Republican Party Deportation Movement

The Republican party’s platform of 1860 was not antislavery, but aimed at restricting those of African descent to the American South and not allowing blacks into western lands reserved for their European immigrant constituency. When their war caused displaced Africans to flood northward and threaten the jobs of white workers, Republicans admitted northern race prejudice and responded with unrealistic assurances to their voters as well as a deportation plan for the black race.

Republican Deportation Movement

“Following a familiar pattern, antislavery politicians and editors of every rank and persuasion cried that emancipation would staunch the flow of colored immigrants from the South; that it was bondage rather than freedom that was driving them into the North. Free the slaves, they said, and a warm climate, a sentimental attachment to their native land, and northern race prejudice would induce them to stay on southern soil.

Many went further, predicting the same forces would send all or most of the northern Negroes rushing southward. Two optimistic radicals, Congressman George W. Julian of Indiana and Albert J. Riddle of Ohio, expected that freedom in the South would drain the North and Canada of their colored populations. They were joined in this soothing refrain by their colleagues from Pennsylvania including the leading radical Republican in the House, Thaddeus Stevens.

In reply to a Missouri congressman’s accusation that Indiana would not receive Negro immigrants, Representative Albert G. Porter of Indiana retorted that black labor was not needed in his State; that Hoosiers had “elected in favor of the white race by prohibiting slavery”; that Missouri had chosen slavery and thereby agreed to accept its disadvantages; and that if any “inconveniences” should follow emancipation “the duty to be just to the freedmen is yours, and you cannot fairly shift either the burden or the duty to us.”

Yet after listening to [proposed solutions to emancipation] the Republican party finally adopted a voluntary Negro colonization as its official policy. The blacks that were to be freed and who consented to leave were to be sent outside the United States. Before the Civil War there had been active, if ineffective, colonization societies in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. War revived the nation’s flagging interest in the scheme.

In his message to Congress in December 1861, President Lincoln recommended that slaves seized under a confiscation act passed in August of 1861 and those that might be freed by State action be removed to “some place, or places, in a climate congenial to them,” and asked lawmakers to consider also including free Negroes who were willing to depart.

A deportation movement now got underway in earnest with a vanguard of Midwestern Republicans” Senators Lyman Trumbull, John Sherman, James R. Doolittle, Orville H. Browning of Illinois, Henry S. Lane of Indiana, and Secretary of the Interior Caleb B. Smith of Indiana.”  

(Free But Not Equal: The Midwest and the Negro During the Civil War, V. Jacque Voegeli, University of Chicago Press, 1967, excerpts pp. 20-23)

Apr 26, 2020 - Economics, Emancipation, Freedmen and Liberty, Northern Culture Laid Bare, Race and the North, Republican Party    Comments Off on A National Characteristic

A National Characteristic

Early in the war and with displaced black people migrating northward threatening white northerners jobs, Midwest Republicans proposed the use of federal power to insure that the freedmen would remain in the South, suggesting “that the blacks be colonized in Florida, or placed in the Indian territories of the southwest, or apprenticed on confiscate plantations, or restrained and employed in the South by the government.” Senator Doolittle below was Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee 1861-1866, and carried out the hanging of 38 Sioux in 1862.  

A National Characteristic

Senator [James R.] Doolittle, leading advocate of colonization in the Senate, explained, “The question of race is a more troublesome one than the question of condition [slavery] in the truth.” In August of 1862, President Lincoln reminded a group of colored men that the broad “physical difference” between the two races is “a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence.”

They were just as sure that anti-Negro prejudice was a national characteristic which would not be dispelled by universal emancipation, as some abolitionists thought it would.

A House committee, headed by Albert S. White, an Indiana Republican, endorsed emancipation and colonization, and reported that a belief in the inferiority of the Negro was “indelibly fixed upon the public mind . . . There are irreconcilable differences between the two races which separate them, as with a wall of fire . . . [The] Anglo-American never will give his consent that the Negro, no matter how free, shall be elevated to such equality.” Genuine concern for the welfare of the Negroes, as well as racial antipathy, nourished the deportation movement.

Republican colonizationists knew well that all men aspired to equality, and they truly sympathized with the condition of the Negro, free or slave. They urged – since history and the evidence on every hand indicated that white Americans would not admit black men to full equality – that emancipation be accomplished by the voluntary resettlement of the freedmen in foreign lands where they could enjoy equal rights and govern themselves. Such a course would benefit both races, they said. The whites would profit from the departure of an alien people; the blacks would escape from domination and oppression.”

(Free But Not Equal: The Midwest and the Negro During the Civil War, V. Jacque Voegeli, University of Chicago Press, 1967, excerpts pg. 23)

The Fatal Precedent

The origins of the Mexican War are far more complex than usually presented in modern textbooks, with England figuring prominently into the reasons behind a hurried annexation. A need to preserve Texas as a reliable supplier of cotton, while limiting American expansionism, propelled Britain into mediating Mexican-Texan difficulties. While New Englanders opposed annexation on supposedly moral grounds, they coveted California which would give them a port more convenient for whaling and their opium traffic with India – the latter creating severe addiction problems in China.

John C. Calhoun opposed James Polk’s war with Mexico with a plea “that America never take one foot of territory by an aggressive war.” He added, “If fight we must, let us fight a defensive war.” He dismissed Polk’s assertion of “war exists with Mexico” as a “palpable falsehood.”

The Fatal Precedent

“The way Polk got the [Mexican] war started ensured that it would be vehemently protested in certain quarters. Shortly after Texas was annexed (December 29, 1845), Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor, commander of the army in Louisiana, to move to Texas to protect its southern flank on the Rio Grande.

In reality, the southern flank was the Neuces, 150 miles to the north; Mexico claimed the area between the two rivers, and the pretensions of Texas and the United States was without foundation. An American reconnoitering party of sixty-three men encountered a Mexican force near the Rio Grande and was attacked. Eleven were killed, five wounded and the rest captured.

When Polk received the news, he asked Congress to appropriate funds to support Taylor, declared that the Mexicans had invaded the United States and “shed American blood on the American soil,” and requested not a declaration of war but a recognition that “war exists” by virtue of Mexico’s action.

The Democratic majority in the House limited debate to two hours, read but a few of the documents Polk had submitted, and passed a bill calling for volunteers and appropriating $10 million. Just sixteen congressmen voted against the bill.

Among the few in Congress who spoke against the action was John C. Calhoun. Unlike northern opponents of the war, he had strongly favored the annexation of Texas, but he thought the war was avoidable, set a dangerous precedent . . . The passage of the appropriations bill with its “war exists” preamble in effect transferred to the presidency Congress’s power to declare war, for the president as commander in chief could order troops anywhere, provoke a fight, and present Congress with was a fait accompli.  

The precedent could prove fatal, Calhoun insisted, for it “will enable all future presidents to bring about a state of things, in which Congress shall be forced, without deliberation or reflection, to declare war, however opposed to its convictions of justice or expediency. The precedent would, indeed, be applied to Calhoun’s own State fifteen years later.”

(States’ Rights and the Union: Imperium in Imperio, Forrest MacDonald, University of Kansas Pres, 2000, excerpts pp. 150-151)

Restless Yankees Infested with Guilt

One of the great conundrums of American history is the “treasury of virtue” claimed by New England as it allegedly struck the chains of slavery off the black man. Though the war was begun by Lincoln as simply one to “save the Union,” with Massachusetts troops conspicuously rushing to his side, New England abolitionists were quick to morph the war into an abolition crusade.

In truth, the ancestors of the crusading abolitionists grew wealthy in the transatlantic slave trade which exchanged Yankee notions and rum for enslaved Africans, then sailed to the West Indies and North America to deposit those that survived the murderous middle passage.  The exploitation of the black man continued with Eli Whitney’s invention, cotton-hungry New England mills, and Manhattan banks which revived a dying and unwanted peculiar institution. It is then fair to state that the original “slave power” was New England.

Restless Yankees Infested with Guilt

During the Victorian Age, an aphorism held that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”  In England the adage may have been coined to salve the consciences of plutocrats wallowing in wealth gained at the expense of a wretched factory proletariat, but in the United States, at least, it had broader connotations. 

When times were hard and the struggle to make ends meet the Yankees accepted their lot uncomplainingly, as if that was what God had destined for them.

When times were good and life was easy, they became restless and infested with feelings of guilt. In such circumstances, their tendency was to look around for evil and band together to strike it out.  [The] years after the 1849 gold rush were a period of unprecedented prosperity that lasted almost a decade. Fads and fancies proliferated, but most commonly, Yankees focused their reforming energies upon slavery, or, more properly, upon which they perceived as the slave power.”

(States’ Rights and the Union: Imperium in Imperio, Forrest MacDonald, University of Kansas Pres, 2000, excerpts pg. 165)

“The Massachusetts Idea”

On September 22, 1864, the Illinois State Register reported “A new feature . . . We noted the sale of three likely able-bodied men yesterday – color not stated, as it is immaterial to Uncle Abe – at $400, $450 and $600 respectively . . . They were bought to fill a Woodford County order.” Only three days later the paper wrote “the demand for substitutes seems to be on the increase. Yesterday their par value averaged $700 to $900. About a dozen, most of them Negroes, were picked up and are already in the service of Father Abraham.”   

 Milton S. Littlefield was a prewar Republican organizer in Illinois, and was later sent by Lincoln to fervent abolitionist Gen. David Hunter in South Carolina as “an agent and symbol of altering Presidential idea about the Negro and the war.” Littlefield was notorious for shaving enlistment bounties into his own pocket, and in the postwar was renowned for his railroad bond frauds in North Carolina.

The Massachusetts Idea”

 “[Lincoln secretary] John Hay called the procedure “the Massachusetts idea” in a talk about it with Sherman and Grant, neither of whom liked it. Sherman, indeed had defied an act of Congress, passed on July 4, 1864, authorizing Northern governors to send agents into the South to recruit Negroes “who shall be credited to the State which may procure the enlistment.”

When some such agents had asked Sherman where they might begin to receive their colored men, he had named eight cities all in Confederate territory far from any Union troops.  The idea was not limited to Massachusetts though it had been part of that State’s motivation . . . [and] had been a part of the Massachusetts purpose in forming the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which the doomed young Shaw led off to war to the applause of abolitionists and poets in Boston, and the 55th which furnished the man hanged in Jacksonville [for rape].

President Lincoln, in the message in which he announced and Amnesty and Reconstruction Proclamation which preceded the ill-fated expedition to Olustee, mentioned as one of the advantages of enlisting Negro soldiers that of “supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many white men.”

Nothing could be more clear than Littlefield’s statement in his appeal for enlistments on the Florida expedition calling attention to the Federal bounty each recruit would receive and another bounty “from the State to which he will be accredited.”  (There was a gap between the $300 he promised and the $700 Jefferson County [New York] paid.)

Perhaps as the officer “charged with the payment of all bounties to colored recruits” in the Department of the South, he was partial to Jefferson County. Also it is possible that some of the bounty money stuck to his hands or those of his cousin, friends and associates there.

The process in which he took part, however, was not a rare deal but a plan publicly blessed by local taxpayers and high public officials. During the war the Northern States paid nearly $300,000,000 in bounties for recruits.”

(Prince of Carpetbaggers, Jonathan Daniels, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1958, excerpts pp. 103-104)

Capturing Sea Island Volunteers

While it is generally reported that black recruits in the occupied Sea Islands of South Carolina flocked to the Union standard, the truth is that many ran from Northern State agents sent to enlist them for their State quota of troops.  While many enlisted voluntarily, it was due to generous enlistment bounties offered, much of which stuck to the recruiter’s hands, and the possibility of being forced into service or shot for refusal.  During the war the Northern States paid nearly $300,000,000 in bounties for recruits to fill the blue ranks.

The writers below were ardent antislavery New England men at Port Royal, both Harvard men just out of college. Their 1864 observations are telling.

Capturing Sea Island Volunteers

“The next group of letters returns to the subject of Negro recruitment. By this time various Northern States, in despair of finding enough men at home to make out the number of recruits required of them by the general Government, were getting hold of Southern Negroes for the purpose, and their agents had appeared in the Department of the South, competing for freedmen with offers of large bounties.  At the same time, General Foster made up his mind that all able-bodied Negroes who refused to volunteer, even under these [bounties], should be forced into the service. If the conscription methods of the Government up to this time had not been brutal, certainly no one can deny that adjective to the present operations.

From CPW

Aug. 9. Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, agent for Massachusetts, has come. After looking about a little, he does not think the prospect of getting recruits very brilliant, but his agents are at work in Beaufort streets, and may pick up a few men. He intends to send native scouts on to the main to beat up recruits; $35 a man is offered for all they will bring in.

Colonel Rice intended to come down here to-day, but had to go and see General [John G.] Foster and Colonel [Milton] Littlefield, Superintendent of Recruiting. (He, Colonel L., calls it recruiting to conscript all he can lay hands on.) There is to be, not a draft, but a wholesale conscription, enforced here. Lieutenant-Colonel Strong of the First South [Carolina Colored Volunteers] (Thirty-third USCT) enrolled all colored men last month.  

It is possible, if the men can be made to understand this, that a few can be induced to volunteer, but I hardly think than many will be secured, either by enlistment or draft.

From WCG

Sept 23. They are carrying out the draft with excessive severity, not to say horrible cruelty. Last night three [black] men were shot, — one killed, one wounded fatally, it is thought, and the other disappeared over the boat’s side and has not been seen since, — shot as they were trying to escape the guard sent to capture all men who have not been exempted by the military surgeons. The draft here is mere conscription, — every able-bodied man is compelled to serve, — and many not fit for military service are forced to work in the quartermaster’s department.

Oct. 12. You ask more about the draft. The severity of the means employed to enforce it is certainly not to be justified, nor do the authorities attempt to do so, — after the act is done. The draft is carried on by military, not civil, powers. We have no civil laws, courts, officers, etc. The only [lawful] agents to be employed are necessarily soldiers, and the only coercion is necessarily that of guns and arbitrary arrests.

The Massachusetts recruiting agents, of course, have nothing to do with enforcing the draft. But their presence seems to have increased its activity and their bounty money contributes to its success.

(Letters From Port Royal: Written at the Time of the Civil War, Elizabeth Ware Pearson, editor, W.B. Clarke Company, 1906, excerpts pp. 281-284)

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The fate of slain King Phillip’s wife and son after his defeat by New England settlers was to finish their days — “sold into slavery, West Indian slavery! An Indian princess and her child, sold from the cool breezes of Mount Hope, from the wild freedom of a New England forest, to gasp under the lash, beneath the blazing sun of the tropics!” The effect of King Phillip’s War upon the indigenous population of New England was to reduce it by nearly 80 percent — by death and starvation. The few who survived were enslaved.

New England’s History of Slavery

“[The] first code of laws in Massachusetts established slavery . . . and at the very birth of the foreign commerce of New England the African slave trade became a regular business. The ships which took cargoes of slaves and fish to Madeira and the Canaries were accustomed to touch on the coast of Guinea to trade for negroes, who were carried generally to Barbadoes or the other English islands in the West Indies, the demand for them at home being small.

In the case referred to, instead of buying negroes in the regular course of traffic, which, under the fundamental law of Massachusetts already quoted, would have been perfectly legal, the crew of a Boston ship joined with some London vessels on the coast, and, on the pretense of some quarrel with the natives, landed a “murderer” – the expressive name of a small piece of cannon – attacking a negro village on Sunday, killed many of the inhabitants, and made a few prisoners, two of whom fell to the share of the Boston ship.

The colonists of Massachusetts assumed to themselves “a right to treat the Indians on the footing of Canaanites or Amalekites,” and practically regarded them from the first as forlorn and wretched heathen, possessing few rights which were entitled to respect.”

(Notes on the History of Slavery in Massachusetts, George Henry Moore, D. Appleton & Company, 1866, excerpts pp. 28-30; 43)

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The Free Trade, Irritated, Revengeful South

Thaddeus Stevens in the early postwar hesitated at giving the vote to freedmen, but quickly saw the danger of that they may vote along with those they lived beside and trusted for so many years.  He also feared a backlash from his Pennsylvania constituents who already denied the vote to free blacks. Blacks could not vote there nor in New York and all of the former slave-trading New England States except Connecticut. By 1867 Stevens wisely recognized the political expediency of the controlled freedmen vote.

The Free Trade, Irritated, Revengeful South

“Unless the rebel States, before admission, should be made republican in spirit, and placed under the guardianship of loyal men, all our blood and treasure will have been spent in vain. Having these States . . . entirely within the power of Congress, it is our duty to take care that no injustice will remain in their organic laws.  Holding them “like clay in the hands of the potter,” we must see that no vessel is made for destruction. Having no governments, they must have enabling acts.

There is more reason why colored voters should be admitted in the rebel States than in the Territories. In the States they form the great mass of loyal men. Possibly with their aid loyal governments may be established in most of those States.  Without it all are sure to be ruled by traitors; and loyal men, black and white, will be oppressed, exiled or murdered.

There are several good reasons for passage of this bill. In the first place, it is just. I am now confining my argument to Negro suffrage in the rebel States. Have not loyal blacks quite as good a right choose rulers and make laws as rebel whites? In the second place, it is a necessity in order to protect the loyal white men in the seceded States.  The white Union men are in a great minority in each of those States.

With them the blacks would act in a body; and it is believed that in each of said States, except one, the two united would form a majority, control the States, and protect themselves.  Now they are victims of daily murder. They must suffer persecution or be exiled . . .

If impartial suffrage is excluded in the rebel States, then every one of them is sure to send a solid rebel representative delegation to Congress, and cast a solid rebel electoral votes. They, with their kindred Copperheads in the North, would always elect the President and control Congress. While slavery sat upon her defiant throne, and insulted and intimidated the trembling North, the South frequently divided on questions of policy between Whigs and Democrats, and gave victory alternately to the sections. Now, you must divide them between loyalists, without regard to color, and disloyalists, or you will be the perpetual vassals of the free-trade, irritated, revengeful South . . . I am for Negro suffrage in every rebel State.”

(“Ascendancy of the Union Party”; Reconstruction: 1865-1867, Richard N. Current, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965, excerpts pp. 58-59)

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No Complete Restoration

“Supported by the Grant administration and fortified by military power, the Radical Republican State machines plunged the Southern commonwealths into an abyss of misgovernment.” So writes author James G. Randall in his 1937 classic “The Civil War and Reconstruction.”  Massive debts were foisted upon the Southern States through fraudulent bonds, excessive government salaries and Northern speculators, along with Radical governors terrorizing those citizens who protested. From this abyss arose the Ku Klux Klan.

No Complete Restoration

“To use a modern phrase, government under Radical Republican rule in the South had become a kind of “racket.” A parasitic organization had been grafted to the government itself, so that the agencies of rule and authority were manipulated for private and partisan ends.

Often in the reconstructed States government bore a bogus quality: that which called itself government was an artificial fabrication. Where the chance of plunder was so alluring it was no wonder that rival factions would clash for control of the spoils, nor that outraged citizens, seeking to recover the government for the people, should resort to irregular and abnormal methods. At times, this clash of factions created the demoralizing spectacle of dual or rival governments.

Such, in brief, was the nature of carpetbag rule in the South. The concept which the Radicals sought to disseminate was that the problems of restoration had all been neatly solved, the country saved, and the South “reconstructed” by 1868.

That dignified publication known as the American Annual Cyclopedia began its preface for the year 1868 with the following amazing statement: “This volume of the Annual Cyclopedia . . . presents the complete restoration, as members of the Union, of all the Southern States except three [Virginia, Mississippi, Texas], and the final disappearance of all difficulties between citizens of those States and the Federal Government.”

The fact of the matter was that this “complete restoration” was merely the beginning of the corrupt and abusive era of carpetbag rule by the forcible imposition of Radical governments upon an unwilling and protesting people.  Before this imposition took place the Southern States already had satisfactory governments.

Though the Radicals used Negro voting and officeholding for their own ends, Republican governments in the South were not Negro governments. Even where Negroes served, the governments were under white [Radical] control.

That the first phase of the Negro’s experience of freedom after centuries of slavery should occur under the degrading conditions of these carpetbag years was not the fault of the Negro himself, but of the whites who exploited him.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall, DC Heath and Company, 1937, excerpts pp. 852-854)

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Taking Refuge in the Clouds

Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, fearing election loss by supporting Lincoln’s incessant calls for more troops, pushed strongly for equal pay for Southern black men captured in the Sea Islands and credited to his State quota.  Though the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth were official Massachusetts regiments, the men were not from Massachusetts.  The Second Massachusetts Cavalry were bounty-paid men from California.

Taking Refuge in the Clouds

“A much sorer spot . . . was the matter of pay. Negroes in the army received $10 a month, of which $3 was paid in clothing; white soldiers received $13 plus clothing – a difference of $6 a month.  The pay of the Negro was based on a decision of the solicitor of the War Department, William Whiting, who on June 4, 1863, ruled that Negro soldiers were to be paid under the provisions of the Militia Act of July 17, 1862, which stipulated that persons of African descent could be used for military service . . . this Act did not have in mind Negroes actually bearing arms, and it referred only to those Negroes who had recently been freed from bondage. Nonetheless, until Congress acted, Negro soldiers were to be paid, said Whiting, as military laborers.

[Massachusetts Governor] John Andrew was greatly troubled over the solicitor’s ruling since he had promised the men of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth equality in every respect with the other State regiments.  He urged the President to get an opinion from the attorney general, and Lincoln did so. Supporting Andrew, Bates reply stated that the $10 a month pay was meant for those Negroes who had been slaves.

Lincoln did nothing – [the 1862] elections were approaching. [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton moved slowly too, doubtless because he feared that equal pay might interfere with the recruitment of white soldiers. When asked by John Mercer Langston what was the duty of colored men in view of the lower wage, Stanton took refuge in the clouds:

“The duty of the colored man is to defend his country, whenever wherever, and in whatever form, is the same as that of white men. It does not depend on, nor is it affected by, what the country pays. The true way to secure her rewards and win her confidence is not to stipulate for them, but to deserve them”

Disappointed over his failure at Washington, Andrew returned to the State house . . . In quick response Massachusetts lawmakers passed an act on November 16 to make up the deficiencies in the monthly pay of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth.   

A week later the governor received an answer from the Fifty-fourth declining to accept any money from Massachusetts. [The] men of the Fifty-fourth wanted it known that had enlisted as other soldiers from the State, and that they would rather continue to serve without pay until their enlistments ran out, rather than accept from the national government less than the amount paid other soldiers.”

(The Negro in the Civil War, Benjamin Quarles, Little, Brown and Company, 1953, excerpts pp. 200-201)

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