Browsing "Southern Conservatives"

Clarifying 19th Century American History

Americans were certainly “Confederates” before the 1789 constitution was ratified as their governing document were the Articles of Confederation. When ratifying the new 1789 constitution, 11 States decided to “secede” from the Articles and voluntarily “accede” to the new federation; North Carolina and Rhode Island held out for the Bill of Rights before they acceded. In the latter document, Article III, Section 3 fixed treason as only waging war against “Them,” the States, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” This does raise the question of who waged war against the States forming a more perfect union to the South Below, the author clarifies misconceptions regarding Lincoln’s war.

Clarifying 19th Century American History

“Certainly, there are those of goodwill, and let us call it “invincible ignorance, who have been educated to think the primary issue in 1861 was slavery, and Abraham Lincoln was simply reacting to those “rebels” who wished to destroy “the sacred bonds” of Union, while advancing the great humanitarian cause of “freedom.” So much for the caliber and character of our contemporary educational system, not to mention Hollywood’s ideological tendentious (and mostly successful) attempts to influence us. Yet, that mythology surrounding the Southern Iliad of 1861-1865 will not stand serious cross-examination. Consider these popular myths and shibboleths:

“The War was about slavery!” Not really accurate: the war aims cited repeatedly by Lincoln and northern publicists consistently during the years 1861-1863, even afterwards, were that the war was to “preserve the Union.” Indeed, if the abolition of slavery had been declared a war aim in 1861, most likely a great majority of Union political leaders, not to mention Union soldiers, would have recoiled, and the northern war effort would most likely have collapsed.  It was difficult enough to gain wide support in the north, as it was. Remember, Lincoln was elected with less than 40 percent of the vote in 1860, and barely gained pluralities in most northern States.

“Lincoln freed the slaves.” No so; Lincoln freed not one slave. His proclamation, issued first on September 22, 1862, and formally on January 1, 1863, supposedly “freeing the slaves,” only applied to those areas not under Union military control or occupation, that is, territory of the independent Southern States. Lincoln’s proclamation “freed” slaves where his action had no effect.

And most recently this charge: “Robert E. Lee and other Confederate military leaders who were in the US Army committed treason by violating their oaths to defend the Union, and Confederate leaders were in rebellion against the legitimately elected government of the United States.” Somehow, critics seem to forget to mention that Lee and the other Confederate leaders resigned their commissions in the US Army, and from Congress prior to enlisting in the defense of their home States and in the ranks of the Confederate States army, or assuming positions in the new Confederate government. They did not violate their oaths; their States had formally left the union, and, thus, the claims of the federal government in Washington had ceased to have authority over them.”

(The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage. Boyd D. Cathey. Scuppernong Press, 2018, pp. 60-61)

Thomas Jefferson’s “Rupture”

Author Roger Lowenstein writes that on Christmas Eve, 1825, “Thomas Jefferson let out an anguished cry. The government of the country he had helped to found, half a century earlier, was causing him great distress. It was assuming vast powers, specifically the right to construct canals and roads, and to effect other improvements. Jefferson thought of the federal government in the most restrictive terms: as a “compact” or a “confederated fabric” – that is, a loose affiliation of practically sovereign States.”

Thomas Jefferson’s “Rupture”

“He was roused at the age of eighty-two to issue a “Solemn Declaration and Protest” against what he termed the “usurpation” of power by the federal branch. Jefferson was so agitated that he declared that the “rupture” of the United States would be, although a calamity, not the greatest calamity. Even worse, reckoned the sage of Monticello, would be “submission to a government of unlimited powers.”

Though Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton had sought to establish a strong central government, Jeffersonians adamantly objected. No fewer than six of President Jefferson’s successors vetoed or thwarted federal legislation to build roads and canals, improve harbors and riverways, maintain a national bank, [and] fund education . . .”

Had Jefferson survived until 1860, the federal government of that day would not have displeased him. Its main vocation was operating the postal service and collecting customs duties at ports, [and] its army consisted of merely sixteen thousand troops scattered mostly among a series of isolated forts west of the Mississippi. The federal payroll was modest . . . the civilian bureaucracy in Washington consisted of a mere two thousand employees.

The modest federal purse was supported by tariff duties and a smattering of land sales. Federal taxes (an unpleasant reminder of the English Parliament) were reflexively scorned. Then came the “rupture.”

The Republicans – [Lincoln elected in November 1860] – vastly enlarged the federal government . . . [and] accomplished a revolution that has been largely overlooked.”

(Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War. Roger Lowenstein, Penguin Books, 2022. pp. 1-2)

Aggressive Abroad, Despotic at Home

On December 15, 1866, Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote Britain’s Lord Acton that he believed the victorious North’s consolidation of all the American States into “one vast republic . . . will be the certain precursor to ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” Lee. Like many others, saw the authority reserved to the States and the people, now destroyed by the war, had been “the only safeguard to the continuance of free government.”

Below, author Gore Vidal wrote in 2002 of the national security state’s creation by Harry Truman, though it was certainly put into motion first by Lincoln, reinforced by Woodrow Wilson and perfected by Roosevelt the Second. Unfortunately, Vidal’s research does not reveal the military-industrial, security state apparatus created by Lincoln.

Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home

“Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold and tepid. Exact date of replacement? February 27, 1947. Place: White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, and a handful of congressional leaders.

Republican Senator Arthur Vandenburg told Truman he could have his militarized economy only if he first “scared the hell out of the American people” that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged.

The perpetual war began. Representative government of, by and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congresses and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also own the media.

Now with the revolt of the Praetorian Guard at the Pentagon, we are entering a new and dangerous phase. Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally whenever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues. We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is now the greatest terrorist of all. We bomb, invade, subvert other states.

We have allowed our institutions to be taken over in the name of a globalized American empire that is totally alien in concept to anything our Founders had in mind.”

(Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to be So Hated. Gore Vidal. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002, pp. 158-159)

The Meaning of Monuments

The Meaning of Monuments

An appreciation for the odds the American South fought against 1861-1865 is found in the numbers of those fighting on either side. The Northern government called forth some 2,535,799 white men plus nearly 179,000 colored soldiers, for the purpose of subduing Southern forces never numerically one-fourth as strong. The Northern army had the glory of success, but the gallantry and endurance of the Southern soldier has become legendary.

From the Richmond Dispatch, December 14, 1892:

The rainy weather of Tuesday, December 13, 1892, was not propitious for the Richmond Howitzer Monument unveiling. It lacked every suggestion of a gala occasion and could but carry many Howitzers and other veterans back to the days when, half-starved and half-clad, they shivered over a handful of a fire.

But the driving, penetrating and piercing blast could not daunt the spirit of the men whose guns had been heard upon every battlefield from Bethel to Appomattox, nor those who had stood shoulder to shoulder with the heroic Howitzers.

The step of the veterans was not as jaunty as it was in the period from 1861 to 1865, but their hearts glowed with the recollections with no lack of enthusiasm from the beginning to the end of the ceremonies.

The unveiling was a success in all of its details, and the memorial now stands as an object lesson for future generations. It is an imperishable illustration in the history of a people whose valor, fortitude and unselfish devotion to principle have no parallel in the annals of war.

What does the Howitzer Monument mean? What does it stand for? It means more than that this one fell under his gun never to rise again, or that one who lived will go to his grave a physical wreck. It means also that the survivors were among the rebuilders of the devastated American South. It stands also for a moral courage that could rise superior to any adversity.

The crowd of veterans assembled at this unveiling were hundreds who, when the war closed, were absolutely penniless, but whose energy, enterprise, self-denial and patience constitute the foundation stones upon which the present prosperity of Richmond and Virginia is reared. [This monument] stands for the spirit of the South – not only the spirit that was invincible in war, but the spirit that defied being broken or humiliated in peace.”

(Unveiling of the Monument to the Richmond Howitzers. Southern Historical Papers, Volume XX, R.A. Brock, editor. pp. 259-260)

“Supposed Desecrating Hands of Pre-Judged Thieving Rebels”

From the wartime diary of George M. Neese, an artilleryman assigned to Chew’s Battery, Gen. JEB Stuart’s Horse Artillery.

“Supposed Desecrating Hands of Prejudged Thieving Rebels”

“July 4, 1863: The arduous and responsible duty devolving on the Confederate cavalry during [Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg] was to guard and defend the retiring trains of wagons and ambulances against all inroads and attempts the Federal cavalry were liable to make for their capture and destruction, and more especially to strenuously oppose and foil all efforts of the enemy to make any advantageous interposition between General Lee’s army and the Potomac.

Today while we were at Fairfield a drenching thundershower passed over, and we went in a stable for shelter from the rain. While we were in there some of our boys’ played marbles for amusement. Eventually one of the marbles rolled through a crack in the floor, and in order to get it we raised one of the boards, and under there we found a large store-box full of good, clean, nice bed clothes, sheets, blankets, counterpanes [bed spreads] as white as snow, and beautiful quilts, all of which had been recently hidden from the supposed desecrating hands of prejudged thieving rebels.

We left everything in the box and reported our find to the family that owned the stable and told them to move their goods to the house and fear no danger of being molested. The family seemed to be astonished at our find and utterly surprised into coyish silence to learn that their goods were safe even when discovered by the dreaded Rebels.

I am almost convinced that a strong sentiment prevails throughout the whole North that the Southern army is composed of thieves and robbers mixed with barbarians and savages and this malignant spirit is instilled into the populace and encouraged by irresponsible, mean, lying newspapers that are published by men who have never been south of Mason and Dixon’s line.”

(Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery. George M. Neese. Neale Publishing Company, 1911, pp. 190-191)

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)

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