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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.”

 

Drugged, Kidnapped and Dragooned Army of the James

Northern villages, towns, cities, counties and State’s contributed generously to buy exemptions and substitutes for residents, with the promise of additional bounties upon mustering. State agents swarmed into the Northern-occupied South to capture and enlist black slaves, which were counted toward the State quota of troops thus relieving white citizens from military duty.  In Europe, immigrants were enticed by promises of free or cheap land, and found blue uniforms awaiting them on US soil.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drugged, Kidnapped and Dragooned Army of the James

“The Army of the James was the quintessential Yankee command. Among all Union armies, it boasted the highest percentage of units recruited in New England [and] . . . More than any other Federal army, [it] was a bastion of Republican and Union Party sentiment. While Lincoln enjoyed the support of most troops in every command, he had a special confidence in voters in [General B.F.] Butler’s force.

When the 1864 presidential contest heated up, [Secretary of War] Stanton confided to one of Butler’s staff officers that although Lincoln was not so confident about [General George G.] Meade’s army, he had no doubt as to the loyalty of the Army of the James [in delivering the soldier vote to him].

Butler went out of his way to fill his ranks with prewar office holders, editors of partisan newspapers, and political hangers-on. Of course, politics dominated every Union fighting force; each had to answer continually to political influences. Many had to spend as much time vying for power as they did fighting the Confederacy.

Another factor that sapped the fighting strength of the XVIII Corps was an abundance of soldiers who would fight only under duress, if at all. Especially among its New England regiments, unit effectiveness was compromised by the many men dragooned into service by unscrupulous agents employed by States anxious to enlist enough volunteers that they would not have to submit to federal conscription.

Many of these unfortunates were recent immigrants, “mostly speaking foreign languages,” who had been “drugged and kidnapped….then heavily ironed [shackled], confined in boxcars, and shipped like cattle” to designated regiments. [General Isaac J.] Wistar, whose district contained hundreds of unwilling recruits, noted that in one New Hampshire regiment alone, eighty men deserted during their first night in Virginia.

Other XVIII Corps outfits were found to contain an even less desirable brand of recruits. In the course of a few weeks, a couple hundred “bounty jumpers” deserted and returned north to enlist in distant cities under assumed names and collect additional money.

If many of the white troops were unreliable, the army’s contingent of black troops, untested in battle, did not inspire widespread confidence. To many of their white comrades, the blacks were am amusing novelty, a social experiment gone too far, and a source of unease and concern. Many were liberated and runaway slaves, used to lives of docility and subserviency. Could they display the martial skill, the initiative, the fidelity of whites? In the spring of 1864 most whites thought not.

The cavalry and artillery units of the Army of the James were of uneven quality . . . [a colonel] complained of “this villainous Cavalry of [Gen. August V.] Kautz’s Division which has been so blowed about and exalted to the sky by reporters” but that appeared more effective at looting than fighting. Even Butler, who defended the cavalry against all critics, privately acknowledged its low quality.

(Army of Amateurs, General Benjamin F. Butler and the Army of the James, 1863-1865, Edward G. Longacre, Stackpole Books, 1997, pp. 45-49)

The Drift of the Republicans

Criticizing Lincoln’s brutal policies against Americans both North and South, Democratic United States Representative Samuel “Sunset” Cox of Ohio said in late 1862 that Republicans were “determined to make this a war against populations, against civilized usage . . . and defeated the cause of the nation, by making the old Union impossible.” August Belmont, national Democratic Committee Chairman warned at the same time the North “was and still is ready to fight for the union and the Constitution, but it is not ready to initiate a war of extermination.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Drift of the Republicans

“The trouble with the Republicans,” Horatio Seymour charged, is that “one wing . . . is conservative and patriotic, the other is violent and revolutionary.” Before very long after March 1861, Democrats saw abolitionists in the ascendancy, setting the war policies of the government and successfully perverting the war’s aims. They were “getting wild on everything.”

Whatever Lincoln had started out to do, some Democrats charged, by 1862 the war had become “an abolition war – a war for general emancipation.” “No one talks of conservatism any longer,” Samuel Barlow was told, “or speaks of the old Constitution or of anything but a renewed and desperate raid for subjection of the rebels.”

They saw in the Thirty-seventh Congress a prime example of what the Republicans were up to. [A Democratic editor said]: “the evil in our system was not slavery, but unwarranted, meddlesome attacks upon slavery.” At the same time that the Republican party had entered into a policy of abolition, Democrats believed that it had also begun to destroy the liberties of the Northern people. The situation in the Border States where, in the name of national security military occupation and restrictions on individual rights had become a persistent fact of life, particularly troubled them.

[Former President] Franklin Pierce discerned federal agents spying on him wherever he went, in furtherance of their “reign of terror.” The actions of individual Union generals in suppressing newspapers and Democratic speakers also “put a gag into the mouths of the people.” Every action of the government “has been a glaring usurpation of power, and a palpable and dangerous violation of that very Constitution which this Civil War is professedly waged to support.”

They could only look on in dismay at “the drift of the Republicans,” which was, the editor of the Albany [New York] Atlas and Argus summed up, to subvert the Constitution by “perpetuating a bloody war, not to sustain, but to overthrow it.”

(A Respectable Minority, The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860-1868, Joel H. Silbey, W.W. Norton & Company, 1977, pp. 49-52)

Drafts and Bounty-Enriched Patriots

Dwindling enlistments by mid-1862 and Lincoln’s insatiable requests for troops resulted in threats of conscription which in reality was a whip to force volunteering and usually accompanied by generous bounty monies. Trainloads of Northern dead coming home from Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg virtually ended enlistments; black men captured from Southern plantations provided a new source of enlistments and conscripts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drafts and Bounty-Enriched Patriots

“The declining power of the States received further illustration as the [Northern] governors faced the necessity of drafting their men into the State militia. Lincoln’s call of July 2 [1862] for 300,000 men for three years had been based on a spurious “request” extracted from the governors . . . on August 4, the President, without warning, called on them to furnish an additional 300,000 militiamen for a period of nine months.

None of the [Northern] governors wanted to draft their constituents – though a number of them, seeing the 1862 elections approaching, wished they could find a way to draft Democrats. The next best thing to drafting Democrats was to use the threat of the draft to discourage political opponents. Each governor sought and obtained permission to postpone the draft until after the elections, but in the meantime the enrollment for the draft went on.

Citizens who obstructed enrollment officers were arrested and held without benefit of habeas corpus until after election day. In some places enrollment officers went to the polls to write down the names of the voters. Democrats were sure that these fraudulent activities were designed to suppress popular liberties.

To avoid a draft, the governors tried hard to raise their quotas by volunteering. States, cities, counties, and townships offered bounties for enlistment, while every form of social pressure induced men to enter the ranks.

[Massachusetts Governor John] Andrew faced the necessity of raising 4,000 men by a draft. Expecting a riot in Boston, he held troops in readiness and asked Secretary Stanton to institute courts martial for dissatisfied citizens. In Ohio, the State’s provost marshal used troops to break up one encampment of a thousand men who had assembled to resist the enrollment officers. Still, Governor Todd found that the draft went off harmoniously and that by offering bounties to the militia draftees he could get four-fifths of them to enlist in the three-year regiments. He avoided further trouble by permitting conscientious objectors to pay $300 commutation, and with the $50,000 he collected from them he hired substitutes and provided care for the sick and wounded.

In Schuykill County, Pennsylvania, the enrollment officers met such resistance that Governor Curtin begged Stanton to call off the draft. The Governor feared the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish miners’ society, which was well-organized and strongly opposed conscription. Enrollment officers had attempted to get lists of workers from the mine-owners, but the employers, fearing retaliation from the workers, refused to cooperate. [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton . . . had no sympathy with Curtin’s difficulties . . . and he sent two regiments to aid the work.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 277-280)

Few Patriots Found in New York City

Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed brokered a deal with local politicians to solve Lincoln’s problem of obtaining soldiers after the draft riots of July 1863. Locating substitute recruits for drafted city residents, he would use the city treasury to pay whatever signing bonus the competitive market required and tap a special $2 million substitute fund financed by Wall Street bonds. Should a resident get caught in Lincoln’s draft net, he could either use the fund to buy his way out, or join the army and keep the money. With this scheme, Lincoln used Tammany Hall to run his draft in New York, though Tweed’s recruitment drive eventually attracted scandal with abusive bounty brokers, unqualified soldiers (from local prisons or immigrants literally straight from Europe) and middlemen who made fortunes from graft.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Few Patriots Found in New York City

“For four days terror reigned, marked by a series of grisly lynchings. A mob even swarmed onto a British ship in the harbor, and despite the Captain’s protests, cruelly beat up the foreign Negroes among the crew. The police were barely able to save the Tribune Building from total destruction. Men searched for the Tribune’s editor, singing, “We’ll hang Horace Greeley from a sour apple tree.”

A Negro orphanage on Fifth Avenue was burned to the ground. Looters had a field day, among them screeching women who opposed conscription. Troops were rushed from Gettysburg [immediately after the battle]; cadets from West Point came to aid the police; the entire naval force in the region was called upon to quell the disturbance. Finally, in desperation, the military raked the streets with cannon fire. But what really stopped the rioting was a posted notice: “the draft has been suspended in New York City and Brooklyn.”

The newspapers carried the word in huge print. Order was finally restored. According to the Tribune of July 25, some 350 people had been killed; but other estimates went much higher. Casualties, including the injured, amounted to 1,000 and private property damage was estimated at $1,500,000. Republican newspapers claimed the outbreak had been sparked by Confederate agents. But Democratic party feeling and a sincere desire for peace were mingled with race prejudice and resentment against what the anti-Lincoln papers called the “incompetence” of the Administration.

Men resented fighting against their convictions and were indignant at “governmental “frauds and profiteering.” Apparently, from the magnitude of the outbreak, the London Times had not been far wrong in predicting that if the South won in Pennsylvania, Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee would

receive a rousing welcome along Broadway. Soon after the tumult subsided, the Democratic City Council of New York voted that the exemption [from military service] money of four hundred dollars for impecunious draftees would be paid from the city treasury. To meet Governor [Horatio] Seymour’s charge that the conscription as practiced was “unequal, fraudulent and a disgrace,” President Lincoln reduced the New York quotas [for troops].

When the draft was resumed a month later, he took the precaution of sending 10,000 infantrymen and three artillery batteries from the Army of the Potomac to see that the business went off quietly.

During New York’s bloody pandemonium, [British Colonel Arthur] Freemantle had been surprised to hear everyone talking of the “total demoralization of the Rebels.” To him it sounded absurd, since only a few days previously he had left Lee’s army “as full of fight as ever,” much stronger and more efficient from every military point of view than when it had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland the previous September. In the Colonel’s opinion, Lee’s army had “not lost any of its prestige at the battle of Gettysburg, in which it had most gallantly stormed strong entrenchments defended by the whole Army of the Potomac.”

Freemantle took ship for England and completed his book of observations at sea. “The mass of respectable Northerners,” he wrote, “though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition and conquest . . . The more I think of all I have seen in the Confederate States of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk—“How can you subjugate such a people as this?”

[And] even supposing that their extermination were a feasible plan, as some Northerners have suggested, I never can believe that in the nineteenth century the civilized world will be condemned to witness the destruction of such a gallant race.”

(Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, Hudson Strode, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1959, pp. 458-460)

Sumner the Accidental Senator

After his richly deserved gutta-percha thrashing by Preston Brooks, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner feigned serious injury for advantage over his political opponent. As a Radical Republican and abolitionist, he provided much of the impetus for bringing on the war that destroyed the Founders’ Republic.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sumner the Accidental Senator

“If (Charles) Sumner had been given to self-criticism, the firing of Fort Sumter might have caused him to ponder what part he himself had played in bringing on the sectional conflict. In the minds of many Southerners, extremists like Sumner were responsible for the breakup of the Union. As a “Conscience Whig,” he had helped kill the national Whig party, which had once bound together conservatives of both North and South.

As a Free Soil senator, he had seized every opportunity to attack the South and embitter sectional feelings. As Republican martyr, he had been instrumental in keeping his party committed to an antislavery course and in scotching efforts at compromise. “By degrees,” as Carl Sandburg has remarked, “”Sumner had come to stand for something the South wanted exterminated from the Union; he was perhaps the most perfect impersonation of what the South wanted to secede from.”

He might also have reflected upon the role that chance had played in elevating him to his prominent position. He had stumbled into politics largely by accident. He rose to leadership in the Massachusetts Free Soil movement as much through the unavailability of his rivals as through his own talents and exertions. Candidate of a minority party, he was first chosen to the Senate through the devious workings of a political coalition.

At nearly every point during his first five years in office, had he been up for reelection, he would almost certainly have been defeated. Then Preston Brook’s attack gave him his second term in the Senate and thereby assured him seniority and prestige within the Republican party.

Never chosen by direct popular vote for any office, Sumner, by 1861, nevertheless had become one of the most powerful men in the United States.”

(Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, David H. Donald, Fawcett Columbine, 1960, pp. 387-388)

 

 

Fort McHenry's Prisoner of State

Fort McHenry’s Prisoner of State

“The grandson of the author of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Key Howard, editor of The Exchange Newspaper of Baltimore, had been arrested on the morning of the 13th of September 1861, about 1 o’clock, by the order of General [Nathaniel P.] Banks, and taken to Fort McHenry.

He says (Fourteen Months in American Bastille, page 9):

“When I looked out in the morning, I could not help being struck by an odd and not pleasant coincidence. On that day forty-seven years before my grandfather, Mr. F.S. Key, then prisoner on a British ship, had witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When on the following morning the hostile fleet drew off, defeated, he wrote the song so long popular throughout the country, the Star Spangled Banner. As I stood upon the very scene of that conflict, I could not but contrast my position with his, forty-seven years before.”

(The Real Lincoln, L.C. Minor, Everett Waddey Company, 1928, (Sprinkle Publications 1992, pp. 148-149)

Craven Abolitionist Creatures

Ohio Congressman Samuel S. “Sunset” Cox and other Northern Democrats encouraged Lincoln to end his war with a convention of the States. They believed the States held the key to reunion or separation, not the federal agent at Washington which held strictly delegated powers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Craven Abolitionist Creatures:

“President Lincoln, proceeding on his own initiative, suspended habeas corpus in specified areas and directed summary arrest of suspected persons. In September 1862 he proclaimed that, for the duration of the war, individuals engaging in disloyal activities would be subject to martial law and trial by military commission. Under this directive the War Department jailed thousands of offenders without civil trial. Democratic success in the elections of 1862 sprang partly from popular reaction to this policy of arbitrary arrest.

Cox, outraged by the charge of disloyalty against Northern Democrats, turned the charge against the Radicals. It was not Democrats “who urged the “Wayward sisters” to depart in peace,” he said. “Were they Democrats,” he asked . . . who hounded on the war, and then brought Southern Negroes to fight the battles in which they would not risk their own lives? . . . How many abolitionist . . . were hiding from the draft, or paying . . . substitutes?

It was such craven creatures as these, who charged Northern Democrats with secession sympathy . . . By what irony of events was it that these creatures – who were at times more disloyal to a constitutional Union than the most violent secessionists – who wormed themselves and their plots into national affairs, and prolonged the war in which they had no part, except to incite the conflict and fan the flames of passion.”

(“Sunset” Cox, Irrepressible Democrat, David Lindsey, Wayne State University Press, 1959, pg. 68)

Lincoln's Muscovite Friends

Lincoln’s Muscovite Friends

The lack of foreign recognition, especially from England and France, during the War Between the States is often cited as a primary reason for the fall of the Southern Confederacy. It is commonly related by historians that those two countries and others would not support the South after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863 as anti-slavery sentiment was ascendant internationally.

Though Radical Republicans viewed the proclamation as a diplomatic trump card which assured no European recognition for the American South, it was seen abroad for what it was – incitement to race warfare and virtually identical to England’s two previous emancipation proclamations. The first was issued by Virginia’s Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, in November 1775; the second proclamation was made by Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane in 1814. Both had freed slaves who flocked to His Majesties banners and were intended to bring colonists to their knees as their slaves reverted to massacre as occurred in Santo Domingo.

Lincoln was aware that he held no authority as president to interfere with a State’s labor force and policies, but his proclamation was simply a war strategy designed to strike at the agricultural strength of the South. This is why invading Northern forces seized African workers and carried them off – thus denying the South of the ability to plant and harvest crops.

The Russian minister at Washington, Baron de Stoeckl, expressed dismay over Lincoln’s proclamation to Secretary of State William Seward, and referred to it “as but a futile menace” because “it would set up a further barrier to the reconciliation of the North South – always the hope of Russia.” Writing to his government, Stoeckl charged the radical Republicans with forcing Lincoln to issue the decree out of desperation, and with plans to inaugurate a reign of terror to silence critics of their regime.

Stoeckl questioned the Emancipation Proclamation’s intent as it offered the protection of Lincoln’s government as a premium to slave owners who remained loyal to his regime, and was simply a military weapon rather than an important document proclaiming human liberty.

It is worth pointing out here that Lincoln could have played a more humane trump card by encouraging a convention of the States to settle the problems of the Union in 1861 – much the same as was done in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation that some said were not effective – and the new federated arrangement agreed upon in 1789. The convention would have found a peaceful solution to a more perfect union, or unions.

A more plausible explanation for the reluctance of the British and French to intervene on behalf of the South is not well known, but very well-documented in several important volumes. The most revealing is James Morton Callahan’s “Russo-American Relations during the American Civil War” published in January, 1908 in West Virginia Studies in American History, Series 1, Number 1. In this paper Callahan begins: “After the grand and sudden emancipation of [twenty million] serfs by the Czar” on March 3, 1861, “the admiration for Russia was assiduously cultivated in the North for intimate political reasons.”

Foremost among the reasons behind this Northern interest in Russia was the neutral attitude of England and France in 1861, as well as later British shipbuilding aid to the Confederacy and the offer of French mediation – not to mention French intervention in Mexico for unpaid debts.

The Czar applauded Lincoln’s efforts to suppress an internal rebellion which he equated with the independence-minded Poles resisting Russian troops. Ironically, both the Czar and Lincoln were emancipating serfs and slaves respectively while crushing independence movements with an iron hand.

It should be kept in mind that despite Russian serfdom being somewhat different than the African slavery inherited from British colonialism, Czar Alexander II was well-aware of the numerous serf uprisings that had caused his father, Nicholas I, such anguish, especially after the 1848 socialist revolts in Europe. Alexander saw more revolts inevitable and used an autocratic decree to hasten the act after his nobles could not agree upon a gradual solution. Perhaps Lincoln was influenced by the Czar’s actions and concluded that slavery could only be abolished if the Union was saved – even by fire, sword and a million perishing in the act.

Though many heralded the Czar’s humanitarianism toward the lowly serf, former Cornell President Andrew Dickson White, who served for a time in St. Petersburg in 1855 and 1892-94 wrote that “I do not deny the greatness and nobleness of Alexander II . . . [but] feel obliged to testify that thus far . . . there is, as yet, little, if any, practical difference between the condition of the Russian peasant before and since obtaining his freedom.”

As Lincoln’s minister at St. Petersburg, Cassius M. Clay, began his diplomatic duties in June 1861 and soon reported to Secretary of State Seward that the Czar was earnest in “the hope of the perpetuity of friendship between the two nations” which was “increased by the common sympathy in the cause of emancipation.” Clay suggested to Seward the potential alliance of Russia, Mexico and the United States in an effort to discourage European recognition of the Confederacy. He reasoned that if France or England dared recognition, they would have to face the Russian fleets in addition to Lincoln’s ever-increasing war machine.

Clay added in his message to Seward that the United States “could not trust England with our national life,” and that in “Union with Russia land and army at no distant day to settle accounts with her in China and the Indies.”

General Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania was selected to succeed Clay in St. Petersburg in January 1862, and according to a published statement by Senator James Harlan of Iowa, Cameron was secretly charged by Lincoln to interview Czar Alexander II. Lincoln was troubled by “the possibility of interference by England or France in behalf of the Confederacy” and subsequently received the Czar’s assurance that in the event of intervention, the friendship of Russia for the United States will be known in a decisive manner, which no other nation will be able to mistake.” The Crimean defeat administered by England and France was not forgotten.

After Northern defeats and reverses mounted by October 1862 and France sought British and Russian aid in mediating the American conflict, Lincoln wrote the Czar in search of an alliance should European recognition of the South become reality. He was assured that Russia would not be a party to any mediation, and that Lincoln could rely upon Russian support.

In May 1863 Clay returned as minister at St. Petersburg and found that England, Austria and France were desirous of mediating the Polish-Russian conflict on behalf of the Poles, and with hopes that the United States would join. Clay was instructed by Seward to refuse any and all intervention into Russian affairs which of course pleased the Czar, and the United States was rewarded with a grant of a charter for a telegraph line through Russian territory

In his “Lincoln and the Russians” Albert A. Woldman notes that years before in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln took a leading part in protesting against “the foreign despot” Russia who “in violation of the most sacred principles of the laws of nature and of nations” had conquered Hungary with an unwarranted armed intervention when she was fighting to break free of Austrian tyranny.

Lincoln may have held some sympathy with the rebellious Poles, but the need for a strong Russian ally to help defeat his own “rebellion” modified previous views. He and Seward issued an official statement that “Polish grievances would be righted by the liberalism, sagacity and magnanimity of Czar Alexander II.”

Lincoln’s refusal to help mediate the Polish uprising drew sharp criticism from the Missouri Republic, charging in an editorial that “the pale corpse of Poland’s murdered liberty” would continue to haunt Lincoln for years to come. Britain’s Punch magazine characterized Lincoln as collaborating with the Russian bear, and the French depicted Lincoln shaking the bloody hand of the Czar.

The French newspaper La Patrie of January 12, 1864 wrote “is it right that fifty million Muscovites should unite to retain ten or twelve million Poles under a detested yoke? Is it right that twenty million Northern Germans and Irishmen [the North’s immigrant population] should unite to impose on eight million Southerners an association they spurn?”

The strong international denunciations of his ruthless Polish campaign caused the Czar concern regarding the possibility of war and reminded him of his fleets bottled up in the Baltic and Mediterranean by the British and French navies in the Crimean War ten years earlier. He made secret arrangements to send his fleets to the open sea and friendly ports of the United States, which would then be in “a favorable position for cruising against British commerce in the Atlantic and Pacific, should war suddenly break out over the tempestuous Polish question.”

Those fleets were ordered to remain in American ports and await the outcome of negotiations regarding Poland. Though nothing in the fleet admirals’ orders referred to assisting Lincoln in his war upon the American South, the inference was clear that Britain and France should not interfere with the conquest of the South lest they hasten war with Russia.

At the same time it was clear to Lincoln, Seward and Clay that an alliance with Russia against England and France would be beneficial in thwarting French designs on Mexico. Clay wrote Seward in September 1863 that “the time had come for all America to unite in a defensive alliance to sustain the Monroe Doctrine.”

Callahan writes that “While rumors of contemplated Franco-English intervention in favor of the Confederacy were still afloat, Russia sent a fleet under Admiral [Andrei Alexandrovich] Popov to San Francisco, and soon thereafter (September 11 and 24) sent another under Admiral S.S. Lessoffsky to New York.

Americans in both cities and across the North interpreted this show of naval force as evidence “of sympathy and encouragement for the Union,” and both San Francisco and New York held endless “receptions, processions and various festivities” which “finally ended in a great Russian ball in honor of the guest.” Harper’s Weekly opined that the United States had outgrown Washington’s policy against entangling alliances and that diplomatic relations and an alliance with Russia would prevent European interference in US affairs and “mark an important epoch.”

In a further gesture of friendship with his new ally, Seward provided navigation charts for the American coast to the Russian fleets. Additionally, the governor of Rhode Island invited Admiral Lessoffsky to visit that State with his fleet; on December 5, 1863 Seward welcomed the same fleet after it had ascended the Potomac to Washington.

The Continental Monthly of February 1864 commented upon Northern enthusiasm for their new friends and especially New York City, which “had gone mad over the Muscovites, forgetting the woes of Poland while they kissed the hands of the knout-bearers of the Czar, and agitated for alliance between what they called the twin sister empires of the future . . . “

Admiral Lessoffsky and his officers were given a grand banquet at Boston in June 1864 with an oration by the renowned New Englander, Edward Everett.

Some questioned the true purpose of the Russian visit with Charles Sumner of Massachusetts writing a friend in October 1863 that “foreign intervention will introduce a new, vast and incalculable element . . . You will observe the hob-nobbing at New York with the Russian admiral. Why is that fleet gathered there?”

Callahan tells us that “it was believed that Lessoffsky had secret orders to place his fleet at the disposal of the President in case the United States should be attacked by France and England. There is no doubt the appearance of the fleets in American harbors caused apprehension in the European courts as they saw the Russians posturing for war. In his memoirs, Cassius Clay wrote of the Russian fleets: “Whatsoever may have been the ultimate purpose – Russia thus made a masterly exhibition which broke up the Mexican invasion [by France] and prevented a foreign invasion of the United States.”

New York banker Henry Clews related (Literary Digest, March 5, 1904) that Seward had informed him that when Confederate armies threatening Washington, he had requested a Russian fleet be sent to New York as a shrewd manner of demonstrating to Europe a Russo-American alliance.

There is no doubt that both Lincoln and Seward were well aware of Russian intentions and that their “action toward us . . . were but moves made by her upon the chessboard of European diplomacy,” though both “took full advantage of the fortuitous circumstance and used it astutely for the best interest of the Union cause.”

An interesting commentary on Lincoln’s wartime leadership came from another foreign observer, Rudolf M. Schleiden, Minister to the United States from the Bremen Republic. In February 1864 he mentioned in a dispatch “that Lincoln said to a Judge Thomas, of Massachusetts, that he would be satisfied if his successor was elected from the Republican Party. If that did not take place [Lincoln] feared that he would spend the rest of his life in jail for repeated violations of the Constitution.” (Rudolf Schleiden and the Visit to Richmond, April 25, 1861, Ralph Haswell Lutz, American Historical Association Annual Report, 1915, Washington, 1917, pp. 212-216)

The appearance of Russian friendship at that time was described by the Odessa-born American historian Frank A. Golder in 1915: “It was a most extraordinary situation, Russia had not in its mind to help us but did render us distinct service; the United States was not conscious that it was contributing in any way to Russia’s welfare and yet seems to have saved her from humiliation and perhaps war [with England and France]. There is probably nothing to compare with it in diplomatic history.”

As a postscript to the Russo-American friendship, Callahan notes the 1867 treaty whereby Russia transferred Alaska to United States control which few understood the logic of. Given the anticipation of war, those like Charles Sumner saw Russia “stripping for the contest with England,” providing North Pacific ports for the American navy and setting the stage for American absorption of Canada.

Intimately informed of Russian motives, Clay wrote from St. Petersburg that “the Russians hoped the cession might ultimately lead to the expulsion of England from the Pacific.” Secretary Seward, interviewed shortly after the Alaska purchase explained that it was an effort “to limit England’s coast line on the Pacific, strengthen American influence in British Columbia,” and to hasten the destiny of Canada into political union with the United States.

For the same purpose of hostility toward England, Northern politicians suggested the acquisition of Greenland and Iceland from Denmark as a further step toward “hemming in” Great Britain. The Alaska cession was viewed by many in the North as the beginning of a new national policy which would continue with annexation of British Columbia and Canada, the Sandwich Islands and naval stations for the US Navy on the coasts of China, Japan, West Indies and Caribbean. Seward’s nationalist energies had now broadened as he envisioned the United States joining the major powers of the world and pursuing even grander opportunities.

Keeping in mind that the 1867 Act of Confederation [strongly influenced by former Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin] was prompted by fears of a two million-man Northern war machine marching northward after 1865, and Russia’s hatred for England, Canadian motivations seem clear.

Though it seemed the United States was doing Russia a favor by purchasing Alaska, American consul to France John Bigelow said in 1867 that “I doubt if there was any member of either house of Congress who supposed the government then had any other motive in the purchase of Alaska than to recognize its obligations to the Czar.”

Jay Cooke's War Hustle

Lincoln could not have waged war upon the American South without troops and the immense amount of money needed to pay for them, their equipage and assorted public relations campaigns to justify war.  For this he turned to banker Jay Cooke and his creation of war bond drives which labeled non-buyers as traitors.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jay Cooke’s War Hustle

“The Credit Mobilier scandal . . . brought on, or at least hastened, the panic of 1873 and turned the greatest American financier of the era into a bankrupt. This was Jay Cooke. At the time of the crash he was engaged in financing the second transcontinental railroad, the Northern Pacific.

[In the past Cooke] showed fine judgment in his promotion of canals, then of railroads. He did well with loans to the government during the Mexican War. Then the Civil War gave him his big chance and he took it famously. In 1861, the State of Pennsylvania wanted to sell a large bond issue to finance its war effort. No banker but Jay Cooke would touch it. He sold the issue quickly, with a rousing appeal to patriotism. It was the first bond issue ever sold in that manner in the United States.

Noting his success, the federal government asked Cooke for his help. Moving his office to Washington . . . Cooke organized a spectacular country-wide campaign to sell federal war bonds to the public. He engaged brass bands. He hired spread-eagle speakers. He caused hundreds of thousands of flags to be displayed at bond rallies.

His salesmen worked on commission and were not turned loose until they had been thoroughly indoctrinated with the equivalent of pep talks and had learned at least ten ways of making non-buyers look and feel like traitors. Jay Cooke, in short, set the American, or rather the Union, eagle to screaming for money. He disposed of the bond issue of 1861, and of many more that followed. They amounted in four years to nearly three billion dollars.

What Cooke had done was to invent and bring to the management of national finance a wholly new technique – the drive. With little modification it has been used ever since. The boys in blue must be supported by fighting dollars.

From his immense commissions on bond sales and his many other activities, Cooke emerged at war’s end as the greatest banker in the country. “On the day Richmond fell, Cooke marked out the lines of a pretentious country house that was to cost one million dollars [with] an Italian garden facing a wall built to resemble “the ruined castle of some ancient nobleman.” This was the fifty-two room palace named Ogontz. Here he entertained, among others, President Grant, on whom he showered fine cigars and a plentitude of whiskey and wine.

Cooke dazzled Grant as he dazzled most contemporary Americans. He exemplified, said a critic, all of the substantial upper middle-class virtues of a people “newly given to the worship of a sterile money economy.”

One might call him also a vulgarian of money; placed in his own era, being a rich vulgarian merely made him a genuine great man. More than once, editorial writers and speakers coupled Cooke’s name with Lincoln and Grant.”

(The Age of the Moguls, Stewart H. Holbrook, Doubleday & Company, 1953, pp. 51-52)