Browsing "Northern Culture Laid Bare"

Indispensable African Slaves

In his message to Congress on 29 April 1861, President Jefferson Davis cited the Northern threat to the South’s labor system as a cause of withdrawal from political union with the North. The murderous raid of John Brown in 1859 had convinced the South of the North’s violent intentions, which were supported by influential and wealthy men.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Indispensable African Slaves

“As soon . . . as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves . . .

Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra-fanaticism, and whose business was . . . to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States, by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of . . . reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority.

In the meantime, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction.

Under the supervision of a superior race, their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South . . . and the productions of cotton, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man.

With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced.”

(The Causes of the Civil War, Kenneth M. Stampp, editor, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1965, pp. 134-135)

War Against a Free Trade South

It is clear that the withdrawal of the Southern States in early 1861 was caused by Northern hostility, especially with regard to the South’s political conservatism and domestic institutions. More obvious is that secession did not necessitate war, as the North could have let the South form its more perfect union peaceably. The North waged war for economic reasons and to thwart the free trade policies of the new American Confederacy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

War Against a Free Trade South

“When the Southern States began to secede after Lincoln’s election, it soon became evident that the great majority of Northerners considered disunion intolerable. Among the reasons, they foresaw disastrous economic consequences; and this explains in part their demand that Lincoln “enforce the laws” in the South. The Boston Herald (November 12, 1860), predicted some of the evils that would result from disunion:

“Should the South succeed in carrying out her designs, she will immediately form commercial alliances with European countries who will readily acquiesce in any arrangement which will help English manufacturing at the expense of New England.

The first move the South would make would impose a heavy tax upon the manufactures of the North, and an export tax upon the cotton used by Northern manufacturers. In this way she would seek to cripple the North. The carrying trade, which is now done by American {Northern] vessels, would be transferred to British ships, which would be a heavy blow aimed at our commerce.

It will also seriously affect our shoe trade and the manufacture of ready-made clothing, while it would derange the monetary affairs of the country.”

Boston Transcript, March 18, 1861:

“It does not require extraordinary sagacity to perceive that trade is perhaps the controlling motive operating to prevent the return of the seceding States to the Union, which they have abandoned. Alleged grievances in regard to slavery were originally the causes for the separation of the cotton States; but the mask has been thrown off, and it is apparent that the people of the principal seceding States are now for commercial independence.

They dream that the centres of traffic can be changed from Northern to Southern ports. The merchants of New Orleans, Charleston and Savannah are possessed with the idea that New York, Boston and Philadelphia may be shorn, in the future, of their mercantile greatness, by a revenue system verging upon free trade. If the Southern Confederation is allowed to carry out a policy by which only a nominal duty is laid upon imports, no doubt the business of the chief Northern cities will be seriously injured thereby.

The difference is so great between the tariff of the Union and that of the Confederated States, that the entire Northwest must find it to their advantage to purchase their imported goods at New Orleans rather than at New York. In addition to this, the manufacturing interest of the country will suffer from the increased importations resulting from the low duties . . . The . . . [government] would be false to all of its obligations, if this state of things were not provided against.”

(The Causes of the Civil War, Kenneth M. Stampp, editor, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1965, pp. 78-80)

Lincoln's Good Communists

Dr. Morris U. Schappes testified before a Senate Committee in 1953 and defended patriotic communists who served proudly with Northern forces during the War Between the States. He named Northern General Joseph Weydemeyer as an example. Weydmeyer is described in “Red Republicans” [Kennedy and Benson, 2007] as a “pioneer American Marxist” who was active in the 1848 socialist revolution in Germany, as well as a friend of Marx and Engels. In London, Weydmeyer joined the London Communist League with Marx, then moved to the United States in 1851 where he joined the Republican party.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Good Communists

Testimony of  Dr. Morris U. Schappes, Open Session of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations on April 2, 1953. Schappes was questioned by Senator Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota as to whether or not he [Schappes] knew of any “good Americans” who were also good Communists:

Dr. Schappes:

“Well, if you will look up the records and find the names of those Communists who died in defense of our country and were honored by Congress and by other institutions, legal, legislative, executive, military, for their services to this country, services that went back to the Civil War, when Communists fought in this country on the Union side, when officers, including officers of the rank of general, who were Communists, were officers of the Union Army, I think you can find adequate substantiation indeed in the records of our Government that Communists have been and therefore obviously can be loyal Americans.”

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

One of the most radical State leaders in 1934 was Floyd Bjerstjerne Olsen, elected governor of Minnesota in 1932. While a student at the University of Minnesota he tried to stir a revolt against compulsory military training and ended his private career on the Seattle docks and as a  labor union agitator. Lincoln’s army included many socialist refugees from Europe, including the “Swedish communistic venture [of Bishop Hill, Illinois which] raised a company in 1860, the Svenska Uniongardet . . .“ (Foreigners in the Union Army & Navy, Lonn). Scandinavian immigrants were scattered throughout the Northern army.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

“For all his jauntiness, Olsen conveyed a deep and biting dislike for the existing economic system. “You bet your life I’m a radical,” he told one interviewer. “You might say I’m radical as hell.” And he rode upon a tradition of social conflict which had torn his State from the days of Ignatius Donnelly and the Populists.

The violent truck strike of the spring and summer of 1934 showed the degree of genuine class bitterness. In addition, even middle-class Scandinavians had long chafed under their exclusion from places of social and business prestige by the old New England families of Lowry Hill. Feelings were explosive and Floyd Olsen was prepared to give these feelings full expression.

Shortly after Roosevelt’s inauguration, Olsen told him that this was no ordinary depression but a collapse of the economic order. “If the so-called “depression” deepens,” Olsen said, “I strongly recommend to you, Mr. President, that the Government ought to take and operate the key industries of the country.”

Unless and until this was done, he repeated in August 1933, there could be no “economic security for the common man.”

He wanted the government to begin by using unemployed workers in production-fir-use factories which, by underselling private firms, would gradually put them out of business, until the major part of industry would be government-owned, producing for use, not for profit. At other times he talked of abolishing the profit system through the extension of co-operative ownership and control, presumably on the Scandinavian model.

Within Minnesota, he promised to call out the State militia if that were necessary, to see that the hungry were fed and the homeless sheltered. “I shall declare martial law. A lot of people who are now fighting the [relief] measures because they happen to possess considerable wealth will be brought in by the provost guard.”

“You go back to Washington,” he told an emissary of Harry Hopkins’s in the anxious days of 1933, “and tell ‘em that Olsen isn’t taking anybody who doesn’t carry a Red Card.” “Minnesota,” he boasted, “”is definitely a left-wing State.”

Such pronouncements were enormously exciting to American intellectuals seeking radical leadership. Here at last was a practical and successful politician, authentically American, governor of the very State which had inspired Gopher Prairie and Zenith, who yet saw clearly through the pretenses of capitalism and proposed his rough Midwestern way to build the good society.

By 1934 he was an object of attention in the national liberal press. He received the pilgrims from the East, signed articles for their magazines, and played affably with the general idea of a new party and a new society.

He declared that he was tired of tinkering and patching and wanted to change the system . . . he added, “When the final clash comes between Americanism and fascism, we will find a so-called “red” as the defender of democracy.”

(The Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960, pp. 99-101)

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

The United States of 1868 was unrecognizable to someone returning to this country after a ten year absence – the Founders’ republic had been replaced by a virtual military dictatorship of one-party rule, government informants and a nouveau-rich class of corporations and congressmen.  The adminstration of Grant — enabled by the military subjugation of the American South, enfranchising illiterates while disenfranchising literates, and fraudulent Republican regimes governing defeated States — became the first such in American history known for rampant corruption, vote-buying and outright incompetency.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

“The great omnipresence during this pivotal decade [1860-1870] in American thought was, of course, the Civil War and its aftermath. In that crucible were produced not merely a new South but a new nation. Said Henry Adams, referring to his return to American soil in 1868: “Had they been Tyrian traders of the year B.C. 1000, landing from a galley fresh from Gibraltar, they could hardly have been stranger on the shore of a world, so changed from what it had been ten years before.”

The cataclysm had compressed a profound economic upheaval into a few short years; it had introduced almost overnight the vast complexities of an industrial society; it had bred up a new race of entrepreneurs who acknowledged no morality but pecuniary success. The nation had been brought to a point of ethical exhaustion.

“The old idealism had been burnt away, the hopes of the patriot fathers, the youthful and generous dreams of the early republic. The war, with its fearful tension, draining the national vitality, had left the mind of the people morally flabby.”

The effect of the war . . . was not only to waste away the old democratic values of American life, but to raise up new gods and new ideals in their vacated places. The new capitalism required a gospel of assertion as well as of negation; its position would not be secure if it rested only on moral indifference: it needed discipleship.”

(American Conservatism, In the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910, Robert Green McCloskey, Harper, 1951, pp. 100-101)

 

Workers of the North's Gilded Age

In 1876, the Republican party and the New York Times were securely on the side of big business rather than labor, and though vocal against slavery stood they silent as young children and women slaved in unhealthy Northern factories fourteen hours a day. The moral spirit and standard of the Gilded Age called for good jails, tenements and factories, but cared little for the human worker. It was not uncommon for antebellum travelers to remark on Southern slaves living better lives than Northern workers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Workers of the North’s Gilded Age

“Factory Life: For those lucky enough not to be out of work, factory conditions were far from ideal. Skilled workers, who had earned $4.50 to $5 per day in 1873; in 1876 had their wages reduced to between $1.50 and $2. Nevertheless, the New York times chided workers for not accepting wage reductions necessitated by the 1873 Panic; why should skilled laborers who “earned liberal wages . . . sullenly refuse to accept any reduction . . . It seems almost incredible than men should be capable of such blind folly.”

Child Labor: In 1876 Massachusetts passed a child-labor law, but child-labor laws were not enforced and had no effect until years later. Thus in 1876, children worked long, hard days and were often involved in very dangerous work. Harper’s Weekly stated:

“Recent legislation in Massachusetts has introduced new regulations for protecting young children from overwork and neglect in factories and workshops. A law which went into operation last March [1876] forbade, under penalty of from twenty to fifty dollars, the employment in any manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment of children under ten years of age at all, and of children under fourteen, unless during the preceding year the child has attended school at least ten consecutive weeks.”

John F. Weir, “Forging the Shaft, 1877:

“When a workingman was injured in shop, mine or on the railroad, the claim agent of the employing company would at once present himself with an instrument of agreement for the injured man and his wife, if he had one, to sign,” wrote Terrance Powderly. “By the terms of the instrument the company would be released from all responsibility in consideration of the payment of a few dollars.

Let me tell you of one such case out of the hundreds I witnessed. A coal miner, a neighbor of mine, had his back injured through a fall of rock in the darkness of the mine. The claim agent called to see him; he asked for time to consider and sent for me. He had a wife and children, his means were meager. I advised against signing a release, and here is what he said: “I am buying this house from the company.

If I don’t sign this release, I can never get a day’s work under that company or any other round here, for if I get well I’ll be blacklisted. When my next payment on the house falls due, or the interest not paid we’ll be thrown out on the street. With no work, no money, no friends, what will my wife and babies do? . . . ”

(America in 1876, The Plight of the Poor, Lally Weymouth, Vintage Books, 1976, page 195)

Fruits of the Abolitionist Victory

The passage below is taken from a novel, though one based upon common sense and the historical realities of North and South. Though many like the author claim that “Jim Crow” laws occurred about 1900, they actually have their basis in the North as New York in the 1820s, for example, dealt with the threat of a black swing vote by raising property qualifications for black voters and free blacks had limited access to antebellum northern public transport. The author aptly describes a “lost cause” myth which would have developed in the postwar North to glorify its defeat, and locating a convenient scapegoat.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Fruits of the Abolitionist Victory

“Southerners were appalled, as well as perplexed, at the growing problems of discrimination and segregation in the North. That the North would have fought for the freedom of the black man, then turn around and display animosity at him for moving into the North and expressing his newly-found freedoms, seemed hypocrisy at its worst to the average citizen of the Confederacy.

The turn of the century brought to the United States what became known as the “Jim Crow” laws, named after a traditional song and dance, ironically of the South. Contemporary Southern social analysts have blamed the animosities felt in the North against the former slaves and sons and daughters of formers slaves, on several things.

First, there was the idea in the north that the Civil War had, in essence been a “black man’s war” in which hundreds of thousands of northern boys had sacrificed life and limb for the emancipation of the black man. The immediate woes that beset the United States after the war ended in defeat for the North needed some focal point, and the poor, uneducated former slave – the stranger to Northerners – became the convenient scapegoat.

In addition, the freeing of slaves flooded the job market in the North with workers who were willing to work for “slave wages” – much less than the ex-Union soldiers, also looking for jobs at the end of the war in 1863. Many veterans were fired from jobs and replaced with ex-slaves. The results were riots all over the North over nearly a decade.

The Southerner’s more lenient attitudes toward black people stemmed from generations of living with blacks, growing up with them, working beside them in the fields, and later, in the factories. Most Southerners would have admitted, even during the War between the States that they had always felt an uneasiness – a guilt, even – in seeing blacks held in servitude as slaves.

The stories of mistreatment and whippings had always been regarded in the South as ludicrous, pre-war propaganda by Abolitionists who had never seen a black man or woman. Certainly there were instances of a cruel overseer who applied punishment a little too often, but slaves in the old South had been considered property – and expensive property, as well – and were to be treated like an item of value. As one Southern social historian put it, you wouldn’t take a sledge-hammer to your brand new, expensive horseless carriage the first time it didn’t run; you would find out why it wasn’t working and fix it.

Southerners saw black men and women grow up, fall in love, marry, give birth, laugh, cry, and mourn the deaths of family members. There was something wrong here, many felt. These black people were not really property, like a plow or a horseless carriage. Under the skin, though many a Southerner, we are a very much alike.

It had to be a terrible moral burden, a society-wide, sublimated guilt about slavery that, once the war was over and the name-calling by Abolitionists had ended, could finally be seen in its true light, and was dealt with swiftly by the hurried measures to free the blacks from bondage.

To the average Southerner, blacks were not only property, but people too. To the Northerners, blacks were first a symbol, then a threat.”

If the South Had Won Gettysburg, Mark Nesbitt, Thomas Publications, 1980, pp. 88-89)

Defending Lee and Southern Heritage

A past historian of Lee’s Arlington mansion, Murray Nelligan, understood that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton determined that the Lee family should never occupy their home again — placing a hospital on the grounds and a village for Negro refugees from the South. Not stopping there, he had a tax levied on the property which required payment by the owner in person. A relative of Mrs. Lee offered to pay the tax, but the authorities decided that such a procedure did not fulfill the letter of the law, so the estate was put up for sale at public auction on January 11, 1864, in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressman Graham Barden lectured Northern women on their continued sectional bitterness.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Defending Lee and Southern Heritage

“Barden’s opportunity to appear as a champion of the South occurred when a delegation of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic appeared before the [House] Library Committee to oppose a resolution to erect a memorial to Robert E. Lee near the mansion in Arlington.

Barden sat quietly and uncomfortably until the ladies attack upon Southern generals and the Confederacy turned into a tirade against the South and all Southerners. Then, as the only Southerner present on the committee, Barden came to the defense of not only Robert E. Lee, but of Southern heritage.

The congressman declared that he had “never heard such sectional bitterness expressed.” Answering the women’s insistence that Arlington National Cemetery was a “Union and not a Confederate graveyard” and that even though a few Confederate dead were buried there, Arlington was not a place to honor Confederates, Barden pointed out that in his home town of New Bern [North Carolina] a thousand Union soldiers were buried with honor in a beautiful cemetery.

He continued: “We of the South do not propose to keep our brains and characters befogged by bitterness and prejudice. The hospitality of the South has never been questioned, not even by a dead Union soldier.” [New Bern Sun-Journal, April 27, 1935]

The effectiveness of Barden’s position was apparent when the committee voted to report the Memorial bill favorably.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 22-23)

 

War to Exterminate Southerners

After the fall of Fort Fisher and occupation of Wilmington in January 1865, nearly 10,000 Northern prisoners were offered to the invaders for the taking — a humane gesture to reduce their suffering. Anxious to maintain the burden on the retreating Carolinians and force them to feed the prisoners with their own meager rations, the Northern commanders stalled. And it was Grant himself who ended the exchange of prisoners with Lincoln’s approval, thereby increasing the suffering at Andersonville.

George Templeton Strong was a Northern patriot who felt comfortable living behind the lines while his government lured domestic and foreign volunteers with generous bounties to maintain the “republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

War to Exterminate Southerners

Diary of the Civil War, George Templeton Strong, 29 March 1865:

“Our supplies sent by Chase reached Wilmington just at the right moment and saved scores of lives. His account of the condition of hundreds of returned prisoners, founded on personal inspection, is fearful. They have been starved into idiocy — do not know their names, or where their home is. Starvation has gangrened them into irrational, atrophied, moribund animals. No Bastille and no Inquisition dungeon has ever come up to the chivalric rebel pen for prisoners of war.

I do not think people quite see, even yet, the unexampled enormity of this crime. It is a new thing in the history of man. It definitely transcends the records of the guillotines and the concomitant nogades and fusillades. The disembowelment and decapitation of all men, women and children of a Chinese city convicted of rebel sympathies is an act of mercy compared with the politic, slow torture Davis and Lee have been inflicting on their prisoners, with the intent of making them unfit for service when exchanged.

I almost hope this war may last till it becomes a war of extermination. Southrons who could endure the knowledge that human creatures were undergoing this torture within their own borders, and who did not actively protest against it, deserve to be killed.

30 March 1865, page 571:

From observation at Wilmington, Agnew thinks the Southern “masses” are effete people, unable to take care of themselves now that their slave-holding lords and magnates are gone. A “local committee” at Wilmington is feeding four thousand Wilmingtonians all rations issued by the government. The white trash of even North Carolina is helpless and imbecile, unable to work or to reorganize the community.”

(Diary of George Templeton Strong, Allan Nevins, editor, MacMillan & Company, 1962)

Grant's Royal Robes

Imprisoned by scalawag Governor William Holden for alleged activities with North Carolina’s postwar Klan as it fought Holden’s Union League, Randolph A. Shotwell spent three hard years in an Albany, NY prison, which he termed the “Radical Bastille.” The prison staff was instructed to use any means to extract confessions of Klan outrages and lists of Klan members in North Carolina. Below, Shotwell criticizes the 1872 victory of Grant’s corrupt administration and the low quality of the Northern electorate.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Grant’s Royal Robes

“Nov. 6th. All is over! The Great Farce, (the Presidential Election) closed yesterday, as had been foreseen for the past month, with a complete triumph for the Bully Butcher, and National Gift Taker. Grant walked the track. Telegraphic reports from all quarters leave it doubtful whether [Horace] Greeley will get a single vote. Even New York – the Democratic Old Guard – surrenders to the tune of 3500 majority for the “Coming Man.”

Twenty-five other States are in the same column – marching the Despot gaily to his throne! Selah! It is absolutely amazing, the apathy, the blindness, the infatuation of the people!

Is there no longer an patriotism, any conservatism in the land? What do we see this day? A nation yielding its elective franchise to elect a worse than Napoleonic despot! I say the nation yields its franchises because no one believes that Grant is the choice of the people, that he is worthy of the high Authority which is now his for another term and doubtless for life.

Bu corruption, and greed, and avarice, and fear, and Prejudice, and Misrepresentation, every malignant passion, every illegal and dishonorable means have been made to bring about the stupendous result. And now, what next?

Historians tell us that every Republic that has fallen, to shake the faith of man in his own capacity for government, has been, preceding its final fall, the scene of just such transactions as these; sectional prejudices, the majority trampling on the minority, the courts corrupted and used for political ends, open corruption in office, bribery of voters, use of the military to intimidate the opposition, great monopolies supporting the most promising candidates, and finally much unanimity in favor of some popular leader, who quietly took the crown and Royal Robes when a suitable opportunity occurred.

This is the political panorama now unfolding, slowly but surely, in our own country. The end we may almost see. And then bloodshed, insurrections, turbulence and anarchy! I do not predict that all of this is to occur in a year or two; it may be postponed for a score of years. But one thing is certain it will not be half so long, nor a third of it, if the Government continues to usurp power, and hold it, as it has done during the last decade.”

(The Diary, 1871-1873, The Papers of R. A. Shotwell, Volume III, Jos. D.R. Hamilton, editor, NC Historical Commission, 1936, pp. 276-277)

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