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From Independence to Independence

(The following is drawn from David Hackett Fischer’s excellent “British Folkways in America.”)

The American Revolution was not a singular struggle but a series of four separate Wars of Independence waged in very different ways by the major cultures of British America.

The first (1775-1776) was a massive popular insurrection in New England. An army of British regulars was defeated by a Yankee militia much like the Puritan bands from which they were descended and urged on by their Calvinist clergy. This war, as stated by John and Samuel Adams was not fought to secure any rights of man in any universal sense, but against what was called “the contagion of venality and dissipation” which was spreading from London to America. New Englanders felt that they had always managed their own affairs and when England tried to stop them – especially their smuggling of goods and slave trade without the Crown’s percentage paid – the war came.

The second war for independence (1776-1781) was more protracted and fought mainly in the middle colonies and coastal south. It was a gentleman’s war of British regulars and professional mercenaries commanded by English gentry, against an increasingly professional American army led by a member of the Virginia gentry. They were fighting for what Jefferson called “the ancient liberties of his Saxon ancestors.”

The third war of independence reached its climax in the years 1779-1781. It was a rising of British borderers in the southern backcountry against American Loyalists and British regulars who invaded the region. The result was a savage struggle which resembled many earlier conflicts in North Britain with much family feuding and terrible atrocities committed on both sides. Prisoners were slaughtered, homes were burned, women were raped, and even small children were put to the sword.

The fourth war of independence continued in the years from 1781 to 1783, a non-violent economic and diplomatic struggle, in which the elites of the Delaware Valley played a leading part. The economic war against England was led by Robert Morris of Philadelphia; the genius of American diplomacy was Benjamin Franklin.

The end of the war resulted in the creation of three “regional republics” of British America – voting blocs of “eastern” colonies of New Englanders; a Southern bloc centered in tidewater Virginia; and a midland bloc of mainly Delaware Valley delegations. The Constitution of 1787 was an attempt to write the rules of engagement among these three regional republics – an agreement which began dissolving in Andrew Jackson’s first term. The nullification issue of 1832 tested the strength of a State’s true sovereignty.

By 1850 the Southern bloc had enough and began reconsidering the value of its political alliance with the others. In 1854 the new Republican party arose from the ashes of the Whig party and absorbed anti-Catholic Know Nothings, Transcendentalists and radical abolitionists. In 1860, this strictly sectional party fielded its second presidential candidate and won a plurality victory in November 1860. Within a month this party would drive South Carolina to independence; other States would soon follow.

In an act of desperation and fearful of his party losing its recently-gained power, this first Republican president violated Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution he was sworn to defend – “Treason against the United States shall consist only of levying War against them; or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” “Them” is the States, individually or collectively.

(Primary Source: Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. David Hackett Fischer, Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 827-828)

 

The Twenty Thousand Bayonets of a Free Government

Ohio-native and Alabama soldier Edmund Patterson found himself captured at Gettysburg on the second day of battle. His captors were of the “German Corps”, the unit Stonewall Jackson overran and scattered earlier at Chancellorsville; he was sent to Johnson’s Island prison in Ohio. Patterson relates below how the prison heard news of the New York City draft riots, quelled by Northern troops sent from Gettysburg.

The Twenty Thousand Bayonets of a Free Government

Diary entry August 18th, 1863:

“Years must pass before this war will be settled and thousands upon thousands of noble forms must lie cold in death, and I may be among that number. I wish to live to see the Confederate States and Independent Nation, loved at home and respected abroad, and at peace with all the world.

I believe that this war will be the downfall of slavery, or that it will not exist at all in the Southern States as it once did exist. What effect this will have on the future wealth and greatness of our country, I am unable to say.

Present appearances indicate that a large portion of our country will be overrun by the invaders and will become a desert waste. Wherever the foot of the Yankee hireling presses the sacred soil of the South, it carries with it the torch as well as the sword. Not confining themselves to making war on armed men, as our noble army does, they satisfy their insatiable thirst for plunder and revenge by burning dwellings, by turning defenseless and helpless women and children out of their homes and burning their only shelter before their eyes.

Many have thus been left penniless and homeless, dependent on the charities of the world, but it will be remembered to the honor and glory of the Southern people that they, during this terrible struggle, have always been ready to open their heart and their homes to these poor homeless wanderers.”

Diary entry, August 21st, 1863:

“We [prisoners] are told that the draft is going on very peaceably in N.Y. City; strange, “passing strange,” what a pacifying influence twenty thousand bayonets together with artillery and cavalry in proportion will have in executing the laws of a “free government.” Is it not strange that this number should be required in New York City, when two and a half millions of men cannot enforce the laws of Abraham in the South?”

(Yankee Rebel: Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson. J.G. Barrett, editor, UNC Press, 1966, pp. 130-131)

 

Jul 27, 2022 - America Transformed, Carnage, Costs of War, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Resistance to Lincoln, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

Edmund D. Patterson was born in Ohio of New England parents in 1842. Age seventeen found him well-educated and selling books by subscription in northern Alabama as well as teaching school. With war in 1861 came his enlistment in the Lauderdale Rifles, which became Company D of the Ninth Alabama Infantry. Patterson’s regiment arrived in Virginia two days after the battle of First Manassas, and the following extract is from his diary entry of July 23, 1861.

The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

“On the day we reached this place the rain poured down in torrents, and when we camped for the night, it was in mud and water several inches deep, and near the bloodiest part of the battlefield.

I have just returned from a walk over the battlefield. I made an attempt to go over it some hours ago, but the smell of the blood made me sick, and I had to turn back, but this time I succeeded, and may God grant that I may never see another.

I have often read descriptions of battlefields but never, until now, realized all the horrors that the word expresses. Here are the mangled human bodies on every side, some pierced by a rifle or musket ball – others almost torn to fragments by a shell – in some places horse and rider have fallen together. Some have a look or expression on their face as mild and calm as if they were only sleeping, others seem to have had a terrible struggle with the monster death and only yielded after having suffered such pain as has caused their faces to assume expressions that are fearful to look upon, their features distorted, the eyeballs glaring, and often with their hands full of mud and grass that they have clutched in their last agony.

I noticed one who had striven vainly to staunch the flow of blood from a wound through the body by stuffing mud into the wound. This was probably while the battle was still raging and no one near to attend to him. Another clutched in his hand a portion of a pack of cards, while the remained of them lay scattered around him.

But why attempt to describe in detail the particulars of this sickening scene? Many a poor fellow who left his home a few weeks or few months ago full of hope for the future now lies sleeping on this battlefield never more to be disturbed by the rattle of musketry . . . or the roar of artillery.

The result of this battle will teach the North a lesson that will not soon be forgotten. It will show them, and the world, that we are in earnest and that we mean what we say and that in attempting our subjugation they have undertaken a Herculean task. It seems to me that this battle has been a complete victory.”

(Yankee Rebel: Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson. J.G. Barrett, editor, UNC Press, 1966, pp. 7-8)

A Soviet Gift to America

Since German socialist architects Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and others were welcomed to US universities in the 1930s, collectivist methods like centralized planning have dominated architectural education. In the 1950s and beyond one commonly finds “Planning” prominently displayed on a business card in addition to architecture. Today, government planning departments invade long-established city neighborhoods with ever-changing rules regarding acceptable density, diversity and low-income housing. The Soviet Union is now long gone, but its gift to America remains.

A Soviet Gift to America

“There was another aspect of the Soviet Union that attracted American collectivist liberals. The Soviet Union was a “planned economy,” indeed even a “planned society.” At a time when the United States was suffering from unemployment, the Soviet Union was portrayed as “the land without unemployment.”

This great accomplishment was alleged to be the result of central planning; this was contrasted with the chaos of a “laissez-faire economic system,” with all its unhappy accompaniments. The New Deal was seen as a step, faltering and insufficient, in the right direction.

“Planning” was held forth as an ideal toward which the United States should move. After the Second World War, the idea of comprehensive planning diminished in the publicly expressed affection of collectivist liberals, but a strong subterranean attachment remained. There is still a clandestine love of planning. It is after all a logical necessity.

If one believes in the powers of reason and of scientific knowledge, in progress toward ever higher targets or “goals,” in collective self-determination, as well as in the limitless competence of government which proceeds in accordance with rationality and scientific knowledge, then one must be in favor of planning.

However tarnished the image of the Soviet Union has become, it still retains the credit of being “planned.”

(The Virtue of Civility: Selected Essays on Liberalism, Tradition and Civil Society. Edward Shils.  Liberty Fund, 1997. Excerpt, pg. 146)

Jul 9, 2022 - America Transformed, Jeffersonian America, Tenth Amendment, The United States Constitution    Comments Off on The Source of Political Power Flows from States

The Source of Political Power Flows from States

In his foreword to “Chaining Down Leviathan” by Marco Bassani, Dr. Donald Livingston writes of America’s new central government differing from the European model by having no plenary power. He adds that “It had only a few well-defined powers delegated to it by a compact between sovereign States,” which all held the right to check unauthorized acts of central power – and even withdraw if they chose to do so. As to new States being created in the future, Thomas Jefferson believed that States “would negotiate secessions and form new Unions of States”. He imagined perhaps three new countries united by trade and defense treaties: a federation along the Atlantic coast, one along the Atlantic coast, the Mississippi, and the Pacific. The States themselves held supreme political authority; the government at Washington was merely the agent created by the States.

Source of Political Power Flows from States

“The linchpin of John C. Calhoun’s analysis of the United States Constitution was the power of the individual State as a contracting party to, and the real dominus of, the federal pact.

It must be noted that the word “State” is all over the Constitution (it appears 103 times), while the term “nation” does not appear at all. Federal political representation, and not just that of the Senate, is centered on the States; the members of the House of Representatives are elected “by the People of the several States.”

Regarding eligibility for election, the State-centered character of representation is even more marked: for the House the candidate must be an inhabitant of the State “in which” he or she will be chosen; for the Senate the candidate must be an inhabitant of the State for which he or she will be chosen. In sum, for the House a person is chosen as a representative of a State; he or she is never imagined as a delegate of a part of the American people (which simply does not exist from a constitutional point of view), while the senator is in Washington on behalf of their State.

The source of political power flows from the States to the federal government, and never vice-versa. The Constitution authorizes and prohibits certain actions by the federal government, but to the States nothing is ever permitted, only prohibited. This means that while State political authorities must check only if a constitutional prohibition exists, in the absence of which they can act freely.

A general political capacity is recognized only for the States. The Tenth Amendment (“the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”) is the architrave of American polity. It sums up the entire system of permissions and prohibitions in the sense delineated by Calhoun.”

(Chaining Down Leviathan: The American Dream of Self Government 1776-1865. Luigi Marco Bassani, Abbeville Institute Press, 2021, pp. 195-196)

The Fruit of Lincoln’s “Victory”

In his “Note on American Heroes” author Donald Davidson wrote of the Lincoln myth still in use today by historians who have ceased to be what they claim and knowingly have become mere myth-perpetuators.

The Fruit of Lincoln’s “Victory”

“The Union that Lincoln is said to have wanted to reestablish was never really set up. If Lincoln was a supporter, as in a dim way he may have been, of the Jeffersonian notion of a body of free and self-reliant farmers as the bulwark of the nation, then why did he fight the South?

Lincoln made war upon his own idea, and that the fruit of his victory, represented in sprawling, confused, industrial America is a more pitiful sight than the desolate Lee plantations, for it is hardly even a noble ruin.

However effective it may have been as a war measure, Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was an inept bit if civil statesmanship, for it put the Negro problem beyond the hope of any such solution as America has been able to use for the Indian problem.

By letting himself by used as the idealistic front for the material designs of the North, Lincoln not only ruined the South but quite conceivably ruined the North as well; and if fascism or communism ever arrive in America, Lincoln will have been a remote but efficient cause of their appearance.”

(A Note on American Heroes, Donald Davidson. The Southern Review, Winter 1936, pg. 439)

The Republican Party’s Manifest Destiny

While Northern Gen. W.T. Sherman is notorious for his war upon Southern civilians, his wife Ellen wrote of her fond hope of seeing a war “of extermination and that all Southerners would be driven like Swine into the sea . . . [and that we may] carry fire and sword into their States till not one habitation is left standing.” Lincoln used Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Pope to remove or exterminate those in the way of the Republican party’s manifest destiny.

The Republican Party’s Manifest Destiny

“In 1851, the Santee Sioux Indians in Minnesota sold 24,000,000 acres of land to the federal government. The white people got the land but the Indians got almost none of the money. After a devastating crop failure in 1862, the Sioux were starving. With the federal government refusing to pay what was owed the tribe, the Sioux rose up.

Abraham Lincoln dispatched General John Pope to put down the insurrection, and rising to the occasion, Pope told a subordinate: “It is my purpose to utterly exterminate the Sioux . . . they are to be treated as maniacs or wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom treaties and compromise can be made.” The revolt was subdued and the Indians removed.

After show trials of ten to fifteen minutes each, 303 male Indians were sentenced to death. Fearing the bad international publicity that such a bloodbath might bring, Lincoln ordered the list pared down to thirty-nine representative native miscreants – all of whom were hanged on the day after Christmas, 1862.  It was the largest max execution in American history.

In July of 1865 with the war to subdue the American Confederacy scarcely over, Gen. Grant sent Gen. Sherman against the Plains Indians to allow government-subsidized railroads unrestricted passage westward. Warming to the task, Sherman wrote his commander in 1866: “We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of the railroads. We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, ever to their extermination, men, women and children.”

Passing orders down to his army, Sherman observed that “during an assault [on an Indian village] the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance to the government is made, death must be meted out.”

(Confessions of a Copperhead. Mark Royden Winchell, Shotwell Publishing, 2022, pp. 48-49)

 

What Congress is Doing to Curb the Supreme Court

What Congress Is Doing to Curb the Supreme Court

“Bills to counter recent Supreme Court rulings are starting to make their way through Congress. How much further will Congress go? Everything about the Court – how it operates, terms of judges, scope of rulings – is about to get a thorough review, the first in decades.

US News & World Report – July 12, 1957 – Congress is starting to strike back at the Supreme Court. A score of bills have been introduced to curb the Court’s power and to sidestep the effects of controversial decisions. It is clear that a growing number of Congressmen are convinced that new laws must be passed to overcome the effects of these decisions. Other Congressmen propose to go much further and trim the powers of the Court itself.

Senator Herman Talmadge (Dem.) of Georgia, for example, proposes to amend the code of laws to remove public schools from the jurisdiction of federal courts. Others have offered amendments to the Constitution giving States the exclusive power to regulate schools and all other matters relating to health and morals.

Limits on Tenure? Court decisions during the recent term have produced a rash of bills to make Supreme Court Justices less safe in their lifetime jobs. Senator Russell Long (Dem.) of Louisiana, offered a constitutional amendment to require reconfirmation of a justice by the Senate after 12 years on the bench.  Senators Olin D. Johnston (Dem.) of South Carolina, and James O. Eastland (Dem.) of Mississippi propose amendments to require reconfirmation every 4 years.

Behind all the proposals affecting the appointment of Justices is the objection in Congress that recent decisions have been more political than judicial in purpose and in effect.

To promote full debate, Senator Talmadge also is sponsoring a bill to require the Court to give a full hearing, with oral argument, on any case it decides. His contention is that the Court acted in at least ten cases during the recent term without hearing arguments.

All of these bills, in effect, are telling the Court that it is asserting too much power over Congress, the President and the States.”

The North Befogged by Bitterness and Prejudice

Democrat US Congressman Graham A. Barden of northeastern North Carolina first took his seat in November 1934 and served initially on the Library Committee. His positions were usually conservative and often differed with the Truman administration. He was wary of the administration’s Palestine policy in 1948 characterizing it as “terribly dangerous” and one that “would arouse the whole Moslem world.” He charged that Truman was being influenced by American Zionists and bought UN support with Marshall Plan funds. He predicted that the US would be called upon to aid the new Israeli government with both men and money.

Barden was wary of federal aid to education while firmly stating that “the prime responsibility for financing education was in the hands of State and local government,” and that any federal aid must not bring with it any federal control. He rightly feared what the federal bureaucracy might do in interpreting the bill.

North Befogged by Bitterness and Prejudice

“Barden’s opportunity to appear as a champion of the American South occurred when a delegation of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic appeared before the Library Committee to oppose a resolution to erect a memorial to Robert E. Lee near the Lee Mansion in Arlington. Barden sat quietly and uncomfortably until the ladies’ attack upon Southern generals and the Confederacy turned into a tirade against the South and all Southerners.

As the only Southerner present on the committee, Barden came to the defense of not only Robert E. Lee, but of the South’s heritage. The congressman declared that he had “never heard such sectional bitterness expressed.” Answering the women’s insistence that Arlington National Cemetery was a “Union and not a Confederate graveyard” and that even though a few Confederate dead were buried there, Arlington was not a place to honor Confederates, Barden pointed out that in his hometown of New Bern, North Carolina a thousand Union soldiers were buried with honor in a beautiful cemetery.

He continued “We of the South do not propose to keep our brains and characters befogged by bitterness and prejudice. The hospitality of the South has never been questioned, not even by a dead Union soldier.”

The effectiveness of Barden’s position was apparent when the committee voted to report the Robert E. Lee Memorial bill favorably.”

(Graham A. Barden: Conservative Carolina Congressman. Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, pp. 22-23; 55; 82)

Abolitionist Jonathan Walker

Abolitionist Jonathan Walker was born in Massachusetts in 1799, a State known as the first to codify African slavery and deeply involved in the transatlantic slave trade. This brought already enslaved Africans from the Dark Continent’s west coast to the West Indies and North America.

Walker is said to have migrated to the Florida Territory in 1837 attracted by work in railroad construction.

Said to be concerned about working conditions for African slaves used for labor, Walker first conspired with fellow-abolitionist and Quaker Benjamin Lunday to establish a colony of escaped slaves in Mexico. Walker is most notorious for aiding seven African slaves in 1844, who at his suggestion attempted to reach the Bahamas by boat. It is claimed that he fell ill during the voyage and the craft lost its direction with the Africans unable to navigate, but all saved from disaster by a passing sloop in search of wrecks to salvage. All were taken to Key West and turned over to civil authorities; the Africans were likely boarded at the island’s barracoon while awaiting return to their employment. Walker was imprisoned for his crime.

Anchored off Key West on Saturday, July 12, 1844, Master Edwin Anderson aboard the USS General Taylor noted in his diary that at 1PM a corporal’s guard from the island’s US garrison came alongside with Walker who was to be conveyed to Pensacola. Anderson recorded that the prisoner was “confined in double irons and placed below in the hold.” Arriving at Pensacola on the 18th of July, Walker was turned over to the city marshal and held at the city jail. Some accounts claim that the Africans were confined with him, though it was more likely they were returned from where Walker had enticed them.

Tried in federal court at Pensacola, Walker was punished with eleven months imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 which was said to have been paid by Northern abolitionists. It was claimed that Walker’s right hand was “branded” with S.S. to indicate “slave stealer,” though this was likely invented for the benefit of gullible Northern audiences. After release from prison Walker returned to Plymouth, Massachusetts where he found but little sympathy for his actions.

Walker’s abolitionist friends saw him as valuable to their own ends and sent him on a five-month lecture tour of the North to further whip audiences into an anti-Southern frenzy. After events such as this, the American South began reducing its commerce with the North while recalculating the benefit of political union with the Northern States.

Herein lies an important cause of Southern independence, or “secession,” from the United States. The States that prosecuted the war to deny that independence, were led by those New England States primarily responsible for the African slaves in North America and had profited handsomely from the transatlantic slave trade that brought them – already enslaved – from Africa. To his credit, Lincoln had proposed compensated emancipation to deal with slavery, which the sons of New England slave traders loudly denounced.

 

 

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