Mar 7, 2020 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Poker Money

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Poker Money

Jefferson Davis thought of Forrest as a genius; Gen. Robert E. Lee, though he had never met Forrest, proclaimed him the greatest battlefield commander of the war; Gen. Joseph E. Johnston “named him the greatest soldier the war produced, and said, “Had he the advantage of a thorough military education and training, he would have been the central figure of the war.”

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Poker Money

“[Forrest’s] target on December 20 [1862] was Trenton, Tennessee. Memphis and Jackson aside, it was the home of the largest Union garrison between Mississippi and Kentucky. Trenton’s women, waving their handkerchiefs, pointed Forrest to the Yankees, who had fortified the supply depot with eight hundred bales of cotton but without any cannon.

Forrest led the attack, supported by [Captain Samuel] Freeman’s guns, and the garrison surrendered quickly. When Northerners tried to burn the depot, Captain J. P. Strange and [Forrest] captured the arsonists and made them quench the fire.

With 275 men, Forrest captured four hundred men at Trenton, including two colonels . . . one thousand horses, thirteen wagons and ambulances, seven caissons, one hundred thousand rations, twenty thousand rounds of artillery ammunition, and four hundred thousand rounds of small arms ammunition, among other things.

The garrison commander sadly handed over his sword to Forrest, wistfully adding that it was a family relic. Forrest examined it and handed it back to him, saying that he hoped the next time he drew it, it would not be against his own people.

Forrest learned that the federals had forced the residents of Trenton to sign oaths of allegiance to the United States. He ordered Captain Charles Anderson to collect all of these papers. They were piled on the courthouse lawn and burned.

The Rebels had also captured a large quantity of counterfeit Confederate money. It had no value because the engraving and printing were so perfect and the quality of the paper so high that any Southerner would immediately recognize it as bogus. Forrest and his men kept is poker money.”

(Bust Hell Wide Open: The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., Regnery, 2016, excerpts pp. 80-81)

Feb 24, 2020 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Expanding New England Ways

Expanding New England Ways

The most glaring omission in histories of New England and its well-worn anti-slavery stance against the American South is its own preeminence in the transatlantic slave trade which brought enslaved Africans to the South, as well as the West Indies. By 1750, it is recorded that Providence, Rhode Island had surpassed Liverpool as the center of that trade, with numerous ships carrying rum and Yankee notions to the Gulf of Benin to be exchanged for human cargo. And predating this nefarious trade was the Puritan settlers brutal triumph over the Pequots – and selling that tribe’s survivors into West Indian slavery.

Expanding New England Ways

“[New England] reformers . . . all inherited the Puritan belief that New Englander’s in general, and people in Massachusetts and Boston in particular, had a mission: Through the perfection of their own social, economic and political institutions, they were to show the way for the rest of the nation.

The younger reformers also learned from their more wealthy forefathers the tradition of public service or stewardship . . . but by the mid-nineteenth century the younger generation was looking outward and thinking of expanding New England influences into other States and regions.

Most notably, the reformers among Boston’s business class wished to address the question of slavery, which the older generation had ignored or subordinated to other concerns. They were not abolitionists, whom they scorned as sentimental, impractical idealists who alienated the mass of white Americans with their self-righteous contentiousness.

In the minds of the Boston free-labor advocates, slavery, and the insidious Southern political influence it generated, which they called the Slave Power, threatened all these things.

New Englanders believed their town meetings were the perfect embodiment of the republican spirit. The Boston businessmen were eager to expand New England ways, first to Kansas and later to the South.

Arguing that blacks would work more efficiently as free laborers than as slaves and would be greater consumers of Northern manufacturing goods. Recruiting blacks into the Union armies, they insisted, would protect white workers from the draft. They claimed that . . . giving [freedmen] the vote would offset the political influence of unreconstructed rebels, hence protecting republican government.

Some historians have wondered how Northerners could attack slavery as oppressive and at the same time be blind to the deficiencies of their own wage-labor system. They were opposed to state intervention in the economy to regulate wages or hours, and they were unsympathetic to labor union organization.”

(Cotton and Capital: Boston Businessmen and Antislavery Reform, 1854-1868, Richard H. Abbott, University of Massachusetts Press, 1991, excerpts pp. 4-7)

Dec 17, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on “What is all this for?”

“What is all this for?”

“What is all this for? Why this array of armies? Why this fierce meeting in mortal combat? What is all this carnage and slaughter for? Why the prolongation of this conflict? Why this lamentation and mourning going up from almost every house and family from Maine to the Rio Grande, and from the Atlantic and Gulf to the Lakes, for friends and dear ones who have fallen by disease and violence in this unparalleled struggle?

The question if replied to by the North can have but one answer.”

Alexander H. Stephens, 1863, Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Vol. I, pg. 175. 

Dec 16, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Dictator of the Republic

Dictator of the Republic

In December 1865, President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, announced his plan of “reconstructing” the States which had departed the Union four years earlier and had been defeated militarily. But Northern Republicans had their own vision of reconstruction, seeing the black man’s enfranchisement as a convenient vehicle for enduring political hegemony, and clothing it in high moral sentiments which set that black man against his white neighbor.

Later, W.E.B. DuBois, would see the War’s result in Marxist terms and viewed it as the greatest social revolution ever possible – “that of giving the Negro the franchise and uniting the workers as such, against the capitalists.” But these newly united workers, and their votes, were destined to be used by the Gilded Age capitalists energized by Lincoln’s war.

Dictator of the Republic

“Had reconstruction had been only a problem of restoring the Union and bringing peace to a war weary people, Andrew Johnson’s report would have indicated real progress. Under existing conditions, it served only to show that the war had become the carrier of a social, political and moral revolution and had left its early impulses far behind. The great masses may have gladly seen the army disbanded and looked forward to a quick return to normal living, but there were persons in Congress and out who would not believe the war had come to an end until those who had caused it were adequately punished, the Negro set on the road to first-class citizenship and the Republican party assured of perpetual political dominance.

As early as May 5, 1865, the Independent, which spoke for what came to be called the Radical Republicans in Congress, was asserting:

“There is one, and only one, sure and safe policy for the immediate future, namely: The North must remain the absolute Dictator of the Republic until the spirit of the North shall become the spirit of the whole country . . . The South is still unpurged of her treason. Prostrate in the dust she is no less a traitor at this hour than when her head was erect . . . They cannot be trusted with authority over their former slaves: they cannot be trusted with authority over the recemented Republic . . . The only hope for the South is to give the ballot to the Negro and in denying it to the rebels.”

In like spirit George W. Julian of Indiana would “indict, convict and hang Jefferson Davis in the name of God; as for Robert E. Lee, unmolested in Virginia, hang him too. And stop there? Not at all. I would hang liberally while I had a hand in.” Senator Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio suggested that “if the Negroes by insurrection could contrive to slay one-half of the Southern whites, the remaining half would then hold them in respect and treat them with justice.”

Thaddeus Stevens [of Pennsylvania] would wipe out Southern State lines and reduce the section to a territory where rebels would learn to practice justice to all men. Charles Sumner [of Massachusetts] would seize all rebel property and distribute it to the Negroes, give them the vote, and let them rule the section.”

(Reconstruction and the Ending of the Civil War, Avery Craven, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969, excerpts, pp. 92-93)

Dec 7, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Making Trouble Generally in the South

Making Trouble Generally in the South

At Fredericksburg in December 1862, Lee’s 70,000 men repulsed the North’s 114,000-man army and inflicted heavy casualties. The latter army looted the town before advancing against Lee, and blue-clad soldiers, many in Gen. Meagher’s brigade of Irishmen, were “found dead . . . with women’s shawls and bonnets on.” Lincoln replaced this discredited commander with yet another general, under orders to defeat Lee and lay waste to Richmond. This was not to be a war to effect reunion, but to conquer and subjugate those States wishing to form a more perfect union.

Making Trouble Generally in the South

“As May, 1863 approached, the prospects of the South looked far more favorable, and the victories of Cold Harbor, Cedar Run, the Second Manassas and Fredericksburg had inspired the troops with enthusiasm. In Virginia, two years of arduous struggle had not enabled the Federal authorities to penetrate beyond the Rappahannock; and on the southern banks of that river . . . the long lines of Confederate pickets warned the enemy that any attempt to cross would be resisted by the army which had repulsed them in December at Fredericksburg.

What had, however, a direct bearing on the Virginia campaign . . . was the evident impression among many of the most prominent politicians at the North, that unless the approaching campaign was successful, the [Northern] government was must make peace upon the basis of separation and Southern independence.

The New York “Tribune” announced the programme of operations which the times demanded, and gave its views as follows:

“Having massed our forces and filled our depots and caissons, charge upon the rebels in every quarter – assailing their ports with iron-clads, their armies with stronger armies, fighting resolutely but warily with intent to capture their strongholds and exhaust their resources – while expeditions of light-armed black Unionists, carrying only arms and ammunition, traverse those portions of Rebeldom most exposed and thickly populated with slaves, carrying liberty to all who wish it, and arms wherewith to defend it; moving rapidly and evading all fortified points and overpowering forces, while breaking up railroads and telegraph lines, and making trouble generally.”

If this “making trouble generally” by black Unionists and others did not attain its object, then the war must be given up by the North.

“If three months more of earnest fighting,” said the “Tribune,” “shall not serve to make a serious impression on the rebels – if the end of that term shall find us no further advanced than at its beginning – if some malignant fate has decreed that the blood and treasure of the nation shall ever be squandered in fruitless efforts – let us bow to our destiny, and make the best attainable peace.”

(Life of Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography, John Esten Cooke, D. Appleton & Company, 1876, excerpts pp. 395-396)

Dec 2, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Though much of his background is based on oral history and tradition, Thomas Day is believed to have been born near Milton, North Carolina in either Halifax or Pittsylvania County. This son of free black mother Morning S. Day, was born in 1801, and his father is unknown.

On 27 November 1851 Thomas Day wrote his daughter: “I am perfectly satisfied regarding Milton – I came here to stay four years & am here 7 times four [28 years] I love the place no better no worse than [the] first day I came into it.” It can be inferred from this that Day arrived in Milton about 1823, and in 1827 when he was listed in tax records as a property owner.

He appears in a March 1, 1827 advertisement in the Milton Gazette & Roanoke Advertiser as “Thomas Day, Cabinet Maker” thanking his customers for the business received from them as well as hawking “a handsome supply of mahogany, walnut and stained furniture, the most fashionable and common bedsteads, etc.”

Prior to arriving in Milton, Day appears to be a 22-year-old trained and an apprenticed cabinetmaker, and only four years later has accumulated sufficient wealth to purchase property and a Milton business address.

Thomas married free black Aquila Wilson of Virginia in 1830, but could not bring her into North Carolina which in 1827 had forbid the immigration of free blacks into the State. This was the result of inflammatory anti-slavery rhetoric and publications emanating from the North – ironically from those whose neighbors and fathers had engaged in the transatlantic slave trade which no doubt brought Thomas Day’s ancestors in chains from Africa.

Day petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to allow his wife to join him, and was supported in this by sixty-one white citizens who desired a special act on his behalf, noting him as “a free man of colour, of very fine character – an excellent mechanic, industrious, honest and sober in his habits – in the event of any disturbance amongst the Blacks, I should rely upon him with confidence upon a disclosure from him – as he is the owner of slaves as well as real estate.”

On the eve of war in 1861 Day was a free black who owned three slaves and also trained white apprentices in the art of cabinetmaking. Other free black owners of slaves were Catherine Stanly of nearby Craven County with 7 black slaves, Henry Vaughn of Hertford County with 1 slave, Thomas Jones of Anson County with 5 slaves, E.H. Revel of Cleveland County and Will Evans of Granville County with 2 slaves each – and in Franklin County Thomas Blacknall owned 3 slaves and John Hogwood owned 1 slave. The 1830 census showed many more free black owners of slaves.

Thomas Day was a member of Milton’s predominantly white Presbyterian Church, and sat in a front bench that he had hand-carved. In 1841 he and his wife became full members of this Church.  Day counted among his clients Attorney General Romulus M. Saunders, later United States minister to Spain, and Governor David Settle Reid. His carved furniture for the Governor’s mansion in Raleigh, it is said, was rejected due to its high cost.

Sources: The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860, John Hope Franklin, UNC Press, 1943. Dictionary of NC History, Vol. 2, William S. Powell, UNC Press, 1986.

Nov 28, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Educating a Pagan Land

Educating a Pagan Land

After the South had been subjugated by Northern armies, Radical Republicans used social reformers and Northern businessmen to defeat Andrew Johnson’s softened postwar policies. The following year, the entire South fell under their absolute domination once they enfranchised 700,000 freedmen. This allowed Republican Ulysses Grant to become President with a mere 300,000 majority over New York Democrat Horatio Seymour. Republican national political hegemony would not be broken until the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884.

Educating a Pagan Land

“Education was the key to Reconstruction success and nation building. On the heels of the soldier came the Yankee teacher, who used, according to Henry Highland Garrett, “the spelling book, the Bible, and the implements of industry” as the weapons of ideological war, and “schoolhouses and the Church of Christ” as forts.

It is no surprise that Radicals such as O.O. Howard (known as the “Christian soldier”), national superintendent of the Freedmen’s Bureau and author of Our Christian Duty to the South (1866), and Superintendent of Bureau Education John W. Alvord, in his biennial reports, considered education as the cornerstone of Reconstruction and recommended compulsory attendance.

The soldiers in this ideological war came from various backgrounds and various levels of commitment . . . [and] most educators hailed from above the Mason-Dixon Line. Of the 9,503 teachers in Southern freedmen schools in 1869, approximately 5,000 left family and friends in the North and traveled south mainly to be missionaries in what many believed to be a pagan land. Many were Radicals, militantly devoted to abstract ideas such as positive liberty, and worked to establish a Republican party in the South.

Although concerned with teaching numbers and letters, Radical educators considered socialization and civic instruction important. For what America most needed, argued Reuben Tomlinson, the superintendent of the South Carolina Bureau, was an “intelligent and loyal population.”

A “proper education” eliminated a need for martial law and judicial activism, for children would be molded into Puritans . . . A “proper education” also incorporated the Republican emphasis on free labor and ensured that freedmen evinced “Christian virtues” and demonstrated an ability to make a profit.”

Radical Republicans worked to establish their party in the South and considered freedmen, according to historian John Hope Franklin, to be the “best hope for building and maintaining a strong political organization that would keep the Radical in power.” [But what] they seemed to have wanted, however, was a republicanism [in freedmen] that demanded obedience instead of participation.”

(Education to the Rescue: How Radical Republican Teachers Reconstructed the South, Troy Kickler; Chronicles, September 2006, excerpts pg. 21)

Nov 25, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Mrs. Roosevelt & Mrs. Stowe

Mrs. Roosevelt & Mrs. Stowe

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote an opinion column entitled “My Day” from December 1935 to September 1962, which was in truth a thinly-veiled platform for her political views. The Scripps Howard syndicate eventually dropped “My Day” for its overly-political content. Harriet Beecher Stowe, mentioned below, had never set foot in the South before writing her fictional “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” which immeasurably helped bring on war between North and South.

Mrs. Roosevelt & Mrs. Stowe

“But let’s get on with Mrs. Roosevelt’s report on the South for readers of “My Day” all over the nation. The next few paragraphs are given over to tracing her Southern ancestry. Her grandmother, she writes, was a Bulloch from down in Georgia. She recalls the delightful plantation stories she used to listen to as a child, told by a great-aunt, who was also Georgia-born.

But listen to the next paragraph!

“With all that background I cannot help having a deep interest in the welfare of the State of Georgia and the South as a whole. Still I never go into that part of the country and come away without a sense of sadness. One can enjoy oneself superficially, but one must shut one’s eyes.”

We repeat that: “One can enjoy oneself superficially, but one must shut one’s eyes.”

One might also say, Mrs. Roosevelt, that one can enjoy oneself superficially in New York, or in Philadelphia, or in Chicago, or in Washington where you lived for so many years and where there are vile-smelling, over-crowded, poverty-ridden slums literally within a stone’s throw of the Capitol, or in San Francisco . . . but there also, one must shut one’s eyes at times to poverty and unhappiness. They smell to high heaven.

But Mrs. Roosevelt never writes about New York or Philadelphia or Baltimore or Chicago or Washington or San Francisco.

She joins instead that great claque of holier-than-thou reformers that persist in painting South as a backward land peopled in the main by low-browed hoodlums smelling of lavender and old lace and sniffing away on magnolia blossoms and shuffling along the street with a mint julep in one hand and a bull whip in the other going someplace to lynch some Negro who, if he got his just desserts, would be elected governor.

That old story has been going the rounds ever since Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe took pen in hand and wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

This is the same Mrs. Stowe, incidentally, who, just one year after The War was over, moved South, bag and baggage to a plantation on the St. John’s river near the village of Orange Park, Florida.

It’s significant, it seems to us, that Mrs. Stowe never wrote a sequel to “Uncle Tom” after she moved to Florida and was able to observe conditions in the South at close range. But Mrs. Stowe did write some observations to her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, in the North.

“Corrupt [carpetbag] politicians,” she wrote on one occasion, “are already beginning to speculate on the Negroes as possible capital for their schemes.” How true in 1866! And how true, unfortunately, in 1950!”

(Weep No More My Lady: A Southerner Answers Mrs. Roosevelt’s Report on the “Poor and Unhappy” South, W.E. Debnam, Graphic Press, Inc., 1950, excerpts pp. 11-12)

Nov 10, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Changing the Question

Changing the Question

Union men in the South encouraged Lincoln to withdraw troops from Fort Sumter, defuse the crisis and allow time for cooler heads to prevail; Gen. Winfield Scott, a Virginian, suggested Lincoln relinquish Fort Pickens as a conciliatory gesture toward the South. The problem for Lincoln was maintaining Republican party cohesion, and especially the radical element that pushed for war and the opportunity to decisively destroy the South’s political and economic power – and chose party over country.

Changing the Question

“Seward was in no way alone in urging Lincoln to give up Sumter. Five members of the cabinet expressed the same point of view on March 15; only two were for provisioning Sumter. Seward . . . strongly set forth in a memorandum to Lincoln his belief that Sumter and Pickens were different situations:

“My system is built upon this idea as a ruling one, namely we must change the question before the public from one upon slavery, or about slavery, for a question upon Union or Disunion. In other words, from what would be regarded as a party question to one of patriotism and union.

The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter, although not in fact a slavery, or a party question is so regarded. Witness, the temper manifested by the Republicans in the Free States, and even by Union men in the South. I would therefore terminate it as a safe means for changing the issue. I deem it fortunate that the last administration created the necessity.

For the rest, I would simultaneously defend and reinforce all the Forts in the Gulf, and have the Navy recalled from foreign stations to be prepared for a blockade. Put the Island of Key West under Martial Law. This will raise distinctly the question of Union or Disunion. I would maintain every fort and possession in the South.”

(Collected Works of A. Lincoln, Roy P. Basler, ed., New Brunswick, 1953, Vol. IV, pg 317)

Nov 8, 2019 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on No Longer the Creature of the States

No Longer the Creature of the States

After being released from prison for his role in the Confederate government, and having ample time to reflect on what the recent war against the South had accomplished politically in the United States, Stephen Mallory confided his thoughts to son Buddy. He wrote that the one hope for American liberties would be through President Andrew Johnson’s efforts to readmit Southern States to Congress as a “check on radicalism in every form” as the people of the South were naturally conservative. They would “conserve the basic rights off Americans as against all despotic tendencies of the central government.

No Longer the Creature of the States

“He confided to his son his somber estimate of the meaning and effects of the war which had just concluded. Before the recent struggle, he declared, Americans had gloried in the possession of such inalienable and indestructible rights as “individual liberty,” freedom of the press,” and the “consent of the governed.”

The war had, at least as far as the Southern States were concerned, abolished the exercise of those rights. The Southern States were being treated as conquered provinces under military law. The whole people of the South were at the uncontrolled command of the executive.

This showed “how rapidly men drift when once they grasp irresponsible power.” The character of all power in government is aggressive, he said, with a constant tendency to augment itself; the history of our government provided no exception to this rule.

During the war the federal government had violated flagrantly the basic liberties of the people of the North, and now it was suppressing with even greater violence the rights of the citizens of the South.

“It is impossible that such a course of events should not radically change the theory, the practice and the whole character of the Government, which will no longer be regarded as a Confederation of willing, sovereign States, — no longer be thought of as the creature or agent of the independent States, existing by their will, authority, and consent, but as a national, supreme government, existing by its own right, with right and power as well against the States, all or one, as against individuals or foreign nations, to maintain itself, and to enforce obedience to its authority.”

(Stephen R. Mallory: Confederate Navy Chief, Joseph T. Durkin, University of North Carolina Press, 1954, excerpts pp. 368-369)