Agitating for Equality Rather than Peace

Abolitionists of the Old North were agitating for equality more than the end of African slavery. Their strategy was not to compromise and find a peaceful and practical solution to the riddle; the goal of their radical Republican brethren who aided and abbetted them was to destroy the Southern economy and Southern political influence in national councils, no matter the cost in human lives and misery.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Agitating for Equality Rather Than Peace

“To have dropped the demand for immediate emancipation because it was unrealizable at the time would have been to alter the nature of the change for which the abolitionists were agitating. That is, even those who would have gladly accepted gradual and conditional emancipation had to agitate for immediate and unconditional abolition of slavery because that demand was required by their goal of demonstrating to white Americans that Negroes were their brothers. Once the nation had been converted on that point, conditions and plans might have been made.

Before the war, they refused to be drawn into discussions on the problem that sudden emancipation might create or on “plans” for easing the transition to freedom, for implicit in such discussions, they felt, was an assumption that Negro inferiority rather than white racism would produce the problems. This would not be so if the discussions were carried on by a society free of racism but merely anxious for the change in the Negro’s status be as smooth as possible.

But among whites unready to accept the Negro as inherently their equal, any such debate would feed the prevalent prejudice and provide an anesthetic for consciences that were beginning to hurt.

This is why [William Lloyd] Garrison’s first great campaign was to discredit colonizationism; that movement diverted attention from the principle of equality and had proved an adequate salve on potential antislavery consciences. That is also why some abolitionists could not accept free-soilism as a tactic to strangle slavery to death in the Southeast; while they might recognize the practical utility of the tactic, they could not admit the legitimacy of slavery in any part of the country without denying their movement’s fundamental principle [of equality].

To criticize the agitator for not trimming his demands to the immediately realizable – that is, for not acting like a politician – is to miss the point. The demand for a change that is not politically possible does not stamp the agitator as unrealistic. For one thing, it can be useful to the political bargainer; the more extreme demand of the agitator makes the politician’s demand seem acceptable and perhaps desirable in the sense that the adversary may prefer to give up half a loaf rather than the whole. Also, the agitator helps define the value, the principle, for which the politician bargains.”

(Means and Ends in American Abolitionism, Aileen S. Kraditor, Pantheon Books, 1967, pp. 27-28)

Northern Resistance to Abolitionists

Anti-abolition sentiment was often found north of Mason and Dixon’s line and evidenced by incidents like the 1837 shooting death of abolitionist Elija Lovejoy in Alton, Ohio.  The local citizenry tried to convince Lovejoy of his unpopularity by throwing his presses into the Mississippi River three times before resorting to the fatal measure.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Northern Resistance to Abolitionists

“One of the earliest newspapers of Niagara Falls [New York], The Niagara Falls Daily Recorder, had brief but somewhat volatile tenure becoming involved in the hot-button issue of slavery in the 1830’s. The story of early newspapers was related in a 1937 article by city historian Edward T. Williams, himself a longtime journalist and newspaper owner.

The Recorder issue of April 8, 1839, contained a two-column account of a public abolitionist meeting in the downtown union chapel, located near the “Eagle Tavern on the south side of Falls street.” The article, the editor pointed out, was published as an advertisement “paid for jackass and all.” The story had a picture of a jackass at the head.

The meeting was called by a Mr. Pickard, described as an itinerant abolitionist. It was agreed after he spoke one hour that members of the opposition would be allowed to reply. Apparently there was a lot of opposition to slavery abolition in the village, including the Recorder, which was owned by one W. Law.

Williams said the newspaper report “was evidently made up for those opposed to Mr. Pickard, and the abolitionist received little consideration, being called “used up.” The group then passed a couple resolutions against abolition. One said:

Resolved: that the doctrine of the present abolitionists is a far greater evil than slavery as it now exists.”

Another resolution said:

Resolved: that all further attempts to lecture upon the subject of slavery in this village deserves to be met with the most spirited opposition until abolition lecturers become like angel’s visits, few and far between.”

(History of Falls Newspapers Complex, Bob Kostoff, www.niagarafallsreporter.com, Jan. 18, 2011)

Prophets Rebuking Endless Sins

Abolitionists like Wendell Phillips admitted that “our unpopularity is no fault of ours, but flows necessarily and unavoidably from our position” and that public acceptance of their beliefs mattered not.  They were convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and the death of a million people in a war they helped cause left them unmoved.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Prophets Rebuking Endless Sins

“Wendell Phillips . . . characterized Abraham Lincoln in 1860 as “the slave-hound of Illinois,” and said that John Brown “carried letters of marque from God.” But like his fellow champion in the abolition cause [Garrison], he early lost whatever love of the Negro he might have had in an egotistic hatred of his white, Southern opponents.

After the [War Between the States], Wendell Phillips sought new outlets for his persuasive, self-assured energies in the causes of women’s rights and the claims of labor, but William Lloyd Garrison slipped slowly into the background, supported by the charity of his admirers, emerging on occassion to play the aging hero before a younger generation of reform-minded folk, and constant in his role as irritant to the body politic.

In all their activities, both Garrison and Phillips represented a tendency in American life which has never much appealed to observers from the Old World — in which self-appointed guardians of public morals rise up like the Old Testament prophets to rebuke sins as they see it, and in the most intemperate terms.”

(Mr. Lincoln’s Contemporaries, Roy Meredith, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951, page 32)

 

Nov 15, 2014 - From Africa to America    No Comments

Segregation in Africa

Langston Hughes visit to Africa in 1923 revealed a “European supremacy” system existing in the land of the black man.  In 1930 Hughes became president of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, established “for purposes of developing a wider race movement and bringing various classes of Negroes under [Communist] Party  direction. He received the NAACP’s Spingarn medal in 1960; the list of medal recipients is a virtual Who’s Who of black Communists.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Segregation in Africa:

“Along the West Coast [of Africa] we visited some thirty-two ports, from Dakar in Senegal to Loanda in the South. The Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, Lagos, the Niger, the Bight of Benin, and the Slave Coast, Calabar, the Kamerun, Boma up the Congo, where we were moored to a gigantic tree, and our last port, San Paola de Loanda in Portuguese Angola.

Singing boatmen on dark rivers, monkeys and bright birds, Capstan cigarettes in tins, hot beers, quarts of Johnny Walker and stone jugs of gin, barefooted black pilots guiding into reed-hutted ports . . . white men with guns under their belts, inns and taverns with signs up, EUROPEANS ONLY, missionary churches with the Negroes in the back seats and the whites who teach Jesus in the front rows . . . and the ships from the white man’s land anchored with lights aglow offshore in the starry darkness. Africa!”

(The Big Sea, Autobiography of Langston Hughes, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1986 (original 1940), pg. 106)

Nov 14, 2014 - From Africa to America    No Comments

King Mussa's Procession

The African tribes and their kings were known for their dependence on slavery and slave trading. When European’s arrived with goods, the enslaved brethren of the African tribes were offered in exchange.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

King Mussa’s Procession

“The first West African state of which there is any record was called Ghana. The people were farmers and traders and metal-smiths. Their capital city, Kumbi-Kumbi, was an important trading center during the Middle Ages. From the Arab countries came caravans of wheat and fruit and sugar and textiles and brass and salt. They went back loaded down with rubber and ivory and gold and another product the Africans were able to turn out better and in greater quantity than any other people. As a matter of fact, they had monopoly. We refer to Negro slaves.

The next Negro kingdom of any consequence was called Melle and comprised roughly what is now French West Africa. It was ruled during the first thirty years of the 14th century by a free-wheeling fellow by the name of Gonga-Mussa.

A good Moslem, King Mussa made a pilgrimage to Mecca in the year 1324. He travelled in style. There were 60,000 people in his party, including 12,000 slaves. Five hundred men [were] marching at the head of the procession bearing staffs of pure gold. To finance the trip, King Mussa took along eighty camels loaded down with gold valued at more than $5,000,000!

(My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night! W.E. Debnam, The Graphic Press, 1955, page 19)

Nov 13, 2014 - American Marxism    No Comments

Advancing the Collectivist Revolution

Though corrupted by the new Northern regime and the “New South” of industrial progress to match the North, Southern Democrats until the mid-1930s were a conservative element in Congress.  The increasingly socialist bent of FDR pushed many Southern Democrats into the Dixiecrat party of the late 1940s.   The reader is encouraged to read the official platforms of the 1936 CPUSA and today’s Democrat party — and note the minor differences.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Advancing the Collectivist Revolution:

“Although the Communists repeat the familiar Marxian indictment of modern society, they give greater emphasis to another criticism. The essential fault in capitalism, they say, is neither the inequality in distribution nor the inadequacy of production of the necessities of life. The fatal evil is the inequality of power, and the goal to be striven for is an equality not of wealth but of social status and cultural opportunity.

The achievement of that goal involves the destruction of a political as well as of an economic system. For the state, in any of its typical contemporary forms, is inextricably associated with the capitalist order. It historical role has been to serve the interests of those who own property, to support them in their domination of the property-less, and to suppress all attempts to shake off that domination. Thus the modern state is an agency for the maintenance of the status quo.

However democratic the structure of government, the real repositories of political authority are the owners of wealth, who, by their possession of the main organs of propaganda and education – the schools and colleges, the churches, and the press – control the political and social opinions of the workers.

How, according to the Communists, is the modern political and economic system to be ended? Its dissolution, they say, in the orthodox fashion, will come about partly through its own development and degeneration. Marx explained this to mean that capitalism must prepare the way for socialism, both destructively, by creating those conditions of concentration, overproduction, unemployment and poverty that make the workers in every way ready for a socialist revolution; and constructively, by developing the instrumentalities of large-scale production to a point where the proletarians can use them for socialist purposes.

The conditions prerequisite for the success of a revolution in a particular country are, according to Lenin, as follows: first, there must be an organized group of aggressive and resolute revolutionists, clearly conscious of their objective; and secondly, although the group will inevitably be small in numbers, it must be supported by an active discontent among the people generally; finally, the revolution must be undertaken when the defenders of the old order are weak and divided.”

(Recent Political Thought, Francis W. Coker, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1934, pp. 162-164)

Nov 13, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Adhering to the Incendiary Enemy

The freedmen unwittingly welcomed the Northern invaders and aided them against their white neighbors; Sherman’s soldiers routinely robbed and assaulted both black and white. The “Fiend of Destruction” wrote on 23 February 1865 to his cavalry commander: “It is pretty nonsense for [Southern Generals] Wheeler and Beauregard and such vain heroes to talk of our warring against women and children and prevent us from reaching their homes.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Adhering to the Incendiary Enemy:

“How prearranged the burning of Columbia must have been was proved by the scattering of Sherman’s soldiers in every direction. These soldiers were led by Negroes, who not only guided them, but by whom they must have been already informed of the residences of “prominent Rebels.” The eagerness and confidence by which these creatures, who called themselves soldiers, were animated, was astonishing. They flew about inquiring, “Is this the home of Mr. Rhett?” pointing in the right direction; or, “Is that the dwelling of Mr. Middleton?” also indicating exactly the locality, with many other like questions.

It was surprising to see the readiness with which these incendiaries succeeded in their work of destruction. They had hardly passed out of sight when columns of smoke and flames arose to bring the sad news that another home had been sacrificed to the demon of malice and arrogance.

At length we came in sight of the Clark place. I stood amazed, bewildered. I felt as if I would sink to the ground, yea, through it. I was riveted to the spot on which I stood. I could not move. At length I cried – cried like a woman in despair.

Elegant rosewood and mahogany furniture, broken into a thousand fragments, covered the face of the ground as far as I could see; and china and glass looked as if it had been sown. And the house, what of that? Alas! it too had been scattered to the four winds of heaven in the form of smoke and ashes. Not even a chimney stood to mark its site.

Near by stood a row of Negro cabins, intact, showing that while the conflagration was going on, they had been sedulously guarded. And these cabins were occupied by the slaves of the plantation. Men, women and children stalked about in restless uncertainty, and in surly indifference. They had been led to believe that the country would be apportioned to them, but they had sense enough to know that such a mighty revolution involved trouble and delay, and they were supinely waiting developments. No man, woman or child approached me. There was mutual distrust and mutual avoidance.”

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page Andrews, editor, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 259-260, 318-319)

Nov 13, 2014 - Lincoln's Patriots    No Comments

Addditional Pay for Volunteers

The following letter from Mrs. Louis T. Wigfall of Texas to her daughter in early 1861 relates the Sumter affair in which Senator Wigfall obtained the surrender of Anderson, and his low opinion of Northern patriotism.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Additional Pay for Volunteers:

“Montgomery, April 26 [1861].

“The people here are all in fine spirits . . . No one doubts our success . . . I suppose the chief fighting will be in Maryland and Virginia . . .

April 29: You allude to reports given in the Northern papers of the Fort Sumter affair. It is only what might have been expected of them, that they would garble and misrepresent the truth; but I must confess that Major Anderson’s silence, and the disingenuous bulletin he sent to Cameron have surprised me.

He takes care not to tell the whole truth, and any one to read his statement would suppose he had only come out on those conditions, whereas, he surrendered unconditionally – the US flag was lowered without salute while your father was in the fort. This was seen, not only by your father, but by the thousands who were on the watch, and it was only owing to General Beauregard’s generosity (misplaced, it seems, now) that he was allowed to raise it again, and to salute it on coming out of the Fort, and take it with him . . . And this conduct too, after the kind and generous treatment he met with from the Carolinians.

I don’t think though that the military enthusiasm can be very high at the North as I see they are offering $20 additional pay to volunteers a month. That speaks volumes. I suppose it is to be accounted for in the anxiety to get rid of the mob population who might be troublesome at home.”

(A Southern Girl in ’61, The War-Time Memories of a Confederate Senator’s Daughter, Mrs. D. Giraud Wright, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1905, pp. 49 -51)

Acts of Oppression in the Name of Liberty

From the Russian Embassy at Washington, diplomat Baron Edouard de Stoeckl monitored the Lincoln administration and reported in detail to St. Petersburg. He would conclude as other observers did that Lincoln’s goal was to maintain the territorial union by force, with slavery intact and confined to existing geographic limits; the Republican party Jacobins wanted the South’s political and economic power destroyed and a reign of terror to accomplish the goal.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Acts of Oppression in the Name of Liberty:

“If the reign of the demagogues continues for a long time, General [John C.] Fremont is destined to play an important role. He is already the standard-bearer of the radical [Republican] party, and he will become the head of the party because of his superiority over the other leaders, among whom are only mediocre men and not a single leader of talent and energy.

Continuing his analysis of the “deplorable situation,” Stoeckl discussed in some detail the efforts of the radicals to gain control of affairs.

“General Fremont acted without authorization of [President Lincoln] and even contrary to his instructions, which forbid him to act in regard to the slave States of the west where Unionists are still fairly numerous. So the President was greatly astonished to learn about the [emancipation] proclamation of General Fremont. He regarded is as an act of insubordination.

For awhile there was consideration of dismissal [of Fremont], but after all [Lincoln] did nothing and did not even dare to reprimand him. The radicals, emboldened by this triumph, demand today that the edicts laid down by General Fremont in Missouri shall be applied everywhere. In other words, they demand that the government should convert the present struggle into a war of extermination.

What the radical party fears most is a reaction which would bring its ruin. So it takes advantage of the hold it has on the administration in order to drive it to extreme measures. The government has forbidden postmasters to carry newspapers in the mails which advocate conciliation and compromise. The result has been that the majority of newspapers which were opposed to war have had to suspend publication.

In several towns the extremists have gone even further. They have stirred up the populace, which has smashed the plants of the moderate newspapers. Conditions are such that mere denunciation by a general is sufficient for a person to be arrested and imprisoned. The act of habeas corpus and all the guarantees which the Americans have appeared to prize so much, have vanished and given way to martial law, which . . . is being enforced throughout the North.

We are not far from a reign of terror such as existed during the great French Revolution, and what makes the resemblance more striking is that all these acts of oppression are made in the name of liberty.”

Stoeckl wrote that the people of the North were being misled into believing that these drastic measures would hasten the peaceful restoration of the Union. But he did not believe the deception could persist:

“People will not be duped long by their political leaders. The reaction will necessarily take place. But unfortunately it will come too late to repair the harm that the demagogues have done to the country. It will be necessary finally to revolutionize the political and administrative institutions…which have been weakened upon the first rock against which the nation has been hurled. In the North and in the South they will have to reconstruct the edifice which the founders of the Republic have had so much trouble in building . . . The present war is only the prelude of the political convulsions which this country will have to pass through.”

(Lincoln and the Radicals, Albert A. Woldman, World Publishing Company, 1952, pp. 80-83)

Achieving Proper Chromatography in Public Schools

One of the results of 1865 was the establishment of a protected class of citizens of the now-consolidated United States; prior to 1865 the States were the locus of who and what a citizen of their sovereign domains were, and what qualifications had to be met in order to vote.  The ongoing reconstruction of the South after WWII saw the central government assume control of education to enforce equalities other than political for its protected class, and the predictable chaos has resulted.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Achieving Proper Chromatography in Public Schools:

“No one has yet constructively and pragmatically defined what “integration” in the schools requires. Enough survey work has been done to show that Negro parents, like white parents, are more interested in the quality of education than in the chromatic proportions of the classroom. Yet in every city so much emotion is spent weighing the numbers, the percentages, the admixture of black and white, that Negro leaders have convinced far too many of their own people that Negroes sitting together in one classroom retard each other’s education.

In cities like Washington DC, where 80% of children in public schools are Negro, or areas like Manhattan, where 69% are Negro and Puerto Rican, “integration” could be achieved only by the most mechanical and arbitrary importation of white children from distant areas.

So in the name of “integration” some Negro leaders, notable in Los Angeles and New York, are demanding that white children be transported into Negro slums to achieve proper chromatography. Few Negro leaders in New York dare denounce the idea publicly for fear they will be blasted by others of their race for being against “integration.” Meanwhile white parents can be tormented by a magnificently emotional appeal: “Integration means your kids will be forced on buses and shipped to Harlem with all those illegitimate and backward kids.”

The kind of confusion set up by the word “integration” as applied to education is best reflected in a conversation with a bitter young Negro student leader in Chicago who began by listing as his No. 1 demand of American society ”separate but superior education for Negroes – if we could get it.”

Then, after increasingly emotional talk for an hour, he took up the matter of cross-busing white children into Negro districts and said: “The white kids got to pay for what their parents did to us. Even at the age of 6, they got to pay – because they’re going to pay one way or the other. Besides, it will be good for them.”

(Power Structure, Integration, Militancy, Freedom Now!, Theodore H. White, Life Magazine, November 29, 1963, pp. 78-80)