Nov 8, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Abolition Attempts in the South

The American South was in the forefront of emanicipation efforts following the Revolution and the momentum was in evidence toward dismantling the slave-labor system established by the  the British.  New England slavers had populated the South with millions of slaves while the North gradually sold off its slaves to Southern plantations raising cotton for New England mills, a highly profitable enterprise enabled by Massachusetts inventor Eli Whitney.

Bernhard Thuersam Circa1865

 

Abolition Attempts in the South

“The American Revolution swelled the ranks of the tiny Southern free black population. In the years following the Revolution, the number of free Negroes increased manyfold, so that by the end of the first decade of the nineteenth centruy there were over 100,000 free Negroes in the Southern States . . . The free Negro caste had grown from a fragment of the colonial population to a sizable minority throughout the South.

[In] the North, abolition met stiff opposition. In Rhode Island and Connecticut, which had the largest proportion of Negroes in New England, antislavery forces could enact only gradual-emancipation laws. Pennsylvania enacted a gradual-emanicipation act in 1780, but, despite of its many Quakers, never legislated immediate abolition.

Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey, where the ratio of blacks to whites was three times that of Pennsylvania, repeatedly rebuffed antislavery forces and refused to enact even gradual emancipation for another twenty years. Significantly, emancipation laws in both New York and New Jersey compensated slaveholders for their property. Only after property rights were satisfied were human rights secured.

In 1782, Virginia repealed its fifty-nine year-old prohibition on private acts of manumission. Slaveholders were now free to manumit any adult slave under forty-five by deed or will. North Carolina slaveholders could free their slaves . . . for meritorious service and with the permission of the county court. Liberalized provisions for manumissions were extended to the new States and territories of the South.

Kentucky adopted the Virginia law in 1792, and the Missouri Territory accepted a similar rule in 1804. Almost immediately slaveholders took advantage of the greatly liberalized laws. Throughout the South, but especially in the upper South, hundreds of masters freed their slaves. Although manumission at times had nothing to do with anti-slavery principles, equalitarian ideals motivated most manumitters in the years following the Revolution.

Beginning in 1792, the revolt on Saint-Domingue sent thousands of refugees fleeing toward American shores. Most were white, but among them were many light-skinned free people of color who had been caught on the wrong side of the ever-changing lines of battle . . . [though Southerners] feared the influx of brown emigres. The States of the lower South, ever edgy about slave rebellions, quickly barred West Indian free people of color from entering their boundaries, and other States later followed their lead. A mass meeting in Charleston urged the expulsion of “the French Negroes” . . . [and] In Savannah, nervous official barred any ship that had touched Saint-Domingue from entering the harbor.”

(Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South, Ira Berlin, The New Press, 1974, excerpts pp. 15-36)

 

Abolition Crusade Ends in the Sword

The cause of the War Between the States was not slavery but irresponsible agitation by fanatic abolitionists and their wealthy Northern contributors who went into hiding after John Brown’s insurrection. Not ever forthcoming from abolitionists was a practical, peaceful solution to African slavery in this country which would have saved a million lives.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Abolition Crusade Ends in the Sword:

“Montevideo, Monday, November 7th, 1859

[Rev. C.C. Jones to Mr. Charles C. Jones, Jr.]

“The Harpers Ferry affair proves to be more serious than at first it appeared to be—not in reference to the Negro population, for that had nothing to do with it; but in reference to the hostility of large numbers of men of all classes in the free States to the slaveholding States, even unto blood, and their readiness to aid and abet such attempts with counsels and money, and to employ reckless agents to carry them out.

There is a covert, cowardly, assassin-like heart in these men. Why do they not arm and come to the field in open day? From the tone of the abolition press in the free States, both secular and religious, there is great sympathy for the prisoners at Harpers Ferry. Some go so far as to justify the act, and only condemn the time and manner of it! The whole abolition crusade which has been preached for thirty years ends in the sword. The volunteering of counsel for the prisoners from the free States is another proof of sympathy in their crime, and an insult to the justice of the South.

Some of the papers friendly to the South hope that the South will be forbearing and magnanimous! Against the miserable lives of these men who have plotted arson, robbery, murder and treason over a vast portion of our country, who may weigh millions of property, millions of lives, the virtue, the order, the peace and happiness of our people, the majesty of the laws, the sacredness of religion, our constitution and our Union?

There is no place left for forbearance—no ground for compromises. The magnanimity of the South must not be exercised towards public criminals of the deepest dye, but towards herself in all her greatest and best interests, and towards our common country. Such sparks like these, struck to produce a universal conflagration, should be stamped out immediately. Such enemies should be met and overwhelmed without quarter in a moment.

If the conservative and loyal men of the free States, who we believe do now possess the power, are willing and ready to rule down this spirit of treasonable and violent aggression upon an unoffending and invaluable section of our country, we shall be most happy to see them do it.”

(The Children of Pride, Robert Manson Myers, editor, Yale University Press, 1974, excerpt, pp. 525-526)

Nov 7, 2014 - Prescient Warnings    No Comments

Constitution Unable to Control Man's Nature

The most prescient of the Founders, Patrick Henry discerned the predictable result of ratifying a Constitution which he viewed as nothing more than consolidating the States into one centralized government. He challenged the Federalists of his day: “let me appeal to the candor of the committee, if the want of money be not the source of all our misfortunes.” He maintained that the new government was a consolidated one, and that its advocates sought “splendor” – not liberty.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Constitution Unable to Control Man’s Nature

“Man,” Patrick Henry warned, “is a fallen creature, a fallible being, and cannot be depended upon without self-love.” Certainly, a large measure of Henry’s ideas of the type of government which would serve the true function of government, the preservations of liberty, were based upon this idea of the nature of the human species. Indeed, the best government would be one which would be one which made the most effective provisions against this.

One of the primary modes in which this “self-love” manifested itself was in a desire for power because “human nature never will part from power.” The human temptation was present in all men . . . Henry deduced, for “the characteristic of the good or great Man is not that he has been exempted from the evils of life, but that he surmounted them.”

The annals of history pointed this out, for “can the annals of mankind exhibit one single example, where rulers overcharged with power willingly let go the oppressed, though solicited and requested most earnestly?” In fact, “a willing relinquishment of power is one of those things which human nature never was, nor will ever be capable of.”

What was there about this new government which did not provide for this innate weakness of man? Why had the men at the Constitutional Convention created a new government? Was it because the government of the Articles of Confederation was so weak that they were faced with the alternatives of drastic action or anarchy? Patrick Henry did not think so.

The Confederation had won the war; it had saved the West. He protested that history was replete with examples, “instances of people losing their liberties by their own carelessness and the ambition of a few.” Was this not the real reason for the proposed change in government?

Also disturbing to Henry’s mind was the fact that in many States which had ratified the new Constitution, the masses had not been awarded the opportunity to vote on the election of new delegates to the ratification conventions. He protested, “. . . only 10,000 were represented in Pennsylvania although 70,000 had a right to be represented. Is this not a serious thing?”

If the people did not want a change in their government, why then did the Philadelphia Convention write the new Constitution?”

(The Christian Philosophy of Patrick Henry, James M. Wells, Carris J. Kocher, editor, Bill of Rights Bicentennial Committee, 2004 (original 1960), pp. 58-59)

Nov 7, 2014 - Bringing on the War    No Comments

Preaching Higher Law Treason

If the United States Constitution is the highest authority of law, then it follows that those who undermine or resist it commit treason against the United States.  Those like William Seward of New York who asserted a higher law than the Constitution fall within this definition.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Preaching Higher Law Treason

“It was against Seward and his followers that the South directed its “higher law” attack in the later fifties. On October 19, 1858, Jefferson Davis delivered a stirring address in New York City upon this subject, and in the course of his daring denunciation of the advocates of this theory, he declared:

“You have among you politicians of a philosophical turn, who preach a higher morality; a system of which they are the discoverers . . . They say, it is true the Constitution dictates this, and the Bible inculcates that; but there is a higher law than those, and they call upon you to obey that higher law of which they are the inspired givers.

Men who are traitors to the compact of their fathers—men who have perjured the oaths they have themselves taken . . . these are the moral law-givers who proclaim a higher law than the Bible, the Constitution, and the laws of the land . . . These higher law preachers should be tarred and feathered, and whipped by those they have thus instigated . . . The man who . . . preaches treason to the Constitution and the dictates of all human society, is a fit object for a Lynch law that would be higher than any he could urge.”

The South As A Conscious Minority, Jesse T. Carpenter, New York University, 1930, pp. 159-160)

Nov 7, 2014 - Jeffersonian America    No Comments

Return the Compact to Original Principles

Below, Jefferson seemed to be warning of 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, Circa1865

 

Return the Compact 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 & Wagnalls, 1900, page 191)

Nov 7, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Sherman Desires Bloody Results

No friend of the South, the African, or Indian, Sherman was given a free hand by Lincoln to cleanse the United States of those who would impede Republican party policies and the march of progress.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Sherman Desires Bloody Results

“Fort Sumter was fired upon, and now the sulking Achilles came out to fight; and with him blood and iron would play a part from the very beginning. In May [1861] he declared: “the greatest difficulty in the problem now before the country is not to conquer, but so conquer to impress upon the real men of the South a respect for their conquerors.” As the war got under way Sherman became hypnotized by it . . . and refused to be diverted by those who would minimize the task or mollify it by soft considerations of the claims of humanity or too close adherence to the rule book.

As condemnation of his prodigality in the use of men began to come in, he replied that the war could not be fought with breath, but that hundreds of thousands of lives must perish, and he added, “Indeed do I wish I had been killed long since.”   [He] began “to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash – and it may be well that we become so hardened.”

[In 1862 he wrote] the Secretary of the Treasury, “The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all the South are enemies of all in the North.”

As to the large number of people who were being arrested [for disloyalty] in Kentucky, he would send them “to the Dry Tortugas, or Brazil, every one of those men, women and children, and encourage a new breed.”

“To secure the navigation of the Mississippi River [to Northern shipping] I would slay millions. On that point I am not only insane, but mad.” For every shot fired at a [Northern] river steamer he would return “a thousand 30-pound Parrotts into every helpless town on Red, Ouchita, Yazoo, or wherever a boat can float or a soldier march.”

But for no reason beyond the fact that the South was opposing the North, he would set stark starvation loose upon the land. Before beginning his Meridian campaign early in 1864, he wrote his wife, “We will take all provisions, and God help the starving families.”

[In 1863 he insisted] on war, pure and simple, with no admixture of civil compromises . . . [and] considered it unwise at that time “or for years to come” to give the southern people “any civil government in which the local people have much to say . . . All the Southern States will need a pure military Government for years after resistance has ceased.”

By the summer of 1864 . . . [Sherman] offered this advice to General Sheridan, who might find it useful in the Shenandoah Valley: “I am satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of this war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory . . . Therefore I shall expect you on any and all occasions to make bloody results.”

He wrote Grant his well-known article of faith, “Unless we can repopulate Georgia it is useless to occupy it; but the utter destruction of roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources . . . After he had reached Savannah he wrote to Halleck, “ We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and we must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies.”

When he found himself on one of Howell Cobb’s plantations in Georgia, he instructed his army “to spare nothing,” and on the march through South Carolina, one chilly night he consumed in the blazing fireplace the furniture of “one of those splendid South Carolina estates where the proprietors had formerly dispensed hospitality that distinguished the regime of that proud State.”

His first disagreement with the Radical reconstructionists grew out of his long-standing attitude toward the Negro. He had spurned abolitionism in 1861, and during the war he had shown his contempt for Negro soldiers. He wrote in May, 1865, “. . . I do not favor the scheme of declaring the Negroes of the South, now free, to be loyal voters, whereby politicians may manufacture just so much more pliable electioneering material . . . they are no friends of the Negro who seek to complicate him with new prejudices.”

Sherman set down as an article of faith, “The white men of this country will control it, and the negro, in mass, will occupy the subordinate place as a race.”

[His postwar belief regarding Radical Reconstruction is summed up with] “The South is ruined and appeals to our pity. To ride the people down with persecutions and military exactions would be like slashing away at the crew of a sinking ship.”

(Sherman and the South, E. Merton Coulter, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume VIII, Number 1, January 1931, excerpts, pp. 46-53)

Canadian Slavery Mythology

Very few recall that African slavery existed in Canada until 1833, and that between 1787 and 1800 fugitive slaves fled south to New England and the Northwest (Michigan) Territory. Throughout the 1800s Canadians segregated schools and communities, as well as military units.

Canadian Slavery Mythology

“Canadian comments about American racial problems are further colored by the fact that few Canadians are well informed on Canada’s own Negro record. Cowper, in celebrating Justice Mansfield’s decision, thought that “Slaves cannot breathe in England: if their lungs receive our air, that moment they are free.” This was adequate poetry but inaccurate current events, for “Mansfield” decision freed no substantial body of slaves, even in England, and in Imperial Britain they remained enslaved until 1834.

Yet today most Canadians assume that slavery in British North America was struck down unilaterally by colonial assemblies which, in fact, lacked power to move against such Imperial laws. A standard account of Ontario’s history, published in 1898, concluded that because of the passage of Simcoe’s Bill (which prohibited the import of slaves) in 1793, “Canadians can therefore claim the proud distinction for their flag….that it has never floated over legalized slavery.”

An extensive guidebook to Canada credits the entire Negro population of Nova Scotia to men “who came north as slaves from the British West Indian colonies . . . ,” ignoring totally the Maroon and Refugee elements. An attempt to plumb the character of Canadians found that the Negroes of the Maritime Provinces – 15,000 in all – were descendants of runaway slaves, when in truth not even half are such.

And one of Canada’s leading students of race relations, in writing specifically of discrimination against the Negro, asserts that slavery did not exist in British North America in the Nineteenth Century, although slavery was in fact legal until 1833. In short, there is no accurate historical memory in Canada of British North America’s own experiences with the Negro, and even a clouded awareness of an earlier Negro presence is slight.

In truth, only Canada West [Ontario] served to any considerable extent as a haven for fugitive slaves, but the whole of the Canadian nation later accepted a mythology arising from but one of its units.”

(The Canadian Negro: A Historical Assessment, Robin Winks, Journal of Negro History, Volume LIII, No. 4., October, 1968, pp. 290-292)

Jim Crow, Canadian Style

The popular underground railroad legend creates an impression that escaped slaves found freedom and social equality in Canada, and standard historical accounts lead Canadians to believe that passage of Simcoe’s Bill in 1793; slavery actually remained legal in British North America until 1833. Author Robin Winks of Yale University wrote: “Canadians did give refuge to thousands of fugitives, and the mythology of the underground railway, the North Star, and the lion’s paw naturally fed the later Canadian assumption that Negroes fared better in Canada than elsewhere.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Jim Crow, Canadian Style

“Canadian law drew no distinction between black and white in matters of citizenship, of which education was one. In practice, however, there were not infrequently some distinctions likely to be drawn, the whites preferring that Negroes should have schools of their own. When Benjamin Drew visited [Amherstburg, Ontario] in 1854 he found the Negro separate school having neither blackboard nor chairs. The whole interior was comfortless and repulsive. The teacher was a colored woman, apparently doing the best she could under the discouragement of poor surroundings and frequent absences of her pupils.

The coming of so many people of another race and color into southwestern Ontario was not pleasing to all the white inhabitants. Deep prejudice manifested itself at times and an occasional outburst in some newspaper reflected the feelings of an element of the population. The Amherstburg Courier of October 27, 1849, prints a resolution of the district council passed on October 8 of that year, protesting vigorously against the proposed Elgin settlement which was planned by Reverend William King as a home for fugitives from slavery.

This resolution, which appears to have been instigated by a local politician, Larwill, resident in Chatham, declared that “there is but one feeling, and that is of disgust and hatred, that they (the Negroes) should be allowed to settle in any township where there is a white settlement.”

The resolution proceeded to ask for a disallowance of sale of lands to Negroes, suggested a poll tax on Negroes entering the country, asked for an enactment against amalgamation and a requirement that Negroes shall furnish good security that they will not become a burden. It was also suggested that it would be well to ascertain whether it would be impolitic to allow them the suffrage.

Dr. Samuel G. Howe, who visited [Amherstburg] in 1863 to investigate conditions….[was told by a Mr. Park of the town] that the Negroes were part of them indolent and part industrious. They tended to neglect their own poor and begged more than the whites. A Captain Averill who was interviewed said that the Negroes were satisfactory as sailors, “the very best men we have,” but they were never made mates and none owned ships of their own.”

(Amherstburg, Terminus of the Underground Railroad, Fred Landon, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. X., No. 1, January 1925, pp. 5-8)

Canadian Negro Slaves

“In my article on “The Slave in Canada,” printed in The Journal of Negro History for July, 1920, (Vol. V, No. 3), several instances of Negro slavery in Canada were given. The latest is mentioned in Le Bulletin des Recherches Historiques for October, 1927, (Vol. XXXIII, No. 10), at p. 584. I translate it from the French the article referred to. Honorable William Renwick Riddell, Justice of Appeal, Ontario.

A Singular Gift:

“In July, 1748, Jean-Pierre Roma, Commandant for the (French) King at the island of St. Jean (now Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence), on his passage to Quebec, made a singular gift to his friend, Fleury de la Gorgendiere, (the younger). He gave him a mulatto girl, five months old and named Marie.

The gift made to Mr. Fleury de la Gorgendiere is explained by the fact that the mother of the child, the slave of Roma, died in giving it birth. Roma not being able to charge himself with raising the orphan, preferred to give it to M. Fleury de la Gorgendiere.

The deed of gift was drawn up by the Notary, Jean-Claude Panet, July 15, 1748; and in it is the stipulation that in case of the death of Fleury and his wife, the mulatto will return Mdll. Roma (her grandmother). If she cannot take her it is stipulated that she will receive her freedom.

Such sales of the creatures of God may seem curious – they were, however, according to the customs of the time and were made almost in every country.”

(Journal of Negro History, Cater G. Woodson, editor, Vol. XIII, No. 2, April, 1928, page 207)

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.)