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America’s Conservative Catastrophe

Ambrose Bierce defined “Conservative” in his Devil’s Dictionary as “A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others . . .” Italian’s of the medieval period gave the title of “conservator” to guardians of the law; English justices of the peace originally “were styled custodus pacis – conservators of the peace.” In the modern sense, the word implies the principles of thought and action which opposed the radicalism and political innovation of the French Revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

America’s Conservative Catastrophe

“[A Tory] party in the old English sense scarcely existed in [British] America. Political debates usually occurred between two factions of Whigs, both attached to the Whig idea of liberty, but differing as to means and the relationship with the Crown. The triumph of the Patriots in the Revolution expelled from the Thirteen Colonies what little Toryism existed there, and along with it many of the moderate Whigs.

For all that, recent scholarship inclines toward the view that the American Revolution was no revolution truly, but simply a War of Independence – a revolution (in Burke’s phrase concerning the Glorious Revolution of 1688) “not made, but prevented.”

The intellectual leaders of the Americans during the troubled period of Confederation, were men, most of them, of a conservative tendency – John Adams, Gouveneur Morris, John Jay, Hamilton. Even Jefferson . . . was no frantic innovator.

Most other Southern leaders, such as Pinckney or Mason, differed more about means than about the ends of society: their view of the state was conservative – viewed that is, from a twentieth century vantage point. Even some eminent radicals of the time, notably Patrick Henry, grew steadily more conservative as responsibility settled upon them.

And the Federalist Papers, written to obtain acceptance of the Constitution, reflect the conservative concepts of moderation, balance, order and prudence – together with those conservative guarantees of prescriptive usage, arrangement of political checks, restrictions upon power, protection of private property, and restraints upon popular [democratic] impulses.

During the early years of the United States, the chief political contests many be regarded as long, acrimonious debate between two powerful conservative interests – the mercantile interests of the North, the agricultural interests of the South – confused by lesser issues and personalities.

The catastrophe of the Civil War dealt a grim blow to reflective conservatism, North or South. In the Gilded Age, little political principle of any kind could be distinguished. As the United States grew into the greatest power in the world . . . conservative concepts were discussed again . . . [though the] Great Depression and ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt seemed to quash this renewal of conservative thought.

Until the first administration of Franklin Roosevelt, the term “liberal” had not been popular among American politicians; but Rooseveltian liberalism swept everything before it during the 1930s and 1940s. Not until the 1950s did there appear, or reappear, a strong body of conservative thought, expressed in books and periodical literature, to challenge the dominant liberalism . . .

[An] American conservative, at least as the term is employed popularly, is a person who believes strongly that the old pattern of American society ought not to be much altered. Typically, such a person holds by the Constitution, maintaining that it should be strictly interpreted; he endeavors to oppose the drift toward political centralization; he dislikes organizations on a grand scale, in government, in business and industry, in organized labor; he is a defender of private property; he resents the heavy increase of taxation and many of the “transfer payments” of the welfare state; he is unalterably opposed to the Communist ideology . . . and sighs, or perhaps shouts O tempora! O mores! at the decay of private and public morality.”

(The Essential Russell Kirk: Selected Essays; George A. Panichas, editor, ISI Books, 2007, excerpts, pp. 14-16)

Wilson Lacked Burke’s Prudence

Woodrow Wilson’s liberal arguments for a European peace after the First World War came “not from prudence, not from principle as [Edmund] Burke had described principle, but from abstraction; and the states upon which he bestowed his blessing collapsed in less than two decades, because they were constructed in defiance of history, of real interests, and of the hard facts of power.” Hitler rose from the ashes of that war and Wilson’s ideal design for Europe.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilson Lacked Edmund Burke’s Prudence

“Wilson did what he could to establish a better order among nations. His principles were confused, the times moved too fast for him (particularly in the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian system), and he proved far too thoroughly convinced of his own wisdom, too unyielding, to achieve anything which might endure.

Yet the errors into which he fell were not the errors of conservative policy; they were the errors of liberalism; they were the sort of errors which Gladstone made in diplomacy. The climate of 1918 and 1919 was liberal, and it is hard to say who might have done better in Wilson’s place. His failure was the failure of the nation’s political imagination in those years, a normative failure.

Certain liberal abstractions concerning the nature of political order and the nature of man lay behind Wilson’s doctrine of self-determination, behind his assumption that leagues of nations and paper constitutions and treaties might of themselves bring peace and contentment, behind his insistence upon fitting the map of Europe into his ideal design.

He had learned much from the Federalists and Burke; but he had not learned prudence, which Burke considered the highest virtue in a statesman. That aspect of Burke’s thought which defends prescription and prejudice, which perceives how dangerous it is to disturb anything that is at rest, which is prepared to tolerate an old evil lest the cure prove worse than the disease, he understood imperfectly.

Burke . . . never would have thought of approving a doctrinaire and wholesale shifting of boundaries, a vast abolition of governments and substitution of new ones, an overthrow of historical and natural groupings in favor of simple language-affinity. Burke would have perceived at once the consequence of abolishing the power which held together the heart of Europe and checked German and Russian ambition, the Austrian system.

To the conservative of Burke’s school, the world is at best a tolerable place, kept in order chiefly through respect for custom and precedent. It may be patched and pruned here and there; but the nature of man remains flawed, ambition always aspires to domination, and states are kept at peace only by a balancing of power, a recognition of the traditions of civility, and a concern for real interests. Parchment and declarations of the rights of man cannot restrain private or national concupiscence.

To the liberal, on the other hand, the world is infinitely improvable, and so is man himself; experiment and emancipation will lead to peace; and what ought to be, shall be. So Wilson thought and acted through the War and the making of the Peace.

The idea that power may be checked only by countervailing power always has been distasteful to the liberal. Wilson’s concept of self-determination, his championship of the League, and much of the rest of his program reflected that distaste. A vague confidence in Progress, Equality and the People overcame the cautionary precepts of Burke and the Federalists.

“You are a Liberal,” the Duke of Omnium says to Phineas Finn, in one of Trollope’s parliamentary novels, “because you know that it is not all as it ought to be; and because you would still march on to some nearer approach to equality; though the thing itself is so great, so glorious, so god-like, — nay, so absolutely divine, — that you have been disgusted by the very promise of it, because its perfection is unattainable.”

Trollope knew his Liberals. This yearning to march on toward some future universal condition of democracy and equality got the better of Wilson, when authority was his. Despite his earlier declarations that the American Republic – though a model for other states – could not be transplanted, he called upon America to make the world safe for democracy; and this same liberal universalism marked his arguments in the shaping of the evanescent Peace.”

(The Essential Russell Kirk: Selected Essays; George A. Panichas, editor, ISI Books, 2007, excerpts, pp. 507-509)

Southern Democrats Betrayed by Their Party

Frustrated at the drift of FDR into state-socialism and use of communist-dominated labor unions to buy votes for his fourth term – as he had done for his third term — Southern congressmen like Josiah Bailey (1873-1946) of North Carolina threatened a new party grounded in constitutional principles – the States Rights Democratic party, or “Dixiecrats.” The Sidney Hillman noted below was a communist labor organizer who helped FDR gain the governorship of New York, and he was brought on board in 1932 to accomplish the same on a national level. One of Bailey’s best-known quotes is: “Since we humans have the better brain, is it not our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves?”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Democrats Betrayed by Their Party

“What’s wrong, Senator [Josiah] Bailey [of North Carolina] demanded, with being a “Southern” Senator or a “Southern” Democrat? [He] pointed out that the Southern States had cast their electoral votes for the Democratic candidate for President, election after election, often when they stood absolutely alone and when there was nobody else in the electoral college to vote for him. But, he warned, there can be an end of that sort of thing!

“There can be an end of insults,” he said, “there can be an end of toleration, there can be an end of patience. We can form a Southern Democratic Party and vote as we please in the Electoral College, and we will hold the balance of power in this country. We can throw the election into the House of Representatives and cast the votes of sixteen States.

We have been patient. We were tried. But, by the eternal gods, there are men in the South, and women too, who will not permit men in control of our party to betray or to insult us in the house of our fathers.

We will assert ourselves – and we are capable of asserting ourselves – and we will vindicate ourselves, and if we cannot have a party in which we are respected, if we must be in a party in which we are scorned as “Southern” Democrats, we will find a party which honors us, not because we are Southerners, and not because of politics, but because we love our country and believe in the Constitution from which it draws its life, day by day, as you, sir, draw your breath from the atmosphere round about you.”

To be sure, national managers of the Democratic Party were mildly disturbed by the Bailey speech, but not for long. It may have been a coincidence, of course, but it is a fact that early in January, 1944, about a month after the Bailey speech was delivered, Governor [J.M.] Broughton of Bailey’s own State of North Carolina told the country in a radio broadcast that while there was “great political turmoil” in the Southern States, all of them would be found in the Democratic column as usual in the Presidential election of 1944. But the “insults” of which Senator Bailey complained didn’t end and the “betrayals” continued.

[On July 7 -1943], the executive board of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, a new labor body popularly known as the CIO . . . decreed that every Senator and Representative who had voted for the Smith-Connally bill should be defeated for re-election. And to undertake this job it created the CIO Political Action Committee.

At that time the labor leader who was closer to President Roosevelt than any other was Russian-born Sidney Hillman. Hillman had held various federal offices under the New Deal . . . His relations with Roosevelt were direct and intimate. This is of significance, because Sidney Hillman was chosen to be the Chairman of the CIO Political Action Committee. The object of the CIO-PAC at the outset was frankly that of electing a Congress that would follow the labor-union “line” and also elect President Roosevelt to a fourth term.

“We have in this country,” said Senator Bailey, “a well-organized, well-financed movement of the left-wing of American labor to capture the Democratic Party by infiltration. They propose to nominate the President for a fourth term. And they are noisy about it. They propose to defeat any Senator or member of the House [of Representatives] who does not bow to their policy of coercing the working men of America.”

(The South’s Political Plight, Peter Molyneaux, Calhoun Clubs of the South, 1948, excerpt, pp. 4-17)

Southern Democrats Defend the Constitution

Only four years after Senator Josiah Bailey’s spoke on the floor of the United States Senate below, Southern Democrats were forming their own Democratic Party dedicated to lost Jeffersonian principles. FDR had already corrupted many Democrats who supported his socialist New Deal policies and a proposed “Federal” ballot which would overthrow a State’s authority of holding elections.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Democrats Defend the Constitution

“On the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1943 – Senator Josiah Bailey of [Warrenton] North Carolina, exasperated at frequent contemptuous references to “Southern” Democrats by national party leaders and disturbed over a decided anti-Southern trend in the Democratic Party, stood on the floor of the United States Senate and, in a blistering speech, warned the aforesaid Democratic leaders that there was a limit to what the South would stand from them.

At the same time, he outlined a course by which Southern Democrats could break off relations with the national party and bring about a situation in which the South would hold the balance of power in American politics.

Another presidential election was approaching and already there was a definite movement to “draft” President Roosevelt for a fourth term. For many days the Senate had debated a measure that proposed to empower the federal government to hold Presidential and Congressional elections among the men and women of the armed forces, using a federal ballot.

This measure was introduced by a Democrat and was being supported by Democrats and the Roosevelt administration, in spite of the obvious fact that it denied the fundamental Democratic Party doctrine that elections may be held only by authority of State governments and that under the Constitution the federal government has absolutely no authority to hold elections. But the most vigorous opposition also came from Democrats, principally Southern Democrats. It resulted in a notable debate on constitutional principles such as seldom been heard in Congress.

The Senate rejected this federal ballot proposal . . . But this did not prevent Senator Joseph Guffey of Pennsylvania from charging, in a newspaper statement, that the federal ballot had been defeated by an “unholy alliance” of Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans. Guffey designated Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia as the Democratic leader of “the most unpatriotic and unholy alliance that has occurred in the United States Senate since the League of Nations for peace of the world was defeated in 1919.”

Senator Byrd took care of Guffey on the morning of that December 7th by giving the Pennsylvania Senator a thorough verbal skinning. It was about as neat a dressing down as could be administered within the rules of the Senate. But Guffey’s references to “Southern” Democrats had angered Senator Bailey.

What’s wrong, Senator Bailey demanded, with being a “Southern” Senator or a “Southern” Democrat? “I would remind these gentlemen who speak of us as “Southern” Democrats,” he said, “these Democrats, these high lights of the party, these beneficiaries of our victories during the last ten years – I would remind them that Southern Democrats maintained the Democratic Party and kept it alive in all the long years of its exile, when it had no place in the house which our fathers had built, when it was not permitted to serve around the altars which our forefathers had made holy.”

(The South’s Political Plight, Peter Molyneaux, Calhoun Clubs of the South, 1948, excerpts, pp. 1-4)

The Old Lady of Broad Street Versus FDR

By 1936, Franklin Roosevelt’s Democrat Party had become a virtual duplicate of the Communist Party USA with a near-identical platform, and supported by communist labor and black voting blocs. The old Southern Democratic traditions were thrust aside and the seeds of the “Dixiecrat” party were sown as FDR used his power to unseat opponents. Charleston editor William Watts Ball rose to the occasion.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Old Lady of Broad Street Versus FDR

“[South Carolinian James] Byrnes found further cause for disagreement with [President] Roosevelt during the Congressional elections of 1938; he did not approve of Roosevelt’s attempt to unseat conservative Southern Democrats who had not supported New Deal legislation in the Senate. Some of the President’s closest advisors thought it unwise for him to dare intervene in Southern politics.

But Roosevelt would not be deterred; he undertook a “purge” trip through the South . . . [and] visited South Carolina. Since Olin Johnston had been invited to ride on the presidential train, it was obvious that Roosevelt favored Johnston for the [Senate] seat held by “Cotton Ed” Smith, presently running for reelection. Roosevelt had picked

Johnston and [News and Courier editor] Ball observed, “If the president can elect Mr. Johnston US Senator from South Carolina he can elect anybody . . . Northern Negro leaders were the masters of the national Democratic party. A vote against Smith was a victory for Walter White and the NAACP.”

Ball observed [that there] was a need for an independent Jeffersonian Democratic party in national affairs . . . to that end, on August 1 [1940] more than two hundred delegates convened at the South Carolina Society Hall in Charleston to organize the State Jeffersonian Democratic party. Almost simultaneously, “Time” magazine printed a picture of the “New Deal-hating” Ball and reported his support of [Republican Wendell] Wilkie as indicative of anti-Roosevelt rumblings in the normally Democratic Southern press.

[Ball wrote to his sister that] Election returns are coming in . . . the election of Wilkie would give me a surprise. I have no faith in “democracy” (little “d”) and the government of the United States has placed the balance of power in the hands of mendicants. I suppose the inmates of any county alms house would vote to retain in office a superintendent who fed them well and gave them beer. As for South Carolina, the South, it is decadent, spiritless; it is not even a beggar of the first class.

And in good health and bad, Ball maintained his unfaltering crusade against the New Deal. “Never was deeper disgrace for a country, in its management, than the disgrace of waste and corruption the last eight and a half years. I would not say there has been stealing, not great stealing, but the buying of the whole people with gifts and offices has been the colossal form of corruption . . . the American symbols are the night clubs of New York, the playboys and playgirls of Hollywood and the White House family with its divorces and capitalization of the presidential office to stuff money into its pockets.”

[Ball’s] News and Courier adhered steadfastly to its traditional policies: States rights; tariff for revenue only; strict construction of the Constitution; a federal government whose duties were confined to defending the republic against attack and to preserving peace and free commerce among the States. Fazed neither by depression nor by war, the “Old Lady of Broad Street” persisted in her jealousy and suspicion of all governments that set up welfare, do-good and handout agencies.

Ball claimed not to dislike [Roosevelt aide Harry] Hopkins, but [regarded] him as the embodiment of the fantastic in government: a man who “on his own initiative never produced a dollar,” a welfare worker who now was the greatest spender of the taxpayers’ money.”

(Damned Upcountryman, William Watts Ball, John D. Starke, Duke University Press, 1968, excerpts, pp. 151-201)

 

Du Pont and His Powder Industry

E. I. Du Pont’s position as an anti-slavery advocate may have been more about containing black people in the South and forbidding them into the North and territories, as was common among Republicans. He may also have been opposed to the war but made a fortune through powder orders by providing 4 million barrels to the Northern government. Du Pont’s revolutionary “mammoth powder” for heavy artillery allowed greater range for bombarding American cities in the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Du Pont and His Powder Industry

“. . . Du Pont, a strong Whig and anti-slavery partisan could hardly feel much enthusiasm for the [Mexican] war, even if it did bring him government powder orders. [In the postwar] Ohio and Indiana farmers were industriously clearing away timber land, and potent charges of Du Pont powder were needed to extract the stumps. This was the first era of railway building, and powder was a necessity for railroad contractors. William Astor and his Oregon Fur Company needed powder for hunting in the Northwest. Mining was also beginning to develop.

Du Pont did not need a war, but the gods smiled and gave him one. In 1854 England, Turkey, and others went to war with Russia, and guns in the Crimea needed powder. Du Pont filled [orders from both England and Russia, and] shipments of the “black death” went forth to the far corners of the world.

During the American Civil War Du Pont was again the patriot – at least the Northern patriot. Naturally the war brought Du Pont large orders and he was the mainstay of the Northern government.

The Civil War created a virtual partnership between Du Pont and the government. When the war was over, this relationship was not disturbed . . . [and] Working hand in glove with the government became a regular practice for Dupont.

The last decades of the nineteenth century witnessed the formation of powerful combines and trusts in American business. It was only natural that Du Pont should be transformed from a simple powder company into a gigantic combine with international ramifications.

The development came as a result of the Civil War [and] Government orders had been so reckless that the supply of powder on the market proved a drug to the entire industry. The government sold its surplus at auction prices sand the bottom fell out of the powder industry.

Beginning in 1872 the Du Pont Company gradually brought “order” into the industry, and in 1907 it was not only supreme in the field, but had virtually united all powder companies in the country under its guidance, control, or ownership.

The result of this monopolistic policy may be seen in the fact that by 1905 Du Pont controlled the orders for all government powder orders. Having established this monopoly, Du Pont turned again to price-fixing [and] national prices were established from which there was no deviation.

During the World War Du Pont supplied 40 per cent of the powder used by the Allies, and after 1917 its orders from the United States government were enormous.”

(Merchants of Death, A Study of the International Armament Industry, H.C. Engelbrecht & F.C. Hanighen, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1934, excerpts, pp. 29- 36)

Power, Plunder and Extended Rule

Lincoln’s continued military defeats caused Radical Republicans to oppose his reelection, until Gen. George B. McClellan became the Democratic presidential nominee in 1864. As Charles Sumner put it privately, “Lincoln’s reelection would be a disaster, but McClellan’s damnation.” After winning their war against the South, Republicans extended their rule over the new empire beyond the turn of the century, except for the two terms of Democrat Grover Cleveland. For further reading on Lincoln’s opponents within his party see: Ward Hill Lamon’s “Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865,” published in 1895.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Power, Plunder and Extended Rule

“Surgeon [Francis Marion] Robertson equates the Union logic of war with that which was being espoused by a set of Union opponents of President Abraham Lincoln’s conduct of the war.

Following the long series of Federal military disasters leading up to and including their defeats in the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863, there arose a movement within the Army and Federal Congress that reached a fever pitch in its call to displace President Lincoln, in effect, by the appointment of a dictator to direct the war effort.

Members of Congress called for appointing a vigilant “committee on the conduct of the war” to watch and supervise Lincoln’s movements and decisions. Supporters of this cabal included (a), political activists who sought increased military victories and preservation of their personal and party power, (b), commercial zealots who desired spoliation and plunder of the South, and (c), religious abolitionists whose sympathy for the slave had degenerated into envenomed hostility toward his owner.

These aggressive enemies of Lincoln in the North and within his own party summed up the logic of war in the comprehensive formula, “Power, plunder and extended rule.”

This phrase summarized the vindictive motivation that the seceding Southerners both expected and feared from the Union, if they should lose the war. The collection of attitudes has later been described by historians as the Radical Republican philosophies.

So Lincoln, faced with fire in both his front and rear, finally concluded that he must assert himself. Lincoln exclaimed, “This state of things shall continue no longer. I will show them at the other end of the Avenue whether I am President or not!” From soon after this moment, “his opponents and would-be masters were now, for the most part, silenced; but they hated him all the more cordially.”

In the end, after the Southern surrender and Lincoln’s assassination, the worst apprehensions of white Southerners about “power, plunder and extended rule” at the hands of the Republican North and the carpetbaggers would largely come true.”

(Resisting Sherman, A Confederate Surgeon’s Journal and the Civil War in the Carolinas, 1865, Thomas Heard Robertson, Jr., editor, Savas-Beatie, 2015, pg. 64)

Remember the Maine

President William McKinley had to be goaded into war against Spain by the yellow journalism and fake news of Hearst and Pulitzer, but his dispatch of the USS Maine to Cuba provided the incident, as Roosevelt’s dispatch of the US fleet to Pearl Harbor did 43 years later. Lincoln’s bludgeoning of Americans seeking independence in 1861-1865, cleverly disguised as a war to emancipate slaves, left future imperial-minded presidents with a reusable template for war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Remember the Maine

“Henry Luce coined the phrase “The American Century” as an expression of the militant economic globalism that has characterized American policy from the days of William McKinley. Luce, the publisher of Time and Fortune, was the child of missionaries in China – a product, in other words, of American religious and cultural globalism. It is no small irony that this preacher’s kid was the chief spokesman for a global movement which, in its mature phase, has emerged as the principal enemy of the Christian faith.

The approach to Christianity taken by the postmodern, post-civilized, and post-Christian American regime is a seamless garment: At home, the federal government bans prayer in school, enforces multiculturalism in the universities, and encourages the immigration of non-Christian religious minorities who begin agitating against Christian symbols the day they arrive; abroad, the regime refuses to defend Christians from the genocide inflicted by Muslims in the Sudan, while in the Balkans it has waged a ruthless and inhumane war against the Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia.

The inhumanity of NATO’s air campaign against villages, heating plants and television stations reveals, even in the absence of other evidence, the anti-Christian hatred that animates the Washington regime.

Luce did not invent the American Empire, he only shilled for it. His American Century began in the Philippines 100 years ago, when the American regime refined the policies and techniques discovered in the Civil War.

The oldest and best form of American imperialism is the commercial expansion advocated by the Republicans – McKinley, Taft, Hoover and Eisenhower – who warned against the military-industrial complex. Although all of these free-traders were occasionally willing to back up the politics of self-interest with gunboats, they preferred to rely, whenever possible, on dollar diplomacy. McKinley had no hesitation about establishing American hegemony in Cuba and the Philippines, but he had to be dragged into war.

Free trade, these Babbits believed, could be the route to market penetration around the globe, and one of the early slogans of commercial imperialists was the “Open Door.” Sometimes, however, the door had to be kicked in by the Marines.

As one spokesman for American industry put it 100 years ago, “One way of opening up a market is to conquer it.” This is what Bill Clinton meant when he justified his attack on Yugoslavia on the grounds that we need a stable Europe as a market for American goods.

Even the most tough-minded Americans are suckers for a messianic appeal; it must have something to do with the Puritan legacy. Even bluff old Bill McKinley, in declaring war on the people of the Philippines, a war that would cost the lives of more than 200,000 civilians, proclaimed the aim of our military administration was “to win the confidence, respect and affection of the inhabitants . . . by assuring them . . . that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of a free people, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.”

The new American globalism has a logic all its own, one based on universal free trade, which destroys local economies; open immigration for non-Europeans and non-Christians, who can be used to undermine a civilization that is both Christian and European; and universal human rights, which are the pretext for world government.”

(Remember the Maine, Thomas Fleming; Perspective, Chronicles, August 1999, excerpt, pp. 10-11)

 

A Conquered and Foreign People

Most, if not all, foreign observers recognized the fiction that the Union was saved by Lincoln. Americans in the South were put under military rule and the Republican Party moved quickly to enlist and manipulate the freedmen vote to attain political dominance and ensure the election of Grant in 1868 – lest their military victory be lost with the election of New York Democrat Horatio Seymour.  Grant won a narrow victory over Seymour, by a mere 300,000 votes of the 500,000 newly enfranchised freedmen.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Conquered and Foreign People

“Not everything was settled on the day the Federal flag was raised once again over the capitol building in Richmond. The nation had to go forward resolutely to complete the revolution begun by the Civil War . . . It was needful not only to impose obedience on the conquered inhabitants but also to raise them up again after having subjugated them, to bring them back into the bosom of the Union; to rebuild the devastated countryside and enlist the people’s sincere acceptance of the great reform about to be inaugurated.

They must be made to feel the firm hand of a determined government that would not, however, be a threat to their liberties. Armed repression must give way to politics . . .

[In dealing with the Southern States, they] might be considered conquered territory and be told that when they left the Union they gave up all their rights under the Federal Constitution that they had ceased to be sovereign States.

In that case they must be treated as a conquered foreign people; their State and local governments must be destroyed or allowed to collapse and then reorganized as territories . . . Then someday, when the memory of the Civil War had been completely erased, they would be readmitted to the Union.

This procedure, the Radicals argued, would be merely the literal application of the United States Constitution, the sole method of ensuring respect for national authority. It would be the only way to restore the former Union on a solid foundation, having levelled the ground beforehand by stamping out all tendencies to rebellion . . .

It would be a good thing for the Southern States to be subjected for a time to the rigors of military rule and arbitrary power, or at least for them to be kept for a number of years under the guardianship of Congress, that is to say, under the domination of the North.

Their delegates might come, like those from the territories, and present their grievances or defend their interests; but they would only have a consultative voice in Congress and would have no share in the government. Great care must be taken not to give back to the South the preponderant influence it had exercised for so long.

The rebellion is not yet dead, the Radical orators declared; it has only been knocked down and it may get back on its feet if we are not vigilant. Never has the Union been in such danger as in this moment of victory when peace seems to prevail, but when the future depends on the decisions the people and the government now adopt.

If the [Democratic Party] is once again allowed to reorganize, if the Southerners renew their alliance with the Northern Democrats, it will be all up for national greatness and liberty. The same arrogant claims and the same quarrels will reappear . . . all this will someday or another lead to another civil war which will encompass the total destruction of America.”

(A Frenchman in Lincoln’s America, 1864-1865, Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, Volume II, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 1975 (original 1866), pp. 543-545

 

Citizens of the States

John C. Calhoun noted that the claim of supremacy by the federal government “will be scarcely denied by anyone conversant with the political history of the country.” He then asked “what limitation can possibly be placed upon the powers of a government claiming and exercising such rights.” The case of State citizenship prior to the War, which few denied and which caused Southern men to view supreme allegiance to their particular States, is one that changed in 1865. Afterward, the central government viewed all as citizens of the United States, a revolutionary legal definition with no basis in the United States Constitution. As an example of State subordination to federal domination, the word “state” is not capitalized as it once was.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Citizens of the States

“The Senator from Delaware (Mr. Clayton), as well as others, has relied with great emphasis on the fact that we are citizens of the United States. I do not object to the expression, nor shall I detract from the proud and elevated feelings with which it is associated; but I trust that I may be permitted to raise the inquiry:

In what manner are we citizens of the United States without weakening the patriotic feeling with which, I trust, it will ever be uttered?

If by citizen of the United States he means a citizen at large, one whose citizenship extends to the entire geographical limits of the country, without having local citizenship in some State or territory, a sort of citizen of the world, all I have to say is, that such a citizen would be a perfect nondescript; that not a single individual of this description can be found in the entire mass of our population.

Notwithstanding all the pomp and display of eloquence of the occasion, every citizen is a citizen of some State or territory, and, as such, under an express provision of the constitution, is entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and it is in this, and in no other sense, that we are citizens of the United States.

The Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dallas), indeed, relied upon that provision in the constitution which gives Congress the power to establish [a] uniform rule of naturalization; and the operation of the rule actually established under this authority, to prove that naturalized citizens are citizens at large, without being citizens of any of the States.

I do not deem it necessary to examine the law of Congress upon this subject . . . though I cannot doubt that he (Mr. D.] has taken an erroneous view of the subject.

It is sufficient that the power of Congress extends simply to the establishment of a uniform rule by which foreigners may be naturalized in the several states or territories, without infringing, in any other respect, in reference to naturalization, the rights of the States as they existed before the adoption of the constitution.”

(Union and Liberty: the Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun; Ross M. Lence, editor, Liberty Fund, 1992, excerpt, pp. 443-444)