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)

Union League Begat the Klan

To paraphrase Southern leaders during Reconstruction hearings in Congress, disband the Northern Union and Loyal Leagues that set black against white in the South, and the Klan would disappear from the face of the earth. This original Klan was apparently defensive in nature and flew no flag.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Union League Begat the Klan:

“The nocturnal secrecy of the gatherings, the weird initiation ceremonies, the emblems of virtue and religion, the songs, the appeal to such patriotic shibboleths as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Flag, and the Union, the glittering platitudes in the interest of social uplift—all these characteristics of the [Union] League had an irresistible appeal to a ceremony-loving, singing, moralistic and loyal race. That the purposes of the order, when reduced to the practical, meant that the Negro had become the emotional and intellectual slaves of the white Radical did not dull the Negro’s enthusiasm, he was accustomed to be a slave to the white man” [South Carolina During Reconstruction, Simkins & Woody, page 7].

The Union League gave the freedmen their first experience in parliamentary law and debating . . . the members were active in the meetings, joining in the debate and prone to heckle the speakers with questions and points of order. Observers frequently reported the presence of rifles at political rallies, usually stacked in a clump of bushes behind the speakers platform, sometimes the womenfolk left to guard them. In the autumn of 1867, a League chapter made up mostly of blacks, but with a white president named Bryce, was holding a meeting with its usual armed sentries on the perimeter. When a poor white named Smith tried to enter the meeting, shots were fired; there followed a general alarm and, subsequently, a melee with a white debating club nearby. The Negroes rushed out; Smith fled, hotly pursued to the schoolhouse; the members of the debating club broke up in a panic and endeavored to escape; a second pistol was fired and a boy of fourteen named Hunnicutt, the son of a respectable [white] citizen, fell dead.

[Carpetbagger John W. De Forest wrote]: “The Negroes, unaware apparently that they had done anything wrong, believing, on the contrary, that they were re-establishing public order and enforcing justice, commenced patrolling the neighborhood, entering every house and arresting numbers of citizens. They marched in double file, pistol in belt and gun at the shoulder, keeping step to the “hup, hup!” of a fellow called Lame Sam, who acted as drill sergeant and commander. By noon of the next day they had the country for miles around in their power, and the majority of the male whites under their guard.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 29-32)

 

History: The Muse and Her Doctors

Scholars recommend caution when selecting books written during or after America’s cultural revolution of the 1960’s and the advent of cultural Marxism. What often passes for history today are poorly-disguised opinions and class struggle, slanted psycho, social and political histories, and introductions which state that “most of the empirical basis of this study derives from two computer databases.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

History: The Muse and Her Doctors

“The historian may in addition permit himself to digress in order to opine, argue, explain, speculate, moralize and compare. The visions will differ and perhaps clash, but will be nonetheless desirable. But these excursions must not become ends in themselves. The truly historical statements must greatly predominate over the rest. If “truly historical” needs illustration, here is one of the shortest: “Veni, vidi, vici” is a historical statement. “The main spring of his character was conquest” is a psychological statement. “The net effect of his career was destruction, not creation” is a sociological statement.

How radically unlike is the work done by students who use history for their purposes – to find “fresh” answers to questions social and typological – may be seen from a glance at the open page of their books, or at the daily paper. What one may chance upon is a diagram in dots, crosses, and other marks, headed: “Computer-prepared map of violent incidents in France, 1840-1844,” while on the opposite page is a geometrical outline of France, also crossed and dotted, showing the incidence of incidents. Positive and negative numbers to three decimals express the absolute values applying to each of the levels of violence, side by side with a frequency distribution.

A historian need feel no objection or distaste whatever at this use of history; rather, he rejoices that the ancient urge to record the past leads later on to such refined methods for dissecting it.

But he is simultaneously conscious of one certitude and one doubt. He knows as he studies the charts in all directions that he is not reading history; and he feels an uneasiness about the capacity of the graphic-quantitative method for truth telling.”

(History: The Muse and Her Doctors (excerpt), Jacques Barzun, American Historical Review, February 1972, pp. 58-59)

History Helps Those Who Help Themselves

The victors write the history of events unless challenged by the defeated; Colonel Waddell (below) was an accomplished jurist, author, and essayist, and led Wilmingtonians in their fight against corruption and violence during political reconstruction.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

History Helps Those That Help Themselves:

“In November, 1901 the annual convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was held in Wilmington, North Carolina and Mayor Alfred Moore Waddell, welcomed them to this historic city. In his address, he said that “As one who bore a humble part in the service of the Confederacy I reverently salute you the wives, sisters, and daughters of my comrades, the noblest army of heroines and patriots that ever trod the earth.” He went on to say that:

“Your organization is unique in human annals, as was the struggle whose memories you seek to preserve. The dreamer and sentimentalist may fold his hands, and with a sigh exclaim that history will do justice between the parties to that struggle; but experience has shown that history, like Providence, helps those only who help themselves, and will honor only those who help her to record the truth. You will readily admit that if the Southern people had remained silent, and had used no printer’s ink after the war, they would have been pilloried in history as Rebels and traitors who had, causelessly and without a shadow of excuse, drenched the land with the blood of unoffending patriots.

But the Southern people did not remain silent; they published in a thousand forms the truth, both as to the causes which impelled them to assert their rights and as to the battles in which they maintained them, and have thus made a partial, unjust and one-sided history impossible. In this work the Memorial Association first, and after them the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have been the most heroic and devoted, and they may justly claim a large share of the credit for successfully vindicating before the world the causes which their Southern countrymen engaged, and in which thousands of them sacrificed their lives.”

Confederate Veteran Magazine, November 1901, page 485-486

 

Historical Objectivity and Machines

Since the end of the war, the Southern historian’s view of the conflict was not considered objective unless “he accepts and proclaims the Northern (i.e., “national”) interpretation of Southern things.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Historical Objectivity and Machines

“Once, years ago, a Southern historian beckoned me aside and led me to a room . . . “Look,” he said. An enormous machine occupied about half the room, and a graduate assistant was feeding punch cards into it. With inhuman noise and precision, the machine was sorting the cards.

The historian closed the door upon the noise and, with a kind of Stonewall Jackson glint in his eye, explained. Documentation, he said – mere documentation – would never convince the North. Mere argument was futile.

But if he could say, in a footnote to his forthcoming publication, that the figures in his statistical tables had been achieved by the assistance of a card-sorting machine (he would carefully cite the machine’s name and model), then the Yankees might hearken to both his documentation and his argument.

The machine, a guarantee of his “objectivity,” would remove his work from the area of suspicion that a study originating in the South would normally occupy.”

(Still Rebels, Still Yankees, and Other Essays, Donald Davidson, LSU Press, 1957, pp. 180-181)

New York's Notorious Slave Ships

In the post-Revolution era, African slavery was waning as cotton production was a laborious task and not worth cultivating on a large scale until Eli Whitney of Massachusetts revolutionized the industry in 1793. Thereafter, New England mills could not live without raw slave-produced cotton, Manhattan lenders ensured plantation owners that money was available for plantation expansion, and New England slavers continued to import the labor supply.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa 1865

 

New York’s Notorious Slave Ships

“In the decade 1850-1860 Great Britain maintained consulates in six Southern ports: Norfolk, — changed to Richmond in 1856 – Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans and Galveston.

[Consul G.P.R.] James [in Norfolk and Richmond] . . . considered that Virginians were very kind to their slaves and that slavery was an injury to masters rather than Negroes. One of the proprietors of the Richmond “slave warehouse” was, wrote his son Charles later, an “unmistakable Yankee,” said to be very humane to his charges, “but the business was regarded as infamous.  I heard a respectable man denounced for accepting his hospitality.”

At Niagara Falls, James saw a runaway Negro belonging to one of his Norfolk neighbors; he had found it difficult to make a living and was cold and he begged the consul to ask his owner to take him back.

[Consul] Henry G. Kuper of Baltimore gave assurance that the slave trade was being extensively carried on by many American citizens, especially in New York . . . with the connivance of Spanish authorities in Cuba where most of the cargoes were conveyed . . . Consul Edward W. Mark wrote from Baltimore that at any moment twenty vessels might be found under construction at that port, admirably adapted for the slave trade. Some were built expressly for the trade by “respectable houses,” which would not enter the trade themselves but merely executed the orders they received.

Mark believed, however, that in Baltimore little countenance was given to the trade. It was carried on rather “from New York and the eastern parts of the Union . . . and generally by New England and foreign firms.”

[In 1858 Consul] Molyneaux of Savannah told the story of a Charleston mercantile house . . . which proposed to send the ship Richard Cobden . . . on a [suspicious] voyage to Africa to bring “free emigrants” to a United States port. The collector of the port appealed to United States Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb who pronounced the proposal illegal.

About the same time the Lydia Gibbs, a vessel of one-hundred and fourteen tons of Northern build, sailed from Charleston under one Watson, a Scotchman naturalized in the United States. He took it to Havana where it was sold to unknown persons for $12,000.  Watson was to receive $6,000 more if he escaped detection, and in addition a certain percentage of the slaves he should succeed in landing in Cuba.

[In July 1858 Charleston Consul Robert Bunch] wrote that the brig Frances Ellen had cleared from Charleston for Africa, supposedly to engage in the slave trade; that the firm of Ponjand and Lalas, two Spaniards, which sent it out, was believed to be regularly engaged in this traffic [and] intended to land five or six cargoes in Texas . . .

In December, 1859, the South Carolina legislature received from the New York assembly a set of resolutions passed by the latter body, condemning the slave trade and urging the Southern States not to connive at or encourage the odious traffic.  South Carolina returned the resolutions to the senders without comment and Bunch, though agreeing with the New York sentiments, dryly noted that the action was not “happily received,” “as it is notorious that, during the present year, at least ten slavers have been fitted out in New York for one in the entire South.”

(The South in the 1850’s as Seen by British Consuls, Laura A. White, The Journal of Southern History, February 1935, excerpts, pp. 29, 31, 36-41)

Nov 5, 2014 - Pleading for Peace    No Comments

Jefferson Davis, Last of the Senate Giants

Jefferson Davis was a Unionist and struggled to his last days as a Mississippi Senator to push Congress toward a peaceful solution to the sectional crisis. He belonged to the Calhoun school which saw preserving the rights of the South in the federal Union as paramount; he viewed secession as a last resort of the States in order to preserve their sovereignty and liberties, should the Constitution ratified voluntarily in 1787, and its federal agent, became destructive of those rights.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa 1865

 

Jefferson Davis, Last of the Senate Giants

“The theory of State Rights and the belief in secession had been understood in both sections equally, when advantage dictated understanding: as late as 1846 the State government of Massachusetts had been willing to secede, had passed resolutions to that end, in opposition to the Mexican War.

The North alone now repudiated State sovereignty because it had no interest to serve with its support. After the Republican senators had rejected the Crittenden Compromise, which gave to them every eventual advantage and to the South nothing in the end, they would not listen to a proposal of a convention of the States; they were then challenged for a compromise proposal of their own, but not a Republican replied.

At this distance it is certain that the deadlock exactly suited the North, for its purpose was to subdue the South at all costs; in a policy that conceded nothing and demanded everything, the North meant to “ride over the South rough-shod.”

The South was willing at this time to accept any measure that guaranteed it even less than its Constitutional rights in the territories; but the North no longer desired equality of sectional power; the North was bent on domination. By refusing to budge from this position, the North forced the South to act for its preservation, and by means of the slavery issue the shrewdness of the Yankee succeeded, as always, of putting his enemy in the wrong.

There was probably not a single phase of the conflict that Mr. Davis failed, in a sense, to understand; and yet, in the end, he could not see why men would not follow the law, or why the inflamed sections would not abide by compromises.  Men sometimes act reasonably, but never logically; this was a distinction that Mr. Davis, being logical, could not grasp.

[After his final speech and resignation from the United States Senate after Mississippi had seceded, Davis] painfully moved through the crowded Senate chamber out into the street, [and for him] the old Constitutional republic came . . . to a dramatic end. There would no longer be a Union in the exact sense of that word; there would be a uniformity; for one of the two types of American civilization must absolutely prevail.  Davis left the Senate smaller; it would never be so large again; he was the last of the Senate giants.

All the night of January 21 he suffered, sleepless; the nervous strain of the last six months had broken him down. His neuralgia had spread film over one iris; he was almost blind in that eye.  Mrs. Davis, anxious in the next room, heard him say, again and again, in a tone of agony:

“May God have us in His Holy keeping, and grant that before it is too late peaceful councils may prevail.”

(Jefferson Davis, His Rise and Fall, Allen Tate, Minton, Balch & Company, 1929, pp. 12-13)

Oct 27, 2014 - From Africa to America    No Comments

Prejudices of the Northern States

Radical Republican Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts petitioned Lincoln to allow his State agents to seize captured South Carolina slaves and count them as Massachusetts soldiers under his State quota – thus avoiding the conscription of white Massachusetts men and keeping captured blacks out of his State.  For the same general purpose Andrew obtained 400 well-paid California men to serve as the Second Massachusetts Cavalry regiment.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa 1865

 

Prejudices of the Northern States

“In the house of them who felt so keenly their mission to call others to repentance, how fared it with the Negro?  In the general laws of Massachusetts (compiled in accordance with a resolution of February 22, 1822) it is provided: “That no person being an African or Negro, other than the subjects of the emperor of Morocco” – (and certified citizens of other States) “shall tarry within the Commonwealth for a longer time than two months.”

In case of such prolonged stay, if after warning and failure to depart, “it shall be made to appear that the said person has thus continued in [Massachusetts] . . . he or she shall be whipped, not exceeding ten stripes, and ordered to depart, and if he shall not so depart, the same process shall be had and inflicted, and so toties quoties.” In March, 1788, this was one of the “perpetual laws of the Commonwealth.”

When war raged for freedom, how was it then?  In September 1862, General [John] Dix proposed to remove a “number of [Negro] contrabands” from Fortress Monroe to Massachusetts.  To this Governor Andrew replied: “I do not concur in any way, or to any degree in the plan proposed” [and that you will be deprived] “of the strength of hundreds of stout arms, which would be nerved with the desperation of men fighting for liberty.”

But the Negro, despite all the invocations to do so, had never offered to fight for liberty; did not then offer.  At that time no Negro had ever sat upon a jury; none trained in the militia; none trained in the militia of Massachusetts.  Why should the Negro be ambitious to die for Massachusetts?

The war governor proceeds: “Contemplating, however, the possibility of such removal, permit me to say that the Northern States are of all places the worst possible to select for an asylum . . . I would take the liberty of suggesting some Union foothold in the South.”

In this same month, the adjutant-general [Dix] inquired of the army of the West: “What is to be done with this unfortunate race . . . You cannot send them North.  You all know the prejudices of the Northern States for receiving large numbers of the colored race.  Some States have passed laws prohibiting them to come within their borders . . . look along this river (the Mississippi) and see the number of deserted plantations on its borders. These are the best places for these freed men.”

Ever, as with the constancy of natural causes, exercised in some other man’s house, on the banks of some far-off, ancient river.  On these terms who would not be an altruist?

“In the State where I live,” said John Sherman, on April 2, 1862, “we do not like Negroes. We do not disguise our dislike.  As my friend from Indiana (Mr. Wright) said yesterday, “The whole people of the Northwestern States, are, for reasons, whether correct or not, opposed to having many Negroes among them, and that principle or prejudice has been engraved in the legislation of nearly all the Northwestern States.”

(Leigh Robinson’s Address, 18 December, 1909, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 36, 1908, pp. 319-321)

Oct 27, 2014 - From Africa to America    No Comments

Slaves Freeing Themselves from Freedom

Often mislabeling homeless black refugees in the South as “loyal,” Northerners saw them as easily-acquired and underpaid mercenaries who would help them subjugate the American South. Most of them were not so easily mislead, knew what their new friends had in mind, and simply wanted to go home to be left alone.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa 1865

 

Slaves Freeing Themselves from Freedom

“At Hilton Head, in March 1862, it was proposed to organize out of certain loyal blacks, within easy reach, a patriotic Negro brigade.  But this reinforcement so little appreciated the intended honor that the vigilance of a strong picket of white soldiers was necessary to prevent the escape of the slave to his master.

With their Enfield rifles and other military equipments, one-third of the nucleus did, in fact, decamp. [Northern] General [David] Hunter’s force succeeded in recovering at least five of these refugees from freedom.  “Taken when fleeing toward the mainland, occupied by rebels, they were placed in irons and confined at the Rip Raps [along the shore]”

Fugitives from freedom, encountering every peril to escape therefrom, by some fugitive freedom laws are pursued, overtaken, loaded with irons and threatened with worse if they make further efforts to free themselves from freedom. It may be, in cold iron outline, is imaged something of deeper import – “the name of freedom graven on a heavier chain.”

(Leigh Robinson’s Address, 18 December, 1909, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 36, 1908, pg. 320)

 

Oct 27, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Secession Doctrine Taught by New Englanders

Historically the Democratic party, created in 1792 as a Southern reaction to Northern control of the federal government, was so successful that every major political party since has been a reaction to it.  The Federalists of New England, once unseated in 1800, reacted by formulating plans to secede from the union.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa 1865

 

Secession Doctrine Taught by New Englanders

“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 [Thomas] Jefferson and [Aaron] 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.  They took the Senate with eighteen seats to fourteen Federalist, and the House with sixty-nine seats to thirty-six Federalist.

They took the presidency by an equally comfortable margin, although the quirks of the Electoral College arrangement caused Jefferson and his vice presidential candidate Burr to receive an equal number of electoral votes for President.  The Federalist party survived another sixteen years, although it would never again won control 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.  It would be their sullen tom-tom call, a summons to defect, until they passed from the national scene in 1816.

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 strike that history has identified the South with secession when in fact the earliest and clearest argument against it were proposed by Jefferson and Madison [, both Southerners]. 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, 1977, pp. 115-116)