Browsing "Propaganda"

Happy Forgetfulness

Author Robert Penn Warren writes below of “The Treasury of Virtue,” the psychological heritage left to the North by the War and the irrefutable basis of its long-serving Myth of Saving the Union. With his armies victorious the Northerner was free “to write history to suit his own deep needs . . . and knows, as everybody knows, that the war saved the Union.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Happy Forgetfulness

“When one is happy in forgetfulness, facts get forgotten. In the happy contemplation of the Treasury of Virtue it is forgotten that the Republican platform of 1860 pledged protection to the institution of slavery where it existed, and that the Republicans were ready, in 1861, to guarantee slavery in the South, as bait for a return to the Union.

It is forgotten that in July, 1861, both houses of Congress, by an almost unanimous vote, affirmed that the War was waged not to interfere with the institutions of any State but only to maintain the Union.

The War, in the words of the House resolution, should cease “as soon as these objects are accomplished.” It is forgotten that the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 23, 1862, was limited and provisional: slavery was to be abolished only in the seceded States and only if they did not return to the Union before the first of the next January.

It is forgotten that the Proclamation was widely disapproved [in the North] and even contributed to the serious setbacks to Republican candidates for office in the subsequent election.

It is forgotten that, as Lincoln himself freely admitted, the Proclamation itself was of doubtful constitutional warrant and was forced by circumstances; that only after a bitter and prolonged struggle in Congress was the Thirteenth Amendment sent, as late as January, 1865, to the States for ratification; and that all of Lincoln’s genius as a horse trader (here the deal was Federal patronage swapped for Democratic votes) was needed to get Nevada admitted to Statehood, with its guaranteed support of the Amendment.

It is forgotten that even after the Fourteenth Amendment, not only Southern States, but Northern ones, refused to adopt Negro suffrage, and that Connecticut had formally rejected it a late as July, 1865.

It is forgotten that Sherman, and not only Sherman, was violently opposed to arming Negroes against white troops. It is forgotten that . . . racism was all too common in the liberating army. It is forgotten that only the failure of Northern volunteering overcame the powerful prejudice against accepting Negro troops, and allowed “Sambo’s Right to be Kilt,” — as the title of a contemporary song had it.

It is forgotten that racism and Abolitionism might, and often did, go hand in hand. This was true even in the most instructed circles [as James T. Ayers, clergyman, committed abolitionist and Northern recruiting officer for Negro troops confided to his diary] that freed Negroes would push North and “soon they will be in every whole and Corner, and the Bucks will be wanting to gallant our Daughters Round.” It is forgotten, in fact, that history is history.

Despite all this, the war appears, according to the doctrine of the Treasury of Virtue, as a consciously undertaken crusade so full of righteousness that there is enough oversurplus stored in Heaven, like the deeds of the saints, to take care of all small failings and oversights of the descendants of the crusaders, certainly unto the present generation. The crusaders themselves, back from the wars, seemed to feel that they had finished the work of virtue.

[Brooks Adams pronounced] “Can we look over the United States and honestly tell ourselves that all things are well within us?” [Adams] with his critical, unoptimistic mind, could not conceal it from himself, but many could; and a price was paid for the self delusion.

As Kenneth Stampp, an eminent Northern historian and the author of a corrosive interpretation of slavery, puts it: “The Yankees went to war animated by the highest ideals of the nineteenth-century middle classes . . . But what the Yankees achieved – for their generation at least – was a triumph not of middle class ideals but of middle class vices. The most striking products of their crusade were the shoddy aristocracy of the North and the ragged children of the South. Among the masses of Americans there were no victors, only the vanquished.”

(The Legacy of the Civil War, Robert Penn Warren, University of Nebraska Press, 1998, pp. 60-65)

Propaganda Sustaining the War Effort

Of German and English parentage, Lincoln’s chief of staff Henry W. Halleck married the granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton and in early 1861 was worth $500,000 from a career in railroads and banking. He predicted that the North “will become ultra anti-slavery, and I fear, in the course of the war will declare for emancipation and thus add the horrors of a servile war to that of a civil war.” While Halleck directed the propaganda war and often withheld casualty figures from the Northern press, William H. Seward scoured Europe for mercenaries to fight against Americans struggling for independence.

 

Propaganda Sustaining the War Effort

“Politically, Old Brains served Lincoln well. When the President decided to fire a general he had Halleck sign the order; thus the general’s supporters blamed Halleck for the dismissal. Lincoln liked to assume a pose of weakness and simplicity and to give the impression that others were controlling him. When friends enquired about a military move, Lincoln would say, “I wish not to control. That I now leave to General Halleck,” or “You must call on General Halleck, who commands.”

To Horatio G. Wright, commander of the [Northern] garrison at Louisville, Kentucky, Halleck clarified the issue: “The Government seems determined to apply the guillotine to all unsuccessful generals.” Ruefully he added: “It seems rather hard to do this where a general is not in fault, but perhaps with us now, as in the French revolution some harsh measures are required.” Halleck’s realization demonstrated his growing insight of the necessary interrelation of war and politics in a democracy.

[Halleck] struggled for efficiency against [an] entrenched and powerful enemy, the [Republican] politicians, who wanted to include the army in the spoils system.

Writing to a civilian who was active in army reforms, Francis Lieber, Halleck expressed a fear that the governors would build up a “northern States rights party that would eventually overpower all Federal authority.” He had cautioned Lincoln, but “no heed [was] given to the warning,” and now “approaching danger is already visible.”

Since the North was in legalistic confusion during the war, there were other areas where Halleck needed [Prussian liberal Francis Lieber]. The government’s official policy that the Southern States had not withdrawn from the Union, meant that the Confederate armies were mere rebellious mobs and were therefore not protected by established rules of civilized warfare.

But Union generals could not slaughter every captured Confederate, or their own men would receive similar treatment when they were seized. The Northern populace needed a heavy diet of propaganda to sustain their fighting spirit and the government had to cater to them. The Confederacy’s inadequate prison camps . . . were the soup de jour on the propagandists’ menu.

Halleck contributed his share of atrocity stories. In his annual report for 1863, he said that the North treated Rebel prisoners with “consideration and kindness,” while the Confederates stripped Union officers of blankets, shoes even in winter, confined them in “damp and loathsome prisons,” fed them on “damaged provisions, or actually starved [them] to death.”

Others were murdered “by their inhuman keepers,” and the “horrors of Belle Isle and Libby Prison exceed even those of “British [floating prison] Hulks” or the “Black Hole of Calcutta.” Southerners [he claimed] applauded these “barbarous” acts as a “means of reducing the Yankee rank.” Laws of war justified retaliation and the “present case seems to call for the exercise of this extreme right,” he concluded.

[Halleck’s] General Orders No. 100 were entitled] “Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field,” [and] Southerners denounced it for legalizing crime [committed by Northern forces]. [Lieber, like Clausewitz] believed that total war could not and should not be limited [and] said that restrictions on violence – such as General Orders 100 – were “hardly worth mentioning.”

(Halleck, Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, Stephen E. Ambrose, LSU Press, 1990 (original 1962), pp. 65; 88; 102; 104; 128-131)

The Myth of the Saved Union

Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward admitted that Southerners were free to leave the Union, abandon their land and live elsewhere. Many Northerners wanted to drive the Southern people out and repopulate the section with New England-style government, customs and schools.

The following is excerpted from a speech and letter of Massachusetts Congressman George B. Loring, delivered April 26, 1865. Loring was a prewar abolitionist and reformer who realized that if the freedmen were not brought into the Republican party through the infamous Union League, New England’s political domination was in peril. While feigning justice toward the black race, those like Loring clamped chains upon the South. Ironically, Loring seems unaware that it was Massachusetts threatening secession several times in the early 1800s, though he condemns the South for following his State’s example.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Myth of the Saved Union 

“I know I used a strong expression when I said we must beware of clemency [toward the defeated South and] accord strict justice to those who have taken up arms against our government? Shall we restore them to the fullness of their former rights? Never.

They have taken their chances, and now let them abide by the result. (Great applause). They have declared that they were independent, now let them remain independent. (Applause). The world is wide, and all lands, and all oceans, and the islands of the sea are open to receive them. (Applause – amen). Some of them have taken care to provide the necessary comforts for their journey. (Laughter).

And what a contrast we have before us – your eulogized and sainted President, known through all the world as the friend of freedom and a free government, who has written his name among the stars – and his opponent, [Jefferson Davis] flying in the darkness before an indignant people, branded and despised, bearing his ill-gotten treasure if possible to that safety which a foreign land alone can give him, an outlaw and fugitive. What a contrast – the one a martyr in heaven – the other a felon sunk to the lowest pit of infamy on earth.

I insist upon it that it is impossible to treat with traitors who have taken up arms against this government, for the express purpose of blasting it and all the hopes of freedom with it. We cannot restore our government in this way. I feel it to be impossible, and would never agree to the restoration of the old State organizations among the revolted States, or to any State government s manufactured for the occasion.

So I say of all the States which have destroyed their “practical relations” to the general government by rebellion. When all the citizens of a State reach that point at which they are ready to return, upon the basis of government which the war has made for us all, let them return. But not until this is accomplished – not until the institutions of these States conform to the highest civilization of the land – would I place them on equality with the loyal States.

Until this is done how can members of Congress be returned, whose principles shall render them fit to sit by the side of men from Massachusetts? (Great applause. Hurrah).

No oath of allegiance can purify them [prominent Confederate leaders who had once held high elective or appointive federal offices]. Our country – the civilized world, does not want their counsels. Their return would be an eternal disgrace to us.

Now, what is there on the other side? It is simply this. I would hold all the revolted States by the power of the Federal authority, — that power which we have strengthened and confirmed by this war. The first gun fired at Sumter . . . dispelled forever all the fallacies and sophistries accumulated for years under the names of State Rights and State Sovereignty.

I do not mean any invasion of the legitimate rights of a State, — but of that superlative folly which has been represented by the flag of South Carolina and the sacred soil of Virginia.

The Federal authority has now become powerful, and is the supreme power in the land. When the revolted States are ready to recognize that authority, when they are ready to bear their proportion of the national debt, when they are ready to make common cause with the loyal North in their systems of education and laws and religion, when their citizens are ready to sacrifice their lives in support of the Union as the North has done for the last four years, then and not till then would I allow them to return.

It has been said that the great contest has been between Massachusetts and South Carolina. BE it so. And as Massachusetts has carried the day, I would have South Carolina submit wisely and gracefully to the consequences of the defeat. (Applause and hurrahs.)

Let us see then, if we cannot adopt some system by which our schools, and all our institutions be planted and nurtured upon their soil. I think we can. I think the American people are equal to this issue, and that they will never be satisfied until the Federal arm is stretched over the revolted States, holding them firmly in obedience, in its powerful grasp, until they shall have learned the lesson of freedom, which the North has furnished them.

And during this period of pupilage [of the South] let us exercise such military sway as will secure the great objects of the war.

(Dr. George B. Loring, Speech and Letter, The Radical Republicans and Reconstruction, 1861-1870, Harold Hyman, editor, Bobbs-Merrill, 1967, pp. 234-237)

 

Propaganda to Sustain the Northern War Effort

Of German and English parentage, Lincoln’s chief of staff Henry W. Halleck married the granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton and in early 1861 was worth $500,000 from a career in railroads and banking. He predicted that the North “will become ultra anti-slavery, and I fear, in the course of the war will declare for emancipation and thus add the horrors of a servile war to that of a civil war.” While Halleck directed the propaganda war and often withheld casualty figures from the Northern press, Lincoln’s Secretary of State William H. Seward scoured Europe for mercenaries to fight against Americans struggling for independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Propaganda to Sustain the Northern War Effort

“Politically, Old Brains served Lincoln well. When the President decided to fire a general he had Halleck sign the order; thus the general’s supporters blamed Halleck for the dismissal. Lincoln liked to assume a pose of weakness and simplicity and to give the impression that others were controlling him. When friends enquired about a military move, Lincoln would say, “I wish not to control. That I now leave to General Halleck,” or “You must call on General Halleck, who commands.”

To Horatio G. Wright, commander of the [Northern] garrison at Louisville, Kentucky, Halleck clarified the issue: “The Government seems determined to apply the guillotine to all unsuccessful generals.” Ruefully he added: “It seems rather hard to do this where a general is not in fault, but perhaps with us now, as in the French revolution some harsh measures are required.” Halleck’s realization demonstrated his growing insight of the necessary interrelation of war and politics in a democracy.

[Halleck] struggled for efficiency against [an] entrenched and powerful enemy, the [Republican] politicians, who wanted to include the army in the spoils system.

Writing to a civilian who was active in army reforms, Francis Lieber, Halleck expressed a fear that the governors would build up a “northern States rights party that would eventually overpower all Federal authority.” He had cautioned Lincoln, but “no heed [was] given to the warning,” and now “approaching danger is already visible.”

Since the North was in legalistic confusion during the war, there were other areas where Halleck needed [Prussian liberal Francis Lieber]. The government’s official policy that the Southern States had not withdrawn from the Union, meant that the Confederate armies were mere rebellious mobs and were therefore not protected by established rules of civilized warfare.

But Union generals could not slaughter every captured Confederate, or their own men would receive similar treatment when they were seized. The Northern populace needed a heavy diet of propaganda to sustain their fighting spirit and the government had to cater to them. The Confederacy’s inadequate prison camps . . . were the soup de jour on the propagandists’ menu.

Halleck contributed his share of atrocity stories. In his annual report for 1863, he said that the North treated Rebel prisoners with “consideration and kindness,” while the Confederates stripped Union officers of blankets, shoes even in winter, confined them in “damp and loathsome prisons,” fed them on “damaged provisions, or actually starved [them] to death.”

Others were murdered “by their inhuman keepers,” and the “horrors of Belle Isle and Libby Prison exceed even those of “British [floating prison] Hulks” or the “Black Hole of Calcutta.” Southerners [he claimed] applauded these “barbarous” acts as a “means of reducing the Yankee rank.” Laws of war justified retaliation and the “present case seems to call for the exercise of this extreme right,” he concluded.

[Halleck’s] General Orders No. 100 were entitled] “Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field,” [and] Southerners denounced it for legalizing crime [committed by Northern forces]. [Lieber, like Clausewitz] believed that total war could not and should not be limited [and] said that restrictions on violence – such as General Orders 100 – were “hardly worth mentioning.”

(Halleck, Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, Stephen E. Ambrose, LSU Press, 1990 (original 1962), pp. 65; 88; 102; 104; 128-131)

Searching for Irish Cannon-Fodder

As one of Lincoln’s cabinet members, Gen. Henry Halleck advised him in mid-1862 that enlistments had ceased and few new volunteers were to be had. A new system was devised to attract “patriots” and the large enlistment bounties paid by New York State alone accumulated a bounty-debt of $26 million, and the overall Northern debt from bounties was nearly $3.5 billion. In addition, Ireland, England and Europe were scoured for Lincoln’s patriots.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Searching for Irish Cannon-Fodder

“The Federal government encouraged [the Irish immigration] movement not only to relieve labor shortages but to replenish the ranks of the Union army, which by 1863 had been seriously depleted by casualties and desertions (It is important to note that General Halleck had admitted in 1862 that enlistments had ceased, and few new volunteers were to be had) . . . There is no doubt that the North relied heavily on immigrant soldiers. The best evidence of this lies in a study of the correspondence between [Secretary of State William] Seward and Federal representatives abroad. In May 1861, Henry S. Sanford, American Minister to Belgium, suggested to Seward that as the Lincoln administration apparently intended to rely primarily on volunteers for the army, it was not too early to look abroad for recruits . . . and the Confederates quickly took note of it [as] Dudley Mann, Southern Commissioner to Belgium, informed his government that Federal agents were busy in Ireland and Central Europe.

On August 22, 1862, Thomas A. Dudley, US Consul at Liverpool, informed Sanford that an agent, E. Bell, would guarantee fifty thousand Irish recruits — for a consideration — and urged Sanford to come to Liverpool to close the deal.

John Bigelow, American consul general at Paris advised Seward late in August 1862 to send all Federal consuls in Europe full particulars about bounties paid to volunteers . . . Mercenary soldiers were uppermost in Seward’s mind, for on September 19, 1862 he wrote Bigelow that “to some extent this civil war must be a trial between the two parties to exhaust each other. The immigration of a large mass from Europe would of itself decide it.” While it was an easy matter to entice Irishmen to the United States, it was equally easy to enlist them on arrival. Simply informing the penniless immigrants of the large bounties was often sufficient. Even more attractive were the large sums offered by speculators who secured substitutes for Northerners who wished to avoid the draft.

[Often] the immigration authorities simply detained unwilling prospective recruits for specious reasons until they were either destitute or desperately in debt to unscrupulous loan sharks. At this point the enlistment bounties became indispensable to the immigrant. Confederate counteractivity was intensified in July 1863 when Secretary of State Judah Benjamin dispatched Lt. J.L. Capston as a special agent to Ireland. A native of Ireland . . . Capston was to inform the Irish masses by every means he could “of the true purposes of those who seek to induce them to emigrate.”

(The Unequal Duel: Union Recruiting in Ireland, 1863-1864, Charles P. Cullop, Civil War History, June 1967, Volume 13, Number 2; pp. 101-107)

Washington Lonely No More in Heaven

In early 1926 a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post in Pennsylvania protested placing a statue of General Robert E. Lee in the Capitol near George Washington. Lee surpassed the latter as a military leader as he fought the grand armies whose intentions were destroying the very republic Washington helped create.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Washington Lonely No More in Heaven

“The following, taken from the News & Observer, of Raleigh, NC, disposes of the recent emanations from that GAR Post in Pennsylvania which seemed to feel the need of getting before the public in some vicious way. Doubtless this was soothing:

“Somebody ought to take up a collection and transport to Washington the members of that GAR Camp in Pennsylvania which recently declared that Robert E. Lee was a traitor to his country and the military leader of an armed rebellion against the government of the United States having as its object the destruction of the Union, and if Robert E. Lee had received his just dues he would have been hanged and the scaffold preserved as a monument to his infamy.

Those provincial fire-eaters would find that, with the approval of the Congress of the United States of America, representing forty-eight sovereign States, the statue of Robert E. Lee stands near to that of George Washington — par nobile fratum — in the Capitol in Washington. In all the history of the world there have not been two great men so much alike.

Indeed, as has been said, “Washington was lonesome in heaven until Lee arrived.” Both were rebels against authority; both fought honorably.  If Washington had lost, he still would have been the great figure he is. Lee’s fame rises higher because of failure to attain his objective, because in defeat he had a nobility and grandeur unequaled except by that of Washington in victory.

If Lee was an “arch traitor,” so was George Washington. It is good company, and the superheated Pennsylvanians will live to see the day they will be ashamed of their resolution.”

(Confederate Veteran, May, 1926, page 164)

 

Northerners Illustrate Little Regard for the Union

Northern anti-slavery agitators fomented discord and disunion long before 1861 and did their utmost to cause the South to seek a more perfect union. And that South rightly asked why the North agreed to the Compromise of 1850 when it had no intentions of abiding by it. If the abolition of slavery was indeed their crusade, why did abolitionists not encourage the example of the British with compensated emancipation, thus averting war and wanton destruction?

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Northerners Illustrate Little Regard for the Union

“In the North, sincere if fanatical abolitionists and opportunists alike used the slavery issue for political advancement. In the South, the voices . . . grew more passionate in their crusades for independence. Northern agitators gave them the ammunition.

When the Southern States had adopted the Compromise of 1850, the Georgia legislature summarized the attitude of them all. Serving notice that the preservation of the Union depended on the Northern States’ faithfully abiding by the terms of the Compromise, the Georgia delegates stressed its particular application to the federal laws regarding fugitive slaves.

This was a very real issue to the planters, and nothing so impressed the individual Southerner with Northern hostility as the protection given runaways in the North and the actual attacks on federal officials trying to enforce the laws on stolen property. On this last point, the Georgians stated, “It is the deliberate opinion of this convention that upon the faithful execution of the fugitive-slave bill depends the preservation of our much-loved Union.”

Yet in the North, many people continued to repudiate and defy the fugitive slave laws, which constituted about the only thing the South got out of the Compromise. To the Southerners trying to promote secession, this breach of faith served to illustrate the little regard in which the North held Union.

Then Northern literature erupted into what amounted to an anti-Southern propaganda mill. In 1851 appeared Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that inflammable work of the imagination, to start the decade in a spirit of recriminations. With the pamphlets and literature which took up where Mrs. Stowe left off, newspapers joined in the denunciations of their fellow Americans. To support the fictional pictures of the benighted Southerners, the New York Tribune stated flatly that plantations were “little else than Negro harems,” and that, of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Tyler (who was still living) “hardly one has failed to leave his mulatto children.”

Even Virginia, which produced these Presidents, had been brought to ruin by “pride and folly and . . . [Negro] concubinage . . . ” while South Carolina, with its “chivalry-ridden inhabitants,” like the other States, “is a full thousand years behind the North in civilization.” Emerson and Longfellow, Lowell and Whittier, the new literary pillars of that civilization, conjured up pictures of the vileness of their Southern neighbors.”

(The Land They Fought For, The Story of the South as the Confederacy, 1832-1865, Clifford Dowdey, Doubleday and Company, 1955, pp. 44-45)

Colfax's Myth of Saving the Union

Americans in the South had no reason for repentance after being crushed militarily, and in no way did the radical Republican party which destroyed the Founders’ union of 1787 recognize the principles of that Declaration which it did all in its power to subvert.  Had there been no Republican party, the Union would indeed have been saved, peaceful Christian charity and time would have ended slavery, equality under the law would have reigned as provided in the United States Constitution, and no Northern citizens and editors would have been imprisoned in American bastilles for opposing Republican Jacobin political hegemony.

Grant’s vice-president “Smiler” Colfax would be brought down by the Credit Mobilier scandals which bribed high government officials with cash and stocks; he was replaced as vice president in 1872 with another corrupt Republican, Henry Wilson.  Colfax went on to further infamy as a political boss whose expertise was rigging elections.  Below, he accepts the 1868 nomination.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Colfax’s Myth of Saving the Union

Letter of acceptance of the vice-presidential nomination, National Union Republican party, 29 May, 1868:

“The debt of gratitude [my acceptance] acknowledges to the brave men who saved the Union from destruction, the frank approval of amnesty based on repentance and loyalty, the demand for the most thorough economy and honesty in government, the sympathy of the party of liberty with all throughout the world who long for the liberty we here enjoy, and the recognition of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, are worthy of the [Republican party] on whose banners they are to be written in the coming contest.

Its past record cannot be blotted out or forgotten. If there had been no Republican party, Slavery would to-day cast its baneful shadow over the Republic. If there had been no Republican party, the free press and free speech would be unknown from the Potomac to the Rio Grande as ten years ago. If the Republican party could have been stricken from existence when the banner of rebellion was unfurled, and when the response of “no coercion” was heard in the North, we would have no nation to-day.

But for the Republican party daring to risk the odium of tax and draft laws our flag could not be kept flying on the field until the long-hoped for victory came. Without the Republican party the Civil Rights bill – the guarantee of equality under the law to the humble and the defenceless, as well as to the strong – would not be to-day upon our national statute book.

With such inspiration from the past, the example of the founders of the Republic, who called the victorious General of the Republic to preside over the land his triumphs had saved from its enemies, I cannot doubt that our labors with be crowned with success.”

Very truly yours, Schuyler Colfax”

(The Republican Party, 1854-1904, Francis Curtis, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904, page 507)

The Northern Record Speaks a Lie

The victor of wars writes the history, inflates his lofty intentions and controls what is set in the record. William Joseph Peele was a simple North Carolinian who is credited with the creation of the Agricultural and Mechanic Arts schools in the State, and support for a State Historical Commission which would set the record straight.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Northern Record Speaks a Lie

“Mr. Peele could not get away from the idea that the cause of the Civil War was commercial jealousy. Henry Adams and Mill say that in ’61 the people of England entertained the same opinion. Peele did give credit to the North for so shifting the issue that it seemed to be a war for freedom.

“The agitation about the Negro, as a counter-irritant to distract attention from the injustice of Federal revenue laws, was [said Peele] more than a success; for the shallow politicians of both sections forgot the real issue; but the beneficiaries never lost sight of it. I will use a homely illustration:

A and B are doing business on the opposite sides of a street; B begins to undersell A; A becomes angry, but cannot afford to tell his customers the cause; he hears that B once cheated a Negro out of a mule; he makes that charge; they fight; the court record of the trial shows that the fight was about the Negro and the mule; but there is not a business man on the street who does not know that the record speaks a lie.”

(William Joseph Peele, by Robert W. Winston, Proceedings of the North Carolina Historical Commission, November, 1919, page 116)

CPUSA Discovers Hollywood Clout

By 1936 FDR had communist-infiltrated labor unions supplying campaign money through Russian communist Sidney Hillman’s CIO-PAC, the first political action committee in the United States. By that date the Democratic party platform differed little from that of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and FDR’s running mate, Henry Wallace, helped attract collectivist votes to the Democrat party.  Today, Hollywood’s virtual reality programming continues its vital agitation and propaganda role.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

CPUSA Discovers Hollywood Clout

“The Communist Party [in the United States] enjoyed great success with “front groups,” organizations they controlled without that control being publicly recognized. One of the major front groups, the League of American Writers, had been an outgrowth of the American Writer’s Congress, an affiliate of the International Union of Revolutionary Writers, headquartered in Moscow. During the 1930s, at the height of its success, the League even managed to enlist Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President of the United States.

The founders of the [Soviet Union] were fascinated with the cinema because they recognized that it allowed limitless alteration of reality, the very goal they that they were attempting to achieve in real life. “Communists must always consider that of all the arts the motion picture is the most important,” said Lenin, who sent cinema trains into the Russian countryside during the 1920s. [Stalin explained in 1936 that] “The cinema is not only a vital agitprop device for the education and political indoctrination of the workers, but also a fluent channel through which to reach the minds and shape the desires of people everywhere.”

In 1926, Sergei Eisenstein, the USSR’s premier cineaste, made Battleship Potemkin, a film about a sailors’ mutiny. The Soviets used the movie as part of their labor-organizing efforts. Joseph Goebbels praised the picture and said it should be the model for Nazi cinema. French actor Yves Montand, who was born to communist Italian parents who fled France from Mussolini’s Fascist regime, said it was the dramatic Potemkin, not the turgid Das Kapital, that stirred his loyalties to Marxism and the USSR.

In 1933, at the nadir of the Depression, impoverished New Yorkers paid $89,931 in four days to see King Kong, at the time a record draw for an indoor attraction. Party cultural officials, eager as Stalin to influence people “everywhere,” duly took notice of Hollywood’s clout . . . and even Stalin enjoyed American gangster movies.

The implications of such influence were staggering to those who were seeking to extend this major movement of their time. Stalin reportedly claimed that he could easily convert the world to communism if he controlled the American movie industry.

“One of the most pressing tasks confronting the Communist Party in the field of Propaganda,” wrote [Communist International] boss Willie Muenzenberg, “is the conquest of this supremely important propaganda unit, until now the monopoly of the ruling class. We must wrest it from them and turn it against them.”

By the mid-1930s the tectonic shifts of history, and certainly the social and political conditions of the time, were all favorable to the Party, which was then moving from triumph to triumph. Hollywood loomed as one of its easier targets.”

(Hollywood Party, How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry, Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley, Prima Publishing, 1998, pp. 20-21)