"There is No Fourteenth Amendment"

The following was a September 27, 1957 editorial by US News Report editor David Lawrence.  An activist Supreme Court had just used questionable sociological reasoning, not law, to call for the desegregation of schools in the United States.  Lawrence reviewed the alleged constitutional basis for the Court’s decision, and the illegality of that basis.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

“There is No Fourteenth Amendment” 

“A mistaken belief—that there is a valid article in the Constitution known as the “Fourteenth Amendment”– is responsible for the Supreme Court decision of 1954 and the ensuing controversy over desegregation in the public schools of America.

No such amendment was ever legally ratified by three-fourths of the States of the Union as required by the Constitution itself.

The so-called “Fourteenth Amendment” was dubiously proclaimed by the Secretary of State on July 20, 1868. The President shared that doubt. There were 37 States in the union at that time, so ratification by at least 28 was necessary to make the amendment an integral part of the Constitution. Actually, only 21 States legally ratified it. So it failed ratification.

The undisputed record, attested by official journals and the unanimous writings of historians, establishes these events as occurring in 1867 and 1868:

Outside the South, six States—New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, California, Delaware and Maryland—failed to ratify the proposed amendment.

In the South, ten States—Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana—by formal action of their legislatures, rejected it under the normal processes of civil law.

A total of 16 legislatures out of 37 failed legally to ratify the “Fourteenth Amendment.”

Congress—which had deprived the Southern States of their seats in the Senate—did not lawfully pass the resolution of submission in the first instance.

The Southern States which had rejected the amendment were coerced by a federal statute passed in 1867 that took away the right to vote or hold office from all citizens who had served in the Confederate army. Military governors were appointed and instructed to prepare a roll of voters. All this happened in spite of the presidential proclamation of amnesty previously issued by the president. New legislatures were thereupon chosen and forced to “ratify” under penalty of continued exile from the union. In Louisiana, a General sent down from the north presided over the State legislature.

Abraham Lincoln had declared many times that the union was “inseparable” and “indivisible.” After his death and when the war was over, the ratification by the Southern States of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery had been accepted as legal. But Congress in the 1867 law imposed the specific conditions under which the Southern States would be “entitled to representation in Congress.”

Congress, in passing the 1867 law that declared the Southern States could not have their seats in either the Senate or House in the next session unless they ratified the “Fourteenth Amendment”, took an unprecedented step. No such right—to compel a State by an act of Congress to ratify a constitutional amendment—is to be found anywhere in the Constitution. Nor has this procedure ever been sanctioned by the Supreme Court of the United States.

President Andrew Johnson publicly denounced this law as unconstitutional. But it was passed over his veto.

Secretary of State Seward was on the spot in July 1868 when the various “ratifications” of a spurious nature were placed before him. The legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey had notified him that they rescinded their earlier action of ratification. He said in his official proclamation that he was not authorized as Secretary of State “to determine and decide doubtful questions as to the authenticity of the organization of State legislatures or as to the power of State legislatures to recall a previous act or resolution of ratification”.

He added that the amendment was valid “if the resolutions of the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey, ratifying the aforesaid amendment, are to be deemed as remaining of full force and effect, notwithstanding the subsequent resolutions of the legislatures of these States.”

This was a very big “if.” It will be noted that the real issue therefore is not only whether the forced “ratification” by the ten Southern States was lawful, but whether the withdrawal by the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey—two northern States—was legal.

The right of a State, by action of its legislature to change its mind at any time before the final proclamation of ratification is issued by the Secretary of State has been confirmed with other constitutional amendments.

The Oregon Legislature in October 1868 — three months after the Secretary’s proclamation was issued—passed a rescinding resolution , which argued that the “Fourteenth Amendment” had not been ratified by three-fourths of the States and that the “ratifications” in the Southern States “were usurpations, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void” and that “until such ratification is completed, any State has a right to withdraw its assent to any proposed amendment.”

What do the historians say about all this? The Encyclopedia Americana states:

“Reconstruction added humiliation to suffering . . . Eight years of crime, fraud and corruption followed and it was State legislatures composed of Negroes, carpetbaggers and scalawags who obeyed the orders of generals and ratified the amendment.”

W.E. Woodward, in his famous work “A New American History” published in 1936 says:

“To get a clear idea of the succession of events let us review [President Andrew] Johnson’s actions in respect to the ex-Confederate States.

In May 1865, he issued a Proclamation of Amnesty to former rebels. Then he established provisional governments in all the Southern States. They were instructed to call Constitutional Conventions. They did. New State governments were elected.

White men only had the suffrage (the Fifteenth Amendment establishing equal voting rights had not yet been passed). Senators and Representatives were chosen but when they appeared at the opening of Congress they were refused admission. The States governments however continued to function during 1866.

“Now we are in 1867. In the early days of that year Thaddeus Stevens brought in, as Chairman of the House Reconstruction Committee, a bill that proposed to sweep all the Southern State governments into the wastebasket. The South was to be put under military rule.

“The bill passed. It was vetoed by Johnson and passed again over his veto. In the Senate it was amended in such fashion that any State could escape from military rule by ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment and admitting black as well as white men to the polls.”

In challenging its constitutionality, President Johnson said in his veto message:

“I submit to Congress whether this measure is not in its whole character, scope and object without precedent and without authority, in palpable conflict with the plainest provisions of the Constitution, and utterly destructive of those great principles of liberty and humanity for which our ancestors, on both sides of the Atlantic, have shed so much blood and expended so much treasure.”

Many historians have applauded Johnson’s words. Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, known today as “liberals”, wrote in their book “The Growth of the American Republic”:

“Johnson returned the bill with a scorching message arguing the unconstitutionality of the whole thing and most impartial students have agreed with his reasoning.”

James Truslow Adams, another noted historian writes in his “History of the United States”: “The Supreme Court had decided three months earlier in the Milligan case…that military courts were unconstitutional except under such war conditions as might make the operation of civil courts impossible, but the president pointed out in vain that practically the whole of the new legislation was unconstitutional….There was even talk in Congress of impeaching the Supreme Court for its decisions! The legislature had run amok and was threatening both the Executive and the Judiciary.”

Actually, President Johnson was impeached but the move failed by one vote in the Senate.

The Supreme Court in case after case, refused to pass on the illegal activities involved in the “ratification”. It said simply that they were acts of the “political departments of the government”. This of course was a convenient device of avoidance. The Court has adhered to that position ever since Reconstruction days.

Andrew C. McLaughlin, whose “Constitutional History of the United States” is a standard work, writes: “Can a State which is not a State and not recognized as such by Congress, perform the supreme duty of ratifying an amendment to the fundamental law? Or does a State — by congressional thinking — cease to be a State for some purposes but not for others?

This is the tragic history of the so-called “Fourteenth Amendment” — a record that is a disgrace to free government and a “government of law.” Isn’t the use of military force to override local government what we deplored in Hungary?

It is never too late to correct an injustice. The people of America should have an opportunity to pass on an amendment to the Constitution that sets forth the right of the federal Government to control education and regulate attendance at public schools either with federal power alone or concurrently with the States.

That’s the honest way, the just way to deal with the problem of segregation or integration in the schools. Until such an amendment is adopted, the “Fourteenth Amendment” should be considered null and void.

There is only one supreme tribunal — it is the people themselves. Their sovereign will is expressed through the procedures set forth in the Constitution itself.”

 

 

War to Recover the Southern Export Trade

War to Recover the Southern Export Trade

During 1862, Washington was constantly threatened with capture by Lee and Jackson’s men, not to mention some very tense moments for Lincoln as the North’s ironclad dueled with the CSS Virginia.  The latter was poised to sail up the Potomac after destroying anything wooden that she came across in the Chesapeake Bay which sent Lincoln’s Cabinet into emergency session. The capture of Washington would have likely triggered European recognition of the South.

Secretary of State William Seward had unmistakably suggested that should England or France recognize the Confederacy, war would result – though Lincoln could ill-afford to take on additional enemies.  His subsequent cultivation of friendship with the Russian Czar was created simply for an ally to stand with him against Europe; ironically both Czar Alexander II and Lincoln freed serfs and slaves simultaneously while crushing the independence movements of the Poles and the South, respectively.

The growing might of Lincoln’s navy was a great concern to England as Lord Palmerston and Earl Russell both saw their assistance in building Confederate war vessels as a way to combat this.  Emperor Napoleon III of France was prepared to recognize the Confederacy for much the same reason as well as seeing the cause of royalist Mexico as identical to the cause of the South. Confederate Commissioner John Slidell obtained a fifteen million dollar loan at very favorable terms from French financier Baron d’Erlanger, and hopes were that an independent Confederacy would look favorably upon French ships carrying their trade.

The underlying reason for the North’s war on the South is well-presented by Bank of England agent John Welsford Cowell in his “France and the Confederate States, published in 1865.  He observed that “The vast proportions which [the North’s] maritime power has assumed during the last fifty years have sprung entirely from the monopoly which the Southerners accorded to them of the carrying trade of their raw produce in cotton, tobacco, etc., and of the commercial returns to it.”

Cowell explains the economic contrast of North and South in 1860: “[In the last year of the Union, the total exports of the whole Union, omitting the gold of California, amounted to the value of 70 [million pounds] in round numbers. Separating this total into two parts, and distinguishing between Northern and Southern products . . . the value of exported Northern products . . . did not exceed 18 [million pounds] while the value of exported Southern produce exceeded 50 [million pounds].”

He adds that “The Protective Tariff of 1816 practically threw into the hands of Yankee shippers the transport of all Southern products . . . Now, connecting these several points together, it becomes obvious that not less than two-thirds of what was the mercantile marine of the Yankees in 1860 had been called into existence to supply the transportation of Southern exports and imports, and that this portion of their marine must cease to exist as theirs, when the transport of Southern produce is withdrawn from their hands.”

It now becomes clear what the North was fighting for and to maintain.  As the South, through the tariffs paid on imported and exported goods, was paying nearly ninety-percent of the monies flowing into the federal treasury, it becomes clear what the South was trying to break free of.

Cowell continued and exposed the Northern drive for war.  “It is to recover possession of this grand instrument of political power and of private profit that the Yankees are now murdering men, women, and children throughout the South, being determined, as is at last manifest to all, to exterminate the Southerners altogether (unless they will return to that fiscal, commercial and maritime subjection to the Yankees from which they emancipated themselves in 1861), and to occupy their lands and houses themselves.”

With the South lacking the ships to carry their produce to distant markets, both England and France could take the place of the Yankee merchant marine if the Confederacy held its own. Cowell states that “But while one of the two main objects of the Yankees in their war against the South is to repossess control of Southern exports, essentially necessary for the support of two-thirds of their marine, it is in the absolute pleasure of the South, having no ships of their own, to bestow this great instrument of power and wealth upon whichever nation she may choose.”

The North also fought to maintain is the South’s is their tariff protective system which Cowell describes as being adopted “unreservedly, and founded on it the future fortunes of their usurped domination over the rest of the Sovereign States of the Union.” The South was catching on to the system in the mid-1820s and began to chafe – secession was threatened in the early 1850s and by late 1860 the Southern withdrawals from the unequal Union began.

When the North “awakened to the terrible effect of the Southern secession on their artificial prosperity, they rushed to war, and the war has, for the moment, provided much of their invested capital with temporary employment. Thus far the war has staved off for a very short time the ruin which must inevitably overtake them . . .

Thus are brought into light the two governing points in the position of the Yankees – viz., the recovery of the Southern carrying trade and the recovery of the monopoly of the Southern market.”

Mr. Cowell refers to the national character of the Yankee, pointedly the New Englanders. He described the “narrow, fanatical, and originally sincere puritanism of their ancestors [which] has, in the course of six generations, degenerated into that amalgam of hypocrisy, cruelty, falsehood, unconsciousness of the faintest sentiment of self-respect, coarseness of self-assertion, insensibility to the opinions of others, utter callousness to right, barbarous delight in wrong, and thorough moral ruffianism, which is now fully revealed to the world as the genuine Yankee nature, and of which Butler, Seward [and other high Northern political leaders] are pure representative Yankees, [and] afford such finished examples.”

 

Drugged, Kidnapped and Dragooned Army of the James

Northern villages, towns, cities, counties and State’s contributed generously to buy exemptions and substitutes for residents, with the promise of additional bounties upon mustering. State agents swarmed into the Northern-occupied South to capture and enlist black slaves, which were counted toward the State quota of troops thus relieving white citizens from military duty.  In Europe, immigrants were enticed by promises of free or cheap land, and found blue uniforms awaiting them on US soil.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drugged, Kidnapped and Dragooned Army of the James

“The Army of the James was the quintessential Yankee command. Among all Union armies, it boasted the highest percentage of units recruited in New England [and] . . . More than any other Federal army, [it] was a bastion of Republican and Union Party sentiment. While Lincoln enjoyed the support of most troops in every command, he had a special confidence in voters in [General B.F.] Butler’s force.

When the 1864 presidential contest heated up, [Secretary of War] Stanton confided to one of Butler’s staff officers that although Lincoln was not so confident about [General George G.] Meade’s army, he had no doubt as to the loyalty of the Army of the James [in delivering the soldier vote to him].

Butler went out of his way to fill his ranks with prewar office holders, editors of partisan newspapers, and political hangers-on. Of course, politics dominated every Union fighting force; each had to answer continually to political influences. Many had to spend as much time vying for power as they did fighting the Confederacy.

Another factor that sapped the fighting strength of the XVIII Corps was an abundance of soldiers who would fight only under duress, if at all. Especially among its New England regiments, unit effectiveness was compromised by the many men dragooned into service by unscrupulous agents employed by States anxious to enlist enough volunteers that they would not have to submit to federal conscription.

Many of these unfortunates were recent immigrants, “mostly speaking foreign languages,” who had been “drugged and kidnapped….then heavily ironed [shackled], confined in boxcars, and shipped like cattle” to designated regiments. [General Isaac J.] Wistar, whose district contained hundreds of unwilling recruits, noted that in one New Hampshire regiment alone, eighty men deserted during their first night in Virginia.

Other XVIII Corps outfits were found to contain an even less desirable brand of recruits. In the course of a few weeks, a couple hundred “bounty jumpers” deserted and returned north to enlist in distant cities under assumed names and collect additional money.

If many of the white troops were unreliable, the army’s contingent of black troops, untested in battle, did not inspire widespread confidence. To many of their white comrades, the blacks were am amusing novelty, a social experiment gone too far, and a source of unease and concern. Many were liberated and runaway slaves, used to lives of docility and subserviency. Could they display the martial skill, the initiative, the fidelity of whites? In the spring of 1864 most whites thought not.

The cavalry and artillery units of the Army of the James were of uneven quality . . . [a colonel] complained of “this villainous Cavalry of [Gen. August V.] Kautz’s Division which has been so blowed about and exalted to the sky by reporters” but that appeared more effective at looting than fighting. Even Butler, who defended the cavalry against all critics, privately acknowledged its low quality.

(Army of Amateurs, General Benjamin F. Butler and the Army of the James, 1863-1865, Edward G. Longacre, Stackpole Books, 1997, pp. 45-49)

Driving the South to Secession

It is said that if the Crittenden Compromise of December, 1861 had been submitted to the people, it would have had far-reaching effect in arresting the secession movement except for the already-departed South Carolina. By January, the opportunity had passed though the Republicans showed by their support of the proposed 13th Amendment that slavery was truly not an issue, and that their coming war against the American South was waged for other reasons.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Driving the South to Secession:

“From Buffalo, on January 18, 1861, he [Horatio Seymour] wrote Senator Crittenden of Kentucky in support of his scheme of compromise. It was in his opinion that this “great measure of reconciliation” struck “the popular heart.” [Senator William] Bigler of Pennsylvania had proposed that the Crittenden Compromise be submitted to popular vote, and Seymour assured the senator that Bigler’s suggestion was “here regarded as vastly important.” He thought the measure would carry New York by 150,000 votes in a referendum . . . [and] Republican congressmen who feared to support the compromise would be glad of the chance to throw the responsibility on their constituents.

[Author] James Ford Rhodes fortified one’s belief in the good judgment of Seymour when he studied the defeat of Senator Crittenden’s proposals. In view of the appalling consequences the responsibility of both Lincoln and Seward for the defeat is heavy, if not dark — in spite of all that historians of the inevitable have written of “this best of all possible worlds.”

The committee to which Crittenden’s bill for compromise was referred consisted of thirteen men. Crittenden himself was the most prominent of the three representatives from the Border States. Of three Northern Democrats, Douglas, of Illinois was the leader; of five Republicans, [William] Seward was the moving spirit. Only two men sat from the Cotton States, [Jefferson] Davis and [Robert] Toombs. Commenting on the fateful vote of the committee, Rhodes observed:

“No fact is clearer than that the Republicans in December defeated the Crittenden compromise; few historic probabilities have better evidence to support them than the one which asserts that the adoption of this measure would have prevented the secession of the Cotton States, other than South Carolina, and the beginning of the civil war in 1861 . . . It is unquestionable, as I have previously shown, that in December the Republicans defeated the Crittenden proposition; and it seems to me likewise clear that, of all the influences tending to this result, the influence of Lincoln was the most potent.”

In January the House refused, by a vote of 113 to 80, to submit the Crittenden Compromise to the people. About the same time the Senate joined this action by a vote of 20 to 19. Two-thirds of each House, however, recommended to the States a compromise thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, as follows: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” Conservative Republicans voted with the Democrats to carry this measure of which Lincoln approved in his inaugural address.”

(Horatio Seymour of New York, Stewart Mitchell, Harvard University Press, 1938, pp 222-224)

 

May 25, 2015 - Foreign Viewpoints    No Comments

Driving Canada to Confederation

Both Canada and England feared the increasing military strength of Lincoln’s war machine and constant talk of annexation Canada in the Northern press. Already Seward, Grant and Meade were overheard discussing an invasion of Canada after Maximilian was dealt with in Mexico. Canadians viewed Confederation of the provinces as a barrier to conquest by the power-intoxicated North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Driving Canada to Confederation

“If we are not blind to our present position we must see the hazardous situation in which all the great interests of Canada stand in respect to the United States. I am no alarmist, I do not believe in the prospect of immediate war. I believe that the common sense of the two nations will prevent a war; still we cannot trust to probabilities.

The government and legislature would be wanting in duty to the people if they ran any risk. We know that the United States at this moment are engaged in a war of enormous dimensions; that the occasion of a war with Great Britain has again and again arisen and may at any time in the future again arise. It would then be too late, when war had commenced, to think of measures for strengthening ourselves or to begin negotiations for a union with the sister Provinces.

At this moment, in consequence to the ill feeling which arisen between England and the United States — a feeling of which Canada was not the cause — in consequence of the irritation which now exists owing to the unhappy state of affairs on this continent, the reciprocity treaty, it seems probable, is about to be brought to an end . . . and at any moment we may be deprived of permission to carry our goods through United States channels . . .” Ourselves already threatened, our trade interrupted, our intercourse, political and commercial, destroyed, if we do not take warning now when we have the opportunity . . . ”

It is the fashion now to enlarge on the defects of the Constitution of the United States . . . we can now take advantage of the last seventy-eight years during which that Constitution has existed, and I am strongly in the belief that we have in a great measure avoided in this system which we propose for the adoption of the people of Canada the defects which time and events have shown to exist in the American Constitution.

By adhering to the monarchical principle we avoid one defect inherent in the Constitution . . . By the election of the president by a majority and for a short period, he never is the sovereign and chief of the nation. He is never looked up to by the whole people as the head and front of the nation. He is at best the successful leader of a party.

This defect is all the greater on account of the practice of reelection. During his first term of office he is employed in taking steps to secure his own reelection, and for his party a continuance of power. We avoid this by adhering to the monarchical principle — the sovereign whom you respect and love. [This sovereign] who is not elevated by the action of one party nor depressed by the action of another; who is the common head and sovereign of all.

Ever since the [American] Union was formed, the difficulty of what is called “State rights” has existed, and this had much to do with bringing on the present unhappy war in the United States. They commenced, in fact, at the wrong end. They declared by their Constitution that each State was a sovereignty in itself, and that all the powers incident to a sovereignty belonged to each State, except those powers by which the Constitution were conferred upon the general government and Congress. Here we have adopted a different system. We have strengthened the general government.”

(MacDonald on Canadian Confederation, February, 1865; The World’s Famous Orations, William Jennings Bryan, editor, Funk & Wagnall’s, 1906, pp. 9-13)

 

May 25, 2015 - Foreign Viewpoints    No Comments

Drive the Yankees Beyond the Susquehanna

London Times correspondent William H. Russell interviewed leaders in both North and South in early 1861, though his accurate reporting on the Northern rout at First Manassas left him unwelcome in Lincoln’s country afterward.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drive the Yankees Beyond the Susquehanna

“I mentioned [to President Jefferson Davis on May 9th] that I had seen great military preparations through the South, and was astonished at the alacrity with which the people sprang to arms. “Yes, sir,” he remarked . . . We are not less military because we have had no standing armies. But perhaps we are the only people in the world where gentlemen go to a military academy who do not intend to follow the profession of arms.”

Mr. Davis made no allusion to the authorities in Washington, but he asked me if I thought it was supposed in England that there would be a War between the States? I answered that I was under the impression the public thought there would be no actual hostilities. “And yet you see we are driven to take up arms for the defense of our rights and liberties.”

As I saw an immense mass of papers on his table, I rose and made my bow, and Mr. Davis, seeing me to the door, gave me his hand and said, “As long as you may stay among us you shall receive every facility it is in our power to afford you, and I shall always be glad to see you”

The news that two more States had joined the Confederacy, making ten in all, was enough to put [Secretary of War Walker and General Beauregard] in good humor. “Is it not too bad these Yankees will not let us go our own way, and keep their cursed Union to themselves? If they force us into it, we may be obliged to drive them beyond the Susquehanna.”

Being invited to attend a levee or reception held by Mrs. Davis, the President’s wife, I returned to the hotel to prepare for the occasion. On my way I passed a company of volunteers, one hundred and twenty artillerymen, and three field pieces, on their way to the station for Virginia, followed by a crowd of “citizens” and Negroes of both sexes, cheering vociferously.

The band was playing that excellent quick-step “Dixie.” The men were stout, fine fellows, dressed in coarse grey tunics with yellow facings and French caps. The Zouave mania is quite as rampant here as it is in New York, and the smallest children are thrust into baggy red breeches, which the learned Lipsius might had appreciated, and are sent out with flags and tin swords to impede the highways.”

(America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 272-273)

The Drift of the Republicans

Criticizing Lincoln’s brutal policies against Americans both North and South, Democratic United States Representative Samuel “Sunset” Cox of Ohio said in late 1862 that Republicans were “determined to make this a war against populations, against civilized usage . . . and defeated the cause of the nation, by making the old Union impossible.” August Belmont, national Democratic Committee Chairman warned at the same time the North “was and still is ready to fight for the union and the Constitution, but it is not ready to initiate a war of extermination.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Drift of the Republicans

“The trouble with the Republicans,” Horatio Seymour charged, is that “one wing . . . is conservative and patriotic, the other is violent and revolutionary.” Before very long after March 1861, Democrats saw abolitionists in the ascendancy, setting the war policies of the government and successfully perverting the war’s aims. They were “getting wild on everything.”

Whatever Lincoln had started out to do, some Democrats charged, by 1862 the war had become “an abolition war – a war for general emancipation.” “No one talks of conservatism any longer,” Samuel Barlow was told, “or speaks of the old Constitution or of anything but a renewed and desperate raid for subjection of the rebels.”

They saw in the Thirty-seventh Congress a prime example of what the Republicans were up to. [A Democratic editor said]: “the evil in our system was not slavery, but unwarranted, meddlesome attacks upon slavery.” At the same time that the Republican party had entered into a policy of abolition, Democrats believed that it had also begun to destroy the liberties of the Northern people. The situation in the Border States where, in the name of national security military occupation and restrictions on individual rights had become a persistent fact of life, particularly troubled them.

[Former President] Franklin Pierce discerned federal agents spying on him wherever he went, in furtherance of their “reign of terror.” The actions of individual Union generals in suppressing newspapers and Democratic speakers also “put a gag into the mouths of the people.” Every action of the government “has been a glaring usurpation of power, and a palpable and dangerous violation of that very Constitution which this Civil War is professedly waged to support.”

They could only look on in dismay at “the drift of the Republicans,” which was, the editor of the Albany [New York] Atlas and Argus summed up, to subvert the Constitution by “perpetuating a bloody war, not to sustain, but to overthrow it.”

(A Respectable Minority, The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860-1868, Joel H. Silbey, W.W. Norton & Company, 1977, pp. 49-52)

Drafts and Bounty-Enriched Patriots

Dwindling enlistments by mid-1862 and Lincoln’s insatiable requests for troops resulted in threats of conscription which in reality was a whip to force volunteering and usually accompanied by generous bounty monies. Trainloads of Northern dead coming home from Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg virtually ended enlistments; black men captured from Southern plantations provided a new source of enlistments and conscripts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Drafts and Bounty-Enriched Patriots

“The declining power of the States received further illustration as the [Northern] governors faced the necessity of drafting their men into the State militia. Lincoln’s call of July 2 [1862] for 300,000 men for three years had been based on a spurious “request” extracted from the governors . . . on August 4, the President, without warning, called on them to furnish an additional 300,000 militiamen for a period of nine months.

None of the [Northern] governors wanted to draft their constituents – though a number of them, seeing the 1862 elections approaching, wished they could find a way to draft Democrats. The next best thing to drafting Democrats was to use the threat of the draft to discourage political opponents. Each governor sought and obtained permission to postpone the draft until after the elections, but in the meantime the enrollment for the draft went on.

Citizens who obstructed enrollment officers were arrested and held without benefit of habeas corpus until after election day. In some places enrollment officers went to the polls to write down the names of the voters. Democrats were sure that these fraudulent activities were designed to suppress popular liberties.

To avoid a draft, the governors tried hard to raise their quotas by volunteering. States, cities, counties, and townships offered bounties for enlistment, while every form of social pressure induced men to enter the ranks.

[Massachusetts Governor John] Andrew faced the necessity of raising 4,000 men by a draft. Expecting a riot in Boston, he held troops in readiness and asked Secretary Stanton to institute courts martial for dissatisfied citizens. In Ohio, the State’s provost marshal used troops to break up one encampment of a thousand men who had assembled to resist the enrollment officers. Still, Governor Todd found that the draft went off harmoniously and that by offering bounties to the militia draftees he could get four-fifths of them to enlist in the three-year regiments. He avoided further trouble by permitting conscientious objectors to pay $300 commutation, and with the $50,000 he collected from them he hired substitutes and provided care for the sick and wounded.

In Schuykill County, Pennsylvania, the enrollment officers met such resistance that Governor Curtin begged Stanton to call off the draft. The Governor feared the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish miners’ society, which was well-organized and strongly opposed conscription. Enrollment officers had attempted to get lists of workers from the mine-owners, but the employers, fearing retaliation from the workers, refused to cooperate. [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton . . . had no sympathy with Curtin’s difficulties . . . and he sent two regiments to aid the work.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 277-280)

Few Patriots Found in New York City

Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed brokered a deal with local politicians to solve Lincoln’s problem of obtaining soldiers after the draft riots of July 1863. Locating substitute recruits for drafted city residents, he would use the city treasury to pay whatever signing bonus the competitive market required and tap a special $2 million substitute fund financed by Wall Street bonds. Should a resident get caught in Lincoln’s draft net, he could either use the fund to buy his way out, or join the army and keep the money. With this scheme, Lincoln used Tammany Hall to run his draft in New York, though Tweed’s recruitment drive eventually attracted scandal with abusive bounty brokers, unqualified soldiers (from local prisons or immigrants literally straight from Europe) and middlemen who made fortunes from graft.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Few Patriots Found in New York City

“For four days terror reigned, marked by a series of grisly lynchings. A mob even swarmed onto a British ship in the harbor, and despite the Captain’s protests, cruelly beat up the foreign Negroes among the crew. The police were barely able to save the Tribune Building from total destruction. Men searched for the Tribune’s editor, singing, “We’ll hang Horace Greeley from a sour apple tree.”

A Negro orphanage on Fifth Avenue was burned to the ground. Looters had a field day, among them screeching women who opposed conscription. Troops were rushed from Gettysburg [immediately after the battle]; cadets from West Point came to aid the police; the entire naval force in the region was called upon to quell the disturbance. Finally, in desperation, the military raked the streets with cannon fire. But what really stopped the rioting was a posted notice: “the draft has been suspended in New York City and Brooklyn.”

The newspapers carried the word in huge print. Order was finally restored. According to the Tribune of July 25, some 350 people had been killed; but other estimates went much higher. Casualties, including the injured, amounted to 1,000 and private property damage was estimated at $1,500,000. Republican newspapers claimed the outbreak had been sparked by Confederate agents. But Democratic party feeling and a sincere desire for peace were mingled with race prejudice and resentment against what the anti-Lincoln papers called the “incompetence” of the Administration.

Men resented fighting against their convictions and were indignant at “governmental “frauds and profiteering.” Apparently, from the magnitude of the outbreak, the London Times had not been far wrong in predicting that if the South won in Pennsylvania, Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee would

receive a rousing welcome along Broadway. Soon after the tumult subsided, the Democratic City Council of New York voted that the exemption [from military service] money of four hundred dollars for impecunious draftees would be paid from the city treasury. To meet Governor [Horatio] Seymour’s charge that the conscription as practiced was “unequal, fraudulent and a disgrace,” President Lincoln reduced the New York quotas [for troops].

When the draft was resumed a month later, he took the precaution of sending 10,000 infantrymen and three artillery batteries from the Army of the Potomac to see that the business went off quietly.

During New York’s bloody pandemonium, [British Colonel Arthur] Freemantle had been surprised to hear everyone talking of the “total demoralization of the Rebels.” To him it sounded absurd, since only a few days previously he had left Lee’s army “as full of fight as ever,” much stronger and more efficient from every military point of view than when it had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland the previous September. In the Colonel’s opinion, Lee’s army had “not lost any of its prestige at the battle of Gettysburg, in which it had most gallantly stormed strong entrenchments defended by the whole Army of the Potomac.”

Freemantle took ship for England and completed his book of observations at sea. “The mass of respectable Northerners,” he wrote, “though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition and conquest . . . The more I think of all I have seen in the Confederate States of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk—“How can you subjugate such a people as this?”

[And] even supposing that their extermination were a feasible plan, as some Northerners have suggested, I never can believe that in the nineteenth century the civilized world will be condemned to witness the destruction of such a gallant race.”

(Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, Hudson Strode, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1959, pp. 458-460)

Senatorial Deceptions and Conjures

Northern Republicans and local scalawags made every effort to frighten voters against Democratic rule in postwar North Carolina. The Republican press gave assurances that should Democrats win they would levy a tax to pay for lost slaves, abolish public schools and Jefferson Davis would be made president of the university with the obscene annual salary of ten thousand dollars. In a campaign speech, black Republican candidate from Chowan County named Page said “If we get control of the convention, we will give the white folks hell, damn them.” (Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, pg. 633)

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Senatorial Deceptions and Conjures

“The [North Carolina] Constitutional Convention of 1875 may be likened, not inaptly, to the Mecklenburg Declaration. But the new assertion of independence did not need any Bill of Rights precedent to incorporate the causes of discontent in the hearts of North Carolinians or to catalogue the rights for which they yearned. It was a protest against actual wrongs inflicted; against malicious bonds fastened on a people held in the grip of unrestrained military power.

The [Mecklenburg] Resolves were to right wrongs and even those were expressed in moderate tone. The Republicans were reinforced by a body of well-trained black voters, enfranchised ostensibly for freedom’s sake, really to keep a standing political army in the Southern electorate.

Banking on the Negro disposition, the schemers in the Republican party planned to amuse them with baubles. Not even this was necessary. No colored man voted with a sure-enough white man. If he did, he was a son of Belial and an outcast from his color.

[At the convention were] Negroes of education and no education [and] a carpet-bag writer of agnostic pamphlets who believed in all the isms except the isms of the Bible. There was a particularly contentious radical Negro, a boaster of his mulatto blood. Another as black as the Duke of Hell’s boots, whose newspaper name was “Archives of Gravity.”

Also, there was a contest in Robeson County where the Republicans tried to overturn a Democratic victory by herding and voting a number of Negro laborers working on railroad construction. Then there was William H. Moore, a coal-black Negro from New Hanover County, conjure doctor. Think of the wealthiest constituency in the State having such a senator!

But that is what Reconstruction meant. When [Moore] left the senate he became what is called a conjure doctor and prospered sufficiently on the ignorance of his patients to maintain a handsome horse and buggy and many other comforts with which his victims had no acquaintance.

On one occasion an unusually ignorant woman believed she had swallowed a spring lizard and that he could cure her. That was an easy matter. The next day after procuring a small lizard and bringing it along with him together with a harmless emetic, he threw her into a spasm of nausea and by an adroit bit of legerdemain produced the lizard which he had bought.

This almost miraculous feat added greatly to his prestige and his pocketbook. I asked him if he were not ashamed to practice such deceptions. His answer was very frank.

“There was no way to deal with a fool who thought she had swallowed a lizard but by getting the lizard. I did it and she was cured. No other doctor could have done any more.”

(Southern Exposure, Peter Mitchel Wilson, UNC Chapel Hill, 1927, pp. 97-110)