Browsing "The United States Constitution"

A Fearful Danger and Political Menace

The electoral college system erected by the Founders worked best when limited to two candidates, but became what was described as a “fearful danger” when multiple candidates emerged in 1860. New Yorker Samuel Tilden’s dark prophesy of a purely sectional candidate becoming president was realized in 1860; when the Gulf States began to go out of the Union he stated that “The situation was unprecedented, and it is worse than idle, it is presumptuous, to rail at [President James] Buchanan for his failure to act.” The latter is scapegoated for failure, though the Founder’s failed to foresee such a calamity.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Fearful Danger and Political Menace in 1860

“The election of Abraham Lincoln has been studied from every angle. It is well to disregard the providential aspect of the outcome. Seventeen years ago, Mary Scrugham made a careful examination of the returns. Her “Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861” shows how ridiculously the machinery of the electoral college misrepresented American opinion in this critical campaign.

To question the constitutionality of Lincoln’s election is absurd, but to criticize the system by which one of four candidates could carry the electoral college decisively with a large third of the popular vote is pertinent.

At the first two meetings of the electoral college, Washington was chosen without contest. Thereafter, as everyone knows, the growth of parties put an end to the deliberative character of the body, for each political organization put up its own list of electors in every State – where the legislatures did not choose them. Reporting the popular result became automatic.

Polling not a vote in almost one-third of the States, obtaining not a single elector from the South, and receiving a noticeable minority of the popular suffrage, a sectional candidate was chosen President of the United States – and all this according to the Constitution. What may happen in the future can only be imagined – should this dangerous system survive.

Miss Scrugham’s analysis of the election of 1860 should open our eyes. Lincoln had no votes in ten States of the Union; while [Vice President John] Breckinridge received more that 6,000 in Maine, 2,000 in Vermont, and 14,000 in Connecticut.   According to the “acid test of geographical membership,” the Republican was the only “out and out sectional party.”

Some accused the Southern Democrats of splitting their party for the sake of forcing the election of Lincoln and thus finding a compelling excuse for secession.

If the entire opposition to Lincoln, however, had been united on one candidate, the electoral college would still have given him the presidency “regardless of the fact that popular vote against him was a million more than that for him.”

In 1860, then, according to the returns, it would have been impossible for a majority of the American people to choose a president even if they had been united on a single hypothetical candidate.

In the face of the vote which both [Stephen] Douglas and [John] Bell received in the Southern States, “it is folly to assert,” continues Miss Scrugham, that the South was “aggressively pro-slavery and bent on maintaining slavery” even at the cost of the Union.”

[New York Governor Samuel] Tilden saw the fearful danger of the victory of Lincoln before it had occurred. Laying his finger on the political menace of any man’s being made President without one electoral vote from the South, he urged his fellow citizens to defeat [Lincoln] by any means possible.”

(Horatio Seymour of New York, Stewart Mitchell, Harvard University Press, 1938, excerpts, pp. 219-220)

Senator Wigfall on the Cause of Discontent

Referring to the proposed Thirteenth Amendment in early 1861, offered by the Lincoln’s party and approved by him, Southern Commissioners Yancey, Rost and Mann wrote to British Lord John Russell on August 14, 1861: “The very [Republican] Party in power has proposed to guarantee slavery in the States, if the South would remain in the Union.” This underscored that their cause was not a defense of slavery, but the high price of protecting Northern manufacturers. Even with Lincoln’s support of slavery, the South chose political independence from the North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Senator Wigfall on the Cause of Discontent

“Said Senator Louis Wigfall, of Texas, March 4th 1861 in the United States Senate, only a few hours before Mr. Lincoln’s inauguration:

“It is early in the morning and I hope I shall not say anything that may be construed as offensive. I rise merely that we may have an understanding of this question.  It is not slavery in the Territories, it is not expansion, which is the difficulty.

If the resolution which the Senator from Wisconsin introduced here denying the right of Secession, had been adopted by two-thirds of each branch of this department of the Government, and had been ratified by three-fourths of the States, I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as the State in which I live and to which I owe my allegiance is concerned, if she had no other cause for a disruption of the Union taking place, she would have undoubtedly have gone out.

The moment you deny the right of free government to the free white men of the South, they will leave the Government. They believe in the Declaration of Independence.

In the “address of the People of South Carolina, assembled in convention . . . to justify the passage of the South Carolina Secession Ordinance of 1860, it is declared that (excerpted): “The one great evil from which all other evils have flowed is the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States. The Government of the United States is no longer the Government of Confederated Republics, but of a consolidated Democracy. It is no longer a free Government, but a Despotism. It is, in fact, such a Government as Great Britain attempted to set over our Fathers; and which was resisted and defeated by a seven years struggle for Independence. The Revolution of 1776 turned upon one great principle, self-government — and self-taxation, the criterion of self-government.”

The Southern States now stand exactly in the same position towards the Northern States that the Colonies did towards Great Britain. The Northern States, having the majority in Congress, claim the same power of omnipotence in legislation as the British Parliament.

“The General Welfare” is the only limit of legislation of either; and the majority in Congress, and in the British Parliament, are the sole judges of the expediency of the legislation this “General Welfare” requires. Thus the Government of the United States has become a consolidated Government; and the people of the Southern States are compelled to meet the very despotism their fathers threw off in the Revolution of 1776.

The consolidation of the Government of Great Britain over the Colonies, was attempted to be carried out by the taxes. The British Parliament undertook to tax the Colonies to promote British interests . . . Our fathers resisted this pretension. And so the Southern States, toward the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation.

They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust taxation; and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit, exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British Parliament for their benefit. For the last forty years, the taxes laid by the Congress . . . have been laid with a view of subserving the interests of the North.

The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports, not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue — to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interest in the productions of their mines and manufactures.

The people of the Southern States are not only taxed for the benefit of the Northern States, but after the taxes are collected, three-fourths of them are expended at the North. This cause . . . has made the cities of the South provincial. Their growth is paralyzed; they are mere suburbs of Northern cities.

The agricultural productions of the South are the basis of the foreign commerce of the United States; yet Southern cities do not carry it on. Our foreign trade is almost annihilated . . . by gradual and steady encroachments on the part of the people of the North, and acquiescence on the part of the South, the limitations in the Constitution have been swept away; and the Government of the United States has become consolidated, with a claim of limitless powers in its operations.

A majority in Congress, according to their interested and perverted views, is omnipotent. Numbers with them, is the great element of free Government. A majority is infallible and omnipotent. “The divine right to rule in Kings,” is only transferred to the majority.

The very object of all Constitutions, in free popular Government, is to restrain the majority. Constitutions, therefore, according to their theory, must be the most unrighteous inventions, restricting liberty. None ought to exist; but the body politic ought simply to have a political organization, to bring out and enforce the will of the majority. This theory is a remorseless despotism.

In resisting it, as applicable to ourselves, we are vindicating the great cause of free government, more important, perhaps to the world, than the existence of all the United States.”

(The Great Conspiracy, Its Origin and History, John A. Logan, A.R. Hart & Company, 1886, excerpts, pp. 226-227; 231-234)

 

Lincoln Feared Re-election Loss

Rudolf Mathias Schleiden was Minister to the US from the Bremen Republic from 1853 through the War Between the States. He reported to his government on February 26 [1861] that “like a thief in the night, the future President arrived here [Washington] on the morning of the 23rd.” Schleiden offered to mediate the coming conflict, but met indifference and resistance at Washington.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln Feared Re-election Loss

“Immediately upon arriving in Richmond, Schleiden wrote to Vice President [Alexander H.] Stephens asking for an interview, to which the latter replied that he would be happy to see him immediately. During the course of a confidential talk which lasted for three hours Stephens declared that he believed all attempts to settle peacefully the differences between the two sections were futile.

“The actions of Seward and Lincoln had filled the South with suspicion,” Stephens said, “but neither the Government at Montgomery nor the authorities of Virginia contemplated an attack on Washington. Public opinion was embittered against the United States because of its strengthening of Fort Pickens and Fort Monroe, and the destruction of the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and the navy yard at Norfolk . . . ”

In a formal letter written after the conference Schleiden asked for a frank statement of the terms which the South would be ready to grant and accept for the purpose of securing the maintenance peace and gaining time for reflection. To this letter Stephens replied, stating that the Government of the Confederacy had resorted to every honorable means to avoid war, and that if the United States had any desire to adjust amicably the question at issue it should indicate a willingness in some authoritative way to the South.

However, he added . . . ”it seems to be their policy to wage a war for the recapture of former possessions looking to the ultimate coercion and subjugation of the people of the Confederate States to their power and domain. With such an object on their part persevered in, no power on earth can arrest or prevent a most bloody conflict.”

The reelection of Lincoln was almost unanimously predicted by the diplomatic corps in January 1864. In February Schleiden mentioned in a dispatch that Lincoln said to Judge Thomas, of Massachusetts, that he would be satisfied if his successor was elected from the Republican Party. If that did not take place the President feared that he would spend the rest of his life in jail for repeated violations of the Constitution. About this time [Salmon P.] Chase remarked to Schleiden that the war would never end so long as Lincoln was president.”

(Rudolf Schleiden and the Visit to Richmond, April 25, 1861, Ralph Haswell Lutz, American Historical Association Annual Report, 1915, Washington, 1917, pp. 212-216)

The South and Her People

The conservative and noble Christian civilization of the South described below has all but vanished as the New South of industrial capitalism, materialism and commercial vulgarity supplanted it.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South and Her People

Remarks of J.C.C. Black, at the Unveiling of the Benjamin H. Hill Statue, Atlanta, Georgia, May 1, 1886 (excerpt):

“As to us, [secession] was not prompted by hatred of the Union resting upon the consent of the people, and governed by the Constitution of our fathers. It was not intended to subvert the vital principles of the government they founded, but to perpetuate them. The government of the new did not differ in its form or any of its essential principles from the old Confederacy. The Constitutions were the same, except such changes as the wisdom of experience suggested.

The Southern Confederacy contemplated no invasion or conquest. Its chief corner-stone was not African slavery. Its foundations were laid in the doctrines of the Fathers of the Republic, and the chief corner-stone was the essential fundamental principle of free government; that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Its purpose was not to perpetuate the slavery of the black race, but to preserve the liberty of the white race of the South. It was another Declaration of American Independence.

In the purity of their motives, in the loftiness of their patriotism, in their love of liberty, they who declared and maintained the first were not worthier than they who declared, and failed, in the last. Animated by such purposes, aspiring to such destiny, feeling justified then (and without shame now), we entered upon that movement. It was opposed by war on the South and her people.

What was the South, and who were her people? Where do you look for the civilization of a people? In their history, in their achievements, in their institutions, in their character, in their men and women, in their love of liberty and country, in their fear of God, in their contributions to the progress of society . . . Measured by this high standard, where was there a grander and nobler civilization than hers?

Where has there been a greater love of learning than that which established her colleges and universities? Where better preparatory schools, sustained by private patronage and not the exactions of the tax-gatherer – now unhappily dwarfed and well-nigh blighted by our modern system.

Whose people had higher sense of personal honor? Whose business and commerce were controlled by higher integrity? Whose public mean had cleaner hands and purer records? Whose soldiers were braver and knightlier? Whose orators more eloquent and persuasive? Whose statesmen more wise and conservative?

Whose young men more chivalric? Whose young women more chaste? Whose fathers and mothers worthier examples? Whose homes more abounded in hospitality as genial and free to every friendly comer as the sun that covered them with its splendor?

Where was there more respect for woman, for church, for the Sabbath, for God, and for the law, which, next to God, is entitled to the highest respect and veneration of man, for it is the fittest representative of His awful majesty, and power and goodness? Where was there more love of home, of country and of liberty?

Her religious teachers, deriving their theology from the Bible, guarded the Church from being spoiled “through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Her women adorned the highest social circles of Europe and America with their modesty, beauty and culture. Her men, in every society, won a higher title than “the grand old name of “gentleman” – that of “Southern gentlemen.”

It is asked what had [the South] added to the glories of the Republic?

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Jefferson. Who led the armies of the Republic in maintaining and establishing that independence? Who gave mankind new ideas of greatness? Who has taught the ruled of the world that man may be entrusted with power? Who has taught the rulers of the world when and how to surrender power? Washington.

What State made the first call for the convention that framed the Constitution? Virginia. Who was the father of the Constitution? Madison. Who made our system of jurisprudence, unsurpassed by the civil law of Rome and the common law of England? Marshall. Who was Marshall’s worthy successor? Taney.

Is it asked where [the South’s] history was written? It was written upon the brightest page of American annals. It was written upon the records of the convention that made the Constitution. It was written in the debates of Congresses that met, not to wrangle over questions of mere party supremacy, but, like statesmen and philosophers, to discuss and solve great problems of human government.

Forced to defend our homes and liberties after every honorable effort for peaceful separation, we went to war. Our leaders were worthy in their high commission. Our people sealed their sincerity with the richest treasure ever offered, and the noblest holocaust ever consumed upon the altar of country.

To many of you who enjoy the honor of having participated in it the history is known. You ought to prove yourselves worthy of that honor by teaching that history to those who come after you.”

(Southern Historical Society Papers, XIV, Rev. J. William Jones, editor, January to December 1886, excerpts, pp. 167-170)

 

South Carolina Declares the Causes of Secession

In his “Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina,” Christopher Memminger, revisited the original American concept of self-government and restated that whenever any “form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.”  It should be noted that though reference is made below to “anti-slavery” feeling in the North, Republican Party doctrine held that African slavery must be kept within the borders of the South, not that the slaves must be freed. Republicans were a white supremacy party and the territories were for white settlers alone.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Carolina Declares the Causes of Secession

“Dr. J.H. Thornwell . . . [stated] immediately after secession [that] . . . ”The real cause of the intense excitement of the South, is not in vain dreams of national glory in a separate confederacy . . .; it is in the profound conviction that the Constitution . . . has been virtually repealed [by the North]; that the new [Lincoln] Government has assumed a new and dangerous attitude . . .”

In South Carolina [this] idea was repeatedly expressed in the secession period. For example, [Robert Barnwell] Rhett in a speech of November 20 said: We are two peoples, essentially different in all that makes a people.” [D.F.] Jamison in his opening speech to the [secession] convention said there was “no common bond of sympathy or interest between the North and South.”

The “Declaration of Immediate Causes,” after defending the right of secession under the compact theory of the Union, justified the exercise of that right almost entirely on the point that Northern States had infringed and abrogated that compact by refusal to abide by their constitutional obligations . . . When [the Northern sectional] President should gain control of the government, constitutional guarantees would no longer exist, equal rights would have been lost, the power of self-government and self-protection would have disappeared, and the government would have become the enemy. Moreover, all hope of remedy was rendered in vain by the fact that the North had “invested a great political error with the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief.”

Rhett . . . held that the one great evil from which all others had flowed was the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States.

The tariff, unequal distributions of appropriations, and attacks on slavery, were only manifestations of a broken faith and a constitution destroyed through construction for Northern aggrandizement at the expense of a weaker South.

The sections had grown apart; all identity of feeling, interest, and institutions were gone; they were divided between slaveholding and non-slaveholding, between agricultural and manufacturing and commercial States; their institutions and industrial pursuits had made them totally different peoples. The South was unsafe under a government controlled by a sectional anti-slavery party . . .”

Many South Carolinians, in the military service of the United States when war came, proved themselves Unionists by refusing to resign to enter the service of the State. Feeling against such men was violent. The [Charleston] Mercury thought that such refusal constituted “hideous moral delinquency, ingratitude, dishonor and treachery.”

The well-nigh complete unity after secession is no more striking than the universal belief that the cause was just . . . [and belief] that the future of republican government was involved in the struggle . . . Secession was endorsed by the synod of the Presbyterian church and by the annual conference of the Methodists. One need not question the sincerity of the legislature for appointing on the eve of secession a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.”

(South Carolina Goes to War, 1860-1865, Charles Edward Cauthen, UNC Press, 1950, excerpts, pp. 72-78)

 

The South Seeks a Convention of the States

Contrary to mainstream belief, Lincoln and his Republican Party demonstrated no interest in preserving the Union and regularly spurned peace initiatives. Those who wanted to resort to the United States Constitution for a solution to the intense sectionalism in both North and South, saw a convention of the States as the method provided by the Founders. As in the peace overture noted below, all efforts to end the bloodshed of Lincoln’s war originated in the South, and all ended in failure due to Lincoln’s intransigence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South Seeks a Convention of the States

“As early as February, 1863, it was rumored that [South Carolina Representative William W. Boyce] had been advocating in secret session of the [Confederate] House [of Representatives] some form of conciliation with the Northwestern States.

When the Democratic convention, meeting at Chicago August 29, 1864, adopted a platform declaring that efforts should be made immediately for a cessation of hostilities and that a convention of the States be employed to restore peace “on the basis of the Federal union of the States,” Boyce addressed an open letter to President [Jefferson] Davis urging him to declare his willingness for an armistice and such a convention that Northwestern Democrats proposed.

In his letter of September 29 Boyce argued that a republic at war inevitably drifted into despotism . . . [through] conscription, illegally laid direct taxes, [issuing] vast quantities of paper money . . . suspended the writ of habeas corpus . . . in short, [giving] the President all the powers of a military dictator.

Nor would the evils necessarily end with the war; that would depend on the nature of the peace. “A peace without reconciliation carried in its bosom the seed of new wars.”   A peace without harmony would be a mere armed truce. Such a peace would cause the North to develop a great military power and the South would be forced to do likewise. There would then be two opposing military despotisms under which republican institutions would permanently perish.

To prevent such an outcome a peace of harmony must be negotiated with the United States. In bringing this to pass a successful military policy was essential but it was not enough; it must be accompanied by a political policy, a political policy which could not succeed if Lincoln, representing the fanaticism of the North, were returned to the White House.

The South’s only hope for a satisfactory peace, therefore, lay in the victory [in November 1864] of the Northern Democratic Party which should be encouraged in every possible way. [Boyce’s advice was to] . . . Assure [Northern Democrats] of the South’s willingness to cooperate in a convention of the States, and let South cooperate even if an amendment of the Constitution be necessary for that purpose. Such a convention would be the “highest acknowledgment” of State rights principles.”

(South Carolina Goes to War, Charles Edward Cauthen, University of South Carolina Press, 1950, 1860-1865, excerpts, pp. 217-218)

 

Let the South Withdraw

New York Governor Horatio Seymour noted that “very few [Northern] merchants had been backward about importing [slaves] and selling them South” — and that “Slavery, in fact, was upheld by the great business firm of “Weaver, Wearer and Planter” — only one of the three partners of which resided in the South — but for the looms of New England and Old England [slavery] could not live a day.”  Seymour was also aware that passage of the Crittenden compromise would have forestalled the secession movement in the South, but the Republican party was determined to defeat it. Historian James Ford Rhodes later wrote that ‘it seems to me likewise clear that, of all the influences tending to this result [the compromise defeat], the influence of Lincoln was the most potent.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Let the South Withdraw

“It was [Seymour’s] belief, he declared, that if people asked themselves why the United States had split asunder in civil war, they had only to read Washington’s Farewell Address for their answer and find out how completely they had neglected the warning of their first President.

Men who were loyal to nothing less than the whole Union both North and South would have to fight the spirit of both North and South alike, for people who made their prejudices and passions “higher” laws than the laws of the land were by no means confined to the eleven States which had arrogated to themselves the dangerous right to secede.

A majority of the American people, he reminded his hearers, had not preferred Lincoln for President, and a large part of the voters had deplored his election as a calamity, but Lincoln had been chosen constitutionally and deserved a “just and generous support” – as long as he kept himself within the limits of that very Constitution by which he was entitled to his office.

What would it profit the North to conquer the South if it destroyed the compact of government in the process? Alexander Stephens, though he disapproved of secession, had followed his Georgia out of the Union; Seymour, though he disapproved of abolition and did not vote for Lincoln, stayed in the Union with New York.

Yet the war was a fact, and because the decision of it would depend on might, the men of the North would be most unwise to call the victory they fought for “right.” “We are to triumph,” Seymour warned his hearers, “only by virtue of superior numbers, of greater resources, and a juster cause.” The arrangement of his words is significant.

Slavery, he insisted, was not the cause of the Civil War, for slavery had always existed in the land; it was present when the Union was formed, and the people had prospered before it became a matter of dispute. Causes and subjects were frequently distinct: the main cause of the war was the agitation and arguments over slavery. [Seymour stated] “If it is true that slavery must be abolished to save this Union then the people of the South should be allowed to withdraw themselves from that government which cannot give them the protection guaranteed by its terms.” [It was Seymour’s belief that] To grant immediate freedom to four million uneducated Africans would disorganize, even if it did not destroy, the Southern States.”

(Horatio Seymour of New York, Stewart Mitchell, Harvard University Press, 1938, pp. 238-239)

America’s Conservative Catastrophe

Ambrose Bierce defined “Conservative” in his Devil’s Dictionary as “A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others . . .” Italian’s of the medieval period gave the title of “conservator” to guardians of the law; English justices of the peace originally “were styled custodus pacis – conservators of the peace.” In the modern sense, the word implies the principles of thought and action which opposed the radicalism and political innovation of the French Revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

America’s Conservative Catastrophe

“[A Tory] party in the old English sense scarcely existed in [British] America. Political debates usually occurred between two factions of Whigs, both attached to the Whig idea of liberty, but differing as to means and the relationship with the Crown. The triumph of the Patriots in the Revolution expelled from the Thirteen Colonies what little Toryism existed there, and along with it many of the moderate Whigs.

For all that, recent scholarship inclines toward the view that the American Revolution was no revolution truly, but simply a War of Independence – a revolution (in Burke’s phrase concerning the Glorious Revolution of 1688) “not made, but prevented.”

The intellectual leaders of the Americans during the troubled period of Confederation, were men, most of them, of a conservative tendency – John Adams, Gouveneur Morris, John Jay, Hamilton. Even Jefferson . . . was no frantic innovator.

Most other Southern leaders, such as Pinckney or Mason, differed more about means than about the ends of society: their view of the state was conservative – viewed that is, from a twentieth century vantage point. Even some eminent radicals of the time, notably Patrick Henry, grew steadily more conservative as responsibility settled upon them.

And the Federalist Papers, written to obtain acceptance of the Constitution, reflect the conservative concepts of moderation, balance, order and prudence – together with those conservative guarantees of prescriptive usage, arrangement of political checks, restrictions upon power, protection of private property, and restraints upon popular [democratic] impulses.

During the early years of the United States, the chief political contests many be regarded as long, acrimonious debate between two powerful conservative interests – the mercantile interests of the North, the agricultural interests of the South – confused by lesser issues and personalities.

The catastrophe of the Civil War dealt a grim blow to reflective conservatism, North or South. In the Gilded Age, little political principle of any kind could be distinguished. As the United States grew into the greatest power in the world . . . conservative concepts were discussed again . . . [though the] Great Depression and ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt seemed to quash this renewal of conservative thought.

Until the first administration of Franklin Roosevelt, the term “liberal” had not been popular among American politicians; but Rooseveltian liberalism swept everything before it during the 1930s and 1940s. Not until the 1950s did there appear, or reappear, a strong body of conservative thought, expressed in books and periodical literature, to challenge the dominant liberalism . . .

[An] American conservative, at least as the term is employed popularly, is a person who believes strongly that the old pattern of American society ought not to be much altered. Typically, such a person holds by the Constitution, maintaining that it should be strictly interpreted; he endeavors to oppose the drift toward political centralization; he dislikes organizations on a grand scale, in government, in business and industry, in organized labor; he is a defender of private property; he resents the heavy increase of taxation and many of the “transfer payments” of the welfare state; he is unalterably opposed to the Communist ideology . . . and sighs, or perhaps shouts O tempora! O mores! at the decay of private and public morality.”

(The Essential Russell Kirk: Selected Essays; George A. Panichas, editor, ISI Books, 2007, excerpts, pp. 14-16)

Southern Democrats Defend the Constitution

Only four years after Senator Josiah Bailey’s spoke on the floor of the United States Senate below, Southern Democrats were forming their own Democratic Party dedicated to lost Jeffersonian principles. FDR had already corrupted many Democrats who supported his socialist New Deal policies and a proposed “Federal” ballot which would overthrow a State’s authority of holding elections.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Democrats Defend the Constitution

“On the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1943 – Senator Josiah Bailey of [Warrenton] North Carolina, exasperated at frequent contemptuous references to “Southern” Democrats by national party leaders and disturbed over a decided anti-Southern trend in the Democratic Party, stood on the floor of the United States Senate and, in a blistering speech, warned the aforesaid Democratic leaders that there was a limit to what the South would stand from them.

At the same time, he outlined a course by which Southern Democrats could break off relations with the national party and bring about a situation in which the South would hold the balance of power in American politics.

Another presidential election was approaching and already there was a definite movement to “draft” President Roosevelt for a fourth term. For many days the Senate had debated a measure that proposed to empower the federal government to hold Presidential and Congressional elections among the men and women of the armed forces, using a federal ballot.

This measure was introduced by a Democrat and was being supported by Democrats and the Roosevelt administration, in spite of the obvious fact that it denied the fundamental Democratic Party doctrine that elections may be held only by authority of State governments and that under the Constitution the federal government has absolutely no authority to hold elections. But the most vigorous opposition also came from Democrats, principally Southern Democrats. It resulted in a notable debate on constitutional principles such as seldom been heard in Congress.

The Senate rejected this federal ballot proposal . . . But this did not prevent Senator Joseph Guffey of Pennsylvania from charging, in a newspaper statement, that the federal ballot had been defeated by an “unholy alliance” of Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans. Guffey designated Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia as the Democratic leader of “the most unpatriotic and unholy alliance that has occurred in the United States Senate since the League of Nations for peace of the world was defeated in 1919.”

Senator Byrd took care of Guffey on the morning of that December 7th by giving the Pennsylvania Senator a thorough verbal skinning. It was about as neat a dressing down as could be administered within the rules of the Senate. But Guffey’s references to “Southern” Democrats had angered Senator Bailey.

What’s wrong, Senator Bailey demanded, with being a “Southern” Senator or a “Southern” Democrat? “I would remind these gentlemen who speak of us as “Southern” Democrats,” he said, “these Democrats, these high lights of the party, these beneficiaries of our victories during the last ten years – I would remind them that Southern Democrats maintained the Democratic Party and kept it alive in all the long years of its exile, when it had no place in the house which our fathers had built, when it was not permitted to serve around the altars which our forefathers had made holy.”

(The South’s Political Plight, Peter Molyneaux, Calhoun Clubs of the South, 1948, excerpts, pp. 1-4)

Early Southern Concerns of Northern Domination

The ratification of the Constitution was a difficult and contentious process, and those in the American South saw it primarily to the benefit of the North. Rawlins Lowndes declared in South Carolina’s 1788 convention that he was satisfied with the Articles of Confederation, and assailed the Constitution because it would lead to monarchy, and that Northern majorities in Congress would cause injury to South Carolina’s interests.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Early Southern Concerns of Northern Domination

“It is a little strange, but the textbooks in general American history and political science used in American colleges and universities do not say that ratification of the Constitution was opposed in the South on sectional as well as other grounds. This even though the historians of Virginia have pointed out time and time again that fears for Southern interests played a most important role in the convention of 1788 of that State.

Perhaps the narrators of the nation’s history, being often Northerners, are not acquainted with the chronicles of the Old Dominion. Perhaps they are not so familiar even with their Jefferson as they would have us believe, for Jefferson declared that the struggle over ratification was sharper in the South than elsewhere – because of the fact that Southerners believed the Constitution did not offer sufficient protection against Northern domination.

Perhaps they have relied too much upon the Federalist Papers, which refer only briefly, although pointedly, to Southern sectionalism, saying that failure to put the Constitution into effect would probably lead to the formation of a Southern confederacy.

George Mason, sending to Northern Anti-federalists arguments against the Constitution, carefully omitted his Southern dissatisfactions, which would hardly have given strength to the enemies above the Mason-Dixon line. In Virginia he was ardent, and in Virginia the great decision regarding the Constitution was made. The issue was long doubtful in the Old Dominion; and had Virginia said nay, North Carolina would have persisted in her negative vote.

It is hardly necessary to say that an American union without the two States could hardly have been formed, could hardly have endured.”

(The First South, John Richard Alden, LSU Press, 1961, excerpt, pp. 99-100)

Pages:«12345678...14»