Browsing "Northern Culture Laid Bare"

The North's Path to Bloodshed

President James Buchanan knew precisely the origin of the troubles plaguing the country at mid-nineteenth century. The radical abolitionists and the purely sectional Republican party were threats to the peace of the country as they both fomented race war in the South. Not forthcoming from either were peaceful and practical proposals to end slavery.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The North’s Path to Bloodshed

“In his message of December 3, 1860, President Buchanan said to Congress, and virtually to the people of the North (p. 626 Vol. 5, Richardson):

“The long continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at length produced its natural effects.  I have long foreseen and often forewarned my countrymen of the new impending danger. The immediate peril arises not so much from these causes as from the fact the incessant and violent agitation of the slavery question throughout the North for the last quarter of a century has at length produced its malign influence on the slaves and inspired them with vague notions of freedom.

Hence a sense of security no longer exists around the family altar.  This feeling of peace at home has given place to apprehension of servile insurrections. Many a matron throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and children before the morning. Self-preservation is the first law of nature and has been implanted in the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest purpose. But let us take warning in time and remove the cause of danger.”

It cannot be denied that for five and twenty years the agitation of the North against slavery has been incessant.  In 1835 pictorial hand-bills and inflammatory appeals were circulated extensively throughout the South of a character to excite the passions of slaves, and in the language of Genl. Jackson, to stimulate them to insurrection and produce all the horrors of a servile war. At the Presidential election in 1860 the Republican Party was greatly agitated over the Helper Book which instigated massacre.

Lincoln and Seward would not say that they were for massacre, but the Abolitionists had the vision of the X-ray and could see through such false pretenses. The doctrine of both “the irrepressible conflict” of Seward and “a house divided against itself cannot stand” of Lincoln, pointed directly to bloodshed.

The Abolitionists voted for Lincoln, and Wendell Phillips, who rejoiced at his election, said in a speech at Tremont Temple, Boston, a few days later: “There was a great noise at Chicago, much pulling of wires and creaking of wheels, then forth stept Abraham Lincoln.  But John Brown was behind the curtain, and the cannon of March 4 will only echo the rifles at Harper’s Ferry.

The Republican Party have undertaken the problem the solution of which will force them to our position.  Not Mr. Seward’s “Union and Liberty” which he stole from Webster’s “Liberty first” (a long pause) then “Union afterwards” (Phillips, Speeches and Lectures, pp. 294, 314).

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65, Captain S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, NC, 1935)

Britain's Inhumane Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade which populated the America’s with Africans was chartered and encouraged by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of York oversaw the Royal African Company, a slave trading concern. These British slavers were only surpassed in efficiency by the slavers of New England; Providence, Rhode Island became the slaving capital of North America by 1750.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Britain’s Inhumane Slave Trade:

“On the 1st of April, 1772 the [Virginia] House of Burgesses addressed a hot petition to the crown, “imploring his Majesty’s paternal assistance in averting a calamity of a most alarming nature.” It proceeds: “The importation of slaves into the colonies from the coast of Africa hath long been considered as a trade of inhumanity, and under its present encouragement we have too much reason to fear will endanger the very existence of your Majesty’s American dominions. We are sensible that some of your Majesty’s subjects may reap emoluments from this sort of traffic…we most humbly beseech your Majesty to remove all those restraints on your Majesty’s governors of the colony which inhibit their assenting to such House of Burgesses] laws as might check so very pernicious a traffic.

When the vote was taken in the Federal Congress on the resolution to postpone the prohibition of the [slave] trade to the year 1808, Virginia used all her influence to defeat the postponement, and it was carried by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The final prohibition of the slave trade by act of Congress was brought about through the influence of President Jefferson and by the active efforts of Virginians.

And greatly to the labors of the representatives from Virginia was due the final extinction of the vile traffic [of England and New England] through the act of Congress declaring it to be piracy, five years before Great Britain took similar action with regard to her subjects. Such is the actual record of the much-vilified South relating to the African slave trade, taken from official records.

The gradual system of emancipation adopted at the North had undoubtedly led to many of the slaves being shipped off to the South and sold. When, therefore, after this “abolition,” the movement, from being confined to the comparatively small band of liberators who were actuated by pure principle, extended to those who had been their persecutors, it aroused suspicion at the South which blinded it to a just judgment of the case.

The statutory laws relating to slavery at the South are held up as proof of the brutality with which they were treated even under the law. But these laws were not more cruel than the laws of England at the period they were enacted…and, at least, Southerners never tolerated wholesale burning at the stake as a legal punishment, as was done in New York as late as 1741, when fourteen Negroes were burnt at the stake on the flimsy testimony of a half-crazed servant girl; and as was done in Massachusetts as late as 1755, when a Negro was burnt for murder.”

(The Old South, Essays Social and Political, Thomas Nelson Page, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896, pp. 29-32)

Britain Observes the Northern War for Empire

The Northern war against the South was seen in Europe as a strange sequel for a country formed by secession from England, with the South taking the part of the American colonies seeking independence from the mother country. The British saw through the North’s moral outrage over the slavery they were mostly responsible for perpetuating with their cotton mills.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Britain Observes the Northern War for Empire

“The popular verdict in England was that “the struggle between North and South was a contest for political power and ascendancy, and that in reference to slavery the North discarded or ignored all practical measures for emancipation, and confined their operations to oratory, preaching, sentimental poems, fiction and invective.”

The opinions of the responsible statesmen of Great Britain may be stated in the following extract from a speech delivered by Earl Russell at Newcastle on the 14th of October, 1861: –“We now see the two parties (in the United States) contending together, not upon the slavery question, though that I believe was probably the original cause of the quarrel, not contending with respect to free trade and [tariff] protection, but contending, as so many States in the Old World have contended, the one side for empire, and the other for independence.”

The official view expressed in the course of a speech by Earl Russell in the House of Lords, 9th of June 1864. He said : –“It is dreadful to think that hundreds of thousands of men are being slaughtered for the purpose of preventing the Southern States from acting on those very principles of independence which, in 1776, were asserted by the whole of America against this country.

Only a few years ago the Americans were in the habit of celebrating the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, and some eminent friends of mine never failed to make eloquent and stirring orations on those occasions.

I wish, while they kept up a useless ceremony (for the present generation of Englishmen are not responsible for the War of Independence), they had inculcated on their own minds that they should not go to war with four millions, five millions, or six millions of their countrymen who want to put the principles of 1776 into operation as regards themselves.”

(The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe, James D. Bulloch, Sagamore Press, 1959, pp. 311-312, 313-314)

Revolutionary Rule of the Industrialists

With conservative Southern statesmen of the past absent from the halls of the United States Congress, “fraud and trickery were the revolutionary devices resorted to by Northern industrialists to complete the job begun by Grant’s cannon and bayonets.” Presidents became the creation of the wealthy classes, with “a maze of frauds and trickeries . . . [extending] from the Civil War to the end of the century.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Revolutionary Rule of the Industrialists

“Government has been the indispensable handmaiden of private wealth since the origin of society. And far from having embellished history with significant exception, the government of the United States, without the camouflage of custom or tradition, ritual or dogma, Church or Aristocracy, has actually done more to prove the truth of this generalization than have all the governments in Europe.

So perfect, so thorough, has been the collaboration of politics and private fortune since the founding of the American colonies that it is difficult to ascertain from the date of any given period where political intrigue on behalf of specific private interest has terminated.

The Constitution, written in the furtive atmosphere of a coup d’etat during secret deliberations of a convention called merely to regulate commerce, was received with hostility by the populace, which forced the precipitate addition of the first ten amendments. The document provided for a government of ostensible checks and balances, (but really, as a wit has said, of all checks and no balances), and at the same time guaranteed the utmost freedom, unchecked and unbalanced, to propertied interests. “The result . . . is a modern government that is about five times as inflexible, and much less democratic, than the government of Great Britain.”

Through the decades leading to the Civil War, the fuel of political strife was provided by the propertied classes . . . [and] when a series of political defeats at the hands of Northern industrialists and merchants eventually became ominously foreboding, the Southern planter faction did not hesitate to draw the sword. The Civil War began as a counter-revolution, but ended as a revolution.

The triumph of the North in the war, however, forever dislodging the landed gentry from political power, brought sweeping authority to the tariff-minded industrialists – authority that has since been seriously disputed . . . only by the Western agrarians under William Jennings Bryan . . . From 1865 to 1896 the essentially revolutionary rule of the industrialists was unbroken.

Marcus Alonzo Hanna, commissar extraordinary of John D. Rockefeller, became the political architect of the new era, whose unique characteristics have been a tremendous drive into foreign markets, unprecedented industrial consolidation, expansion of the mass-production industries to a staggering degree, and unexampled application of technology to production, and the fateful gravitation of the nation’s producing resources as well as the political apparatus into the hands of bank capitalists.

Before Hanna the unconstitutional control by the industrialists had been furtive, half ashamed, and vehemently denied even in the face of the most damning evidence; under Hanna the control was for the first time brazenly admitted and, cynically or sincerely, justified on the pretense that it was in the national interest.”

(America’s Sixty Families, Ferdinand Lundberg, Halcyon House, 1937, pp. 50-53)

Vandals Sack Jefferson Davis' Brierfield

The Mississippi plantations of Joseph and Jefferson Davis, Brierfield and Hurricane, were models of kind treatment to the Africans in their care. James H. Jones, the colored body-servant of Mr. Davis at the end of the war, requested the honor of driving “the remains of my old master to their last resting place” after Davis’ death in 1889.  He did not want to be “deprived of the last opportunity of showing my lasting appreciation for my best friend.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Vandals Sack Jefferson Davis’ Brierfield

“When Union forces reached Grand Gulf and Davis Bend, a raiding party burned Hurricane on June 24, 1862. Although the raiders also prowled through Brierfield, for some strange reason they refrained from applying the torch to the house.

Grant initiated his thrust for Vicksburg from Memphis early in 1863. Farragut cooperated in this maneuver by renewing his surge upriver from the south. I May 1863, Brierfield was revisited by Federal troops. James W. Garner has written that “when Farragut’s fleet steamed up the river in 1863, it stopped long enough to allow the marines to go ashore and destroy or carry away everything of value.”

On June 1, 1863, a Vicksburg newspaper reported that Yankees had rifled Brierfield, destroyed all farming implements, as well as household and kitchen furniture, and badly defaced the premises. Pictures were probably then taken of “the House Jeff Built.”

These events occurred during the prolonged siege when most Confederate soldiers in the area were bottled up in Vicksburg. After the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the Union army took control of Brierfield and Hurricane . . . [consisting of] 1,000 acres, one mansion and ten quarters. It was reserved for the use of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands,” known as the “Freedmen’s Bureau.”

Margaret Mitchell Bigelow has commented that “one of the most interesting experiments was the one of Jefferson Davis’ plantation on Davis Bend. Here some seventy lessees, all Negroes, seemed to have been more successful than the Northern speculators.

The good showing of the Negroes at Davis Bend was due in part to the excellent training given by Joe and Jefferson Davis to their slaves before the war. This colony led by the [former slave Ben] Montgomery’s eventually became the all-Negro colony of Mound Bayou.”

Professor Bigelow also pointed out that in 1864 the “Jeff Davis Mansion” was headquarters for the Cincinnati Contraband Relief Commission of the Freedmen’s Aid Society. On the entire 10,000 acre Davis Bend Colony, the home Farm in Mississippi, there were 1,750 freedmen at one time; and the project cleared $160,000 in 1865. The Brierfield part of the colony produced 234 bales of cotton for a profit of $25,000.”

(Brierfield: Plantation Home of Jefferson Davis, Frank E. Everett, Jr., University and College Press of Mississippi, 1971, pp. 77-78)

The Brahmin Aristocracy Must Save the Union

Frances Parkman was a militant New England war hawk who disliked the black man but considered the Boston aristocracy superior to the Southern leadership, though it must emulate the military expertise exhibited by Southern men. The Brahmin class may have indeed been tested by the battles Parkman lists, but they were no great victories. At Ball’s Bluff, Northern scouts mistook a row of trees as Confederate tents, and the 17th Mississippi delivered the Brahmin’s a severe thrashing when their regiments later assaulted the “encampment.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Brahmin Aristocracy Must Save the Union

“Parkman had always detested the abolitionists, and he had little concern for the Negro, but he was [Robert Gould] Shaw’s cousin, and he took great pride in later years pointing this out to distant correspondents. One suspects, however, that he was almost ashamed that Shaw led Negroes [of the 54th Massachusetts], since he never mentioned this fact.

[In] two letters [of November 1862], he further developed the odd propaganda line that the best way to whip the South was to emulate certain aspects of its civilization. He went from praising the military education of the Southern aristocrat to praising his political education. Compared to the North, where an “organized scramble of mean men for petty spoils” had driven the better elements from politics, the South had made politics “a battleground” for the well-born, “where passion, self-interest, self-preservation, urge to [the most intense] action every power of their nature.” This explained “the vigor of their development.”

By comparison, the education of Northern gentlemen had been too academic. Now, however, the war was altering the picture. The South, which had identified the North with three classes: the merchants, the politicians and the “abolitionist agitators” and therefore, with “extravagance, fanaticism and obstreperous weakness,” was learning how, “under a surface of froth and scum, the great national heart still beat with the pulsations of patriotic manhood.” In other words, they underestimated the ability of the Northern gentry to adapt to military life.

It was in his letter of July 21, 1863, published only three days after the death of [Col. Robert G.] Shaw, that Parkman revealed most fully what was really on his mind. Repeating his charge that “the culture of the nation” had become a “political nullity,” Parkman referred specifically to the “Brahmin cast”, which had “yielded a progeny of gentlemen and scholars since the days of the Puritans,” but had “long since ceased to play any active part in the dusty arena of political turmoil.”

This class, however, had at last found an outlet for its energies. Brahmins had been tested in battle at places like Ball’s Bluff, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg and removed all doubts about their vigor and character. Pointing to the “necrology” of Harvard University” as an example to the nation, Parkman clearly suggested that the American people had no further excuse for rejecting the political and social authority of what was now a tried and true aristocracy. Perhaps a patrician could finally say that the age of “ultra-democratic fallacies” was coming to an end.

There were very genteel New Englanders who professed to see the war as a vindication of democracy and egalitarianism. Charles Eliot Norton and others claimed that their wavering belief in democracy had been revived by the proofs of obedience and endurance shown by the common people and by the Negroes in the struggle.

It depended on the preservation of the model which had been suggested by the assault on Fort Wagner. If the “inferior elements,” whether Negro or white, consented to be led by “the best culture [of aristocratic New England],” then their rights were assured; if however, they struck out in directions of their own, democracy and equality might again be questioned.”

(The Inner Civil War, Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union, George M. Frederickson, Harper & Row, 1965, pp. 161-165)

Blackout of Honest Government

Even Northerners saw the ill-effects of a vindictive postwar Reconstruction which reduced a free people to bondage and political despotism. It appears that Northern army commanders also felt remorse at what they had wrought in the destruction of the American South. A minority report of a Congressional committee declared that “History, till now, gives no account of a conqueror so cruel as to place his vanquished foes under the domination of their former slaves. That was reserved for the radical [Republican] rulers in this great Republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Blackout of Honest Government

“Psychologically and in every other respect the Negroes were fearfully unprepared to occupy positions of ruler-ship. Race and color came to mean more to them than any other consideration, whether of honest government, of justice to the individual, or even of ultimate protection of their own rights.

Negroes on juries let color blind them, and the rejected the wisest counsel, Northern and Southern, against banding together politically, instead of dividing on issues and policies of government . . . but Negroes proscribed their own race if any voted Democratic — their preachers excommunicating them, their womenfolk bringing all their feminine powers to play against them, and Loyal Leagues intimidating and doing violence to them.

Their idea of the new order was “De bottom rail’s on de top, An we’s gwine to keep it dar.”

Carpetbaggers were as little desirous of promoting Negroes into high office in the South as their Northern colleagues were in their States; and Scalawags, actuated by racial antipathies more than Carpetbaggers, objected to Negroes holding any offices. Both were quite desirous that Negroes vote – but not for Negroes.

A Georgia Negro wrote [Massachusetts Senator] Charles Sumner [in 1869] that there was no other place in the Union where there were so “many miserable hungry unscrupulous politicians . . . and if they could prevent it no colored man would ever occupy any office of profit or trust.” Even so, Negroes frequently held offices far beyond their capacity to administer them.

Radical leaders imposed their views on the Negroes . . . [the Dalton Georgia Citizen wrote on 10 September 1868 that] ”every man knows that the Republican party, under the lead of God, President Lincoln and General Grant, freed the whole colored race from slavery; and every man knows anything, believes that the Democratic party will, if they can, make them slaves again.”

A Carpetbagger characterized Henry M. Turner, preacher, politician and [who] presided at many Negro conventions, as a “licentious robber and counterfeiter, a vulgar blackguard, a sacreligous profaner of God’s name, and a most consummate hypocrite. Yet the Negroes elected him to the Georgia legislature — if he had received his deserts, he would have gone to the penitentiary; he was a thief and a scoundrel, and yet they voted for him.”

“If the colored people have not the elements of morality among them sufficiently to cry down on such shameless characters, they should not expect to command the respect of decent people anywhere.”

General William S. Rosecrans, amidst a [postwar] Confederate atmosphere at White Sulphur Springs, asked General Lee, in writing, whether he thought the South must in reality be ruled by “the poor, simple, uneducated, landless freedmen” under the corrupt leadership of whites still worse. Lee and thirty-one other prominent Southerners signed an answer declaring their opposition, basing it on no enmity toward the freedmen, “but from a deep-seated conviction that at present the Negroes have neither the intelligence nor other qualifications which are necessary to make them depositories of political power.”

As for Federal commanders, Rosecrans, Sherman, George H. Thomas, George G. Meade, Winfield S. Hancock, George B. McClellan, Don Carlos Buell, Henry W. Slocum, John A. McClernand, William S. Franklin and others either were silently ashamed or expressed their abhorrence of what was going on. The editor of Scribner’s Monthly saw Southerners in despair and he blamed the Federal government: “They feel that they were wronged, that they have no future, and they cannot protect themselves, and that nothing but death or voluntary exile will give them relief.”

The editor of The Nation by 1870 had come to view the South with a different light from that of 1865. In the South the people had forgotten “that in free countries men live for more objects than the simple one of keeping robbers’ hands off the earnings of the citizen.” There people were worse off than they were in any South American republic; for in the latter place tyrants could be turned out through the right of revolution, but the South with the army on its back could no longer resort to this ancient remedy.

Southerners must continue to suffer enormities “which the Czar would not venture toward Poland, or the British Empire toward the Sautals of the Indian jungle.” The North with all its charities had done less good than the Carpetbaggers had done harm.

[Carl] Schurz had learned much since his first visit to the South in 1865. He saw fearful acts perpetrated against the South, all in the name of patriotism, and particularly in Louisiana, “a usurpation such as this country has never seen, and probably no citizen of the United States has ever dreamed of.”

(History of the South, Volume VIII: The South During Reconstruction, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1947, (142-146; 160-161)

Black Men in Blue Under Fire

Little used for combat, black soldiers in Northern armies were more often utilized for labor and servant duties rather than fighting for emancipation, though the primary attraction was enlistment bounty money. If used for offensive operations at all, black soldiers were usually assigned the task of encouraging slaves to abandon their plantations to deny labor and food to the Southern war effort.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Black Men in Blue Under Fire:

“About 43 percent of the 6th [US Colored Infantry] Regiment had volunteered for military service. Another 31 percent were drafted, and over one-quarter of the regiment were listed as “substitute.” A conscriptee could avoid military service if he furnished an able-bodied substitute to take his place. Most substitutes in this regiment were young, usually in their twenties. A youth might well agree to be a substitute; he might likely be drafted anyway; better to join and accept a substantial cash payment for taking someone’s place.

The soldiers hailed from twenty-three different State, both North and South, as well as the District of Columbia. The most common State of birth was Pennsylvania. Of those whose birthplace is listed, over 36 percent of the men of the 6th Regiment claimed Pennsylvania as their birth place. Delaware and Maryland claimed 16 and 15 percent respectively, and Virginia, another 12 percent. Canada, providing twenty-two soldiers, stood as the most frequent birthplace of any foreign nation. Like most black units, the 6th Regiment would be assigned to an unusually amount of physical labor particularly at building fortifications.

From the time blacks had first been recruited it generally had been understood that they were to serve as laborers, and they were used disproportionately often in that role. Their work at Dutch Gap [Virginia] would have been physically demanding under the best of circumstances, but this assignment included a complication that made it especially difficult and dangerous – they would have to do the [canal digging] work within range of Confederate artillery.

They burrowed into the steep walls of the canal to make caves for shelter [but the] mortar shells were deadly. They were fired high into the air “and then fell by their own weight, with no warning scream, and, dropping in the midst of busy groups, burst into raged fragments of iron, which maimed and killed.”

Union artillery was brought in to silence those mortars, but its task was nearly impossible . . . [as] they would try to direct their fire at [mortar positions] . . . Confederate sharpshooters stationed in hiding near the riverbank would open fire on the artillery crews and distract them from their task.”

(Strike the Blow for Freedom, The 6th US Colored Infantry in the Civil War, James M. Paradis, White Mane Books, 1998, pp. 34-35, 61-64)

Black Doctors in the Northern Army

Though there were some 3.5 million Africans in the United States in 1860, the Northern army incorporated only about 186,000 black troops with which to invade the South. Most of the latter were either conscripts, reluctant enlistees or offered significant cash bounties for their service.  Paid less than their white counterparts and segregated in black-only units, they suffered a higher mortality rate and less medical attention.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Black Doctors in the Northern Army

The high casualty rate suffered by Negro troops during the war was due in no small measure to the reluctance of the [Northern]War Department to assign a sufficient number of white doctors to Negro regiments. [The vast majority of black troops died of disease in camp], and Negro losses amounted to 37,300, the mortality rate of colored troops being 35% greater than among other troops, despite the fact that they were not enrolled until 18 months after the [war] began.

The War Department [was unwilling] to commission Negro practitioners during the Civil War was reflected in the fact that only eight colored physicians were appointed to the Army Medical Corps. Seven of the eight were attached to hospitals in Washington, DC.

During the critical years of the Reconstruction era, Negro doctors, eager to improve themselves professionally, sought admission into medical societies. On June 9, 1869, Dr. Alexander T. Augusta and Dr. Charles B. Purvis, two of the seven Negro physicians then practicing in Washington, DC, were proposed for membership in the American Medical Association [AMA].

On June 23, Dr. A.W. Tucker, another eminently qualified Negro physician was similarly proposed for membership in the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. Although all three Negro doctors were reported eligible for admission, their applications were rejected. About a month later, the Society’s leaders, in a published Appeal To Congress, answered [Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner’s condemnation] by saying that the question of membership in the medical body was a personal and social matter.

Senator Sumner responded by introducing a bill in the Senate on February 8, 1870, to repeal the society’s charter. But the Senate refused to act on the bill. On January 3, 1870, Dr. Howard Reyburn, faculty member of Howard Medical School and surgeon-in-chief of the Freedmen’s Hospital, introduced a resolution [to the Society], that no physician (who is otherwise eligible) should be excluded from membership in this Society on account of his race or color.   By a vote of 26 to 10, the Society refused to consider Dr. Reybern’s resolution. On February 9, 1870, Dr. Joseph Borrows nominated Dr.’s Augusta, Purvis and Tucker for membership, but the nominations were declared out of order because they were not made at a stated meeting as required by the regulations.”

(International Library of Negro Life and History, Herbert M. Morais, Publishers Company, Inc, 1969, pp: 36-54)

South Sinned Following Massachusetts Example

During the period in which the Constitution was adopted, “it was taken for granted that any State becoming dissatisfied might withdraw from the compact, for cause of which she was to be her own judge.” One of the loudest voices during ratification concerning the encroachment of the federal agent upon the authority of the States was Massachusetts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

South Sinned Following Massachusetts Example

“I shall endeavor to entertain you for a brief space with the ideas and observations of occurrence as they appeared to a Southern man concerning the great civil war. It is proper that you should hear the inscription read upon the other side of the shield.

This generation is yet too near the great struggle to deal with it in true historic spirit. Yet it is well for you to remember that the South is quite as far removed from it as is the North; and the North has industriously undertaken from the beginning to write the history of that contest between the sections, to set forth its causes and to justify its results – and naturally in the interest of the victorious side.

It is both wise and considerate of you to let the losing side be heard in your midst. If you should refuse to do so it will nevertheless be heard in time, before that great bar, the public opinion of the world, whose jurisdiction you cannot avoid, and whose verdict you cannot unduly influence. Neither side acts wisely in attempting to forestall that verdict!

It is well to remember, too, that epithets and hard names, which assume the guilt that is to be proven, will not serve for arguments for [future historians] of the Republic, except for the purpose of warning them against the intemperate partiality of their authors. The modest action of the common law should be imitated in the treatment of historic questions, which considers every accused person as innocent until his guilt is proven. Murder is treated as simply homicide until there is proof that the killing was felonious.

In treating, for example, of all questions pertaining to the war, you assume the guilt of your adversaries at the outset. You speak of the secession movement as a rebellion , and you characterize all who participated in it as “rebels and traitors.” Your daily literature, as well as your daily conversation, teems with it. Your school histories and books of elementary instruction impress it in almost every page upon the young. Your laws, State and Federal, have enacted the terms. Yet every lawyer and intelligent citizen among you must be well aware that in a technical and legal sense there was no rebellion, and there were no rebels!

In attempting to withdraw herself from the Union of the States by repealing, on the 20th of May, 1861, the ordinance by the adoption of which she had entered the Union on the 21st of November 1789, against whom and what did North Carolina rebel?

To whom had she sworn allegiance? Certainly to nobody; to no government; to nothing but the constitution of the United States. Was she violating that oath when she thus withdrew?

When Virginia and New York reserved, upon their accession to the constitution, their right to withdraw from the same, and declared that the powers granted might be resumed whenever the same shall be perverted to “their injury or oppression,” did those States reserve the right to commit treason?

When Massachusetts openly threatened to separate from the union upon the admission of Louisiana as a State, was she conscious that she was threatening treason and rebellion? When her Legislature, in 1803, “resolved that the annexation of Louisiana to the Union transcends the constitutional power of the United States,” and that it “formed a new Confederacy to which the States united by the former compact are not bound to adhere,” was that not a declaration that secession was a constitutional remedy?

Again, the same principle was proclaimed by the authority of Massachusetts in the Hartford Convention, where it was declared “that when emergencies occur which are either beyond the reach of judicial tribunals or too pressing to admit of delay incident to their forms, States which have no common umpire must be their own judges and execute their own decisions.”

With such a record, to which might be added page after page of corroborating quotation from her statesmen and her archives, should not the ancient Commonwealth of Massachusetts be a little modest in denouncing as “traitors” those whose sin consisted in following her example?”

(Life of Zebulon B. Vance, Clement Dowd, Observer Publishing, 1897, pp. 431-433)