Browsing "Reconstruction"

Tormenting the Defeated South

Though the South laid down its arms to rejoin the Union without slavery or secession, it would not be allowed the dignity of self-government by the victorious Radicals. Some tormenters “hoped to goad them into violent action or language by forcing them to salute the United States flag or walk under it.”  The radical German immigrant Carl Schurz visited the South after the surrender and declared that the South was “not impressed with any sense of its criminality” as if the Americans there committed a crime by forming a more perfect union according to Jefferson’s precepts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Tormenting the Defeated South

“One of the foremost characteristics of a civilized people is its need and desire for government. It was a fearful sight to see law and order disintegrate with the collapse of the Confederate armies . . . Incoming Federal troops prevented the legislators from meeting except in Mississippi, where the legislators were speedily dispersed.

To prevent anarchy the army of occupation marched in [and comprised departments] under a major general. Even if the soldiers had been forbearing it would have had difficulty in preserving order everywhere; but with soldiers singing “John Brown’s Body” and exciting the Negroes . . . for a short interim there was little law and order in some parts of the South.

At the end of the war the tendency was for the best element in the Federal army to get mustered out first, leaving a less reliable soldiery to police the South. Many of these troops remaining were Negroes, the number in October 1865 amounting to 85,000. Many of them were scattered widely over the South where they became almost without exception a vicious influence.

Elated over their high station, their uniforms and guns, they took special delight in insulting white people and in instilling dangerous notions into the heads of the freedmen. Occasionally they had bloody clashes with the whites and ravished white women. In Nashville they collided with the police and were disarmed and turned over to the provost marshal; in Beaufort, North Carolina, a Negro soldier raped a white girl and was arrested . . . [the Negro troops in nearby Fort Macon] threatened to turn the guns of the fort on the city; and near Augusta, Georgia, marauding [black] troops demolished the home and threatened the lives of a family who objected to the Negroes drinking out of the well bucket instead of the proffered gourd dipper.

In Newberry, South Carolina, a Confederate soldier returning after the war to his Texas home was beset by Negro troops and murdered because he attempted to protect two white girls from their insults.

Southerners felt especially aggrieved that they should be thus humiliated by their former slaves and by self-obtruding blacks from the North. Was it to show the Southern people that a fundamental revolution was in the making for them?

Even Northerners felt the shame of it. Said one, “I am at a loss to see what good [the black soldiers’] presence here is now. If to humble the Southern pride, that end has been fully accomplished. I have heard black soldiers make the most insulting remarks to Southerners, who are too glad to get by with only that to take notice of them.” General Grant, seeing no good purpose served in having Negro troops in the South, advised their removal. Before the end of 1866 practically all had been withdrawn.”

(A History of the South, Volume VIII, The South During Reconstruction, 1865-1877, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1947, pp. 29-30)

Heart of the Race Relations Problem

The disruption of Southern race relations by federal authorities, the Supreme Court and imported agitators, has done more harm than good, according to author William D. Workman, Jr. He writes that “In many respects, the refusal of the North to leave the South alone has had a harmful effect upon the very individuals about whom the Northerners profess most concern – that is, the Southern Negro.” As they “helped” the Southern Negro, they also ruined his good relations with the white neighbors he had to live with.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Heart of the Race Relations Problem

“More [problems] can be expected in the future if Northern integrationists, with or without political backing, continue to pillory the white South under the guise of helping the black South.

Meanwhile, the harried Southern Negro, who may or may not agree with the fulminations made in his behalf, stands to lose more than he gains. In most of the South, he is now possessed of all the purely legal rights which are coming his way, and continued agitation from the North can add little to his political status . . . [and] On the other hand, and this has become quite apparent in the last few years, the Negro becomes – willingly or unwillingly – the object of the white Southerner’s resentment.

Basically, the white Southerner has little quarrel with his Negro neighbor, and frankly despises the Northern propagandists – including the Supreme Court of the United States – with far greater intensity than is ever directed toward the Negro.

When the Northerner preaches the “brotherhood of man,” the Southerner calls for “freedom of association” and proceeds to sever longstanding ties which formerly linked him amicably with his Negro fellow-Southerners.

The net result is that the Northern action brings about almost the reverse reaction from that desired. Instead of bringing Southern whites and Negroes closer together, it drives them farther apart since, in the eyes of the white Southerner, the Negro is identified with those forces which seek to pillory and persecute the South.

The heart of the problem lies in the achievement of community acceptance of whatever pattern of race relations seems best for that community. [Where] there is not acceptance, no amount of pressure – federal, religious, or otherwise – will bring about a satisfactory situation. The matter of race relations is too close a thing . . . and not a thing to be handled by impersonal formula and governmental edict . . . .

In the years preceding the Supreme Court decision of 1954, and in a diminishing degree since then, Southern communities were making notable progress in the expansion of not only racial amity but of bi-racial achievement. The pressures which have built up following the desegregation decision, however, tended in large measure to “freeze” things as they were, and indeed in many cases to undo the good that had been accomplished by slow, patient work over the years.

Florida’s Gov. LeRoy Collins had this to say on March of 1956:

“For as long as I can remember, the Florida A&M [Negro] University choir on Sunday afternoons has held vesper services open to the general public. Many white citizens have over the years attended these concerts with great admiration for the excellence of these Negro voices singing the spirituals of their race. But this has almost completely stopped, I am advised. The singing still goes on each Sunday, and it is as good as it has ever been, but there are no longer white listeners. Fear of being labeled integrationists has intimidated them into staying away . . .

These things don’t make good sense but they are happening nevertheless. They signal not just a halt in the advancement of good race relations, but actually a decided move backward. They show the insidious results when our people are pulled by one side or the other into the fighting pit of the extremists . . . “

(The Case For the South, William D. Workman, Jr., Devin-Adair, 1960, pp. 134-138)

Loyal Leagues, Klans and Precedents

In postwar North Carolina the Loyal Leagues, Union League, etc., of the North’s Republican party were regarded as hostile organizations and designed to instill hatred in the freedmen against their white neighbors – for political purposes. During 1869 “there was an epidemic of barn-burnings in several counties of the State” charged to the Leagues as they encouraged blacks to destroy the agricultural livelihood of white farmers who were Democrats. Southern leaders advised Northern Republicans that if they disbanded their Loyal Leagues, the Klan would immediately disappear.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Loyal Leagues, Klans and Precedents

“The part played by the Loyal Leagues and similar organizations [Union League] in provoking the Southern people to defensive expedients was recognized by fair-minded Northern newspapers, and when in April, 1868, General [George G.] Meade issued an order for the suppression of the Ku Klux Klan, the New York Herald commented:

“The order of General Meade . . . will meet with the approval of all who espouse the cause of order and good government. But the General must not exercise his power on that organization alone. He must rigorously suppress the secret “Loyal Leagues” of Negroes; for they are equally, if not more, pernicious in their influence than the white man’s society.

The arrogance of the Negroes and their attempt to reduce the whites of the South to political vassalage by means of the “Loyal Leagues,” and the many other outrages that have been committed by these same Leagues, are equally as dangerous to the peace and safety of society as are the retaliatory actions of the Ku Klux Klan.”

An Alabama paper in an editorial denouncing the Loyal League said: “The League is nothing more than a [black] Ku Klux Klan . . . Let [their carpetbagger leader] break up the League and thus remove all temptation from the Kluxes to come here.”

It was the usual practice for the Leagues, when they held their meetings, to throw out armed pickets in all directions about the building . . . [a white resident commented that] “The Negroes acted here just like an invading army after they had conquered everything and were going rough-shod over everything. They thought they were the big dogs in the ring.”

Even so prejudiced an observer as the carpetbagger Judge [Albion] Tourgee said: “There is no doubt about this feeling, taken in connection with the enfranchisement of the blacks, induced thousands of good citizens to ally themselves with the Ku Klux Klan upon the idea of that they were acting in self-defense in so doing, and especially that they were securing the safety of their wives and children thereby.”

In such a state of affairs . . . throughout the South there began spontaneously to spring up local defensive groups, generally in the form of secret societies, designed primarily to offset the aggressiveness of the Loyal Leagues.

The members of the Boston Tea Party – and the members of the Ku Klux Klan – were but following a precedent set for them in earlier days in other lands. England had known the Moss Troopers, who took drastic means of manifesting their disapproval of the iron rule of the Normans; the misrule of Louis XI of France had resulted in the formation of that powerful and mysterious organization known as the Free Companions; Italy had its Carbonari during the Napoleonic wars.

Freedom loving people everywhere, when overwhelmed by oppression against which they have no their defense, have never hesitated to resort to secret and, if needs be, violent organizations for relief.”

(The Invisible Empire, The Story of the Ku Klux Klan, 1866-1871, Stanley F. Horn, Houghton-Mifflin, 1939, pp. 26-30)

The South Falls Heir to Northern Problems

The South after 1865 was not only an economic colony for Northern interests, but it would also fell prey to the multitude of vices associated with a relentless pursuit of profit. What was earlier termed “the Southern Yankee” became more common as the drive to emulate the industrialized and profit-obsessed North overwhelmed the Southern people.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The South Falls Heir to Northern Problems

“During the decade of the [nineteen] twenties, the South surpassed New England in textile manufacturing. A growing percentage of owners of Southern mills were absentee Yankees. In 1929 the region’s first serious labor revolts occurred, and Communist agitators were discovered among the rioters in Gastonia, North Carolina. There could no longer be any doubt that industrialization threatened to bring change. Some Southerners questioned the wisdom of continuing to heed the advocates of the “New South.”

If the South proceeded in remaking herself in the image of the North, would she not fall heir to those Northern problems from which she had fancied herself immune? Chief among the literary expressions of reaction was “I’ll Take My Stand,” published in 1930. A defense of agrarianism and individualism, it was the work of twelve Southern writers, most of them associated with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. During the 1920’s, four of their number (John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, Donald Davidson) published “The Fugitive,” a significant magazine of poetry and criticism.

Later in the decade with the nation seemingly committed to materialism and the South in ferment, they began their quest for Southern identity. They found the good life in an agrarian society where ideals meant more than money — in the South before 1880 — and they recommended it to a nation which had lost its balance. Like the Fugitives, Ball found the cherished personal virtues — the code of the upcountryman — secure only in the land. But because his arena was political, he saw the happier life also dependent upon conservative government.”

(Damned Upcountryman, William Watts Ball, John D. Starke, Duke Press, 1968, pp. 151-152)

 

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

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

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

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

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

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

 

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

The belief that the Northern soldier fought for the emancipation of the black man is a long-standing myth and coupled with the parallel myth that Lincoln saved the Union. The army of occupation brought an alien culture to the South which looted farms and left destitute American women and children without food or the means to survive.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

[Diary Entry] June 5, Monday [1865]:

“A Yankee came this morning before breakfast and took one of father’s mules out of the plow. He showed an order from “Marse” Abraham and said he would bring the mule back, but of course we never expect to see it again. I peeped through the blinds, and such a looking creature, I thought, would be quite capable of burning Columbia. [Northern] Capt. Schaeffer . . . He not only will not descend to associate with Negroes himself, but tries to keep his men from doing it, and when runaways come to town, he either has them thrashed and sent back home, or put to work on the streets and made to earn their rations.

People are so outraged at the indecent behavior going on in our midst that many good Christians have absented themselves from the Communion Table because they say they don’t feel fit to go there while such bitter hatred as they feel towards the Yankees has a place in their hearts. The Methodists have a revival meeting going on, and last night one of our soldier boys went up to be prayed for, and a Yankee went right up after and knelt at his side. The Reb was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t know a Yankee was kneeling beside him . . . Some of the boys who were there told me they were sorry to see a good Confederate going to heaven in such bad company.”

[Diary Entry] June 6, Tuesday:

Strange to say the Yankee brought back father’s mule that was taken yesterday — which Garnett says is pretty good evidence that it wasn’t worth stealing.

They are making a great ado in their Northern newspapers, about the “robbing of the Virginia banks by the Confederates” but not a word is said in their public prints about the $300,000 they stole from the bank at Greenville, S.C., not the thousands they have taken in spoils from private houses, as well as the banks, since these angels of peace descended upon us. They have everything their own way now, and can tell what tales they please on us, but justice will come yet. Time brings its revenges, though it may move but slowly.

Some future Motley or Macaulay will tell the truth about our cause, and some unborn Walter Scott will spread the halo of romance around it. In all the poems and romances that shall be written about this war, I prophesy that the heroes will all be rebels, or if Yankees, from some loyal Southern State. The bare idea of a full-blown Yankee hero or heroine is preposterous. They made no sacrifices, they suffered no loss, and there is nothing on their side to call up scenes of pathos or heroism.

(The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, Eliza Frances Andrews, D. Appleton, 1908, pp. 287-290)

Georgia's Corrupt Carpetbag Regime

The rampant corruption of carpetbag governors like Rufus Bullock below fostered the seedy environment in which vast railroad frauds were perpetrated upon disenfranchised American Southerners.  They watched helplessly as their already-bankrupted States were burdened with heavy debt, and their lands seized for non-payment of exorbitant taxes.  An excellent read on this topic is Jonathan Daniels “Prince of Carpetbaggers,” the story of New York General Milton S. Littlefield and his corrupt railroad bond schemes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia’s Corrupt Carpetbag Regime

“[Georgia’s new 1867 Constitution] had been written by scalawags and carpetbaggers and Negroes, the conservative Democratic white mistakenly having abstained from the voting for [convention] delegates, and while it was not too radical, it was not the kind of constitution they particularly desired.

For the gubernatorial election…ex-General John B. Gordon, was defeated in April by Rufus B. Bullock, the Republican candidate, a Northerner who had come to Georgia before the war, and who remained Governor from July 22, 1868 to October 1871.

The Bullock regime, like most carpetbag governments, combined social progressivism – as in education – with political corruption. Its most flagrant irregular practice was that of issuing State-endorsed bonds to one railroad company after another, on the flimsiest security, and very often before a foot of track was laid. There was evidence, latter adduced, showing that members of the legislature were shadily involved in these transactions, being bribed to vote for certain bond issues.

The State-owned railroad, the Western & Atlantic, was manipulated by the regime for all it was worth, and had always at least three times as many employees as it needed. Bullock himself had been connected with the southern Express Company before the war, and his government, in contradistinction to prewar Georgia governments, was one in which economics ruled.

Its point of view was that of making money and maintaining itself in power so that it could make more money. In order to remain in power it was eager to meet illegality with illegality.

When Bullock called a meeting in January 1870 of the legislature elected in 1868, this fact was rendered obvious by his “purging,” with the aid of General [Alfred] Terry, the [Northern] military commandant, a certain number of Democrats and replacing them with Republicans. He also saw to it that the Negroes who had been expelled in 1868 [for being unqualified by State law to hold office] were reinstated, and so assured himself a solid Republican majority, which immediately ratified the Fifteenth Amendment.”

(Alexander H. Stephens, A Biography, Rudolph von Abele, Alfred A. Knopf, 1946, pp. 266-267)

Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People

Federal aid to education had its beginnings in post-WW2 bills to assist local schools dealing with the increase of students caused by nearby military bases, and thus spurring a long-range policy of general aid to schools throughout the country followed by federal interference and control. Congressman Graham A. Barden of New Bern, North Carolina supported federal aid but without federal control.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People

“Although Congress adjourned in 1950 without enacting a comprehensive aid program, Barden remained convinced that the public school system in most States were in great need of assistance . . . However, he was still insistent that the “Federal government must not have anything to do with the running of the schools” and that “tax money should go for public schools only.” While announcing his intention to continue work for Federal aid, he could not compromise on these two points.

Representative Jacob Javits questioned whether Federal funds could be used legally by segregated public schools. Barden, who was floor manager for the [H.R.5411] bill, heatedly replied that the question of segregated schools in the Carolinas was not the business of the congressman from New York.

All the bill did, Barden asserted, was to set up a system “that could operate without friction in the State in which it was located and become an integral part of the State, and not be part of any of these crusading programs that some people are so anxious to establish in the Country.” He suspected that Javits was simply creating dissension with the aim of settling nothing.

The President [Truman] said that the purpose of Barden’s bill was meritorious, but he objected to the provision requiring schools to conform to State laws . . . Baden was disappointed by Truman’s action because he believed that without the section to which the President objected, the bill’s passage would have been impossible.

Far more disturbing to the congressman than Republican control of Congress was the opinion of Chief Justice Earl Warren in Brown v. Board of Education . . . [and] many Southerners began to have second thoughts about Federal aid programs of all types. The decision probably accounted for Barden’s sudden disinterest in Federal aid. Immediately following the decision he wrote:

“The decision came as such a shock to us that as yet we aren’t able to evaluate all of its far-flung ramifications . . . I believe the decision was unwise, inappropriate and ill-timed, and it appears that political considerations were a controlling influence on the decree.”

With the Court’s decisions, knowing that Federal interference was bound to follow, he turned against the crusade for an aid program. He had always been opposed to Federal control, and perhaps as early as 1954 he clearly saw that Federal money would be the chief means of bringing . . . involvement by the Federal government in operation of the schools in the Southern States.

Because the Brown case dealt with racial matters, a lot of superficial analysts glibly checked off Barden’s opposition to Federal aid as being racially motivated. Their judgment was unsound. If the Brown case had dealt with something such as curriculum content, textbook selection or the like, his opposition would have been the same. What turned him off was not race, but the firm conviction that with Federal dollars came Federal regulators to interfere with the operation of the local schools.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 101-108)

Grant's Royal Robes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Grand Army's Death's Head

The United States Centennial observance in 1876 could not avoid the reality of one section of the country pinned to the other by ruthless conquest and bayonets still stained with American blood. Having left the Union in 1861 to preserve the Founders’ Constitution, there was little to celebrate in 1876.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Grand Army’s Death’s Head

“The . . . celebration of the birth of the American nation — was held in Philadelphia in 1876. An occasion so completely engaging the attention of the country and participated in so widely drew forth much discussion in the South.

Some Southern leaders opposed their section taking part; they still felt that the country was not theirs and that it might be less than dignified in themselves, and lacking in respect for their heroic Revolutionary ancestors, to go to Philadelphia and be treated as less than equals in a union which those ancestors had done a major part to found.

Former [South Carolina] Governor Benjamin F. Perry saw in the Centennial an effective way to drive home to the country the similarity of principles of the rebellion that became the Revolution, and the rebellion that became the “Lost Cause.

[He wrote:] “This Centennial celebration of the rebels of ’76 cannot fail to teach the Northern mind to look with more leniency on Confederate rebels who only attempted to do in the late civil war what the ancestors of the Northern people did do in the American revolution . . . It shows a want of sense as well as a want of principle, and a want of truth, to call the rebels of 1776 patriots and heroes, and the rebels of 1861, “traitors.”

Only one contingency would induce a Virginian not to take part. The Grand Army must not be represented: “It would be the death’s head on the board; the skeleton in the banquet hall.”

(The History of the South, Volume VIII, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1947)