Nov 7, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Doing the Barbarous Will of the Abolitionists

The Old Guard was published from 1863 to 1867 by C. Chauncey Burr in New York, though not pro-Union. Articles that appeared during the war years were very critical of Lincoln and his administration, and blamed them either directly of indirectly, for the mass casualties on both sides of the fighting.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Doing the Barbarous will of the Abolitionists

“The following extract from a letter written by one of our officers the day after the slaughter at Fredericksburg will be read with mingled shame and indignation by every Northern man, except the abolitionists, who appear to delight in such theft and plunder.

“I went over the Rappahannock this morning (the 13th) and such a scene as I witnessed cannot possibly be described. The men [of the Northern army] had emptied every house and store of its contents, and the streets, as a matter of course, were filled with chairs and sofas, pianos, books and everything imaginable. The men were beginning to make themselves appear as ridiculous as possible. Some had hauled pianos to the front doors and were making hideous noises on them.

Others were in silk dresses with beaver hats on, parading the streets. Others were reading letters; while others turned their attention to obtaining tobacco of which there was an immense quantity in town. I have seen hundreds of men with from 50 to 100 pounds of it. I saw one man with a canary bird, and another with a banjo.

A more disgraceful scene I have never witnessed. If Richmond suffers the same fate this town has, no wonder that the [Southern] whites fight so. The shelling was a military necessity; but after the town was in our possession the pillaging should have ceased. I think our army has been disgraced today by this act.”

A federal officer, corresponding for the Chicago Times, gives an account of General Grant’s progress in Northern Mississippi which shows that our soldiers under that command are horribly demoralized:

“ Straggling through the country, and stealing everything that they can lay their hands on (says the correspondent), whether of use or not to them, goes on. Helpless women and children are robbed of their clothes and bedding, their provisions taken from them and by men who have no earthly use for them whatever.”

From Another Correspondent:

“A private letter received here not long since, from a soldier in one of our western armies states that their march South was characterized by acts of vandalism and wanton outrage, and fiendish cruelty disgraceful to a civilized people. Burning houses, desolated fields and homeless households marked their path; while unlicensed robbery, indiscriminate plunder, and, not infrequently, assassination completed the woeful picture presented by an invading army which appeared to be without restraint, and whose only purpose would seem to be as thus manifested, to burn, pillage and destroy as it went.”

Men who behave in this manner are not soldiers, but brigands. The officers who allow such crimes deserve to be execrated by the parents whose sons are under their command. It was one of the real causes of abolition complain against General McClellan, that he forbid marauding and plundering. It is painful to publish such things; but the people ought to know them, in order that they may understand why it is that the Southern people fight with such unnatural desperation, and why they have come to entertain such a sincere horror of Northern people.

Generals who allow these crimes on the part of their soldiers, it is certain, are not fighting to restore the Union—they are doing the barbarous will of the abolitionists, to drive the South so far out that it can never get back. We are sorry to say that General Grant has won for himself a most inglorious notoriety in this particular.”

(The Old Guard, September 1863, C. Chauncey Burr & Co. New York.)

 

Nov 7, 2014 - Prescient Warnings    No Comments

Daniel Webster, A Prophet

“The Old Guard” was published from 1863 to 1867 by C. Chauncey Burr in New York, though not pro-Union.  Articles that appeared during the war years were very critical of Lincoln and his administration, and blamed them either directly of indirectly, for the mass casualties on both sides of the fighting.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circ1865

 
Daniel Webster, Prophet

“When the “great Expounder of the Constitution” read the speech of Mr. [William H.] Seward, which announced “the irrepressible conflict,” he exclaimed:

“If these infernal fanatics and abolitionists ever get power in their hands, they will override the Constitution, set Supreme Court at defiance, change and make laws to suit themselves, lay violent hands on those that differ with them in their opinion, or dare question their infallibility; and finally, bankrupt the country and deluge it with blood.”

We beg, with due respect, to call Mr. Lincoln’s attention to these words of terrible prophecy uttered by the immortal Daniel Webster. The flowers have blossomed over the grave of the great statesman but a few summers before his awful words are more than fulfilled. Will Mr. Lincoln deny that abolitionism has already wrought the work of destruction and death then foretold?”

(The Old Guard, September 1863 issue, C. Chauncey Burr & Co. New York.)

Nov 7, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Governor Spaight's Coffin

The father of Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. was the first native-born governor of North Carolina, educated in Scotland at the University of Glasgow and aide de camp to General Richard Caswell.  Spaight the younger was the last North Carolina governor elected by the legislature.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Governor Spaight’s Coffin:

Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. (1796-1850), son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was also a member of the North Carolina Legislature, United States Congressman and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, served as governor of The Old North State from 1835 to 1837. He was born in New Bern, and prior to being governor, he served in the State Legislature from 1819 to 1822, and again from 1825 to 1834. Spaight was the last governor to be elected by the legislature, and was a member of the 1837 Constitutional Convention which transferred the gubernatorial election to popular vote.

During the War Between the States, Northern occupation troops used the Stevenson House (corner Pollock & George Streets) in New Bern as a hospital for wounded soldiers. In a truly unbelievable act of barbarism, “the body of Governor Spaight was dug up by Northern soldiers, the skull placed on a gate post, and the metal coffin used to send the body of a federal soldier back North.”

(A New Geography of North Carolina, Bill Sharpe, Sharpe’s Publishing Company 1961, page 1232)

Sovereign States in a Federated Union

John Taylor of Caroline viewed the economic life of the country as being local in character and only under the jurisdiction of the individual States – that is, popular institutions. Therefore he concluded, “the entire nationalistic program of the Federal Government as to banking, funding, tariff, and internal improvements is unconstitutional.” If one sidesteps the victor’s claim that they fought to end slavery 1861-1865, one finds that the Hamiltonian drive for concentrated federal power was underlying reason for war.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Sovereign States in a Federated Union:

“The States, located in the center of the political landscape, perform a stabilizing function with sufficient power to protect the whole [federal] structure from the onslaughts of inimical forces that attack from two directions. They are essentially buffer States.

They represent a compromise between two types of concentrated power – one in the Federal Government, the other in the people, the turbulence of whom may lead to the reintroduction of monarchy such as followed the French Revolution.

Mobs and tyrants generate each other. Only the States can prevent the clashes of these two eternal enemies. Thus, unless the States can obstruct the greed and avarice of concentrated power, the issue will be adjudicated by an insurrectionary mob. The States represent government by rule and law as opposed to government by force and fraud, which characterizes consolidated power whether in a supreme federal government, in the people, in factions, or in strong individuals.

Republicanism is the compromise between the idea that the people are a complete safeguard against the frauds of governments and the idea that the people, from ignorance or depravity, are incapable of self-government.

The basic struggle in the United States is between mutual checks by political departments and an absolute control by the Federal Government, or between division and concentration of power. Hamilton and Madison presented an impressive case for a strong national government, supreme over the rights of States.

They are supported by all the former Tories who benefit from the frauds of the paper system. Those who take this view are referred to as variously as monarchists, consolidators, and supremacists. The basic fallacy of their way of thinking is that they simply refuse to recognize “the primitive, inherent, sovereignty of each State” upon which basis only a federal form of government can be erected.

They assume the existence of an American Nation embracing the whole geographical reach of the country, on which they posit their argument for a supreme national government. But this is merely a fiction….The Declaration, the [Articles of] Confederation, and the Constitution specifically recognize the existence of separate and sovereign States, not of any American Nation or consolidated nation or people of the United States or concentrated sovereignty in the Federal Government. The word “America” designates a region on the globe and does not refer to any political entity.”

(The Social Philosophy of John Taylor of Caroline, A Study in Jeffersonian Democracy, Eugene Tenbroeck Mudge, Columbia University Press, 1939, pp. 65-66)

New England Federalist Secession Doctrine

An irony of history has the doctrine of secession originating in the South when it was first advanced by New England over the issue of Louisiana’s admission to Statehood. Jefferson and Madison, both Southerners, opposed secession; New England Federalists demanded it.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

New England Federalist Secession Doctrine

“The final political phenomenon to arise out of the North-South competition of the 1790s was the doctrine of Secession. It represented the death rattle of the Federalist party. The pivotal year was 1800 when the Democratic leaders Jefferson and Burr succeeded in putting together a coalition of the have-nots of the country – the agriculturalists of the South and the proletarians of the Northern cities. They won control of the nation.

The Federalist party survived another sixteen years, although it never again won control of the House, Senate or presidency. It did not take defeat well.

Barely three years after the Democratic rout, Northern Federalists began arguing for the secession of the New England States from the Union. There was nothing understated about their secessionist position. It was widespread, and if it could not be done peaceably, they said, it should be done violently.

Listen to one of the many secessionists, Josiah Quincy III, scion of the New England Quincy’s, future mayor of Boston and future president of Harvard University. In 1811 he was a thirty-eight-year-old congressman standing opposed to the admission of Louisiana as a State:

“It is my deliberate opinion,” he said, “that if this bill passes, the bonds of this union are virtually dissolved, that the States which compose it are free from their moral obligations, and that as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some to prepare, definitely, for a separation; amicably if they can; violently if they must.”

One man who listened carefully that year was a freshman congressman from South Carolina. He was John C. Calhoun, who had been taught the secessionist doctrine in the law schools of New England, who had listened to it in the Congress, and who would one day carry it back down South . . . . Meanwhile, it is an unfair stroke that history has identified the South with secession when in fact the earliest and clearest arguments against it were proposed by Jefferson and Madison.

The creators of secession doctrine, and the teachers of it from 1800 to 1817, were New England Federalists.”

(The Natural Superiority of Southern Politicians, A Revisionist History, David Leon Chandler, Doubleday & Company, 1977, pp. 114-116)

American Historians and Their History

Quickly becoming a people devoid of a historical memory, the United States as a proposition nation will continue to rewrite or invent history to suit the political and entertainment industry elite, and their subject peoples.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

American Historians and Their History:

“Almost a lifetime of considering what historianship is, I am satisfied that what it is or should be is storytelling. Assuredly it cant be a scientific experiment, nor a logical proposition, nor the illustration of a theory. Our existence is drama, that is, a story, taking place in the mind of God. Through history we have our only knowledge of the mysterious drama of our existence beyond what has been granted us as Revelation.

I like the delightful saying of the English historian Veronica Wedgewood: “History is not a science – it is an art, like all the other sciences.” Or more seriously, we can make the same point by calling on John Lukac’s perfect definition: “History is a kind of memory, organized and supported by evidence.” With emphasis on the evidence. In asserting that history is not certainty, I don’t deny that there are varying degrees of honesty and competence in the handling of evidence that allow us to judge the quality of a historian’s work.

If history is best understood as a story, at least two things follow. First, a story – like that of the Alamo – is somebody’s story – it is not everybody’s story as is claimed by those with an agenda, whether they be nationalist ideologues or mulitculturalists. Everybody can learn from a story, but if it is to be real and valid, it is some people’s story. It follows that American in our time cannot have a real history because America today does not have a real people.

There was a time, peaking in the World War II era, when the inhabitants of this vast and diverse nation-state almost mingled into one people. That opportunity is now past. The inhabitants of the United States are corralled under the same territorial monopoly of force and exploitation; they share the same bread and circuses.

They are not a people, only the motley subjects of an empire. Aggregations of Oprah watchers, sports fans, and mall shoppers do not make a people. After Augustus the story of Rome ceases to be the story of a heroic and patriotic people. The Roman people pass from sight. The history of rome becomes only an account of more or less evil emperors and a chaos of peoples without stories. Such is American in the era of Bush. The future history of the last national election can be written only as a meaningless contest in which the jocks barely beat out the nerds for possession of the imperial palace.

Most of the work of academic historians today can portray the American story in no other terms except as an abstract fantasy of oppressors and oppressed. No society has ever had more professional historians and devoted more resources to historical work of all kinds than modern America – or produced so many useless, irrelevant, and downright pernicious products. I know a historian who teaches that the great Virginians of the American Revolution were like the Taliban. Presumably because they carried weapons and were not feminists. This is to reduce human experience to a paltry and partial perspective, to remove from it everything that is worthwhile and ennobling, usable and true. But this is what academic historians mostly do these days.

A historian should be trying to say something true and useful about human beings, and doing so modestly and cautiously. No historian can discover indisputable truth, at least not about anything important. But that is what historians are claiming to do these days by reducing the drama of human experience to abstract, supposedly universal theory.”

(Defending Dixie, Searching for Fleas: American Historians and Their History, excerpt, Clyde N. Wilson, Foundation for American Education, 2006, pp. 44-45)

Nov 5, 2014 - Prescient Warnings    No Comments

Government Replete With Insupportable Evils

Patrick Henry was outspoken in his resistance to the adoption of the Constitution, pleading with the delegates to “consider what you are about to do before you part with [the articles of Confederation]”  He stated that history was replete with “instances of people losing their liberties by their own carelessness and the ambition of a few.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Government Replete With Insupportable Evils

“The [proposed United States] Constitution is said to have beautiful features; but when I come to examine these features, sir, they appear to me horribly frightful. Among other deformities, it has an awful squinting; it squints toward monarchy, and does not this raise indignation in the breast of every true American?

Your president may easily become king. Your Senate is so imperfectly constructed that your dearest rights may be sacrificed to what may be a small minority; and a very small minority may continue for ever interchangeably this government, altho horribly defective. Where are your checks in this government? Your strongholds will be in the hands of your enemies.

It is on a supposition that your American governors shall be honest that all the good qualities of this government are founded; but its defective and imperfect construction puts it in their power to perpetrate the worst of mischiefs should they be bad men; and, sir, would not all the world, from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere, blame our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad?

Show me the age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.

If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute? The army is in his hands, and if he be a man of address, it will be attached to him, and it will be the subject of long meditation with him to seize the first auspicious moment to accomplish his design, and, sir, will the American spirit solely relieve you when this happens?

I would rather infinitely – and I am sure most of this Convention are of the same opinion — have a king, lords, and commons, than a government so replete with such insupportable evils. If we make a king we may prescribe the rules by which he shall rule his people, and interpose such checks as shall prevent him from infringing them; but the president, in the field, at the head of his army, can prescribe the terms on which he shall reign master, so far that it will puzzle any American ever to get his neck from under the galling yoke.

But, sir, where is the existing force to punish him? Can he not, at the head of his army, beat down every opposition? Away with your president! We shall have a king: the army will salute him monarch; your militia will leave you, and assist in making him king, and fight against you: and what have you to oppose this force? What will become of your rights? Will not absolute despotism prevail?

(Patrick Henry, “Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death” speech, March 23, 1775, before the Second Revolutionary Convention of Virginia; The World’s Famous Orations, William Jennings Bryan, editor, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906, pp. 74-76)

Gilded Age Workers Endure

In 1876, the North had been free from the political and moral restraint of Southerner leaders for 15 years. This morally-superior North had been very concerned about the welfare of black slaves down South not long before, and who at the same time worked children and young women in unhealthy factories for fourteen hours a day. A decent and moral people need no laws to protect young children from abuse such as this, and yet Sumner, Thad Stevens, Garrison, Greeley, all the various abolitionists previously concerned about the plight of those cared for from cradle to grave, remained silent.

 

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Gilded Age Workers Endure:

 “Factory Life:  For those lucky enough not to be out of work, factory conditions were far from ideal. Skilled workers, who had earned $4.50 to $5 per day in 1873, in 1876 had their wages reduced to between $1.50 and $2. Nevertheless, the New York times chided workers for not accepting wage reductions necessitated by the 1873 Panic; why should skilled laborers who “earned liberal wages…sullenly refuse to accept any reduction…It seems almost incredible than men should be capable of such blind folly.”

Child Labor: In 1876 Massachusetts passed a child-labor law, but child-labor laws were not enforced and had no effect until years later. Thus in 1876, children worked long, hard days and were often involved in very dangerous work. Harper’s Weekly stated:

“Recent legislation in Massachusetts has introduced new regulations for protecting young children from overwork and neglect in factories and workshops. A law which went into operation last March [1876] forbade, under penalty of from twenty to fifty dollars, the employment in any manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment of children under ten years of age at all, and of children under fourteen, unless during the preceding year the child has attended school at least ten consecutive weeks.”

John F. Weir, “Forging the Shaft, 1877:

“When a workingman was injured in shop, mine or on the railroad, the claim agent of the employing company would at once present himself with an instrument of agreement for the injured man and his wife, if he had one, to sign,” wrote Terrance Powderly. “By the terms of the instrument the company would be released from all responsibility in consideration of the payment of a few dollars. Let me tell you of one such case out of the hundreds I witnessed. A coal miner, a neighbor of mine, had his back injured through a fall of rock in the darkness of the mine. The claim agent called to see him; he asked for time to consider and sent for me. He had a wife and children, his means were meager. I advised against signing a release, and here is what he said: “I am buying this house from the company. If I don’t sign this release, I can never get a day’s work under that company or any other round here, for if I get well I’ll be blacklisted. When my next payment on the house falls due, or the interest not paid we’ll be thrown out on the street. With no work, no money, no friends, what will my wife and babies do? . . . ”

(America in 1876, The Plight of the Poor, Lally Weymouth, Vintage Books, 1976, page 195)

 

 

Bearing Their Afflictions With Philosophy and Christian Fortitude

The postwar South endured a swarm of curious Northerners: some journalists, many exploitive speculators, and often offensive bigots “who gave advice, condemned customs, asked obtrusive questions, and published tactless statements.” Despite New England’s large part in the African slave trade and perpetuation of slavery with its ravenous cotton mills, the North was determined that the South alone would be punished for the supposed sins of slavery.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Bearing Their Afflictions with Philosophy and Christian Fortitude

“The defeated Southerners were expected to make the sacrifices necessary for reforms favoring the Negro. They were willing to recognize the defeat of the Confederate armies, the freeing of the slaves, and the restoration of the Union. A considerable number with the fear of summary punishment before them were willing to repudiate the Confederacy with unseemly haste. A few – the first scalawags – were prepared to adopt the beliefs of the conquerors.

For the great majority, however, the tragic outcome of the war increased their hatred of Northerners, made Southern doctrines more precious, and invested the war leaders with an aura of heroism. Only the minimum demands of the victor were to be accepted. As soon as it became clear that the North would not be as vindictive as some imagined every reform suggested from the outside was contested bitterly.

Those among the conquerors who imagined that military defeat had reduced the white Southerners to impotence were to be unpleasantly surprised. Although defeated, these people were not without material resources. Despite threats of confiscation, the land remained mostly in their hands and agricultural possibilities partially compensated for decline in land values. All tools were not destroyed and many cities were unscathed or only partially wrecked.

The whites faced their difficulties with superb courage. “While clouds were dark and threatening,” wrote a Northern newspaper reporter, “I do not believe there was ever in the world’s history a people who bear their afflictions with more philosophy and Christian fortitude than these unfortunate people.” Women cheerfully returned to the kitchen and men turned to manual labor. A philosophy of hard work and close economy was preached, and every expedient which might lead out of the impasse of poverty and social stagnation was advanced.

The war had accustomed men to hardships, and the women had learned to manage plantations, maintain slave discipline, and endure privations. Certainly there was no ground for the belief, fostered by the romantics, that Southerners were a lazy and improvident lot who were helpless unless ministered to by faithful blacks. Actually, they were ready to assume duties previously exercised by Negroes, at the same time resisting Northern assaults on their inherited privileges.

They were backed in their policies by an assertive country folk who were accustomed to dwell on lands of their own, and who had a profound contempt for Northerners . . . had proved their stamina while serving in the Confederate army . . . [and] were ready to terrorize Yankees and Negroes alike if members of either group attempted to upset the traditional social order.”

(The South Old and New, A History, 1820-1947, Francis Butler Simkins, Alfred A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 171-172)

 

Secret Society Radicals

The Union Leagues were able to muster such large memberships as many Northern white men stayed home while foreigners, impressed former slaves, and bounty-enriched substitutes were off fighting Americans in the South. The Union League quickly became a powerful propaganda arm of the radical Republican party, strong enough force Lincoln to remove conservative General John Schofield from command of the western department.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Secret Society Radicals:

“The first Union League was founded in Pekin, Illinois, by a Republican party activist, George F, Harlow.  As war weariness deepened, and the restraint that had held back dissenters in the early months of the war fell away, loyal Republicans became alarmed by the resurgence in support for the Democratic party. To combat this, they formed a secret society “whereby true Union men could be known and depended on in an emergency.” By the end of 1864 the Leagues claimed more than a million members.

In May 1863, the [Philadelphia] Press urged that the North unite “by any means” and called on Unionists to “silence every tongue that does not speak with respect of the cause and the flag.” Union Leagues institutionalized the denial of legitimate partisanship by conflating opposition to the Union [Republican] Party with disloyalty to the United States. “Men of the Northwest! Are you ready for Civil War?” asked an editorial in the radical Chicago Tribune, “the danger is imminent; the enemy is at your door . . . a Union Club or League ought to be formed in every town and placed in communication with the State central committee.” They formed vigilante groups, which reported suspected disloyalists to the War Department and called for the suppression of opposition newspapers. Leagues also mobbed the offices of several small-town newspapers whose editors had expressed support for Democratic candidates or had attacked the [Lincoln] administration.

Unlike the mass-membership Union Leagues, the Union League of Philadelphia, the New York Union League Club, and the Boston Union League Club were founder with the appropriate accoutrements of a mid-Victorian gentlemen’s club: elegant headquarters with libraries, billiard rooms and butlers. Membership was by invitation only and determined by social status and “unqualified loyalty to the Government of the United States and unwavering support for the suppression of the rebellion.” The idea was to exclude anyone suspected of Southern sympathies from business or social relations with members.

“Sympathy with [armed rebellion] should in social and commercial life be met with the frown of the patriotic and true. Disloyalty must be made unprofitable.” [A founding member of the Philadelphia club] . . . the issue of the war was, after all, one that directly confronted the class interests of the city’s business elite. “We . . . live under the national law. If that is broken down, our interests, our property, and our lives may be lost in the disorder that will ensue…Nothing but ruin awaits all business interests of ours . . . if the doctrines of the Secession leaders are to prevail” Sustaining the federal government was essential . . . [and] Furthermore, as bankers and the monied elite of New York assumed an ever-greater responsibility for financing the war effort through buying government bonds, there was also a strong economic interest in the success of the Union war effort.

(No Party Now, Politics in the Civil War North, Adam I.P. Smith, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 68-74)