The Last Resort of Yankees as Kings
In viewing the country as a great life insurance company and reaping the profit of lasting the longest, the North perhaps accelerated the demise of the South to attain its goal in less time. The war itself was a profitable enterprise for the North as “life insurance in force tripled during the Civil War, and one company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., targeted military men in particular. In 1865, the Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. began writing policies for those who did not qualify medically.” Northern business found vast profits even in the lives of their own soldiers.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
The Last Resort of Yankees as Kings
“Notorious as [Yankees] are for the matter-of-course way in which they are wont to put off the ties of nature, they could yet grow eloquent when descanting on the brotherhood of all citizens, or the sisterhood of States. When first secession “reared its awful form” they called us “erring brethren” and “wayward sisters,” “rebellious brethren” and “estranged sisters,” “a little more than kin and less than kind,” and so on ran the gamut of appropriate epithets to their unfraternal relatives of the South.
Then they became still more affectionate as we became less fond, and next assumed the paternal type; Uncle Sam found out that his nieces were his own children; and imported citizens in Wisconsin and Minnesota mourned in High Dutch, and wept in lager beer, over the unfilial conduct of South Carolina and Georgia.
But the climax of sentimentality for the North and of insult to the South, was attained when the Yankee worked himself up to the amatory pitch and represented the union of States under the symbol of wedlock – the Northern States the bridegroom and the Southern the bride. We all remember how the fit idol of these modern Egyptians, their god Anubis, their chosen chief, Abraham Lincoln aired this comparison on his way to Washington, and how he enlivened the parallel by ribald allusions to Free Love and Elective Affinities.
[The] true standard bearers of the South – her statesmen and her thinkers – were never so much given to bursts of sympathy as the declamatory champions of the North; and now that the fiery trial of actual warfare has brought out the stamp of each nationality in clear outlines, no one should wonder that the Yankees have the monopoly of the sentimentality department; for sentiment is always idle, always selfish; real feeling alone is active and self-sacrificing.
Still we have too high an estimate of Yankee shrewdness to suppose that these displays of rhetoric are meant for any other ears than those of the groundlings; and the initiated have, no doubt, a far different idea of the real nature of the Union. They are not imposed on “by brotherhoods and sisterhoods, by the bonds of a common descent, a common language and a common history.” They too, take a business view of the connexion, and look upon the Union as a great Life Insurance Bubble. And how well they understand the workings of such institutions, our Southern policy-holders know to their cost.
The peculiar form of insurance company after which the Union, as they have it, was framed, is technically called a Tontine, and the brief exposition of the system is conveyed in the familiar regulation: “the longest liver takes all.” The Southern States, according to them, had so many inherent elements of weakness that they were to die out, and the North was to succeed by virtue of survivorship, to the rents of their less vigorous neighbours, and, meanwhile, by dexterous management in the board of directors, to cheat them out of any annuities which might be due. But the process of dying out was very slow. In short, it soon became evident that the “course of ultimate extinction” was very tardy, and it was deemed expedient to aid nature a little.
Wholesale murder – the last resort of Yankees as kings – is their present experiment . . . [but] the butcher’s business, as conducted by the Federal armies, does not pay. Our throats are not easily cut, and so far from letting them have the whole body of the Confederacy as the fee of their exertions we begrudge them even the “fifth quarter.”
(Soldier and Scholar, Basil L. Gildersleeve and the Civil War, Ward W. Briggs, Jr., editor, pp. 128-131)