Browsing "Southern Statesmen"

When Conservative Statesmen Walked the Earth

The Southern Dixiecrat movement was greatly the result of the communist-dominated labor union infestation of FDR’s Democrat party from 1936 onward. FDR’s labor advisor was Sidney Hillman, Russian refugee from the 1905 revolution who as a radical labor organizer in New York City, earlier delivered communist votes to Roosevelt for governor. In 1936 Hillman formed the CIO and the first political action committee, CIO-PAC, with the intention of funneling labor money directly to FDR’s reelection campaigns. Roosevelt’s 1940 running mate, Henry Wallace, saw nothing wrong with communism and the Southern Democrats had had enough. Hillman’s CIO spawned the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, a communist labor-organizing training facility attended in the mid-1950’s by M.L. King and Rosa Parks.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

When Conservative Statesmen Walked the Earth

“From the outset of his administration, the central theme of the [Virginia Governor William] Tuck tenure was hostility to organized labor. In his first message to the General Assembly, the new governor denounced public employee unions, and the legislators responded by declaring public employee collective bargaining to be contrary to the public policy of Virginia.

When employees of the Virginia Electric and Power Company threatened a strike in the spring of 1946, Tuck declared that a state of emergency existed, and mobilized the unorganized State militia, and threatened to induct 1,600 of the utility’s employees. The next year he convened a special session of the General Assembly and secured passage of two additional measures: one permitting State seizure of strike-plagued utilities, and another outlawing compulsory union membership (the “Right to Work Law”).

Across the nation a rash of postwar strikes caused the organized labor movement’s popularity to plummet. President Truman in 1946 vetoed legislation designed to curb union power, and that move, in combination with concessions made by the administration in order to end a United Mine Workers strike, brought the new President widespread criticism.

Senator [Harry F.] Byrd and the State’s conservative Democratic congressmen spent much of their reelection campaigns in 1946 pillorying organized labor; Eighth District Congressman Howard W. Smith, for example, assailed the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ political action committee (“CIO-PAC”) as a “new swarm of carpetbaggers who are invading the Southern States [and] are impregnated with communism.”

The ever-widening gulf between Senator Byrd and the national Democratic Party was the principal reason for the [Virginia] Republicans high hopes. Byrd supported Franklin Roosevelt for President in 1932, but he quickly became disenchanted as the new President repudiated the conservative thrust of his 1932 platform and embarked on a broad new social agenda.

When Roosevelt’s ill-fated “court-packing” plan was advanced in 1937, Byrd and other Southern Democrats joined with the Republicans to defeat it, thereby giving birth to the conservative coalition that would remain a formidable force within the Congress for decades. It was President Truman, however, who most infuriated Byrd.

Like most of his Southern colleagues, the Virginia senator initially greeted Harry Truman’s ascension to the Presidency in April 1945 with favor. Truman, after all, was the son of a Confederate soldier, and his Missouri accent fueled the feeling among Southerners that one of their own was finally in charge. In fact, Truman owed his spot on the national ticket in 1944 to Southern party leaders who had insisted that Roosevelt jettison liberal Vice President Henry Wallace as the price of their continued support.

[After Truman] attempted to breathe new life into FDR’s New Deal coalition, the President proposed a variety of liberal initiatives in his State of the Union message. The President’s initiative brought a sharp and swift denunciation from Virginia’s senior senator. “[Taken] in their entirety,” declared Byrd, “[the Truman civil rights proposals] constitute a mass invasion of States’ rights never before even suggested, much less recommended, by any previous President.”

The senator’s disdain for Truman was surpassed, perhaps, only by that of Governor Tuck. On February 25, 1948, the governor went before the General Assembly to denounce the Truman civil rights program and to propose a measure of his own for dealing with the President. The Tuck “ballot bill” would keep the names of all presidential candidates off of the November ballot in Virginia. Instead, only the parties would be listed . . . [to] keep Truman from getting Virginia’s electoral votes . . . In Washington, Senator Byrd took to the floor to strongly endorse the Tuck bill and commend it to his Southern colleagues.”

(The Dynamic Dominion, Realignment and the Rise of Virginia’s Republican Party Since 1945, Frank B. Atkinson, George Mason University Press, 1992, pp. 20-22)

 

 

Why the Museum of the Confederacy Exists

The documents and presentations at the time the Museum of the Confederacy was created in Richmond clearly define why it exists and in whose memory it is dedicated. The clear intent was that “their immortal deeds and the evidences of their achievements will be preserved in the old home of the President of the Confederacy, where they will remain throughout generations and for all time.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Why the Museum of the Confederacy Exists

“The Davis Mansion Formally Thrown Open for the Reception of Relics

THE BATTLE ABBEY OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES

An Institution to Preserve the Record of the Deeds of Our Soldiers

The dawn of February 22, 1896 was auspicious — assuredly, in the historic city of Richmond. Old Sol rose in all the vaunted splendor of Italy’s skies. All nature was calm and serene. Who will say that it was not the approving smile of the Lord of hosts upon the truly reverential efforts of our most excellent women in the perpetuation of the truth–the treasuring of evidence and of memorials of the righteousness of the grandest struggle for constitutional right which has ever impressed the page of history?

A representative building of the period in Richmond, the most happy probably in the exemplification of intellectual worth, of social grace and substantial comfort, was the residence of the Chief Magistrate of the Confederate States, whilst they blazed into undying glory. This memorable edifice, the patient, devoted women of Richmond undertook to restore enduringly to its original conditions of form, with the sacred purpose of dedicating it to the preservation of the materials of history and hallowed memorials of Southern heroism and sacrifice.

The natal day of Washington was happily chosen for the opening of the building as the Confederate Museum, and to commemorate the formation of an institution for the preservation of the records of glorious deeds of the Southern sons who went forth to battle in defense of honor, truth and home; and the foundation of a permanent repository for the relics of the war between the States.

The former home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States, is a most appropriate place for the location of the Confederate Museum. Situated in the very heart of the capital of the Confederacy, the institution is where it will inspire the pride and interest of every Southern man, woman and child, and will be accorded the loving and tender watchfulness of a fond and patriotic people.

When the City Council gave the Jefferson Davis Mansion to the Confederate Memorial Literary Society for a museum, that organization undertook a high and noble work, the consummation of which on yesterday was a brilliant climax to five years of undaunted energy expended in getting the building into proper condition for the change from a public school-house to a place for the reception of Confederate relics and records. The ladies of the Society have done their work well. The old soldiers may pass away, but their immortal deeds and the evidences of their achievements will be preserved in the old home of the President of the Confederacy, where they will remain throughout generations and for all time.

Virginia Governor O’Ferrall: 

“I think I can say boldly that the bloody strife of 1861 to 1865 developed in the men of the South traits of character as ennobling and as exalting as ever adorned men since the day-dawn of creation. I think I can proclaim confidently that for courage and daring chivalry and bravery, the world has never seen the superiors of the Southern soldiers. I think I can proclaim triumphantly that, from the South’s beloved President, and the peerless commander of her armies in the field, down to the private in her ranks, there was a display of patriotism perhaps unequalled (certainly never surpassed) since this passion was implanted in the human breast.”

General [Bradley T.] Johnson’s Address:

“To-day commemorates the thirty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the last rebel President and the birthday of the first. It commemorates an epoch in the grandest struggle for liberty and right that has ever been made by man. It celebrates the baptism of a new nation born thirty-five years ago to-day. I believe our first and most sacred duty is to our holy dead, to ourselves, and to our posterity.

It is our highest obligation to satisfy the world of the righteousness of our cause and the sound judgment with which we defended it. And we injure ourselves, we impair the moral of our side by incessant protestations of our loyalty to the victor and continuous assertions of respect for his motives of forgiveness, for his conduct, and of belief in the nobility of his faith.

There never can be two rights, nor two wrongs — one side must be right, and therefore, the other is, of course, wrong. This is so of every question of morals and of conduct, and it must be pre-eminently so of a question which divided millions of people, and which cost a million of lives. The world is surely coming to the conclusion that the cause of the Confederacy was right. Every lover of liberty, constitutional liberty, controlled by law, all over the world begins to understand that the past was not a war waged by the South in defense of slavery, but was a war to protect liberty, won and bequeathed by free ancestors.

Virginia never seceded from the Union. She resisted invasion of rights, as her free ancestors for 800 years had done with arms and force. Before the ordinance of secession was voted on, Virginia was at war with the Northern States, and all legal connection had been broken with them by their own act in the unlawful invasion of her soil. It is this constant and growing consciousness of the nobleness and justice and chivalry of the Confederate cause which constitutes the success and illuminates the triumph we commemorate to-day. Evil dies; good lives; and the time will come when all the world will realize that the failure of the Confederacy was a great misfortune to humanity, and will be the source of unnumbered woes to liberty.

There were more rebel brigadiers killed in battle for the Confederacy than in any war that was ever fought. When such men and women have lived such lives, and died such deaths in such a cause, their memories will outlast time. Martyrs must be glorified, and when the world knows and posterity appreciates that the war was fought for the preservation and perpetuation of free government, of government by the people, for the people, and to resist government by force against the will of the people, then the Confederacy will be revered like the memories of Leonidas at Thermopylae, and Kosciusco and Kossuth, and all the glorious armies of martyrs.

Our memorial will be here in Richmond . . . it is a memorial of no “Lost Cause.” [We] were right, immortally right, and [the] conqueror was wrong, eternally wrong. The great army of the dead are here, the sentiment of the living is here, the memories of the past are here, the monuments of the future will be here. The memorial of the Confederacy is here, not built by hands — made by memory and devotion! What else could it be?”

(Excerpted from the Southern Historical Society Papers, Dedication of the South’s Museum, Volume XXIII, R. A. Brock, Editor, 1896, pp. 354-372)

 

South Regards Itself as Unbeatable

Southerners in early 1861 exhibited the same intense desire for political independence and fighting spirit as their revolutionary fathers. Though Russell did not fully know at the time why his country would not come to the aid of the Confederacy, after September 1863 it had more to do with hostile Russian fleets in Northern ports and threats against British shipping.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Regards Itself as Unbeatable

“[William H. Russell’s] Diary is as rich in historical value as in interest, which is saying much. His energy and reputation at first carried him everywhere, and his courage made him signally outspoken. In New York, where Mayor Fernando Wood and half the press were opposed to the war, he was shocked by the apathy and want of patriotism . . . The pages of the Herald and several other journals were filled with the coarsest abuse of the Great Rail Splitter, but contained not a word to encourage the government in any decided policy. In Washington the correspondent found much bustle and nervousness, but complete uncertainty.

When he saw the District of Columbia militia and volunteers drilling before the War Department Building, he set them down as a sorry crowd. “Starved, washed-out creatures most of them, interpolated with Irish and flat-footed, stumpy Germans.”

Crossing to the South, the correspondent found a far more belligerent spirit than among the Northerners. At Norfolk a crowd was yelling “Down with the Yankees! Hurrah for the Southern Confederacy!” and threatening the frigate Cumberland. On the Wilmington [North Carolina] quay there were piles of shot and shell, which a resident identified as “anti-abolitionist pills.” All along the way in the Carolinas he found Confederate flags whipping in the breeze, troops waiting for the train, and an excited buzz about Fort Sumter, which had just been captured.

At Charleston the fury, the animosity, and the eagerness for war astounded him. He went out to Morris Island, where there was a camp, full of life and excitement. Tents were pitched everywhere, the place was full of tall, well-grown young men in gray, and the opening of hostilities had plainly put everyone in high spirits:

“But secession is the fashion here. Young ladies sing for it; old ladies pray for it; young men are dying to fight for it; old men are ready to demonstrate it. The founder of the school was St. Calhoun. Here his pupils carry out their teaching in thunder and fire. States’ Rights are displayed after its legitimate teaching, and the Palmetto flag and the red bars of the Confederacy are its exposition.

The utter contempt and loathing for the venerated Stars and Stripes, the abhorrence of the very words United States, the immense hatred of the Yankees on the part of these people cannot be conceived by anyone who has not seen them. I am more satisfied than ever that the Union can never be restored as it was, and that it has gone to pieces, never to be put together again, in its old shape, at all events, by any power on earth.”

At Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans he was struck by the same intense fighting spirit, reporting that “as one looks at the resolute, quick, angry faces around him, and hears but the single theme, he must feel that the South will never yield to the North, unless as a nation beaten beneath the feet of a victorious enemy.”

The South regarded itself as unbeatable. But from one other belief, the belief that England would intervene, Russell strongly dissented. “Why, I expect, sir,” one Charleston merchant told him, “that if those miserable Yankees try to blockade us, and keep you from our cotton, you’ll just send their ships to the bottom and acknowledge us.” Russell said no.”

(America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 217-218)

State Sovereignty Paramount

Jefferson Davis and other West Point graduates of his time were taught from Rawle’s “View of the Constitution,” and understood that should a State subvert its republican form of government, “the national power of the Union could be called forth to subdue it. Yet it is not to be understood that its interposition would be justifiable if a State should determine to retire from the Union . . . The secession of a State . . . depends on the will of the people of such a State.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

State Sovereignty Paramount

“On my way home from Boston I stopped in New York once when the ex-President of our Confederacy and Mrs. Davis were there in the interest of his book, and I went to see them.

“Mr. Davis,” I said, “had I come from the South I should be laden with loving messages from your people. But even in abolition Boston you are held in high esteem as one sincere, honest and earnest.”

“Yes,” he said, “though we disagreed on many issues, I believe I held the respect of my fellow Senators from Massachusetts.”

“But you were not a secessionist in the beginning, Mr. Davis, were you?”

“No; neither in the beginning nor the ending,” he smiled.

“But to me the sovereignty of the State was paramount to the sovereignty of the Union. And I held my seat in the Senate until Mississippi seceded and called upon me to follow and defend her. Then I sorrowfully resigned the position in which my State had placed me and in which I could no longer represent her, and accepted the new work.

I was on my way to Montgomery when I received, much to my regret, the message that I had been elected provisional President of the Confederate States of America. I regretted it then and I have regretted it ever since.”

(Words From Jefferson Davis, Confederate Veteran, March 1913, page 108)

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

Virginia Governor J. Lindsay Almond was not surprised by the new moral code being forced by federal judges and did his best to confront it. His State had already witnessed the degradation of education caused by forced racial integration in the nearby District of Columbia, and wanted none of it for their children.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

“On January 19, 1959, came the legal rejection of massive resistance that Governor [J. Lindsay] Almond expected. Both the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and a three-judge federal district court ruled, in separate cases, that the anti-desegregation statues adopted in 1956 were illegal and invalid. When the beleaguered governor went on television two days later to announce his response to the court rulings, his tone was strident and his message was one of continued defiance. An impassioned Almond told Virginians:

“To those in high places or elsewhere who advocate integration for your children and send their own to private or public segregated schools, to those who defend or close their eyes to the livid stench of sadism, sex immorality and juvenile pregnancy infesting the mixed schools of the District of Columbia and elsewhere; to those who would overthrow the customs, morals and traditions of a way of life which has endured in honor and decency for centuries and embrace a new moral code prepared by nine men in Washington whose moral concepts they know nothing about . . . to all these and their confederates, comrades and allies, let me make it abundantly clear for the record now and hereafter, as governor of this State, I will not yield to that which I know to be wrong and will destroy every semblance of education for thousands of the children of Virginia.”

(The Dynamic Dominion, Realignment and the Rise of Virginia’s Republican Party Since 1945, Frank B. Atkinson, George Mason University Press, 1992, pp. 1104-105)

 

Yancey’s Prophetic Foresight

Born at Ogeechee Falls, Georgia in 1814, educated at academies in New York and New England, South Carolina and later Alabama editor, William Lowndes Yancey prophetically predicted the rise of the consolidationist Republican party. He foresaw the States becoming “but tributaries to the powers of the General Government,” and their sovereignty enfeebled.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yancey’s Prophetic Foresight

“. . . Yancey had been an unconditional Unionist . . . But in 1838 disturbing reports, which led him to pause, study the Constitution, and consider the nature of the Union, began to reach his desk. His indignation and fears seem to have been first aroused by the abolitionist petitions which were agitating Congress and the country, and in one of his editorials declared:

“The Vermont resolutions have afforded those deluded fanatics – the Abolitionists – another opportunity for abusing our citizens, and endeavoring to throw firebrands into the South, to gratify a malevolent spirit. They well know that they have no right to . . . meddle with our rights, secured to us by the Constitution; but to gratify the worst of feelings, while at the same time and in many instances, the endanger our safety, they press upon Congress the consideration of this subject.”

This editorial went on to express a fear that there was “a settled determination, on the part of those fanatics, to form themselves into a small band of partisans,” and thereby to gain the balance of power and determine elections.

Yancey’s fears of despotism under the cloak of the Federal Union were intensified by the election of the friends of the United States Bank. He reported a series of resolutions condemning the bank, supporting the President [Jackson] in his fight on it, and approving “well conducted State Banks.” The second resolution [declared]:

“We deem the struggle now going on between the people, and the United States Bank partisans, to be a struggle for pre-eminence between the State-Rights principles of 1798, and Federalism in its rankest state; and that in the triumph of the Bank, if destined to triumph, we would mournfully witness the destruction of the barriers and safeguards of our Liberties.”

In the spring of 1839 Yancey and his brother bought and consolidated the Wetumpka [Alabama] Commercial Advertiser and the Wetumpka Argus. The next spring when Yancey took personal charge of the newspaper, he announced that it would support a policy of strict construction in national politics and a State policy of reform in banking, internal improvements, and public education within reach of every child.

[With the] opening of the presidential campaign of 1840, [Yancey] believed the issue between State rights and consolidation to have been clearly drawn. Twelve years of Jacksonian democracy had destroyed the bank, provided for the extinction of the protective features of the tariff, and checked internal improvements at federal expense. Therefore, if the friends of the bank, the protective tariff, and internal improvements expected to enjoy the beneficence of a paternalistic government, they must gain control of the administration at Washington, and consolidate its powers. Thus to them the selection of a Whig candidate for the presidency was an important question, and from their point of view Henry Clay seemed to be the logical choice.

[Yancey editorialized] to show that the abolitionists, having defeated [Henry] Clay in the convention, now contemplated using their power to defeat Martin Van Buren in the election, disrupt the Democratic party, and absorb the Whigs.

To Yancey it seemed clear that [a] coalition of Whigs and abolitionists would put the South in a minority position . . . that the minority position of the South demanded “of its citizens a strict adherence to the States Rights Creed.”

He declared:

“Once let the will of the majority become the rule of [Constitutional] construction, and hard-featured self-interest will become the presiding genius in our national councils – the riches of our favored lands offering but the greater incentive to political rapacity.”

Furthermore, he foresaw with inexorable logic that once the general government was permitted to exercise powers, not expressly given to it, for subsidies to industry and for the building of roads and canals, it was as reasonable to claim constitutional authority for subsidies for agriculture and labor.

Yancey foretold with prophetic insight the consequences of the application of the consolidationists creed. He said it would result in a “national system of politics, which makes the members of the confederacy but tributaries to the powers of the General Government – enfeebling the sovereign powers of the States – in fact forming us into a great consolidated nation, receiving all its impulses from the Federal Capitol.”

And in strikingly modern language he warned the people that, if the tendencies toward consolidation continued, the Constitution would “have its plainly marked lines obliterated, and its meaning . . . left to be interpreted by interested majorities – thus assembling every hungry and greedy speculator around the Capitol, making the President a King in all but name – and Washington a “St. Petersburg,” – the center of a vast, consolidated domain.”

(William L. Yancey’s Transition from Unionism to State Rights, Austin L. Venable, Journal of Southern History, Volume X, Number 1, February 1944, pp. 336-342)

You Called These Men to the Colors

Thomas Dixon is less known for his time spent in the North Carolina Legislature, and far better known for his books “The Leopard Spots” and “The Clansman,” and also his silent movie “Birth of a Nation.” Below, Dixon appeals to his progressive fellow legislators to not forget those crippled patriots they had earlier called to defend the State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

You Called These Men to the Colors

“Early in the [North Carolina legislative] session I met Walter Hines Page, reporting for his Daily Chronicle. He asked me to drop into his office and see him often. I did, and we formed a friendship which lasted through life.

The big occasion on which I decided to deliver my maiden speech was my report from the Finance Committee (Way and Means) of the bill to pension the poor disabled soldiers of the State who had fought in the Confederate army. The first measure to pension Confederate soldiers any man had dared to introduce into a Southern legislature. The discussion of the bill by the press during the hearings had stirred the State. When I spoke to a crowded House and packed galleries I was in dead earnest, never more so in life. I read the speech today, fifty years later, with a sense of satisfaction.

“I am aware, gentlemen of the House, that this bill, small as the pittance given by it to our crippled veterans, means in the long run at least a million dollars in taxes to be borne by our people. I am aware that a new spirit is abroad in the Old Commonwealth. Progress is the watchword of the hour. We have started an industrial expansion after twenty years of struggle against starvation. We must and will give the full force of our energy to this development.

But while we are on the road to prosperity, I must ask you to remember that back in the rear of your marching people, amid the dirt and dust and misery of the direst poverty there comes painfully struggling along, a band of your wounded comrades, forgotten in their distress.

I am talking now to the sovereign State of North Carolina in its representative body assembled. You called these men to the colors. They answered as citizens of the State, not as delegates of the Confederate Government. They fought as citizens of North Carolina. Their bodies are mangled today because you sent them to the front. I speak in the name of humanity whose cries have been neglected until they echo at God’s bar crying for justice against you and me. And if there be a God — which none of you doubt — you will hear these cries before you enter the prosperity toward which you now so eagerly look.

Remember, gentlemen, that these crippled soldiers marched under the same blue flag of your State whose silken folds now flash above your council chambers. On a hundred fields of blood they bared their breasts until a bullet came that sent them to a surgeon’s tent. Some of you who hear me in this House limp across its floor on one leg. You remember the scene. The blockade had closed our drug stores. There was no chloroform or ether.

In trembling, piteous tones you heard them begging the young surgeon for God’s sake to spare their limbs. Heard until sick at heart you closed your ears with hands pressed tightly against them. The knife severs the flesh while the victim screams, the arteries are tied, the saw grates through the bone, it’s over, and a wretch is carried out, hope and spirit broken, the light of the world gone out. [These men] in the morning of life, in the glory of [their] youth, stood shoulder to shoulder with your heroic dead who charged over our historic fields and made records of your army immortal.

On May 10th, we cover the graves of our dead with flowers. A pious beautiful ceremony. Let it never be forgotten. Should we forget their mangled comrades who in bitterness of soul have cursed God and envied the lot of those who sleep in peace beneath your tears and flowers?

(Southern Horizons, Autobiography of Thomas Dixon, IWV Publishing, 1984, pp. 177-179)

Idle Talk of Preserving the Republic

With his deep understanding of the strict constitutional limitations on the federal agent in Washington, John Tyler deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest American presidents, along with Jefferson Davis.  He rightly saw the result of Andrew Jackson’s threatened coercion of South Carolina as a threat to the Union itself.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Idle Talk of Preserving a Republic

“Shortly after the election of 1832 [John] Tyler broke with the [Jackson] Administration. The occasion of the breach was the nullification crisis. But up to this time he was regarded as a Democrat in good if not regular standing. Jackson’s policy toward South Carolina was so objectionable to him that he aligned himself with the anti-Administration forces, and finally left the Democratic party. To support or even acquiesce in the President’s measures would be, as he considered, to sacrifice his State’ rights principles — a sacrifice which at no time during his entire career was he willing to make.

In writing to Governor John Floyd, of Virginia [January 16, 1833], he declared that “if South Carolina be put down, then may each of the States yield all pretensions to sovereignty. We have a consolidated government, and a master will soon arise. This is inevitable. How idle to talk of preserving a republic for any length of time with an uncontrolled power over the military, exercised at pleasure by the President.”

(John Tyler, Champion of the Old South, American Political Biography Press, 1939/2006, pp. 112-113)

The South Against a Seceding North

Though South Carolina had been threatened with invasion over nullifying federal law in the early 1830s, no such threats were made to Northern States in the 1850s as they instituted personal liberty laws which nullified federal law and obstructed federal officers. Had Lincoln not won his plurality in 1860, the secession of the North might have been the case.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South Against a Seceding North

“There was strong opposition to secession, not only in the Upper South, but also in some parts of the Lower South, the very heart land of the future Confederacy. In every convention except South Carolina’s there were votes against secession, and in Alabama and Georgia the opposition was considerable. In Georgia, Alexander H. Stephens, Herschel V. Johnson, and Benjamin H. Hill gave up their fight for the Union only after their State had seceded and threatened to leave them behind.

In their campaign to save the nation, the [Southern] Unionists resorted both to argument and to delaying tactics. They played on national sentiments; the Revolution and its heroes . . . the Constitution, which largely Southerners had made and was sufficient for all needs if properly interpreted and enforced. Up to this time the South had generally dominated the government, either through Southern-born presidents or . . . Northern men with Southern principles. Most of the Supreme Court had been Southerners, and the court at this time was dominated by the South.

In fact, the whole idea of secession was illogical and wrong, it was argued. The process should be reversed. The North should do the seceding, for the South represented more truly the nation which the forefathers had set up in 1789. Therefore the South should not allow itself to be driven out of its own home.

Henry A. Wise of Virginia was especially vigorous in arguing this point of view. “Logically the Union belongs to those who have kept, not those who have broken, its covenants,” he declared. If he ever had to fight he hoped it would be against a seceding North, “with the star-spangled banner still in one hand and my musket in the other.”

(A History of the South, Volume VII, The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1950, pp. 3-5)

 

Eminent and Unmatched Virginians

Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts seemed unaware of his State’s deep involvement in the transatlantic slave trade as he arraigns the South for an absence of morals. Senator John Critcher below served during the war as a lieutenant-colonel of the Fifteenth Virginia cavalry.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Eminent and Unmatched Virginians

“In the debate on Education in the House of Representatives, Mr. Hoar, of Massachusetts remarked that slavery in the South was not so observable in the degradation of the slave as in the depravity of the master.

Mr. Critcher, of Virginia replied:

“Reminding the gentleman from Massachusetts that every signer of the Declaration of Independence, except those from his State, and perhaps one or two others, were slave-owners, he would venture to make a bold assertion; he would venture to say that he could name more eminent men from the parish of his residence, than the gentleman could name from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He would proceed to name them, and yield the floor to the gentleman to match them if he could.

On one side of his estate is Wakefield, the birthplace of Washington. On the other side is Stratford, the residence of Light Horse Harry Lee, of glorious Revolutionary memory.

Adjoining Stratford is Chantilly, the residence of Richard Henry Lee, the mover of the Declaration of Independence, and the Cicero of the American Revolution. There lived Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Charles Lee, at one time Washington’s Attorney General; and Arthur Lee, the accomplished negotiator of the treaty of commerce and alliance between the Colonies and France in 1777.

Returning, as said before, you come first to the birthplace of Washington; another hour’s drive will bring you to the birthplace of Monroe; another hour’s drive to the birthplace of Madison, and if the gentleman supposes that the present generation is unworthy of their illustrious ancestors, he has but to stand on the same estate to see the massive chimneys of the baronial mansion that witnessed the birth of Robert E. Lee.

These are some of the eminent men from the parish of his residence, and he yielded the floor that the gentleman might match them, if he could, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

(Degrading Influence of Slavery, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12, Barefoot Publishing, pg. 59)

 

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