Browsing "Race and the South"

Southern Plan of Gradual Emancipation

Many influential persons in the antebellum South promoted an end to the colonial labor system inherited from the British, and truly sincere New England abolitionists could easily have assisted in devising a compensated emancipation solution as Britain had done in the 1840s. Also, had New England cotton mills and Manhattan banks not accepted slave-produced cotton or ceased planter-expansion loans, slavery might have ended peacefully.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Plan of Gradual Emancipation

“Pioneers in the struggle for public schools in Virginia were Henry Ruffner, president of Washington College, and his son William Henry Ruffner, who in 1870 became the first superintendent of public instruction in Virginia.

[The elder] Ruffner was a man of much native ability. Through private study he became distinguished for his scholarship, literary talent and eloquence. He was appointed professor in Washington College in 1819 and was made president in 1836, in which position he served until 1848.

Ruffner was an early advocate of the gradual emancipation of the slaves and published a pamphlet in 1847, entitled “An Address to the People of West Virginia; shewing that slavery is injurious to the public welfare, and that it may be gradually abolished, without detriment to the rights and interests of slaveholders.” This address was delivered before the Franklin Society in Lexington, Virginia, at the request of John Letcher (afterwards “War Governor”) and others.

Ruffner made an analysis of slavery from the standpoint of a slaveholder, showing the evils of the system, not only to the slaves, but to their masters as well, pointing out the wastefulness of the system, the advances that had been made by the free States in population, wealth, and education as compared with the slave States since the Revolution, and the isolation that slavery had brought to the South.

It was a powerful argument against slavery and proposed a method for its abolition. Free from religious, fanatical or sentimental cant, it was a dispassionate, economic analysis of a system to which he himself belonged.”

(Universal Education in the South, Charles W. Dabney, Volume I, UNC Press, 1936, excerpt, pp. 81-82)

A Slow and Gradual Method of Cure for Slavery

Writer Timothy Flint travelled the Mississippi Valley in the early 1800’s and his recollections were published in 1826. After witnessing firsthand the conditions on plantations, Flint cautioned patience and gradualism to erase the stain of slavery in the United States as the fanatic abolitionists would be incautious and rash in their bloody resolution to the question. This underscores the unfortunate fact that abolitionists advanced no practical and peaceful solutions to the matter of slavery in the United States. Only war to the knife.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Slow and Gradual Method of Cure for Slavery

“[Prior to Northern slavery agitation], The Southern people were beginning to esteem and regard the northern character. The term “yankee” began to be a term rather of respect than reproach.

It is easy to see how soon this will all be reversed, if we incautiously and rashly intermeddle in this matter. Let us hear for a moment, the Southern planter speak for himself, for I remark that if you introduce the subject with any delicacy, I have never yet heard one, who does not admit that slavery is an evil and an injustice, and who does not at least affect to deplore the evil.

[The Southern planter] says, that be the evil so great, and the thing ever so unjust, it has always existed among the Jews, in the families of the patriarchs, in the republics of Greece and Rome, and that the right of the master in his slave, is clearly recognized in St. Paul; that it has been transmitted down through successive ages, to the colonization of North America, and that it existed in Massachusetts as well as the other States.

“You,” they add, “had but a few. Your climate admitted the labour of the whites. You freed them because it is less expensive to till your lands with free hands, than with slaves. We have a scorching sun, and an enfeebling climate.  The African constitution can alone support labour under such circumstances.

We of course had many slaves. Our fathers felt the necessity, and yielding to the expediency of the case. They have entailed the enormous and growing evil upon us. Take them from us and you render the Southern country a desert. You destroy the great staples of the country, and what is worse, you find no way in which to dispose of the millions that you emancipate.”

If we [of the North] reply, that we cannot violate a principle, for the sake of expediency, they return upon us with the question, “What is to be done? The deplorable condition of the emancipated slaves in this country is sufficient proof, that we cannot emancipate them here.

Turn them all loose at once, and ignorant and reckless as they are of the use and value of freedom, they would devour and destroy the subsistence of years, in a day, and for want of other objects upon which to prey, would prey upon one another. It is a chronic moral evil, the growth of ages, and such diseases are always aggravated by violent and harsh remedies.  Leave us to ourselves, or point out the way in which we can gently heal this great malady, not at once, but in a regimen of years. The evil must come off as it came on, by slow and gradual method of cure.”

In this method of cure, substitutes would be gradually found for their labor. The best modes of instructing them in the value of freedom, and rendering them comfortable and happy in the enjoyment of it, would be gradually marled out. They should be taught to read, and imbued with the principles, and morals of the gospel.

Every affectionate appeal should be made to the humanity, and the better feelings of the masters. In the region where I live, the masters allow entire liberty to the slaves to attend public worship, and as far as my knowledge extends, it is generally the case in Louisiana. In some plantations they have a jury of Negroes to try offences under the eye of the master, as judge, and it generally happens that he is obliged to mitigate the severity of their sentence.”

(Recollections of the Last Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi, Timothy Flint; George Brooks, editor, Southern Illinois University Press, 1968, pp. 246-249)

Emancipation and Repatriation

The American Colonization Society organizers below were well-aware of the origins of the slavery they detested – the avarice of the British who planted their colonial labor system on these shores, though opposed by colonial legislatures – and the perpetuation of the slave-trade by New England merchants.  They knew as well that should a naval force not be positioned off Africa’s coast, those New England merchants would prey upon the newly-emancipated in Liberia.  Note the predominance of Southern men in the Society.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Emancipation and Repatriation

“On December 28, 1816, the colonizers assembled in the hall of the House of Representatives. The constitution drafted by [Francis Scott] Key and his colleagues was adopted; and thus was founded the American Colonization Society. The constitution declared the purpose of the society to be the promotion of “a plan for colonizing (with their consent) the Free People of Colour residing in our country, in Africa, or such other place as Congress shall deem expedient.”

The organization of the Society was perfected on January 1, 1817 with the election of officers. Justice Bushrod Washington (kin of George) was elected president.

The following Vice-Presidents were then selected: Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford of Georgia; Speaker [Henry] Clay of Kentucky; William Phillips of Massachusetts; former Governor John Eager Howard, Samuel Smith and John C. Herbert of Maryland; Colonel Henry Rutgers of New York; John Taylor of Virginia; General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee; Attorney General Richard Rush and Robert Ralston of Pennsylvania; General John Mason of the District of Columbia; and Reverend Finley . . . the first name on the board of managers was that of Francis S. Key.

The lawyers, clergymen, members of Congress, and other public men, who organized the American Colonization Society were idealists. Their aim was to eradicate slavery without causing political or economic violence. Statesmen from the North and South were able to stand together on the platform of the Society.

According to some historians, the colonizers were “idealists with troubled consciences.”  Patrick Henry cried . . . “I am drawn along by the inconvenience of living without them. I will not, I cannot justify it . . . Slavery is detested; we feel its fatal effects — we deplore it with all the pity of humanity. But is it practicable, by any human means, to liberate them without producing the most dreadful and ruinous consequences?”

The more practical business men of the country sneered at the scheme. The cold and calculating John Quincy Adams criticized the idea as absolutely visionary. The critics doubted whether the free Negroes would be willing to leave the United States for tropical Africa; and even if they did, whether they would be able to govern themselves after they arrived there.

But the colonizers were not discouraged. They believed that as their purpose was humane it had the approval of Providence, and that if they persevered they would meet with success in the end. They also . . . [believed that] the deported blacks would take with them what they had learned in America and would found in Africa a free and happy commonwealth.

Fortunately [Virginian] James Monroe, who succeeded Mr. Madison in the presidential chair on March 4, 1817, gave his endorsement to the plan of colonization. And in a year or two representatives of the American Colonization Society were on their way to Africa with instructions to explore the west coast of the Dark Continent and to select a location for a colony for the free blacks of America.

Before long auxiliary colonization societies were formed in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York . . . Early in 1818 the people of Baltimore contributed several thousand dollars to the cause, and the Legislature of Maryland requested the Governor to urge President Monroe and the members of Congress to negotiate for a colony in Africa by cession or purchase. Similar resolutions were adopted by the Legislatures of Virginia, Tennessee, and other States.

As a result of the pleas of the friends of colonization, the Congress, on March 3, 1818, passed an act directing the United States Navy to capture all African slaves found in the possession of American slave-traders, and empowering the President to appoint agents on the coast of Africa to receive, shelter, feed, clothe, and protect the slaves so captured.

The passage of this law brought cheer to Francis Scott Key and his associates. It meant the cooperation of the United States Government. The coast of Africa was lined with slavers; and without the aid of the Navy the little colony would be at their mercy.”

(Francis Scott Key, Life and Times, Edward S. Delaplaine, Biography Press, 1937, excerpts, pp. 198-201)

 

Dec 25, 2016 - Lost Cultures, Race and the South, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Christmas Must Proceed in 1864

Christmas Must Proceed in 1864

Christmas Must Proceed in 1864

“Varina Howell Davis, Mississippi-born wife of the Southern president declared, “That Christmas season was ushered in under the thickest clouds; every one felt the cataclysm which impended, but the rosy, expectant faces of our little children were a constant reminder that self-sacrifice must be the personal offering of each member of the family.”

Because of the expense involved in keeping them up, Mr.. Davis had recently sold her carriage and horses. A warm-spirited Confederate bought them back and sent them to her. Now she planned to dispose of one of her best satin dresses to obtain funds; with Christmas on the way, the children had high expectations, and she would use all possible makeshifts in an effort to fulfill them.

The Richmond housewives could find no currants, raisins, or other vital ingredients for old Virginia mincemeat pie. But, Mrs. Davis went on, the young considered at least one slice their right, “and the price of indigestion…a debt of honor due from them to the season’s exactions.”

Despite the war, apple trees still bore fruit; with these as a base, she and the other women of the city would utilize any other fruit that came to hand. A little cider and some salt were obtained, as was brandy, though its usual price was a hundred dollars a bottle in inflated Confederate currency.

As for eggnog, the Negro stable attendant, who brought in “the back log, our substitute for the Yule log,” said he did not know how they would “git along without no eggnog. Ef it’s only a little wineglass.” Plans progressed for a quiet home Christmas when unexpected word arrived: The orphans at the Episcopal home had been promised a tree and toys, cake and candy, plus a good prize for the best-behaved girl, and something had to be done about that.

Something was done. With Mrs. Davis’s help, a committee of women was set up and the members repaired to their children’s old toy collections to salvage dolls without eyes, monkeys that had lost their squeak, three-legged and even two-legged horses. They fixed and painted everything, plumping out rag dolls and putting new faces on them, adding fresh tails to feathered chickens and parrots.

The Davis’s invited a group of young friends on Christmas Eve to help make candle molds and string popcorn and apples for the tree; Mr. Pizzini, the confectioner, contributed simple candies. For cornucopias and other ornamentation the Davis’s guests used colored papers, bright pictures from old books, bits of silk out of trunks. All in all, the Christmas Eve of 1864 was far from unsatisfactory. When the small supply of eggnog went around, the eldest Davis boy assured his father: “Now I just know this is Christmas.”

(The Southern Christmas Book, Harnett T. Kane, David McKay Company, 1958, pp. 208-210)

 

Dec 24, 2016 - Lost Cultures, Race and the South, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Christmas on the Plantation

Christmas on the Plantation

Christmas on the Plantation

“No sooner was the harvest over, than preparations for Christmas began. Whole calves were barbequed, pigs roasted, while wild game and venison were hunted. For days ahead there was much cooking of plum pudding, fruit cakes, Sally White cakes, pies and all sorts of good things, (they make your mouth water to think of them). The big Yule log was brought in from the swamp the day before Christmas, where it had been soaking for weeks, the alert darkies knowing that as long as it burned in the “great house” they would stop working.

The mansion was elaborately dressed with evergreens, while branches of dried cedar dried hydrangea blooms were powdered with flour, making feathery white blossoms, as if in summer time. The holly tree was ornamented with long strings of popped corn, strung by the white and colored children.

Early Christmas morning the “Great House” was awakened by the singing of the darkies and voices calling out – “Ch’mas gif’, master, “Ch’mas gif”, mistress.” On the great tree were gifts for everyone on the plantation. In the low country of the South the Negroes dressed themselves as clowns, grotesque costumes (being known as “John Kunners”) and marched around ringing bells, as the danced, singing – “Ch’mas comes but once a year, hurrah Johnnie Kuner – give poor [Negro] one more cent, hurrah John Kunner.” With the passing of their hats, pennies were dropped by the “white folks.”

Words fail to express the Christmas dinner of the old plantation. In front of “Marster” was a roast pig (red apple in his mouth) or the largest gobbler. Innumerable were the desserts or sweet – syllabub, custard, trifle, wine jelly, cocoanut and lemon puddings, mince pies, every kind of cake, and Snow Balls especially for the children.

With the dinner, wines were served, made from the plantation scuppernong, James or Catawba grapes, or from the luscious blackberry. In the quarters was served a wonderful repast to the entire colored population, and their gayeties were shown in dancing the “double shuffle,” the “break down,” the “chicken in the bread tray,” and the “pigeon wing,” followed by the “cake walk.” Up in the Mansion the family and guests probably engaged in the Virginia Reel or other forms of dancing.

Until New Years’ Day, the festivities would continue, a party at every plantation within riding distance, each house overflowing with merriment. A plantation Christmas would not be complete without a fox hunt, for “to ride with the hounds” was one of the accomplishments necessary to the planter and his sons.

Space forbids further description of the happiness of life on an antebellum plantation in the South, but many of our Southern writers have given indelible pictures of the bond between master and slave, which was unique, will go down as an example of understanding affection. Without trying to condone the rare case of unkindness from planters toward their slaves, on the whole they were well treated and the hearts of the two races were closely knit in the old plantation system.

There was a personal interest in the heart of the planter and his family for these dusky folks who belonged to them. And they had a pride in their slaves that was reciprocated by them, who felt that their “White Folks” were better than any others.

In writing of the race problem (after the Sixties) Henry W. Grady of Georgia said: “As I recall my old plantation home, the spirit of my old Black Mammy from her home above the skies, looks down to bless me, and through the tumult of the night the sweet music of her crooning, as she held me in her arms and lead me smiling to sleep.” One writer says: “The old plantation life is gone, but in that era of the Old South were found the very finest and highest types of loyalty and of patriotism that America will ever know.”

(Plantation Life in the Old South (excerpt), Lucy London Anderson, The Southern Magazine, May 1934, page 10)

 

Dec 22, 2016 - America Transformed, Race and the South, Reconstruction, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Union Leagues and Klans    Comments Off on Stealing the Name of the Klan

Stealing the Name of the Klan

The Ku Klux Klan had two reincarnations since being organized after the War. The W.J. Simmons Klan of 1915 was a nativist organization concerned about the influx on European immigrants and their effect upon American institutions; the most recent Klan of few numbers and many government informants has little if any resemblance to the original. The 1915 Klan can be compared to the strongly anti-Catholic Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s – many of whose members joined Lincoln’s sectional Republican Party.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Stealing the Name of the Klan

“[An] event that may surprise many persons who think of the Ku Klux Klan as a bigoted organization opposed to Catholics, Jews and Negroes. They forget that a generation earlier there was another Klan, from which the Klan of the present century stole the name, and that the objective of the earlier Klan, while quite without sanction of law, were scarcely comparable.

Bernard and [brother] Hartwig were rummaging in their attic at Camden. Opening an old trunk they found the regalia of a Knight of the Ku Klux Klan. It belonged to their father, in whose veins according to family records, flowed nothing but Jewish blood.

Their mother, who had followed the boys up the attic steps to see what they were doing, froze with fear when she saw them unearth the regalia. Dr. Baruch would certainly pay with his life if his membership in the Klan should be disclosed. She swore them to secrecy, and, as usual, they obeyed her commands.

In telling this story, years later, Baruch remarked that, far as he had ever heard, no member of the Klan was ever betrayed. Who were members of that organization of Reconstruction days was one of the best kept secrets in all history.”

(Bernard Baruch, Park Bench Statesman, Carter Field, Whittlesey House, 1944, pp. 2-3)

Origins of the Conflict: The Tallmadge Amendment

The words “disunion” and “civil war” were heard in the halls of Congress in early 1819 as Representative James Tallmadge of New York introduced his amendment to restrict slavery in the proposed State of Missouri. Though Tallmadge thought the action would help end slavery within a generation, Howell Cobb of Georgia said he had kindled a fire “which only seas of blood could extinguish.” The Missouri Compromise of 1820 did not include the amendment, but did prohibit slavery above the 36-30 parallel of the Louisiana Purchase, the southern boundary of Missouri.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Origins of the Conflict: The Tallmadge Amendment

“In 1812 the Territory of Orleans became the State of Louisiana, but meantime the District of Louisiana had been repeatedly reorganized [and by 1819] . . . the population of Missouri closely approximated sixty thousand which, according to precedents set in the Old Northwest, made a territory eligible for Statehood.

Successive Missouri legislatures petitioned Congress on the subject, and in 1819 the House Committee on Territories reported favorably a bill enabling Missouri . . . to draw up a constitution and make ready for Statehood.

It was at this juncture that Representative James Tallmadge of New York raised the question of setting limits to the expansion of slavery in the Louisiana Purchase. He proposed to amend the bill reported from committee by providing that the further introduction of slavery into Missouri should be forbidden, and that all children born of slave parents after the admission of the State should be free upon reaching the age of twenty-five years.

Until the introduction of the Tallmadge amendment, the slavery question had played little part in national politics. The problem of how slaves should be counted when apportioning representatives in Congress or assessing direct taxes on the States had been satisfactorily settled in the federal convention by the three-fifths compromise. Also, an earlier Congress had exercised its constitutional authority to pass a fugitive slave act, and the administration of this measure had so far provoked little criticism.

Moreover, slavery had long been regarded as a dying institution. The founders of the American nation had almost unanimously so considered it, Southerners no less than Northerners. Many of them were eager to speed the day when slavery should cease to exist throughout the whole country.

Washington emancipated his slaves by his will; Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin were prominent in the work of emancipation societies; Thomas Jefferson’s anti-slavery views were written into the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Almost by common consent the slave trade was forbidden in 1808, the earliest possible date under the Constitution.

Hostility to slavery during these early days of the republic was firmly grounded on the fact that the institution had ceased to be economically profitable. For this reason, even before the American Revolution, many of the colonies would have taken some anti slavery action had not the British government been so insistent on protecting the profits of British merchants engaged in the slave trade.

As soon as independence became a fact, one State after another took action against slavery . . . [but] the chief obstacle to abolition in the South, where slaves were far more numerous than in the North, was the perplexity felt about what to do with the freed slaves, but Southern emancipation societies were deeply concerned about this problem and were hopeful of finding a solution.

The discovery that cotton could be grown profitably by means of slave labor [with the cotton gin of Massachusetts inventor Eli Whitney, and] served to revive the institution of slavery just at the time when it had seemed destined to disappear.

(The Federal Union, History of the United States to 1865, John D. Hicks, Houghton Mifflin, 1948, excerpts, pp. 354-356)

North and South Before the Alien Tide

The colonies North and South before the Revolution had little in common other than being transplanted Britons; Southern troops were there to help the North in the war it initiated over trade and taxes. The model of American statesmanship was the Southern planter-aristocrat until the arrival of Andrew Jackson – seen as the product of the ragged edges of British civilization. Such a product, also, was Abraham Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

North and South Before the Alien Tide

“New Englanders at all stages in the history of the country have busied themselves so actively with advertising in print their part in the making of America; the compact circle of New England authors before the war managed so effectively to enhance each other’s reputations by piling criticism on authorship and authorship on criticism again; that most foreigners and many busty Americans have absorbed the notion that American character is a New England product, and “culture” a plant nourished solely in that region.

This idea has been reinforced by the assiduity of New Englanders since the war, in working over their material, in composing voluminous biographies, appreciations, memoirs, poems, critiques, histories, about every New Englander whoever wrote a book, or, indeed, did anything out of the ordinary.

As a matter of fact, what is called the Puritan influence, what is fathered on the New England conscience, is not essentially Puritan at all; it is British seriousness, aggravated by a hand-to-hand conflict with a new country, and th4e responsibility for it is shared about equally by Massachusetts and Virginia.

The truth is, that so long as America was distinctly a nation of transplanted Britons, the New England conscience, so-called, was a common heritage of all. It is only since the flood of alien blood has swamped the country and diluted the original strain that this conscience has ceased to be the common standard, however modified as to particular judgments by differences in the conditions to be faced.

In New England proper at one time, for instance, it approved capital punishment for witches, promoted piracy and drew sustenance from the [transatlantic] slave traffic.

In the South, at another period, it sanctioned the duel and the holding of the involuntary black man in bondage. At the present time, because the white population of the South is still is of predominantly British descent, because the alien has not swarmed over the land and diluted the original stock, the last stronghold of New England conscience is actually below Mason and Dixon’s line, with its citadel in Richmond, Va.

The thing survives, in spots, in New England also, but only in little pools and back waters not yet reached by the tide. Even the presence of the Negro, with his stone-age morals, has not sufficed to destroy it in the South – though it has, of course, modified it – for the Negro stands outside the stream.

In the first place, then, the Briton in the South, even if he were not descended from the landed gentry, a special breed of masters of other men in the old country, presently developed for himself a special breed of masters of men by reason of his training on the plantation where he ruled over many. At the same time he gained a boldness, and initiative, an adaptability quite foreign to the stay-at-home Briton. For he had to rule over an alien and barbaric people in a new and unformed country strange to him and to them.”

(Contributions of the South to the Character and Culture of the North, H.I. Brock; History of the Literary and Intellectual Life of the Southern States, Volume VII, Samuel Chiles Mitchell, editor, Southern Publication Society, 1909, pp. 269-271)

The North’s Union League Created the Klan

To paraphrase Southern leaders during Reconstruction hearings in Congress, if they would disband the northern Union and Loyal Leagues that set black against white in the South, the Klan would disappear from the face of the earth. It is clear from literature of the day that the disarmed South saw the Klan as a defensive measure against the Union League; the Klansmen flew no flag.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The North’s Union League Created the Klan

“The nocturnal secrecy of the gatherings, the weird initiation ceremonies, the emblems of virtue and religion, the songs, the appeal to such patriotic shibboleths as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Flag, and the Union, the glittering platitudes in the interest of social uplift — all these characteristics of the League had an irresistible appeal to a ceremony-loving, singing, moralistic and loyal race.

That the purposes of the order, when reduced to the practical, meant that the Negro had become the emotional and intellectual slaves of the white Radical did not dull the Negro’s enthusiasm, he was accustomed to be a slave to the white man” [South Carolina During Reconstruction, Simkins & Woody, page 7].

The Union League gave the freedmen their first experience in parliamentary law and debating . . . [they] were active in the meetings, joining in the debate and prone to heckle the speakers with questions and points of order. Observers frequently reported the presence of rifles at political rallies, usually stacked in a clump of bushes behind the speaker’s platform, sometimes the womenfolk left to guard them.

In the autumn of 1867, a League chapter made up mostly of blacks, but with a white president named Bryce, was holding a meeting with its usual armed sentries on the perimeter. When a poor white named Smith tried to enter the meeting, shots were fired; there followed a general alarm and, subsequently, a melee with a white debating club nearby. The Negroes rushed out; Smith fled, hotly pursued to the schoolhouse; the members of the debating club broke up in a panic and endeavored to escape; a second pistol was fired and a boy of fourteen named Hunnicutt, the son of a respectable [white] citizen, fell dead.

[Northern officer John W. De Forest wrote]: “The Negroes, unaware apparently that they had done anything wrong, believing, on the contrary, that they were re-establishing public order and enforcing justice, commenced patrolling the neighborhood, entering every house and arresting numbers of citizens. They marched in double file, pistol in belt and gun at the shoulder, keeping step to the “hup, hup!” of a fellow called Lame Sam, who acted as drill sergeant and commander. By noon of the next day they had the country for miles around in their power, and the majority of the male whites under their guard.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 29-32)

Sep 23, 2016 - Indians and the West, Lincoln and the Indians, Myth of Saving the Union, Race and the South    Comments Off on Indians of the Confederacy

Indians of the Confederacy

In early 1861, over four thousand slaves lived in the Southern Indian nations west of the Mississippi, with many found among the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws. In late February 1861, James E. Harrison, James Bourland and Charles A. Hamilton of Texas were appointed commissioners and instructed “to proceed to [the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw Creek and Seminole Nations of Indians] and invite their prompt cooperation in the formation of a Southern Confederacy.” Excerpts of his April 23, 1861 report follows.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Indians of the Southern Confederacy

“. . . [Governor Sam] Houston gave as one good and sufficient reason for not withdrawing from the Union, the fear that should the Union be dissolved the wild tribes, who were now, in a measure, restrained from committing depredations and enormities by the very nature of their treaty guarantees, would be literally let loose upon Texas.

As far as the civilized tribes were concerned, all were of one mind and that took the form of the conviction that so great was the necessity of gaining and holding the confidence of the Indians, that Texas should not procrastinate in joining her fortunes with those of her sister States in the Confederacy.

James E. Harrison and his colleagues [found that the] “. . . Choctaws and Chickasaws are entirely Southern and are determined to adhere to the fortunes of the South. [They visited Gov. John Ross of] the Cherokee Nation . . . [whose] position is the same as that held by Mr. Lincoln in his inaugural . . .

The Creeks are Southern and sound to a man, and when desired will show their devotion to our cause by acts. They meet in council on the 1st of May, when they will probably send delegates to Montgomery to arrange with the Southern Government.

These nations are in a rapid state of improvement. Pure slate granite, sandstone, blue limestone, and marble are found in abundance. All this they regard as inviting Northern aggression, and they are without arms, to any extent, or munitions of war.

They declare themselves Southerners by geographical position, by a common interest, by their social system, and by blood, for they are rapidly becoming a nation of whites. They have written constitutions, laws, etc., modelled after those of the Southern States.

They can raise 20,000 good fighting men, leaving enough at home to attend to domestic affairs, and under the direction of an officer from the Southern Government would deal destruction to an approaching army from that direction, and in the language of one of their principal men:

“Lincoln may haul his big guns about our prairies in the daytime, but we will swoop down upon him at night from our mountains and forests, dealing death and destruction to his army.”

(The Indian and Slaveholder and Secessionist, Annie Heloise Abel, University of Nebraska Press, 1992 (original 1915), excerpts, pp. 90-95)

 

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