Browsing "The United States Constitution"

Northern Opponents of Lincoln's Jacobins

Though abolitionists found much of their strength in New England, Democrats in that region sided with the South in its determination of be free of the North. After this editorial of the Bangor Democrat appeared, a pro-Lincoln mob burned the news offices and printing presses. The editorial was re-printed in the New York Evening Day-Book of 18 April 1861.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Northern Opponents of Lincoln’s Jacobins

“Throughout the broad land of the fair South, the rising sun is no longer welcomed with the cheerful song of the husbandman wending his way to the toil of his peaceful field, but is greeted with the drum-beat that summons to arms the gathering hosts of war. From Carolina to the Rio Grande all is hasty preparation for a fearful conflict of arms.

There, to-day, are no peaceful, happy and quiet homes, for the invader is on their soil, and the government which was created to protect and defend them, has ruthlessly turned its guns against their altars and firesides.

Gray-headed fathers, stout-hearted husbands, and fair-cheeked youths, are taking a tearful adieu of their wives, their children, their mothers and their sisters, and buckling on their armor, and hastening away to the battle-fields from which many, many may never return to gladden their homes again.

This, reader, is no fanciful picture; it is a stern reality. To-morrow, in thousands of homes, wives, mothers, daughters, and little children will gather in mournful silence around the family board no longer cheered by the presence of their natural guardians and protectors.

Why is all this?

It is because that old Tory party, which under a multitude of names and disguises, first resisted the independence of America, and after its Government had become an established fact, has been unceasing in its efforts to get possession of it, and after having gained possession of it, by hypocritically assuming the garb of freedom, it has undertaken to convert the Government into an instrument of tyranny, and to use all its powers to overturn the very bulwarks of liberty itself – the Sovereignty of the States.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln, a Tory from his birth, is putting forth all the powers of government to crush out the spirit of American liberty. Surrounded by gleaming bayonets at Washington, he sends forth fleets and armies to overawe and subdue the gallant little State which was the first to raise its voice and arm against British oppression.

DEMOCRATS OF MAINE! The loyal sons of the South have gathered around Charleston as your fathers of old gathered about Boston, in defense of the same sacred principles of liberty – principles which you have ever upheld and defended with your vote, your voice and your strong right arm. Your sympathies are with the defenders of the truth and the right. Those who have inaugurated this unholy and unjustifiable war are no friend of yours – no friends of Democratic Liberty. Will you aid them in their work of subjugation and tyranny?

When the Government at Washington calls for volunteers or recruits to carry on their work of subjugation and tyranny under the specious phrases of “enforcing the laws,” “retaking and protecting the public property,” and “collecting the revenue,” let every Democrat fold his arms and bid the minions of Tory despotism [to] do a Tory despot’s work.

Say to them fearlessly and boldly in the language of England’s great Lord, the Earl of Chatham, whose bold words in behalf of the struggling Colonies of America in the dark hours of the revolution, have enshrined his name in the heart of every friend of freedom, and immortalized his fame wherever the name of liberty is known – say in his thrilling language:

“If I were a Southerner, as I am a Northerner, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I would never lay down my arms – never, never, NEVER!”

(Abraham Lincoln: A Press Portrait, Herbert Mitgang, editor, UGA Press, 1989, pp. 256-257)

Lincoln's Political Millenium

Southern conservative M.E. Bradford saw Lincoln as the politician he was – one who used the abolitionist movement as a partisan tactic to destroy the Democratic Party in the North and pursued Alexander Hamilton’s dream of a commercial empire. The Northern military victory enabled Lincoln’s to break with the original Constitution and implement a new interpretation with the support of fellow revolutionaries.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Political Millenium

“Lincoln’s personal opinions about and his actual public policies toward African Americans are evidence, according to Bradford, that partisan politics were behind Lincoln’s high-sounding rhetoric . . . His claim that a nation half free and half slave cannot endure in spite of a historical record to the contrary, the Black Codes of his home State of Illinois, the racist attitudes of his Northern electoral base, his support for recolonization of African Americans to Liberia, selective emancipation, and the plight of freedmen overall (at the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865 Lincoln is quoted as saying they can “root, hog, or die”) give an empty ring to his rhetoric of universal human rights.

As Bradford poignantly remarked, “For the sake of such vapid distinctions he urged his countrymen to wade through seas of blood.”  . . . [Can] one reasonably assume that Lincoln was zealously obsessed with the pursuit of power for a just cause and that the “seas of blood” that flowed during his tenure were justifiable consequences of his “new birth of freedom” he alluded to in his Gettysburg Address? Or, was there a more mundane motive behind Lincoln’s policies, with the ensuing war unexpectedly getting out of hand?

There can be little question that Lincoln and his Republican supporters had a mundane public policy agenda that overshadowed the rhetoric and legacy of their tenure in power. That agenda was Hamiltonian, insofar as it required a substantial transfusion of power from the States to the national government, in order for the latter to more effectively promote the style and pace of development toward a commercial empire and the corresponding opportunities for personal and national profits that such rapid commercial development entailed.

The politically contentious issues of internal improvements, the national bank, and [tariff] protectionism made giant strides on behalf of national supremacy during the Lincoln Administration. In fact the Gilded Age can be traced to the political economy of those Republicans who controlled the national government in the early 1860s:

“It is customary to deplore the Gilded Age, the era of the Great Barbeque. It is true that many of the corruptions of the Republican Era came to a head after Lincoln lay to rest in Springfield. But it is a matter of fact that they began either under his direction or with his sponsorship. Military necessity, the “War for the Union,” provided an excuse, and umbrella of sanction, under which the essential nature of the changes made in the relation of government to commerce could be concealed [Bradford, Remembering Who We Are, 146].”

Lincoln’s rhetoric in the Gettysburg Address reveals the importance of a Republican Party committed to the fulfillment of Hamilton’s dream of a commercial empire. The emergence of a commercial empire within the conceptual framework of Lincoln’s incorporation of the Declaration [of Independence] into the Constitution (or vice versa) would result in the political millennium he alludes to in the Gettysburg Address.

And Lincoln had good reason to be optimistic. During the Republican Party’s Civil War and postbellum dominance, the use of government as a means toward commercial expansion and personal aggrandizement was shifted into overdrive.

[And] Lincoln’s expansive interpretation of presidential powers made him the most imperial president in American history, thereby setting a dangerous precedent for predisposed successors. The incarceration of approximately twenty-thousand political prisoners, the closing of over three hundred newspapers, the interruptions of State legislatures, the blockade of the South, the unilateral suspension of habeas corpus, explicit and implicit defiance of the Supreme Court, the sanctioning of the creation of West Virginia, private property seizures, and electioneering/voting irregularities have all been rationalized as necessary war measures.

[Bradford suggests] the evidence indicates that “in this role the image of Lincoln grows to be very dark – indeed, almost sinister . . . Thousands of Northern boys lost their lives in order that the Republican Party might experience rejuvenation, to serve its partisan goals.”

(A Southern Reactionary’s Affirmation of the Rule of Law, Marshall L. DeRosa; A Defender of Southern Conservatism, M.E. Bradford and His Achievements, Clyde N. Wilson, editor, University of Missouri Press, 1999, pp. 111-113)

Davis on Government Border Police

In December 1860, Senator James S. Green of Missouri proposed that the Committee of the Judiciary be instructed to inquire into the propriety of a law to establish an armed police force between North and South, in order to maintain peace between those sections. Below is Senator Jefferson Davis’ reply.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Davis on Government Border Police

“Do we wish to erect a central Colossus, wielding at discretion the military arm, and exercising military force over the people and the States? This is not the Union to which we were invited; and so carefully was this guarded, when our fathers provided for using force to put down insurrection, they required that the fact of the insurrection should be communicated by the authorities of the State before the President could interpose.

When it was proposed to give Congress power to execute the laws against a delinquent State, it was refused on the ground that that would be making war on the States; and, though I know the good purpose of my honorable friend from Missouri is only to give protection to constitutional rights, I fear his proposition is to rear a monster, which will break the feeble chain provided, and destroy rights it was intended to guard.

That military Government which he is about to institute, by passing into hostile hands, becomes a weapon for his destruction, not for his protection. All dangers which may be called upon to confront as independent communities are light, in my estimation, compared with that which would hang over us if this Federal Government had such physical force; if its character was changed from a representative agent of States to a central Government, with a military used at discretion against the States.

To-day it may be the idea that it will be used against some State which nullifies the Constitution and the laws; some State which passes laws to obstruct or repeal the laws of the United States . . . But how long might it be before that same military force would be turned against the minority section which had sought its protection; and that minority thus become mere subjugated provinces under the great military government that it had thus contributed to establish?

The minority, incapable of aggression, is, of necessity, always on the defensive, and often the victim of the desertion of its followers and the faithlessness of its allies. It therefore must maintain, not destroy, barriers.

[To confer on this Federal Government a power to coerce a State, a power it does not possess], . . . then, in the language of Mr. Madison, he is providing, not for a union of States, but for the destruction of States; he is providing, under the name of the union, to carry on a war against States; and I care not whether it be against Massachusetts or Missouri, it is equally objectionable to me; and I will resist it alike in the one case and in the other, as subversive of the great principle on which our Government rests; as a heresy to be confronted at its first presentation, and put down there, lest it grow into proportions which will render us powerless before it.

The theory of our Constitution, Mr. President, is one of peace, of equality of sovereign States. It was made by States and made for States; and for greater assurance they passed an amendment, doing that which was necessarily implied by the nature of the instrument, as it was a mere instrument of grants. But, in the abundance of caution, they declared that everything which had not been delegated was reserved to the States, or to the people – that is, to the State governments as instituted by the people of each State, or to the people in their sovereign capacity.

Upon you of the majority section it depends to restore peace and perpetuate the Union of equal States; upon us of the minority section rests the duty to maintain our equality and community rights; and the means in one case or the other must be such as each can control.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume I, Jefferson Davis, D. Appleton and Company, 1881, pp. 66-67)

Chase's Loyal and Disloyal Americans

Salmon P. Chase seemed not aware that as defined in the United States Constitution only States themselves can establish the privilege of suffrage, not the agent created by the States. That same Constitution holds that treason can only be committed against a State, by waging war against it or adhering to its enemies, which is precisely what Chase and his revolutionary cohorts were engaged in. Secession was a valid act in 1861, and equally as valid as that in 1776.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Chase’s Loyal and Disloyal Americans

“Salmon P. Chase . . . emerged as an early advocate of self-determination as the best solution to disorder in the South. Throughout the war, Chase argued that the federal government’s policy toward the rebellious South should be based on the principle that “the loyal citizens of a State constitute a State.” He defined as loyal those “who desire the suppression of the rebellion, and consent to the means which the government found necessary for its suppression.”

Loyal citizens included virtually all of the black population together with those whites who accepted emancipation and Negro suffrage. Chase thought it was vital that the federal government make “no distinctions between colored and white loyalists,” and he attributed the shortcomings of Lincoln’s efforts in Louisiana, where Chase believed “the old secession element is rapidly gaining the ascendancy,” to the exclusion of blacks from the ballot.

Chase believed that universal suffrage, incorporating the principle of equal suffrage for blacks, would provide the foundation necessary for universal amnesty and for the final reconciliation of North and South. Touring the South in May 1865, Chase wrote to Secretary of War Stanton that “universal suffrage is essential to thorough pacification.” Most important, he believed, “the white population will acquiesce in this policy without serious opposition if it is clearly announced, & firmly but kindly pursued.”

Like all reformers, Chase accepted the necessity of a period of military reconstruction and, indeed, insisted as chief justice that “military rule must be supreme” until civil order and civil law could be fully and safely restored. Similarly . . . Chase stood with most reformers in opposing [Gerrit] Smith’s dictum that the rebels loyalty to the de facto Confederate government could not be distinguished morally from unionist loyalty to the federal government. “If the rebels waging war against the government are not traitors, Chase responded, “secession was a valid act; and our war was one of conquest.”

(Morality and Utility in American Antislavery Reform, Louis S. Gerteis, UNC Press, 1987, pp. 198-199)

Broken Family Units and Legislating from the Bench

By ignoring the Constitution and allowing psychobabble to guide their decision, nine robed men on the Supreme Court in May of 1954 arbitrarily swept aside the legal precedents of generations of Americans from the Founders forward. This Court unconstitutionally legislated from the bench and all congressmen who allowed this to occur should have been impeached for treason. The 1960 source cited below was dedicated to David Lawrence, editor of the US News and World Report, “who befriended the South by telling the truth to the nation.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Broken Family Units and Legislating from the Bench

“In his sympathetic study of the [American] Negro, Dr. [Eli] Ginsberg [of Columbia University] includes this observation:

“The family structure of Negroes has long been subjected to serious stresses and strains. Moreover, a disproportionately large number of young Negroes are brought up in homes which the father has deserted or in other situations has where major responsibility for the continuance of the family unit centers around the mother and her relatives. According to the 1950 Census, over one-third of the Negro women who had ever been married were no longer married and no longer living with their husbands . . .”

Further proof of this chronic family disruption among Negroes is found in the 1957 study of The Negro Population of Chicago, by Otis Dudley Duncan and Beverly Duncan. With reference to family heads reporting “spouse absent,” they found:

“In both 1940 and 1950 this form of family disruption was reported about four times as often as non-white married males as by white married males, and about five or six times as often by non-white married females as by white married females . . .”

The shortcomings of Negroes in this realm of community life can be attributed to a combination of causes . . . [but] the result is that the average, or typical, Negro family lacks many of the characteristics which are counted desirable by the community – family cohesion and stability; family disciplines of manners, of cleanliness, of obedience; personal standards of reliability, dependability; personal goals based on ambition and the desire for self-improvement.

Is it any wonder that white parents are reluctant to undermine their own attempts to foster such habits among their own children, by exposing them to youngsters whose standards are demonstrably lower in almost every respect?

The professional integrationist, whether Negro or white, does not want either equality or opportunity; he wants merger. [The Negro] prefers to seek advancement by agitation.

Contrast the social worker concepts of contemporary federal judges with the hard-headed logic of a 1896 Supreme Court which was concerned more with establishing the equality of Negroes before the law than with providing solutions for tender feelings. Said the Supreme Court in the Plessy v. Ferguson case:

“The object of the 14th Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the laws, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based on color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms satisfactory to either . . . We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race [chooses] to put that construction upon it.”

(The Case for the South, William D. Workman, Jr., Devin-Adair Company, 1960, pp. 185-188)

Lincoln's Real Motive

Lincoln’s belief that the American South after solemn conventions of its States remained part of his government was a fiction to which he clung throughout the war, surpassed only by his belief that ten percent of the voters of a State can determine its legal and constitutional government.  He refused to believe that his own authority as president was limited, and the supremacy of his political party over country motivated him.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Real Motive

“From Mr. [Robert] Toombs, Secretary of State, Message No. 5, Department of State, Montgomery, Alabama, May 18, 1861.

To: Hon Wm. L. Yancey, Hon. Pierre A. Rost, Hon. A. Dudley Mann, Commissioners of the Confederate States, etc.

Gentlemen: My dispatch of the 24th ultimo contained an accurate summary of the important events which had transpired up to that date, and informed you that the Executive of the United States had commenced a war of aggression against the Confederate States.

On the 20th instant the convention of the people of North Carolina will assemble at Raleigh, and there is no doubt that, immediately thereafter, ordinances of secession from the United States, and union with the Confederate States, will be adopted.

Although ten independent and sovereign States have thus deliberately severed the bonds which bound them in political union with the United States, and have formed a separate and independent Government for themselves, the President of the United States affects to consider that the Federal Union is still legally and constitutionally unbroken . . . He claims to be our ruler, and insists that he has the right to enforce our obedience.

From the newspaper press, the rostrum, and the pulpit, the partisans of Mr. Lincoln, while they clamorously assert their devotion to the Union and Constitution of the United States, daily preach a relentless war between the sections, to be prosecuted not only in violation of all constitutional authority, but in disregard of the simplest law of humanity.

The authorized exponents of the sentiments of [Lincoln’s party] . . . avow that it is the purpose of the war to subjugate the Confederate States, spoliate the property of our citizens, sack and burn our cities and villages, and exterminate our citizens . . .

[The] real motive which actuates Mr. Lincoln and those who now sustain his acts is to accomplish by force of arms that which the masses of the Northern people have long sought to effect – namely, the overthrow of our domestic institutions, the devastation and destruction of our social interests, and the reduction of the Southern States to the condition of subject provinces.

It is not astonishing that a people educated in that school which always taught the maintenance of the rights of the few against the might of the many, which ceaselessly regarded the stipulation to protect and preserve the liberties and vested rights of every member of the Confederacy as the condition precedent upon which each State delegated certain powers necessary for self-protection to the General Government, should refuse to submit dishonorably to the destruction of their constitutional liberty, the insolent denial of their right to govern themselves and to hold and enjoy their property in peace.

In the exercise of that greatest of the rights reserved to the several States by the late Federal Constitution – namely, the right for each State to be judge for itself, as well of the infractions of the compact of the Union, as of the mode and measure of redress – the sovereignties composing the Confederate States resolved to sever their political connection with the United States and form a Government of their own, willing to effect this purpose peacefully at any sacrifice save that of honor and liberty, but determined even at the cost of war to assert their right to independence and self-government.”

(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy 1861-1865, James D. Richardson, Volume II, US Publishing Company, 1905, excerpt, pp. 26-31)

 

Back to Original Principles

Jefferson foresaw the constitutional crisis of the late 1850s and the need for the States to “arrest the march of government” which had been threatening its creators with military action since the days of Andrew Jackson. As he instructs, the solution to the crisis was a convening of the States to modify their agreement, not the agent warring upon a free people.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Back to Original Principles:

“The [Supreme Court] judges are practicing on the Constitution by inferences, analogies, and sophisms, as they would on an ordinary law. They do not seem aware that it is not even a constitution, formed by a single authority, and subject to a single superintendence and control; but that it is a compact of many independent powers, every single one of which claims an equal right to understand it, and to require its observance.

However strong the cord of compact may be, there is a point of tension at which it will break. A few such doctrinal decisions . . . may induce [two or three large States] to join in arresting the march of government, and in arousing the co-States to pay some attention to what is passing, to bring back the compact to its original principles, or to modify it legitimately by the express consent of the parties themselves, and not by the usurpation of their created agents.

They imagine they can lead us into a consolidated government, while their road leads directly to its dissolution.

(Jefferson to Edward Livingston, 1825; The Jefferson Cyclopedia, Funk & Wagnall’s, 1900, pg. 191)

Civil Rights and States' Rights

Regarding the unfortunate 1954 Brown vs. BOE decision by the activist Supreme Court, Barry Goldwater saw the Court guided not by the ideas of the men who wrote the Constitution, “but engrafted its own views onto the established law of the land.” By legislating from the bench, they usurped the power of the Legislative branch and should have been impeached.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Civil Rights and States’ Rights

“An attempt has been made in recent years to disparage the principle of State’ Rights by equating it with defense of the South’s position on racial integration. I have already indicated that the reach of States’ Rights is much broader than that – that it affects Northerners as well as Southerners, and concerns many matters that have nothing to do with the race question.

[The] country is now in the grips of a spirited and sometimes ugly controversy over an imagined conflict between States’ Rights, on the one hand, and what are called “civil rights” on the other.

I say an imagined conflict because I deny that there can be a conflict between States’ Rights, properly defined – and civil rights, properly defined. If States’ “Rights” are so asserted as to encroach upon individual rights that are protected by valid federal laws, then the exercise of State power is a nullity. Conversely, if individual “rights” are so asserted as to infringe upon valid State power, then the assertion of those “rights” is a nullity.

The rights themselves do not clash. The conflict arises from a failure to define the two categories of rights correctly, and to assert them lawfully.

States’ Rights are easy enough to define. The Tenth Amendment does it succinctly: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Civil rights should be no harder. In fact, however – thanks to extravagant and shameless misuse by people who ought to know better – it is one of the most badly understood concepts in modern political usage. Civil rights is frequently used synonymously with “human rights” – or with “natural rights.”

As often as not, it is simply a name for describing an activity that someone deems politically or socially desirable. A sociologist writes a paper proposing to abolish some inequity, or a politician makes a speech about it – and, behold, a new “civil right” is born! The Supreme Court has displayed the same creative powers.

A civil right is a right that is asserted and is therefore protected by some valid law. It may be asserted by the common law, or by local or federal statutes, or by the Constitution; but unless a right is incorporated in the law, it is not a civil right and is not enforceable by the instruments of the civil law.

There may be some rights – “natural,” “human,” or otherwise – that should also by civil rights. But if we desire to give such rights the protection of the law, our recourse is to a legislature or to the amendment procedures of the Constitution. We must not look to politicians, or sociologists – or the courts – to correct the deficiency.

[The] federal Constitution does not require the States to maintain racially mixed schools. Despite the recent holding of the Supreme Court, I am firmly convinced – not only that integrated schools are not required – but that the Constitution does not permit any interference whatsoever by the federal government in the field of education.

It may be wise or expedient for Negro children to attend the same schools as white children, but they do not have a civil right to do so which is protected by the federal Constitution, or which is enforceable by the federal government. The intentions of the founding fathers in this matter are beyond any doubt: no powers regarding education were given to the federal government.”

(The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater, Victor Publishing Company, 1960, pp. 31-34)

Pages:«1...56789101112