield of Ohio, then sitting in the House . . . for his first term [and] fresh from the battlefield of Chickamauga . . .

In answering Mr. Garfield, Benjamin G. Harris, of Maryland, said: “The South asks you to leave them in peace, but now you say you will bring them into subjection. That is not done yet, and God Almighty grant it may never be!”

This was followed by the offering of a resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Harris [and he subsequently] was declared to be an unworthy member of the House by a vote of 93 to 18. Fernando Wood, George H. Pendleton, the candidate for Vice President on the Democratic ticket of 1864, and Samuel J. Randall, afterwards Democratic Speaker of the House, were among those who voted in the negative. A resolution was also adopted declaring Mr. Long an unworthy member of the House.

[The Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery] had been adopted in the Senate on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. These six votes were cast by the two Democratic Senators from Kentucky, the two from Delaware, and by Mr. McDougall of California, and Mr. Hendricks of Indiana . . . Every Republican [in the House] without exception voted in the affirmative [119 to 56], together with sixteen Democrats.

Among the opposition we find the names of William S. Holman of Indiana, S.S. Cox, Alexander Long, whose treasonable words had been censured, and George H. Pendleton of Ohio, W.R. Morrison of Illinois, Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, and others who afterwards became leaders of the Democratic party.”

(The Republican Party, A History of Its First Fifty Years, Francis Curtis, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904, pp. 464-467)

An Exemplar for Generations to Come

General Jubal Early notes in his “Narrative of the War Between the States”: “On the 24th of May [1861], the day after the election in Virginia ratifying the ordinance of secession, the Federal troops . . . crossed over from Washington into Virginia, the bands playing and the soldiers singing “John Brown’s soul goes marching on”; and John Brown’s mission was, subsequently, but too well carried out in Virginia and all the Southern States under the inspiration of that anthem.” Slavery may have cause secession, but secession was the cause of invasion and war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

An Exemplar for Generations to Come

“[It] was believed by many persons that a large party at the North would oppose the prosecution of a war of invasion. It will be remembered by those at all conversant with the history of events at that time, how strong had been the party opposed to secession in the Convention then in session at Richmond (at least two-thirds of its members having been elected as Union men), and what strenuous efforts towards peace and compromise had been made by the Border States Commissioners.

The call upon Virginia, by President Lincoln, for her quota of troops to aid in subjugating the South, had settled the question, however, in the Convention; and in a few hours after Governor Letcher’s reply to that call, Virginia had virtually cast her lot with the Gulf States, although two weeks elapsed before she became a member of the Confederacy.

I had visited, some months previous to the secession of the State, many of the little villages in New England, where I saw that the population were in terrible earnest. “Wide awake,” and other secret societies were organized; and inflammatory harangues aroused the populace. The favorite theme of the orators was the “martyrdom” of John Brown; the piratical and murderous raid of that fanatic into the State of Virginia being exalted into a praiseworthy act of heroism.

When I returned to Virginia and contrasted the apparent apathy and want of preparation there with the state of affairs at the North, I trembled for the result. But when the State severed her relations with the Union, the Governor acted with great vigor and ability, and the most was made of the limited resources at his command. Volunteers responded with alacrity to the call to defend the State from invasion; and none responded more readily, or served more bravely, than those who had opposed secession in the Convention.

It seems invidious to cite particular examples; but the “noblest Trojan of them all” will point a moral, and serve as an exemplar for generations to come. Wise in council, eloquent in debate, bravest and coolest among the brave in battle, and faithful to his convictions in adversity, he still lives to denounce falsehood and wrong. Truly the old hero, in all he says and does, “gives the world assurance of a man.” I allude to General J[ubal] A. Early.”

(The Narrative of a Blockade Runner, John Wilkinson, (reprint) Valde Books, 1876/2009 pp. 4-5)

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)

 

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)

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)