The North's Path to Bloodshed

President James Buchanan knew precisely the origin of the troubles plaguing the country at mid-nineteenth century. The radical abolitionists and the purely sectional Republican party were threats to the peace of the country as they both fomented race war in the South. Not forthcoming from either were peaceful and practical proposals to end slavery.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The North’s Path to Bloodshed

“In his message of December 3, 1860, President Buchanan said to Congress, and virtually to the people of the North (p. 626 Vol. 5, Richardson):

“The long continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at length produced its natural effects.  I have long foreseen and often forewarned my countrymen of the new impending danger. The immediate peril arises not so much from these causes as from the fact the incessant and violent agitation of the slavery question throughout the North for the last quarter of a century has at length produced its malign influence on the slaves and inspired them with vague notions of freedom.

Hence a sense of security no longer exists around the family altar.  This feeling of peace at home has given place to apprehension of servile insurrections. Many a matron throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and children before the morning. Self-preservation is the first law of nature and has been implanted in the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest purpose. But let us take warning in time and remove the cause of danger.”

It cannot be denied that for five and twenty years the agitation of the North against slavery has been incessant.  In 1835 pictorial hand-bills and inflammatory appeals were circulated extensively throughout the South of a character to excite the passions of slaves, and in the language of Genl. Jackson, to stimulate them to insurrection and produce all the horrors of a servile war. At the Presidential election in 1860 the Republican Party was greatly agitated over the Helper Book which instigated massacre.

Lincoln and Seward would not say that they were for massacre, but the Abolitionists had the vision of the X-ray and could see through such false pretenses. The doctrine of both “the irrepressible conflict” of Seward and “a house divided against itself cannot stand” of Lincoln, pointed directly to bloodshed.

The Abolitionists voted for Lincoln, and Wendell Phillips, who rejoiced at his election, said in a speech at Tremont Temple, Boston, a few days later: “There was a great noise at Chicago, much pulling of wires and creaking of wheels, then forth stept Abraham Lincoln.  But John Brown was behind the curtain, and the cannon of March 4 will only echo the rifles at Harper’s Ferry.

The Republican Party have undertaken the problem the solution of which will force them to our position.  Not Mr. Seward’s “Union and Liberty” which he stole from Webster’s “Liberty first” (a long pause) then “Union afterwards” (Phillips, Speeches and Lectures, pp. 294, 314).

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65, Captain S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, NC, 1935)

Britain's Inhumane Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade which populated the America’s with Africans was chartered and encouraged by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of York oversaw the Royal African Company, a slave trading concern. These British slavers were only surpassed in efficiency by the slavers of New England; Providence, Rhode Island became the slaving capital of North America by 1750.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Britain’s Inhumane Slave Trade:

“On the 1st of April, 1772 the [Virginia] House of Burgesses addressed a hot petition to the crown, “imploring his Majesty’s paternal assistance in averting a calamity of a most alarming nature.” It proceeds: “The importation of slaves into the colonies from the coast of Africa hath long been considered as a trade of inhumanity, and under its present encouragement we have too much reason to fear will endanger the very existence of your Majesty’s American dominions. We are sensible that some of your Majesty’s subjects may reap emoluments from this sort of traffic…we most humbly beseech your Majesty to remove all those restraints on your Majesty’s governors of the colony which inhibit their assenting to such House of Burgesses] laws as might check so very pernicious a traffic.

When the vote was taken in the Federal Congress on the resolution to postpone the prohibition of the [slave] trade to the year 1808, Virginia used all her influence to defeat the postponement, and it was carried by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The final prohibition of the slave trade by act of Congress was brought about through the influence of President Jefferson and by the active efforts of Virginians.

And greatly to the labors of the representatives from Virginia was due the final extinction of the vile traffic [of England and New England] through the act of Congress declaring it to be piracy, five years before Great Britain took similar action with regard to her subjects. Such is the actual record of the much-vilified South relating to the African slave trade, taken from official records.

The gradual system of emancipation adopted at the North had undoubtedly led to many of the slaves being shipped off to the South and sold. When, therefore, after this “abolition,” the movement, from being confined to the comparatively small band of liberators who were actuated by pure principle, extended to those who had been their persecutors, it aroused suspicion at the South which blinded it to a just judgment of the case.

The statutory laws relating to slavery at the South are held up as proof of the brutality with which they were treated even under the law. But these laws were not more cruel than the laws of England at the period they were enacted…and, at least, Southerners never tolerated wholesale burning at the stake as a legal punishment, as was done in New York as late as 1741, when fourteen Negroes were burnt at the stake on the flimsy testimony of a half-crazed servant girl; and as was done in Massachusetts as late as 1755, when a Negro was burnt for murder.”

(The Old South, Essays Social and Political, Thomas Nelson Page, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896, pp. 29-32)

Britain Observes the Northern War for Empire

The Northern war against the South was seen in Europe as a strange sequel for a country formed by secession from England, with the South taking the part of the American colonies seeking independence from the mother country. The British saw through the North’s moral outrage over the slavery they were mostly responsible for perpetuating with their cotton mills.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Britain Observes the Northern War for Empire

“The popular verdict in England was that “the struggle between North and South was a contest for political power and ascendancy, and that in reference to slavery the North discarded or ignored all practical measures for emancipation, and confined their operations to oratory, preaching, sentimental poems, fiction and invective.”

The opinions of the responsible statesmen of Great Britain may be stated in the following extract from a speech delivered by Earl Russell at Newcastle on the 14th of October, 1861: –“We now see the two parties (in the United States) contending together, not upon the slavery question, though that I believe was probably the original cause of the quarrel, not contending with respect to free trade and [tariff] protection, but contending, as so many States in the Old World have contended, the one side for empire, and the other for independence.”

The official view expressed in the course of a speech by Earl Russell in the House of Lords, 9th of June 1864. He said : –“It is dreadful to think that hundreds of thousands of men are being slaughtered for the purpose of preventing the Southern States from acting on those very principles of independence which, in 1776, were asserted by the whole of America against this country.

Only a few years ago the Americans were in the habit of celebrating the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, and some eminent friends of mine never failed to make eloquent and stirring orations on those occasions.

I wish, while they kept up a useless ceremony (for the present generation of Englishmen are not responsible for the War of Independence), they had inculcated on their own minds that they should not go to war with four millions, five millions, or six millions of their countrymen who want to put the principles of 1776 into operation as regards themselves.”

(The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe, James D. Bulloch, Sagamore Press, 1959, pp. 311-312, 313-314)

Jan 4, 2015 - Lincoln's Patriots    No Comments

Lincoln's German Patriots

Keenly aware of German immigrant political power in Illinois, Lincoln secretly purchased the Springfield Staats-Zeitung in 1859 to help further his electoral chances. The influential “Forty-Eighter” element of the German immigrants were radical reformers and revolutionaries determined to remake the world, and bringing forth the millennium. This element proved useful in Lincoln’s future need for troops, though few if any understood the American form of government.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s German Patriots

“The Federal hosts were . . . not recruited from one continent alone. The speech of almost every European nation might have been heard in the camps of the Army of the Potomac. There were brigades of Irish and divisions of Germans. There were those who had fought with the Red Shirts of Garibaldi, and some who had followed Kossuth into rebellion . . . [and Canadians].

The call to war issued from Washington gathered under one flag a motley assemblage. Motivated . . . by honor, by a desire for emoluments, (including the promised bounties), or by sheer love of adventure, the soldiers came – patriot (whether native or foreign) and hireling, foreign prince, knight-errant, and soldier of fortune – to range themselves under the Stars and Stripes.

It was such a cosmopolitan assemblage, of Germans and Irishmen, of Frenchmen and Italians, of Poles and Scandinavians, of Hungarians and Dutchmen, as had ever been gathered together since the Thirty Years’ War.

In New York City alone, thousands of Germans tendered their services at the firing of the first gun on Fort Sumter. During the war there went out from New York ten almost solidly German regiments: three regiments in which one-half or more were of that nationality, five German artillery batteries, and two cavalry regiments in which fully one-half the men were Germans.

The ten purely German regiments, with two others more than one-half German, were all organized in 1861, the first six under Lincoln’s first call. In addition the Fifth New York Militia . . . was one of the first to leave New York under Colonel Christian Schwarzwalder for the defense of the capital.

All told, there were 1,046 men in the Eighth Regiment, known also as the First German Rifles, commanded by that picturesque semi-soldier of fortune, General Louis Blenker. Although the lieutenant color sergeant of the regiment was Hungarian, and several other nationalities were scantily represented in the ranks, this might be termed an “echt” (genuine) German regiment.

Few of the German regiments enlisted more attention that the De Kalb Regiment, or the Forty-first New York . . . [which] received material help from R.A. Witthaus, a patriotic and wealthy German citizen. About 700 of its 1,040 members, as well as its commander, had fought in the Prussian Army against the Danes in 1848-1849; and 23 of its 33 officers were veterans who had seen service in European campaigns.”

(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, pp. 93-96)

Inciting Race War and Murder

To help suppress the American drive for independence in 1775, Lord Dunmore of Virginia incited a race war by encouraging African slaves the British had imported to massacre their plantation owners –men, women and children. The British repeated this strategy in 1814; wealthy New Englanders attempted it in 1859 through John Brown; Lincoln utilized it in 1863 to suppress another American drive for independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Inciting Race War and Murder:

“With the majority of her young men away at war, Beaufort County’s greatest fear was for a British instigated slave uprising. At the beginning of the war, Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia . . . had threatened: “By the living God, if any insult is offered to me, or to those who have obeyed my orders, I will declare freedom to the slaves and pay the town (of Williamsburg) in ashes.”

He issued such an order for the defense of Norfolk, freeing all indentured servants and slaves “of the rebels, that are able and willing to bear arms.” He added the proviso that they join the British troops. Some two or three hundred Negroes were freed, and joined in the defense of Norfolk as “Lord Dunmore’s Ethiopians.”

In Beaufort County and other eastern counties where there was a large Negro population, this threat of slave uprising was an ever-present cause for concern. In July of 1775, shortly after Dunmore had made his threat, a “Horrid, Tragic Plan” for such an uprising was discovered. A loyal Negro slave who belonged to Captain Thomas Respess revealed the plot [of a] Tory named Johnson, apparently of another county, [who] engineered the plan. A Bath Town slave named Merrick was the Negro leader through whom he worked.

On the night of 8 July 1775, the slaves on each plantation were to turn on their masters, and slay them and their families. They would then join with the slaves from other plantations. Armed with the weapons of their murdered masters, they were to go farm to farm of the neighboring non-slave holding farmers and surprise and murder them. Moving westward through the counties, they were to be met by an agent of the British government, who would supply them with more ammunition. As a reward, they would later be settled in a free government of their own.

Over one hundred mounted patrollers were promptly dispatched to warn all plantation owners and farmers, and were directed to apprehend all Negroes found off their plantations. Over forty Negroes suspected of being leaders in the plot were apprehended. One group of about two hundred and fifty Negroes was located. When surrounded by two companies of Light Horse, they fled into the swamps.

Many of the captured Negroes confessed to their part in the plot. Records do not specify the punishment . . . [although] the law prescribed death for such an offense. Johnson, the instigator of the plot, escaped. Though the threat hung over the eastern counties for the remained of the war, no other attempt at an uprising was recorded.”

(History of Beaufort County, C. Wingate Reed, Edwards & Broughton, 1962, pp. 120-121)

British and French Mediation Considered

Rarely mentioned as a decisive deterrent to Anglo-French recognition of Southern independence was the presence of Russian fleets in San Francisco and New York from September 1863 through March 1864. The British and French were both stood puzzled as the Czar and Lincoln emancipated serfs and slaves while at the same time crushing independence movements in Poland and the American South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

British and French Mediation Considered

“Ultimately the South’s hopes for independence marched with its armies, and indeed when the Army of Northern Virginia invaded Maryland in the fall of 1862, [British Lords] Palmerston and [John] Russell became convinced of the depth and potential of Southern separation.

On September 14, Palmerston wrote to Russell about Anglo-French mediation and “an arrangement upon the basis of separation.” Russell responded, “I agree with you that the time has come for offering mediation to the United States Government, with a view of the recognition of the Independence of the Confederates – I agree further that in case of failure, we ought ourselves to recognize the Southern States, as an independent State.”

In accord with these convictions, Russell informally approached his counterpart in Paris, Antoine Edouard Trouvenel, and discussed with Palmerston a date for a meeting of the cabinet to approve the mediation scheme. Russell was still firm in this policy on October 4, when he wrote Palmerston, “I think unless some miracle takes place this will be the very time for offering Mediation.”

And on October 7, Chancellor of the Exchequer William Gladstone let the cat out of the bag. Speaking at Newcastle, Gladstone affirmed, that, “Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more than either, they have made a nation.”

Then, just a quickly as the mediation enthusiasm had developed in England, it evaporated. [Though as important as the Sharpsburg battle and Lincoln’s abolition proclamation] were, other considerations contributed to England’s return to nonintervention. Mediation was attractive to free-traders who resented the Federal blockade, to liberals who supported self-determination, to conservatives who felt a kinship with landed aristocrats in the South, and to some varieties of nationalists who looked with favor upon the dissolution of the United States.

But these attractions were essentially abstract. In the end British statesmen had to face the hard reality of what might follow an unsuccessful offer of mediation and subsequent recognition of the confederacy: they had to ponder the consequences of a North American war. And if the British should be drawn into an American war, they wanted to support the winning side. In this regard, [Sharpsburg] and abolition] were indecisive; neither event broke the American impasse to reveal a victor.”

(The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865, Emory M. Thomas, Henry Steele Commager & Richard B. Morris, editors, Harper & Row, 1979, pp. 179-180)

Jan 4, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Convicts and Indentured Servants to America

The need for labor in its American colony stimulated not only the indentured servitude detailed below, but also slave trading by England’s Royal African Company. This was formed in 1662 with the king’s brother, the Duke of York, as president. It would have an outright monopoly on bringing enslaved Africans to the New World until 1697, when the British Crown permitted private traders to carry slaves to British colonies and paying a 10 percent duty.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Convicts and Indentured Servants to America

“A principal source of labor for the [American] plantations during the seventeenth century were the white indentured servants brought from England. In the mother country the farm hands and laboring classes received miserably low wages . . . [and] found it almost impossible to save [6 pounds], the average cost of passage to America. The only method by which they could transfer their labor from a cheap market in England to a dear market in America was the indenture system, really a credit, or installment system to pay the passage money of crossing the Atlantic. The servant signed a contract by which he sold his labor to a master for a period usually of four or five years.

Immigration into the colonies was vastly stimulated by the profitable business of securing servants for the American market. John Harrower, an indentured servant in Virginia, described in his diary which he kept from 1773-1776, a class of merchants called Soul Drivers, who met immigrant and convict ships at the docks to buy servants, whom they would drive through the colonies “like a parcel of Sheep” to sell to the highest bidder. Such servants were sold for prices ranging from [20 pounds] for the highest type, Scottish soldiers captured after the Jacobite revolt, to [4 pounds] for Irish vagrants.

Most of the indentured servants were young men and women under twenty-five years of age. Under some masters the indentured servitude approximated the conditions of slavery. The master had the right to punish his white servant by whipping, and the servant could not leave the plantation without permission. If a servant married without consent or if a maidservant had an illegitimate baby, the term of service was extended for one year. If a servant ran away and was arrested, he or she was punished by extending the term of service two days extra in Virginia and ten days in Maryland for every day of absence.

The labor shortage in America was so great that it led to the dark crime of kidnapping. There were professional agents in England known a “spirits” who kidnapped “drunks” in taverns and young persons on the streets to ship them to America for sale as servants. The British government used the Southern colonies as well as the islands of Jamaica and Barbados as a dumping ground for convicts.

(A History of the Old South, The Emergence of a Reluctant Nation, Clement Eaton, MacMillan Publishing, 1975, pp. 23-31)

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)

Revolutionary Rule of the Industrialists

With conservative Southern statesmen of the past absent from the halls of the United States Congress, “fraud and trickery were the revolutionary devices resorted to by Northern industrialists to complete the job begun by Grant’s cannon and bayonets.” Presidents became the creation of the wealthy classes, with “a maze of frauds and trickeries . . . [extending] from the Civil War to the end of the century.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Revolutionary Rule of the Industrialists

“Government has been the indispensable handmaiden of private wealth since the origin of society. And far from having embellished history with significant exception, the government of the United States, without the camouflage of custom or tradition, ritual or dogma, Church or Aristocracy, has actually done more to prove the truth of this generalization than have all the governments in Europe.

So perfect, so thorough, has been the collaboration of politics and private fortune since the founding of the American colonies that it is difficult to ascertain from the date of any given period where political intrigue on behalf of specific private interest has terminated.

The Constitution, written in the furtive atmosphere of a coup d’etat during secret deliberations of a convention called merely to regulate commerce, was received with hostility by the populace, which forced the precipitate addition of the first ten amendments. The document provided for a government of ostensible checks and balances, (but really, as a wit has said, of all checks and no balances), and at the same time guaranteed the utmost freedom, unchecked and unbalanced, to propertied interests. “The result . . . is a modern government that is about five times as inflexible, and much less democratic, than the government of Great Britain.”

Through the decades leading to the Civil War, the fuel of political strife was provided by the propertied classes . . . [and] when a series of political defeats at the hands of Northern industrialists and merchants eventually became ominously foreboding, the Southern planter faction did not hesitate to draw the sword. The Civil War began as a counter-revolution, but ended as a revolution.

The triumph of the North in the war, however, forever dislodging the landed gentry from political power, brought sweeping authority to the tariff-minded industrialists – authority that has since been seriously disputed . . . only by the Western agrarians under William Jennings Bryan . . . From 1865 to 1896 the essentially revolutionary rule of the industrialists was unbroken.

Marcus Alonzo Hanna, commissar extraordinary of John D. Rockefeller, became the political architect of the new era, whose unique characteristics have been a tremendous drive into foreign markets, unprecedented industrial consolidation, expansion of the mass-production industries to a staggering degree, and unexampled application of technology to production, and the fateful gravitation of the nation’s producing resources as well as the political apparatus into the hands of bank capitalists.

Before Hanna the unconstitutional control by the industrialists had been furtive, half ashamed, and vehemently denied even in the face of the most damning evidence; under Hanna the control was for the first time brazenly admitted and, cynically or sincerely, justified on the pretense that it was in the national interest.”

(America’s Sixty Families, Ferdinand Lundberg, Halcyon House, 1937, pp. 50-53)

Vandals Sack Jefferson Davis' Brierfield

The Mississippi plantations of Joseph and Jefferson Davis, Brierfield and Hurricane, were models of kind treatment to the Africans in their care. James H. Jones, the colored body-servant of Mr. Davis at the end of the war, requested the honor of driving “the remains of my old master to their last resting place” after Davis’ death in 1889.  He did not want to be “deprived of the last opportunity of showing my lasting appreciation for my best friend.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Vandals Sack Jefferson Davis’ Brierfield

“When Union forces reached Grand Gulf and Davis Bend, a raiding party burned Hurricane on June 24, 1862. Although the raiders also prowled through Brierfield, for some strange reason they refrained from applying the torch to the house.

Grant initiated his thrust for Vicksburg from Memphis early in 1863. Farragut cooperated in this maneuver by renewing his surge upriver from the south. I May 1863, Brierfield was revisited by Federal troops. James W. Garner has written that “when Farragut’s fleet steamed up the river in 1863, it stopped long enough to allow the marines to go ashore and destroy or carry away everything of value.”

On June 1, 1863, a Vicksburg newspaper reported that Yankees had rifled Brierfield, destroyed all farming implements, as well as household and kitchen furniture, and badly defaced the premises. Pictures were probably then taken of “the House Jeff Built.”

These events occurred during the prolonged siege when most Confederate soldiers in the area were bottled up in Vicksburg. After the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the Union army took control of Brierfield and Hurricane . . . [consisting of] 1,000 acres, one mansion and ten quarters. It was reserved for the use of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands,” known as the “Freedmen’s Bureau.”

Margaret Mitchell Bigelow has commented that “one of the most interesting experiments was the one of Jefferson Davis’ plantation on Davis Bend. Here some seventy lessees, all Negroes, seemed to have been more successful than the Northern speculators.

The good showing of the Negroes at Davis Bend was due in part to the excellent training given by Joe and Jefferson Davis to their slaves before the war. This colony led by the [former slave Ben] Montgomery’s eventually became the all-Negro colony of Mound Bayou.”

Professor Bigelow also pointed out that in 1864 the “Jeff Davis Mansion” was headquarters for the Cincinnati Contraband Relief Commission of the Freedmen’s Aid Society. On the entire 10,000 acre Davis Bend Colony, the home Farm in Mississippi, there were 1,750 freedmen at one time; and the project cleared $160,000 in 1865. The Brierfield part of the colony produced 234 bales of cotton for a profit of $25,000.”

(Brierfield: Plantation Home of Jefferson Davis, Frank E. Everett, Jr., University and College Press of Mississippi, 1971, pp. 77-78)