Browsing "Southern Statesmen"

If War Must Come, I Prefer to Be With My Own People

In 1866, war governor of North Carolina Zebulon B. Vance addressed the Andrew Post, No. 15 of the Grand Army of the Republic and described his patriotic actions in April 1861. A prewar Unionist, Vance instructed the audience that Lincoln and his party offered no reasonable compromise or peaceful alternatives to the South peacefully withdrawing and seeking a more perfect Union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

If War Must Come, I Prefer To Be With My Own People

“. . . [T]he people of North Carolina, more perhaps than those of any of the eleven seceding States, were devoted to the Union. They had always regarded it with sincerest reverence and affection, and they left it slowly and with sorrow. They were actuated by an honest conviction . . . that their constitutional rights were endangered, not be the mere election of Mr. Lincoln, as others did, but by the course which subsequent events were compelled to take in consequence of the ideas which were behind him.

The Union men of the State, of whom I was one, whatever may have been their doubts of the propriety of secession, were unanimous in the opinion that it was neither right nor safe to permit the general government to coerce a State. But when Fort Sumter was fired upon, immediately followed by Mr. Lincoln’s call for “volunteers to suppress the insurrection,” the whole situation was changed instantly.

The Union men had every prop knocked from under them, and by stress of their own position were plunged into a secession movement. I immediately, with altered voice and manner, called upon the assembled multitude to volunteer, not to fight against but for South Carolina. I said, if war must come I prefer to be with my own people. If we had to shed blood, I preferred to shed Northern rather than Southern blood.

If we had to slay, I had rather slay strangers than my own kindred and neighbors; and that it was better, whether right or wrong, that communities and States should go together and face the horrors of war in a body — sharing a common fate, rather than endure the unspeakable calamities of internecine strife.

To those at all acquainted with the atrocities which have been inflicted upon the divided communities of Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee, the humanity of my action will be apparent. I went and shared the fate of the people of my native State, having first done all I could to preserve the peace and secure the unanimity of the people to avert, as much as possible, the calamities of war.

I do not regret that course. I do not believe there is an honorable man within my hearing to-night who, under the same circumstances, would not have done as I did . . .”

(Life of Zebulon B. Vance, Clement Dowd, Observer Publishing and Printing House, 1897, pp. 439-442)

 

An 1830 View of Slavery in the South

The former slave-trading and slave-holding North forgot it was theirs and British ships which brought the African to America, a Massachusetts inventor who perpetuated slavery with his gin, and Massachusetts mills which sought large supplies of slave-produced cotton. Had New Englanders wished to end slavery, they had only to end their demand for slave-produced cotton. The extract below is from Mr. Hayne’s 1830 debate with Daniel Webster on the nature of the federal union, and Hayne clearly delineates the origin of African slavery in the Southern States, who profited from the nefarious trade, and who did their Christian best with what they had inherited.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

An 1830 View of Slavery in the South

“Sir, when arraigned before the bar of public opinion on this charge of slavery, we can stand up with conscious rectitude, plead not guilty, and put ourselves upon God and our country. We deal in no abstractions. We will not look back to inquire whether our fathers were guiltless in introducing slaves to this country. If an inquiry should ever be instituted in these matters, however, it will be found that the profits of the slave trade were not confined to the South.

Southern ships and Southern sailors were not the instruments of bringing slaves to the shores of America, nor did our merchants reap the profits of that “accursed traffic.” But, sir, we will pass over all this.

If slavery, as it now exists in this country be an evil, we of the present found it ready made to our hands. Finding our lot cast among a people, whom God had manifestly committed to our care, we did not sit down to speculate on abstract questions of theoretical liberty. We met it as a practical question of obligation and duty.

We resolved to make the best of the situation in which Providence had placed us, and to fulfill the high trust which had developed upon us as the owners of slaves, in the only way in which such a trust could be fulfilled without spreading misery and ruin throughout the land.

We could not send them back to the shores from whence their fathers had been taken; their numbers forbade the thought, even as we did not know that their condition here is infinitely preferable to what it possibly could be among the barren sands and savage tribes of Africa . . .

[With the false philanthropy of Northern abolitionists and the] shedding of tears over sufferings which had existence only in their own sickly imaginations, these “friends of humanity” set themselves systematically to work to seduce the slaves of the South from their masters. By means of missionaries and political tracts, the scheme was in great measure successful. Thousands of these deluded victims of fanaticism were seduced into the enjoyment of freedom in our Northern cities. And what has been the consequence?

Go to these cities now, and ask the question. Visit the dark and narrow lanes, and obscure recesses, which have been assigned by common consent as the abodes of those outcasts of the world — free people of color. Sir, there does not exist, on the face of the whole earth, a population so poor, so wretched, so vile, so loathsome, so utterly destitute of all the comforts, conveniences and comforts of life as the unfortunate blacks of Philadelphia, and New York and Boston.

Sir, I have had some opportunities of making comparisons between the condition of the free Negroes of the North and the slaves of the South . . . Sir, I have seen in the neighborhood of one of the most moral, religious and refined cities of the North, a family of free blacks, driven to the caves of the rock, and there obtaining a precarious subsistence from charity and plunder.”

(The Webster-Hayne Debate on the Nature of the Union, Herman Belz, Editor, Liberty Fund, 2000, pp. 44-46. Speech of Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina, January 25, 1830)

 

Vindication for the South

Though the American republic begun by compromise showed signs of stress and splinter by 1832, the statesmen of the conservative South exercised leadership and accommodation toward the North and maintained peace. Only four years after the sectional Republican Party fielded a radical presidential candidate in 1856, several States had left the Union rather than submit to hostile Northern rule and despotism.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vindication for the South

“At some future day, when the actors have passed away, a true and impartial history of the great Civil War and its causes will be written, for it was too notable an event to remain as a mere item in the course of God’s providence. Then the truth, and the whole truth, will appear, and the world will be surprised to learn how much the South has been misrepresented, the motives and doctrines of her public men distorted, and even the private life and social habits of her people caricatured for political purposes.

Those who were inimical to the South, or were, at least, instigated by motives of political necessity to misstate the facts or to suppress a part of the truth, have had the opportunity to publish their statements and to impress them upon the public mind of the present generation, with hardly an effort of retort or correction on behalf of the Southern people.

But the history of the past cannot be wholly forgotten. It must be and is known that in the pure days of the Republic, before the tyrannous “caucus” and the iniquitous “machine” had usurped the control and direction of the public will – when men were judged upon their merits, and political parties were separated by honest diversity of opinion, and not by sectional – the South, though greatly inferior in voting power, furnished four out of five consecutive Presidents. She has given such men as Clay, Calhoun, Crittenden, Crawford, and Forsyth to the public service since the great struggle for independence, and the greatest of the chief justices was a Southerner.

She has contributed many gallant and able men to the army and navy. The “Father of the Country” was a Virginia planter, and even Farragut, who made his reputation in helping to defeat the South . . . was by birth, by early training, by marriage, by all the domestic and social associations of life, a Southern man . . . ”

I have mentioned but a small number of the Southerners who helped elevate the national fame before dissention and distrust had alienated the two sections, and I feel sure the day will come when justice will be done to the Southern leaders of 1861-65, and that an impartial posterity will by its verdict free their names from the calumnies which have been spoken against them, and will pronounce a retributive censure upon their traducers.”

(The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe, James D. Bulloch, Sagamore Press, 1959, pp. 349-351)

Virginians Choose Self-Determination

Virginians in 1861 deliberated on continuing their voluntary relationship with the federal government created by the States, remembering Jefferson’s words his Kentucky Resolutions of 1798:

” . . . reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Virginian’s Choose Self-Determination

“James W. Sheffey, speaking five days before President Lincoln’s inauguration said:

“We love the Union, but we cannot se it maintained by force. They say the Union must be preserved — she can only be preserved through fraternal affection. We must take our place — we cannot remain neutral. If it comes to this and they put the question of trying force on the States which have seceded, we must go out . . . We are waiting to see what will be defined coercion. We wait to see what action the new President will take.”

Thomas Branch, speaking the day after President Lincoln’s inaugural address said:

“My heart had been saddened and every patriotic heart should be saddened, and every Christian voice raised to Heaven in this time of our trial. After the reception of Mr. Lincoln’s inaugural, I saw gentlemen rejoicing in the hotels. Rejoicing for what sir? For plunging ourselves and our families, our wives and children in civil war? I pray that I may never rejoice at such a state of things. But I came here to defend the rights of Virginia and I mean to do it at all hazards; and if we must go to meet our enemies, I wish to go with the same deliberation, and with the same solemnity that I would bend the knee in prayer before God Almighty.”

George W. Brent, speaking on the 8th of March said:

“Abolitionism in the North, trained in the school of Garrison and Phillips, and affecting to regard the Constitution as “a league with Hell and a covenant with death,” has with a steady and untiring hate sought a disruption of this Union . . . Recognizing as I have always done, the right of a State to secede, to judge of the violation of its rights and to appeal to its own mode for redress, I could not uphold the Federal Government in any attempt to coerce the seceded States to bring them back in the Union.”

(Virginia’s Attitude Toward Slavery and Secession, Beverley Munford, L.H. Jenkins Printer, 1909, pp. 265-267)

Mr. Critcher Replies to Mr. Hoar

In this remarkable statement by Mr. Hoar of Massachusetts, he forgets his own State’s heavy involvement in the notorious transatlantic slave trade as he arraigns the South for a supposed absence of morals.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Mr. Critcher Replies to Mr. Hoar

“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.”

(Southern Historical Society Papers, “Degrading Influence of Slavery,” Volume 12, Barefoot Publishing, page 59)

 

May 22, 2016 - American Military Genius, Southern Conservatives, Southern Patriots, Southern Statesmen    Comments Off on Congress Selects a Virginia Aristocrat

Congress Selects a Virginia Aristocrat

Washington, the Virginia aristocrat, was to grow into his enormous responsibility as commander-in-chief of an “undisciplined horde led by clowns and fools”; he later admitted: “Could I have foreseen what I have, and am likely to experience, no consideration upon earth could have induced me to accept this command.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Congress Selects a Virginia Aristocrat

“Before the Bunker Hill news reached the Congress, the delegates had already agreed to arm the Colonies for defense under a single command and had appointed George Washington commander-in-chief, with the rank of general.

The big, pock-marked plantation master, who stoically suffered the experiments of colonial dentists on iron and wooden teeth, has come across time more as an abstraction than as a person. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen – this alone is enough to dehumanize any man. Certainly he is not first in the hearts of people who inhabit the county he won, and George Washington personally would regard the nation that has evolved with cold incomprehension.

First of all, George Washington was a product of the ruling class of Virginia’s aristocratic republic. His antecedents were English; his affiliations were with English people and the Virginia English. His experiences were largely limited to the plantation world of eastern Virginia, and he had no real desire to extend his experiences beyond these limits.

When his State allied with others for mutual defense, his ambition and sense of authority motivated him to seek leadership in the area where he felt most qualified to serve – in the military.

The plantation master suffered no delusions about his military gifts, nor did the Continental delegates who appointed him. Washington was picked, for a variety of sound political and practical reasons, primarily because he was a Virginia aristocrat, and not because he was some vaporless distillation of “The Patriot.”

Any New Englander was eliminated from leadership because many of the delegates from other colonies (especially the rich conservatives) regarded them as troublemakers. This elimination made a Virginian the logical choice. Virginia was the largest and oldest colony; it had been a leader on principle in the struggle with England over colonial rights, and its representatives were as a group the most distinguished.

Finally, despite all the later-day talk about democracy, the colonial representatives in 1775 agreed that an aristocrat, habituated to and a symbol of authority, should lead. This made a Virginian at least one inevitability of the movement.

In selecting Washington for these considerations, the Congress could not have known they had selected a man with the most enormous capacity for growth under pressure. Washington was the apogee of the progressive-conservative of his class and his state. He was the most dramatic vindication of the oligarchy’s theory of producing from the plantation society superior individuals for leadership.”

(The Great Plantation, A Profile of Berkeley Hundred and Plantation Virginia, Clifford Dowdey, Bonanza Books, 1957, pp. 220-222)

Publish the Truth in a Thousand Forms

Wilmington Mayor Alfred Moore Waddell welcomed the United Daughters of the Confederacy annual convention to his city in 1901 and lauded that organization for its efforts to preserve an accurate record of the war. A prewar Whig opposed to secession, he honorably served as a lieutenant-colonel of the Third North Carolina cavalry.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Publish the Truth in a Thousand Forms

“In November, 1901 the annual convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was held in Wilmington, North Carolina and Mayor Alfred Moore Waddell, welcomed them to this historic city. In his address, he said that “As one who bore a humble part in the service of the Confederacy I reverently salute you the wives, sisters, and daughters of my comrades, the noblest army of heroines and patriots that ever trod the earth.” He went on to say that:

“Your organization is unique in human annals, as was the struggle whose memories you seek to preserve. The dreamer and sentimentalist may fold his hands, and with a sigh exclaim that history will do justice between the parties to that struggle; but experience has shown that history, like Providence, helps those only who help themselves, and will honor only those who help her to record the truth.

You will readily admit that if the Southern people had remained silent, and had used no printer’s ink after the war, they would have been pilloried in history as Rebels and traitors who had, causelessly and without a shadow of excuse, drenched the land with the blood of unoffending patriots.

But the Southern people did not remain silent; they published in a thousand forms the truth, both as to the causes which impelled them to assert their rights and as to the battles in which they maintained them, and have thus made a partial, unjust and one-sided history impossible.

In this work the Memorial Association first, and after them the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have been the most heroic and devoted, and they may justly claim a large share of the credit for successfully vindicating before the world the causes which their Southern countrymen engaged, and in which thousands of them sacrificed their lives.”

(Confederate Veteran Magazine, November 1901, page 485-486)

 

Wading Through Blood of Men, Women and Children

Major Henry W. Conner (1793-1866) of Lincoln County, North Carolina was a democrat of the Nathaniel Macon type, and observed the growth of fanatic abolitionism in the North with great trepidation. His son, Lt. Charles T. Conner, was killed by Northern soldiers in 1865.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wading Through Blood of Men, Women and Children

“The following excerpts from the address made by Major [Henry W.] Conner in his campaign for reelection to Congress in 1839 show how the smoldering fires of anti-slavery sentiment were beginning to blaze in the North. Referring to it he said:

“Abolitionism, when I last addressed you seemed to be confined to a few fanatics only, and so absurd seemed their views and pretensions that serious apprehension could not reasonably be entertained, but such has been their rapid growth in a short time, that in several of the States they hold the balance of power in politics, and abolitionism has, therefore, become a political question with the avowed object of striking at the rights and property of the South, and there is reason to believe they will not be particular in the mode of carrying out their plans, whether peacefully, or by wading through blood of men, women and children.

The desks of abolition members (especially John Quincy Adams and Slade) are loaded with thousands of antislavery petitions which have be presented within the last two years, asking Congress to interfere with your rights and property. This heartless and unjustifiable policy must and will be met by the South at the proper time with manly determination to protect and defend our rights and privileges at all hazards.”

(The Annals of Lincoln County, North Carolina, William L. Sherrill, Regional Publishing, 1972, pp. 188-189)

 

 

 

 

The War Against Reason

The War Against Reason

“June 7 [1861], Crawfordville [Georgia]:

From present indications it would seem that we did not cut loose from the North too soon. They will go into anarchy or despotism, The only hope for constitutional liberty on this continent is now with us; and whether we shall successfully pass through the ordeal in store for us time alone can determine.”

September 3 [1861]:

“I see no end to the war – not the slightest prospect of peace. So far from it, all the signs of a protracted conflict are more portentous to me than they have even been. The war on the part of the North is founded on no rational principle. It is against principles, against interest, and against reason; and with nations it is as with individuals when they act against reason, there is no accounting for their conduct or calculating upon it on any rational principles.

This is but the beginning. The guillotine, or its substitute, will soon follow. The reign of terror there has not yet fully commenced. The mob, or “wide-awake” spirit, has not the control there yet, but it will have before the end. All the present leaders will be swept from the board. They will be deposed or hung to make way for worse men who are yet to figure in this great American drama . . . We have a great conflict before us, and it will require all our energy, our resources, and patriotism, under a favoring Providence, to bear us safely through it.”

(Life of Alexander H. Stephens, Richard M. Johnston & William H. Browne, J.B. Lippincott & Company, 1883, page 407)

Betrayed by Yankees Perverting the Constitution

The presidential messages of Jefferson Davis were filled with assertions of the South’s legal right to secede and form a more perfect union, and determine its own form of government to the letter of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Not losing sight of this, even in early 1865, one Confederate congressman stated that “This is a war for the Constitution, it is a constitutional war.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Betrayed by Yankees Perverting the Constitution

“Contributors to Confederate periodicals explored parallels between the Confederacy and other fledgling nations or independence movements – the Dutch republic, the “young kingdom of Italy,” and the Polish and Greek rebellions.

But the authors were careful to dissociate the South from genuinely radical movements; it was the conservative European nationalism of the post-1848 period with which the Confederacy could identify most enthusiastically. The Dutch struggle, an essayist in the July, 1862, issue of the Southern Presbyterian Review explained approvingly, was like the Confederate, for in both situations, “not we, but our foes, are the revolutionists.”

The Daily Richmond Enquirer was even more explicit about the Poles:

“There is nothing whatever in this movement of a revolutionary, radical or Red Republican character. It is the natural, necessary protest and revolt of, not a class or order, but an ancient and glorious nation, against that crushing, killing union with another nationality and form of society. It is . . . the aristocratic and high-bred national pride of Poland revolting against the coarse brute power of Russian imperialism . . . At bottom, the cause of Poland is the same cause for which the Confederates are now fighting.”

The Southern government welcomed a Spanish analogy between Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and northern advances across the Potomac. British recognition of the new Italian state encouraged [Robert] Toombs to see parallels there, as well. “Reasons no less grave and valid than those which actuated the people of Sicily and Naples,” he explained, had prompted the Confederacy to seek its independence.

But the nationalist movement with which the Confederates most frequently identified was . . . the American War of Independence. A central contention of Confederate nationalism, as it emerged in 1861, was that the South’s effort represented a continuation of the struggle of 1776. The South, Confederates insisted, was the legitimate heir of American revolutionary tradition. Betrayed by Yankees who had perverted the true meaning of the Constitution, the revolutionary heritage could be preserved only by secession. Southerners portrayed their independence as the fulfillment of American nationalism.

Secession represented continuity, not discontinuity; the Confederacy was the consummation, not the dissolution, of the American dream. A sermon preached in South Carolina explained that “The doctrines of the original Puritans were, and are, the doctrines of the Bible . . . but the descendants of the Puritans have gone far astray from the creed of their forefathers.”

[Southerners strived] to avoid the dangerous “isms” – feminism, socialism, abolitionism – that had emerged from Northern efforts at social betterment. But the logic of Confederate nationalism . . . was to prescribe significant shifts in the Southern definition of Christian duty. Secession thus became an act of purification, a separation from the pollutions of decaying Northern society, that “monstrous mass of moral disease,” as the Mobile Evening News so vividly described it.”

(The Creation of Confederate Nationalism, Drew Gilpin Faust, LSU Press, 1988, pp. 13-14, 27, 29-30)