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Robert Hayne Lectures Daniel Webster

Famed orator and debater Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina served as South Carolina Senator 1823-1832, governor of that State 1832-1834, and mayor of Charleston 1836-1837.  He famously debated Daniel Webster of Massachusetts in Congress in early 1830 over concerns that the federation’s government was attracting too much revenue, accumulating too much debt and trending toward consolidation. Hayne further reminded Webster of New England’s infamous trading with the enemy and threats of secession during the War of 1812.

Robert Hayne and Daniel Webster

“If there be one State in this Union (and I say it not in a boastful spirit) that may challenge comparison with any other for a uniform, zealous, ardent and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that State is South Carolina.

Sir, from the very commencement of the Revolution, up to this hour, there is no sacrifice, however great, she has not cheerfully made; no service she has ever hesitated to perform.”

“What sir, was the conduct of the South during the Revolution? Sir, I honor New England for her conduct in the glorious struggle . . . [but] I think equal honor is due the South. Favorites of the mother country, possessed of neither ships nor seamen to create commercial rivalship, they might have found in their situation a guarantee that their trade would be forever fostered and protected by Great Britain. But trampling on all considerations, either of interest or of safety, [the South] rushed into the conflict, and, fighting for principle, periled all in the sacred cause of freedom. Never was there exhibited, in the history of the world, higher examples of noble daring, dreadful suffering and heroic endurance, than by the whigs of Carolina, during that Revolution.”

And the War of 1812, called in derision by New England, said Hayne, “the southern war,” what was the conduct of South Carolina? The war was for the protection of northern shipping and New England seamen.

‘What interest had the South in that contest? If they sat down coldly to calculate the value of their own interests involved in it, they would have found they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But sir, with that generous devotion to country so characteristic of the South, they only asked if the rights of any portion of their fellow-citizens had been invaded; and when told that northern ships and New England seamen had been arrested on the common highway of nations, they felt that the honor of the country was assailed . . . they resolved to seek, in open war, for a redress of those injuries which it did not become freemen to endure.’

The conduct of Massachusetts, declared Hayne, was in that war so unpatriotic and disgraceful, her acts in opposing the war so shameless, that “her own legislature, but a few years ago, actually blotted them out from the records as a stain upon the honor of the country.”

(The True Daniel Webster. Sydney George Fisher. J.B. Lippincott Company. 1911, pp. 254-255)

South Carolina’s Devotion to the Union

Famed orator and debater Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina served as South Carolina Senator 1823-1832, governor of that State 1832-1834, and mayor of Charleston 1836-1837.  He famously debated Daniel Webster of Massachusetts in Congress in early 1830 over concerns that the federation’s government was attracting too much revenue, accumulating too much debt and trending toward consolidation. Hayne further reminded Webster of New England’s infamous trading with the enemy and threats of secession during the War of 1812.

South Carolina’s Devotion to the Union

“If there be one State in this Union (and I say it not in a boastful spirit) that may challenge comparison with any other for a uniform, zealous, ardent and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that State is South Carolina.

Sir, from the very commencement of the Revolution, up to this hour, there is no sacrifice, however great, she has not cheerfully made; no service she has ever hesitated to perform.”

“What sir, was the conduct of the South during the Revolution? Sir, I honor New England for her conduct in the glorious struggle . . . [but] I think equal honor is due the South. Favorites of the mother country, possessed of neither ships nor seamen to create commercial rivalship, they might have found in their situation a guarantee that their trade would be forever fostered and protected by Great Britain. But trampling on all considerations, either of interest or of safety, [the South] rushed into the conflict, and, fighting for principle, periled all in the sacred cause of freedom. Never was there exhibited, in the history of the world, higher examples of noble daring, dreadful suffering and heroic endurance, than by the whigs of Carolina, during that Revolution.”

And the War of 1812, called in derision by New England, said Hayne, “the southern war,” what was the conduct of South Carolina? The war was for the protection of northern shipping and New England seamen.

‘What interest had the South in that contest? If they sat down coldly to calculate the value of their own interests involved in it, they would have found they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But sir, with that generous devotion to country so characteristic of the South, they only asked if the rights of any portion of their fellow-citizens had been invaded; and when told that northern ships and New England seamen had been arrested on the common highway of nations, they felt that the honor of the country was assailed . . . they resolved to seek, in open war, for a redress of those injuries which it did not become freemen to endure.’

The conduct of Massachusetts, declared Hayne, was in that war so unpatriotic and disgraceful, her acts in opposing the war so shameless, that “her own legislature, but a few years ago, actually blotted them out from the records as a stain upon the honor of the country.”

(The True Daniel Webster. Sydney George Fisher. J.B. Lippincott Company. 1911, pp. 254-255)

Looking Back at Wilmington’s “1898”

Largely, if not totally ignored in today’s discussion regarding November 1898’s unfortunate “newspaper editorial confrontation turned-violent” is the lack of perspective regarding the long lead-up to it. The local government, media and university are all complicit in beating the drums of racial animosity which will lead to less racial harmony, not more. The most detailed and informed book regarding this sad event is not a book, but a hard-to-find 800-page doctoral dissertation found at the end. Unfortunately, there are only several poorly researched and outright fictional books which do nothing to enlighten the reader.

Looking Back at Wilmington’s “1898”

First, it is probable that had the war of 1861-1865 not occurred and the South was left on its own to solve the riddle of racial coexistence, no November 1898 violence would have occurred. This racial conundrum was imposed on the American South by African tribes enslaving their own people and selling them to English, and later New England traders. After the Civil War the Republican party, anxious to maintain political hegemony over the country, enfranchised black men. These, along with Union veterans bought with pension money, kept Republicans in power.

The Democratic party finally rid North Carolina of Republican/Carpetbag rule by 1872, but Wilmington remained a holdout of Republican power due to its majority black population. The Democratic party dominated State politics through the early 1890s.

After the Republican-Populist victory in State politics in 1896, the Republicans began a program common to political parties – they dismantle and rearrange legislation the opposition party had erected to establish their own barriers to their opponents ever returning to power. This political strategy continues today.

In the run-up to the 1896 elections, Populists realized their plight as described by Hal W. Ayer, chair of the New Hanover County Populist party: “If the Democrats won, they would continue to ignore the farmers; if Republicans won, independently of Populists, they would be forced by the large black constituency which constitutes the great body of the party into some of the [Reconstruction] recklessness of 1868; and this is something to be feared as much as Democratic rule.”

These Populists, many of them farmers who believe the Democrats should have been more politically-attentive to them in the past, and “who distrusted the large black element of the Republican party,” decided to cooperate with the Republicans in order to “defeat the arrogant and hypocritical Democrats, and at the same time secure by such cooperation a balance of power in the State Legislature that would effectually check any wild or reckless plan that might be advocated by the Republican party.” As with many partnerships, the Republicans would forget their Populist associates once in power.

Both the Wilmington Messenger and Wilmington Morning Star newspapers wrote of the specter of corrupt Reconstruction politics returning to bedevil white residents. The black-owned Wilmington Sentinel endorsed Daniel Russell for governor – who was nominally a Republican and ignored by party leadership – to ensure black unity within Republican ranks. To the dismay of white Democratic voters, Russell, who promised patronage positions to those lieutenants delivering the vote, was elected thanks to strong turnout in sixteen black-dominated counties, with 87 percent of eligible blacks voting. It is noteworthy that 20 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots for the Democratic candidate, and 8 percent voted for the Populist candidate.

An irony within white Republican ranks was though they preached racial equality publicly, “they resented black officeholding and activity in Republican party affairs.” While earlier a superior court judge, Russell himself stated that “Negroes are natural-born thieves. They will steal six days in the week and go to church on Sunday to shout and pray it off.” However, by the mid-1890s white Republicans were a minority in their party and only constituted those hungry for political employment.

Prior to the elections of 1898, black newspaper editor Alex Manly penned an unfortunate editorial which insulted white women and predictably incurred the wrath of the area’s white menfolk. Many prominent men in Wilmington demanded that the city’s Republican mayor and aldermen close down the paper and force the editor to leave town. The Republicans did little or nothing which eventually led to a violent confrontation.

But lost in today’s rhetoric is the very basis of Manly’s editorial and what prompted it. Why is this ignored and not identified as the primary cause? Manly was commenting on an earlier speech of Rebecca Felton of Georgia, wife of a legislator, who addressed a group of Savannah women earlier and denounced the rape of white farm women by black men while their husbands were far off in the fields working. Mrs. Felton demanded that the Republican party, the political home of most black voters and which preached hatred toward Democrats, do something to end the heinous crimes of their constituents.

Manly’s later editorial claimed that the white women had somehow encouraged the advances of the black men attacking them in their homes. This predictably led an enraged group of white residents to march to Manly’s establishment to escort him to the rail station. Not finding Manly, on the march back to their homes these men were fired upon by black men concealed in houses being passed, and they returned fire. This entire episode was preventable.

The black New Hanover County Coroner, David Jacobs, summoned a Coroner’s Jury the following day to investigate the deaths of five black men from gunshot wounds. Three white men were wounded in the affair, one seriously. Though there are numerous unsubstantiated estimates of those killed or wounded, we have only the coroner’s investigation as an official source. On November 15th, black resident Thomas Lane was tried for firing a pistol into the group of men marching to Manly’s news office. Lane quickly ran out the back, but the return fire unfortunately caused the death of an occupant, Josh Halsey.

An important but marginalized voice in this 1898 affair is Collector of Customs John C. Dancy, a black Edgecombe County native appointed by Republican presidential patronage to his position, and the highest-paid person in North Carolina at the time. In this influential position he was considered the head of the Republican party and expected to foster and deliver the vote, and he surrounded himself with black employees at the Custom house who were expected to promote party interests. After the violence of November 1898, Dancy concluded that all blame be placed upon Manly’s editorial, which lit the flame.

A question to be put to rest is the often-heard claim that the conflict ended democratically elected government in Wilmington. The Republican-Populist legislature, once in power in 1895, altered municipal charters to benefit themselves. They amended Wilmington’s charter “so as to establish a partly elected and partly appointed Board of Aldermen.

The amended charter did not alter ward lines but allowed “qualified voters of each ward to elect one alderman and empowered the Governor to appoint one alderman from each of the five wards.” (McDuffie, pg. 460-461).  Under the guise of “preventing misrule by the propertyless and ignorant elements,” the Republicans strictly controlled Wilmington’s municipal government.

(Politics in Wilmington and New Hanover County, NC: 1865-1900. Jerome A. McDuffie, PhD dissertation, 1979, Kent State University, pp. 442-453; 738)

The Hardship of Wheatless Days

Mississippi Senator John Sharp Williams (1854-1932) was born in Tennessee but raised in Mississippi after being orphaned in the Civil War. After attending several fine universities in the US and Europe, he took his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1876. As a patriotic response to England launching its HMS Dreadnought in 1906, Senator Williams introduced a bill to change the name of an American battleship to the USS “Skeered O’ Nuthin’.

The Hardship of Wheatless Days

“In March 1918, the New York World, in an editorial article on the World War of the early twentieth century, took occasion to state:

“It will do the country no harm to note the reminder of Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi that its war sufferings in the matter of food have reached no very heroic stage as yet.”

Senator Williams was then quoted as saying:

“Men go out and exploit themselves about ‘wheatless days’ and the lack of food. The Southern Confederacy had no wheat for three years during the Civil War. I went from 1862 to Lee’s surrender without seeing anything made out of wheat except an occasional Christmas or birthday cake, and that was sweetened with molasses. What is the use of talking about hardships? We are having no hardships in this country. If you cannot stand hardships, then you are not worthy of your ancestors. Let us send men, munitions and food to France and quit our patrioteering camouflage.”

(The Women of the South in Wartime. Matthew Page Andrews, The Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pg. 30)

North Carolina Union Men of 1861

North Carolina Union Men of 1861

“Many a gallant Tar Heel has maintained that he did not fight against the flag of the United States, but against the man who was carrying it and endeavoring to use it to overturn the constitutional principles in support of which it gained a place among the proud ensigns of the nations. These “Unionists” were the only true loyal men of 1860 who said, ‘I will stand by the Union as long as the obligations under which it was formed are observed.’”

(North Carolina Union Men of 1861.  W.A. Graham, North Carolina Booklet, Vol. XI, No. 1, July 1911, pp. 11-12)

Britain, Slavery and Emancipation

As did George Washington before him, President Jefferson Davis in early 1865 agreed to the enlistment of 300,000 emancipated Africans into the army of the Confederate States. Recognizing that the Constitution he held office under limited federal authority and that he had no power regarding the institution, Davis correctly saw emancipation the purview of those who could – and did – free Africans for military service.

Britain, Slavery and Emancipation

“If the institution of African slavery gained first a foothold, then an entrenched position, the greed of the British crown was largely responsible. As early as 1726, the planters of Virginia became alarmed at the growth of the Negro population and imposed a tax on slave importations. Britain’s Royal African Company interfered and had the law repealed. South Carolina restricted slave imports in 1760 only to be rebuked by London. In 1712 the Pennsylvania legislature moved to curb the increase in Africans, but the law was annulled by the Crown.

Briain’s Queen Anne, who personally held a quarter of the stock of the Royal African Company, the chartered organization which monopolized the slave trade, ordered it to provide New York and New Jersey with Africans and directed the governors of these colonies to give it full support.

Thomas Jefferson charged the British crown with forcing African slavery on the colonies; James Madison asserted that England had checkmated every attempt by Virginia “to put a stop to this infernal traffic”; Bancroft taxed Britain with “steadily rejecting every colonial restriction on the slave trade and instructing the governors, on pain of removal, not to give even a temporary assent to such laws.” In the words of the rabidly anti-Southern historian and politician, Henry Wilson: “British avarice planted slavery in America; British legislation sanctioned and maintained it; British statesmen sustained and guarded it.”

Virginian George Washington, at first opposed permitting Africans, whether slave or free, to serve in the American armed forces. Later, expediency and Alexander Hamilton’s powers of persuasion made him change his mind.”

(The Negro in American Civilization. Nathaniel Weyl. Public Affairs Press, 1960; pp. 25-26)

 

 

May 18, 2023 - Future Political Conundrums, Recurring Southern Conservatism, Southern Conservatives    Comments Off on Reassessing George Wallace

Reassessing George Wallace

Author Josh Doggrell provides an exceptional synopsis of George Wallace’s political career and his positions which appeared in the December issue of Chronicles Magazine. This periodical provides some of the finest commentary on American culture today and is highly recommended.

Doggrell posits that “In the poisonous political climate of the 21st century, it is nearly impossible to have rational conversations about the social issues of the 1950s and 1960s. Nearly sixty years later, not only have the wheels not fallen off that bus, but the bus has become a revenge locomotive surging ahead at full speed.”

The author identifies “two main takeaways from the life and impact of George Wallace. He failed to improve his legacy as “those on the Right cannot seem to learn that trying to win points with the Left and win battles on their home turf playing by the Left’s warped rules is an exercise in futility.” No matter what, the Left still reviles him as much as the unfortunate Trent Lott who groveled in front of Jesse Jackson.

Second, Wallace won enormous support from the people. He said that “Reagan ran on everything I ran on . . . He even used some of the same phrases I used.” The author suggests that the George Wallace’s populist revolution of the 1960s made possible the Reagan revolution of the 1980s.

Reassessing George Wallace  

“One can study the texts of [George] Wallace’s inaugural address and his schoolhouse-door speech from 1963 and see the consistent themes of federal overreach, State sovereignty, Yankee dissimulation, constitutionalism, free enterprise and regional pride.

Virtually ignored in the popular history of this event is that in the following three days Wallace received over 40,000 letters and telegrams, the vast majority supportive and over half coming from outside the South.

Barry Goldwater became the first presidential candidate to echo, if not incorporate wholesale, the views of candidate Wallace when Goldwater became the Republican nominee in 1964. In 1968 Richard Nixon won the presidency by sounding a lot like Wallace without a Southern accent.  The “Southern strategy” was born.

Nixon took the populist threat of Wallace very seriously, instructing his personal attorney Herbert Kalmbach to make secret payments to his opponent’s campaign.

It is easy for us to forget just how well Wallace was doing in the 1972 presidential race, before calamity struck. He was riding high in the polls just before he was shot five times in Laurel, Maryland. Before entering the 1972 Florida Democratic primary, he said: “I have no illusions about the ultimate outcome. But we gonna shake up the Democratic party. We gonna shake it to its eye-teeth.”

Wallace would go on to win more Democratic primaries than anyone except the nominee, George McGovern, in a five-way race. Wallace’s popular vote was less than two points behind McGovern’s.

Nixon went on to win by a landslide – and we are left only to imagine the entertainment spectacle of a Nixon-Wallace debate.”

(Reassessing the Legacy of George Wallace. John Doggrell, Chronicles Magazine, December 2021, pp. 39-40)

Mar 18, 2023 - America Transformed, Antebellum Realities, Southern Conservatives, Southern Statesmen, Southern Unionists    Comments Off on John C. Calhoun – Jeffersonian Democrat

John C. Calhoun – Jeffersonian Democrat

John C. Calhoun – Born March 18, 1782 at Abbeville, South Carolina

The passage below is taken from Dr. Clyde N. Wilson’s Introduction to “John C. Calhoun: American Portrait” by Margaret Coit. (Houghton Mifflin, 1950). Dr. Wilson notes that the outcome of the war of 1861 -1865 “fixed and image of Calhoun as a fanatic” and a defender of African slavery by authors who knew little of the early history of that worldwide institution or the American political system created by the States themselves. In her book, Coit reminds the reader that Calhoun was educated in Connecticut where slavery was still practiced, and Jeffersonian Democracy was still preached by many.

Calhoun the Jeffersonian Democrat

“From 1811 to 1850 – as a representative from South Carolina, secretary of war, vice president, twice a presidential contender, secretary of state, and senator for fifteen years – John C. Calhoun was a central figure in the American experience. He was never predominant in influence, even in the South in his own lifetime, but there was never a time when he was not a major player who had to be taken into account.

Despite the absence of all the hallmarks of political power – large political base and patronage power – Calhoun arrested public attention and influenced public opinion. He had a major if not always decisive influence on every issue of the period – in regard not only to State and federal conflict over authority, but also to free trade and tariff, banking and currency, taxation and expenditures, war and peace, foreign relations, Indian policy, public lands, internal improvements, the two-party system, and the struggle between congressional and presidential power.

Calhoun was part of the Great Triumvirate with Webster and Clay which ‘triangulated the destiny of the nation’ according to Merrill D. Peterson. They were American political life between the time that Jefferson crossed the Potomac going South for the last time, leaving behind a modest federal establishment for a union of the States, and that time when Lincoln, with the help of General Grant and Sherman, forged the modern American state out of blood and fire.”

 

Nathaniel Macon, Model Conservative

Nathaniel Macon, Model Conservative

From the Congressional Globe, February 14, 1826:

“The government which John Quincy Adams found when he moved into the White House in 1825 was a much bigger government than his father had left; and Nathaniel Macon, who had represented North Carolina in Congress since 1791, was far from happy with it.

He regretted that everything had grown, just like the number of doorkeepers of the houses of Congress. “Formerly two men were sufficient for doorkeeper, etc., for the two houses,” Macon complained, “but now there is a regiment.”

As he recalled at the time, during the presidency of John Adams, when the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions had been passed, he asked: “If there was reason to be alarmed at the growing power of the General Government [then], how much more has taken place since? Congress now stopped almost at nothing, which it deemed expedient to be done, and the Constitution was construed to give power for any grand scheme.”

To Macon, it was a dangerous development. “Do a little now, and a little then, and by and by, they would render this government as powerful and unlimited as the British Government was,” Macon told his colleagues in the Senate in 1825.

At the next session, Macon declared that “he did not like to go on in this way – the Government constantly gaining power by little bits. A wagon road was made under treaty with an Indian tribe some twenty years ago – and now it has become a great national object to be kept up by large appropriations. We thus go on by degrees, step by step, until we get almost unlimited government power.”

(Nathaniel Macon and the Southern Protest Against National Consolidation. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr.  North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XXXI, No. 3, July 1955, pg. 376)

 

Unable to Settle the Great Differences

“The South in 1860 knew only that the party which was hotly intolerant of the whole body of Southern institutions and interests had triumphed in the elections and was about to take possession of the government, and that it was morally impossible to preserve the Union any longer.

“If you who represent the stronger portion,” Senator John C. Calhoun stated in 1850, in words which perfectly convey this feeling in their quiet cadences, cannot agree to settle the great questions at issue on the broad principle of justice and duty, say so; and let the States we both represent agree to separate and depart in peace.”  (Division and Reunion, 1829-1909. Woodrow Wilson. Longmans, Green and Co., 1912; pp. 209-210)

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