Browsing "Bringing on the War"

Lincoln & Seward’s Military Coup

In 1863 Republican Senator John Sherman recalled that it was William H. Seward rather than Lincoln who ordered the seizure of Maryland’s legislators in 1861, that “the high-handed proceeding was the work of Mr. Seward, of his own mere motion, without the knowledge of Lincoln.” Seward later told a British official that the arrests had been made to influence coming Maryland elections as well. Frederick (below) was Seward’s son.

Lincoln & Seward’s Military Coup

“The Lincoln administration believed, according to Frederick Seward, that “a disunion majority” in the Maryland State house would pass an ordinance to withdraw from the Union in September 1861. Lincoln had resolved to keep that from happening. Seward recalled: “[The military was] instructed to carefully watch the movements of members of the [Maryland] Legislature . . . Loyal Union members would not be interfered with . . . but “disunion” members would be turned back toward their homes and would not reach Frederick City at all. The views of each member were well-known . . . so there would be little difficulty, as Mr. Lincoln remarked, in “separating the sheep from the goats.”

[Seward continued]: “When the time arrived . . . it was found that not only was no secession ordinance likely to be adopted, but that there seemed to be no Secessionists to present one. The two generals had carried out their instructions faithfully, and with tact and discretion . . . No ordinance was adopted, Baltimore remained quiet, and Maryland stayed in the Union.”

Many arrests of northerners at that time involved freedom of speech and freedom of the press with Seward’s State Department records citing “treasonable language, “Southern sympathizer,” secessionist” and “disloyalty” as standard reasons for arrest and confinement. Additionally, even more serious-sounding arrest reasons were vague and sometimes denoted offensive words rather than deeds: “aiding and abetting the enemy,” threatening Unionists,” or “inducing desertion,” for example. A man in Cincinnati was arrested for selling envelopes and stationery with Confederate mottoes printed on them.

When an old associate of Seward came to Washington to plead for the release of a political prisoner from Kentucky held in Fort Lafayette, the secretary of state readily admitted that no charges were on file against the prisoner. When asked whether he intended to keep citizens imprisoned against whom no charge had been made, Seward apparently answered: “I don’t care a d—n whether they are guilty or innocent. I saved Maryland by similar arrests, and so I mean to hold Kentucky.”

(The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties. Mark E. Neely, Jr. Oxford University Press. 1991, pp. 15-16; 27-30)

The North’s War Against Free Trade

The unbridled pursuit of financial gain in America was no surprise to Englishmen and simply “a distasteful feature of democracy.” The British noted the widespread corruption in American political life and the rise of low men to power, while those better educated and unwilling to play the demagogue were not sought out. The British saw, especially in Northern States, an unwholesome tyranny of the democratic mob which eventually would break apart and replaced with an aristocracy or monarchy of better men.

The North’s War Against Free Trade

“The United States Senate, after fourteen Southern members had withdrawn (as their States had withdrawn from the United States), passed with a majority of eleven votes the almost prohibitive Morrill Tariff; the Confederate States adopted a constitution forbidding any tariff except for revenue – a denial, that is, of the principle of protection (for select industries).

From the economic point of view, which to some students of history is the only point of view, a major issue became perfectly clear. The North stood for protection, the South for free trade.

And for Englishmen . . . certain conclusions were obvious. “This [tariff] was the first use the North made of its victory [in the Senate]”, said one Englishman in a pamphlet . . .” The contrast between North and South was real and unambiguous, and so too were England’s free-trade convictions.

With those convictions and after these events, it was natural that many Englishmen . . . should readily embrace the theory of the South’s seceding because of economic oppression – since there had to be a reason for secession and both sides agreed that slavery was not the reason. As one of the ablest of the “Southern” Englishmen, James Spence, said, the South had long been convinced “that the Union was worked to the profit of the North and their own loss. [And] consider that the immediate cause of the revolt of those 13 colonies from this country was a duty of 3d. per pound on tea . . .”

The Confederate States were well aware of the appeal of economic facts. Their Secretary of State instructed James Mason on his mission to England to stress the free trade commitment of his government, as well as the British people’s “deep political and commercial interest in the establishment of the independence of the Confederate States.”

(The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy. Sheldon Vanauken. Regnery Gateway, 1989. pp. 48-49)

Thomas Jefferson’s “Rupture”

Author Roger Lowenstein writes that on Christmas Eve, 1825, “Thomas Jefferson let out an anguished cry. The government of the country he had helped to found, half a century earlier, was causing him great distress. It was assuming vast powers, specifically the right to construct canals and roads, and to effect other improvements. Jefferson thought of the federal government in the most restrictive terms: as a “compact” or a “confederated fabric” – that is, a loose affiliation of practically sovereign States.”

Thomas Jefferson’s “Rupture”

“He was roused at the age of eighty-two to issue a “Solemn Declaration and Protest” against what he termed the “usurpation” of power by the federal branch. Jefferson was so agitated that he declared that the “rupture” of the United States would be, although a calamity, not the greatest calamity. Even worse, reckoned the sage of Monticello, would be “submission to a government of unlimited powers.”

Though Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton had sought to establish a strong central government, Jeffersonians adamantly objected. No fewer than six of President Jefferson’s successors vetoed or thwarted federal legislation to build roads and canals, improve harbors and riverways, maintain a national bank, [and] fund education . . .”

Had Jefferson survived until 1860, the federal government of that day would not have displeased him. Its main vocation was operating the postal service and collecting customs duties at ports, [and] its army consisted of merely sixteen thousand troops scattered mostly among a series of isolated forts west of the Mississippi. The federal payroll was modest . . . the civilian bureaucracy in Washington consisted of a mere two thousand employees.

The modest federal purse was supported by tariff duties and a smattering of land sales. Federal taxes (an unpleasant reminder of the English Parliament) were reflexively scorned. Then came the “rupture.”

The Republicans – [Lincoln elected in November 1860] – vastly enlarged the federal government . . . [and] accomplished a revolution that has been largely overlooked.”

(Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War. Roger Lowenstein, Penguin Books, 2022. pp. 1-2)

Lincoln’s Tariff War

Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, promised no interference with the South’s labor system and admitted that a president lacked the authority to do so. But he did threaten to invade any State that failed to collect federal tariff revenues – despite the US Constitution’s Article III, Section 3, declaring treason to be waging war against one of “Them”, the States, or adhering to their enemy, giving them aid and comfort.

Lincoln’s Tariff War

“Once the Republicans were confident that Lincoln would win the 1860 election, and especially once the Southern Democrats began leaving the U.S. Congress, they did what they had been dreaming of doing for decades: They went on a protectionist frenzy that lasted for decades after the war.

The Morrill Tariff was passed by the House of Representatives in May 1860 and by the Senate in March 1861, just prior to Lincoln’s inauguration. Thus, the apparatus of protectionism was initiated before Fort Sumter and before the war. The Morrill Tariff was not passed to finance the war; it was passed because the old-line Whigs, who were now Republicans [including Lincoln], finally had the power to do it.

Even though it was passed before Lincoln officially took office, it is important to note that, as the Republicans’ presidential candidate, he was the leader of the party and, as such, most likely had a great deal to do with the political maneuvering on behalf of the tariff.

[In his classic 1931 book, “The Tariff History of the United States”] Frank Taussig explains that “in the next regular [congressional] session, in December 1861, a still further increase of [tariff] duties was made. From that time until 1865, no session, indeed, hardly a month of any session, passed in which some increase in of duties on imports were not made.” By 1862, the average tariff rate had crept up to 47.06 percent which “established protective duties [for Northern industries] more extreme than had been ventured on in any previous tariff act in our country’s history.”

The Republicans openly admitted that the purpose of their protectionist policy was not necessarily to raise money to finance the war but to pay off Northern manufacturers for their political support. The manufacturers were being taxed explicitly (through excise taxes) to help finance the war, and the tariff was a way to offset those losses.  Congress enacted and Lincoln signed into law tariff legislation “whose chief effect was to bring money into the pockets of private individuals.”

Long after the war, Taussig concluded, “almost every increase in duties demanded by domestic producers was readily made” and “great forces were made by changes in legislation urged and brought about by those who were benefited by them.”

(Abraham Lincon and the Triumph of Mercantilism, Thomas J. DiLorenzo. Reassessing the Presidency. John V. Denson, ed., Mises Institute Press, 2001, pp. 220-221)

Secession or a War of Rebellion?

Secession or a War of Rebellion?

The Possibility Foreseen by the Continental Congress. W.A. Lederer of Philadelphia.

“The voluntary withdrawal of a State, or group of States, from a Union, or any other political body is generally known as secession, notwithstanding the reasons and procedures leading up to this decision. In 1905, Norway seceded from the Scandinavian Union of some ninety years standing, which act was considered a peaceful separation from Sweden.

In 1776, the thirteen colonies separated from the motherland, which act, being settled with arms, but successfully, is known as the Revolution of ’76, or the first War of Independence. The year 1861 witnessed the outbreak of the second War of Independence, as we may justly name it, which received the offensive name given by the victor, the War of the Rebellion. (Commonly spoken, a revolution is a successful rebellion and thus had the thirteen colonies been unsuccessful, that war would have been known as the War of Rebellion, notwithstanding the causes).

To the truthful and sincere historian, the War of 1861-1865 is known as the War Between the States, its purpose being the prevention of the peaceful separation and secession of the Southern States from the 1789 Union. To the informed and educated American, therefore, secession means the justified act of a peaceful separation of economically two different sections of the Union.”

Mr. Lederer continued his review of the newly independent States and the issue of slavery and the North’s important role in perpetuating the institution. He wrote:

“Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence was “considerate and courteous, yet Voltaire-like as he caustically refers to the slave trade of the pious Yankee, and rather than cause a disruption of the drive for independence, he omitted this” from his final draft. In explaining this omission regarding African slavery: “It was struck out in compliance with South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain slave importation . . . Our Northern brethren also, felt a little tender toward those censures; for tho’ their people have very few slaves themselves, yet they have been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.”

(W.A. Lederer, Confederate Veteran, September, 1930, pp. 337-338)

Lincoln’s War to Establish Government Superiority

Lincoln’s War to Establish Government Superiority

“Abraham Lincoln, we are taught, fought the Civil War to free the Negro slaves. The truth is that the war was fought primarily because the Southern States, whom the Northern States had continually burdened with stifling tariffs and levies, wanted to secede from the Union.

What Lincoln accomplished was to reestablish government’s superiority over the individual, i.e., that men had to “belong to the country whether they wanted to or not.” After the North’s victory, the issue of the federal government’s authority over all people within “its” borders was never again seriously challenged.

In a letter to Horace Greeley in 1862, Lincoln wrote “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. And in a [prewar] debate with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln stated: “I am not nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of white and black races . . . there must be the position of the superior and inferior, and as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

(Restoring the American Dream, Robert J. Ringer. Fawcett Crest Books, 1979, pp. 294-295)

North Carolina Union Men of 1861

North Carolina Union Men of 1861

“Many a gallant Tar Heel has maintained that he did not fight against the flag of the United States, but against the man who was carrying it and endeavoring to use it to overturn the constitutional principles in support of which it gained a place among the proud ensigns of the nations. These “Unionists” were the only true loyal men of 1860 who said, ‘I will stand by the Union as long as the obligations under which it was formed are observed.’”

(North Carolina Union Men of 1861.  W.A. Graham, North Carolina Booklet, Vol. XI, No. 1, July 1911, pp. 11-12)

The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War

The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War

The article in this number on the “Sudden Change in Northern Sentiment as to Coercion in 1861,” by Dr. James H. McNeilly of Nashville, shows that there was evidently a deeply laid plan to force the South into making the first hostile demonstration in order to arouse that sentiment which would respond to the call for troops necessary to invade this section. It is well-known that the general sentiment in the North was against making war on the seceding Southern States, but there was a powerful political element which really wanted war and could see the value of forcing the South into making an offensive move. Forcibly illustrating this spirit is the following quotation from a thoughtful writer of the South:

“On February 2, 1861, Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, in a letter published in the Memphis Appeal, wrote of the Republican leaders as follows:

‘They are bold, determined men. They are striving to break up the Union under the pretense of serving it. They are struggling to overthrow the Constitution while professing undying attachment to it and a willingness to make any sacrifice to maintain it. They are trying to plunge the country into a cruel war as the surest way of destroying the Union upon the plea of enforcing the laws and protecting public property.’

Shortly after Douglas wrote this letter Senator Zach Chandler of Michigan, wrote to Gov. Austin Blair which proves the conspiracy of the men determined on war. Virginia had solicited a conference of States to see if some plan could not be devised and agreed upon to prevent war and save the Union. Chandler wrote Governor Blair that he opposed the conference and that no Republican State should send a delegate. He implored the governor to send stiff-necked [anti-compromise] delegates or none, as the whole idea of compromise was against his judgement. Chandler added to his letter these sinister words: ‘Some of the manufacturing States think that a war would be awful; without a little bloodletting this Union will not be worth a curse.’”

(The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War. Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXIV, No. 10, October 1916. pg. 436)

 

Inciting Insurrection

After his military’s defeat at Second Manassas in August 1862, Lincoln thought that threatening to free black laborers at the South might help his prospects in his war against the South. Despite those who thought it a barbarity to incite insurrections, he replied: “Nor do I urge objections of a moral nature in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South.”

In New York City, a French-language newspaper opined: “Does the Government at Washington mean to say on January 1st, 1863, it will call for a servile war to aid in his conquest of the South? And after the blacks have killed the white people of the South, they themselves must be drowned in their own blood?”

Inciting Insurrection

“In the Senate, Stephen A. Douglas, pursuant to the Constitution, introduced a bill to punish those people who seek to incite slave insurrections. “Abraham Lincoln, in his speech at New York, declared it was a seditious speech” – “His press and party hooted it.” “It received their jeers and jibes.” (pg. 663, Stephen’s Pictorial History).

Then came the election of President. The party of [black] insurrection swept the Northern States. The people of the South had realized the possible results. With the people of the North making a saint of [John Brown] who planned and started to murder the slaveholders . . . and the Northern States all going in favor of the Republican party which protected those engaged in such plans.  Naturally there were in every Southern State those who thought it best to guard against such massacres by separating from those States where John Brown was deified.

When news came that Abraham Lincoln was elected, the South Carolina Legislature, being in session, called a State Convention. When the Convention met it withdrew ratification of the US Constitution and declared South Carolina an independent State.

In its declaration it said: “Those States have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who have remained have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing until it has now secured to its aid the power of the general government. “

So, to escape insurrections and ensure public safety, South Carolina separated itself from the United States government to free itself from a government led by a man who was not opposed to the massacre of the Southern people.”

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-1865. Capt. S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, North Carolina, pp. 46-47)

“Such Was the Spirit of Those Who Made the War”

The US Constitution clearly states that only Congress may declare war against a foreign enemy, and Article III, Section 3 of the same document clearly defines the definition of treason committed against the United States.

‘Such Was the Spirit of Those Who Made the War’

“And so, without any authorization from Congress, Lincoln began a war on the Southern States which had formed themselves into a more perfect union. A few months after he began the war, he had the United States Congress to meet and the first thing offered was a resolution confirming and legalizing his acts, as if they had been authorized.

This particular resolution was before the Senate fifteen times between July 6 and August 6 and never passed. Then, after twenty months of warfare, the Supreme Court of the United States (67 US Reports, pg. 668) said Congress had no power delegated to it to make war upon a State, and that the President held no authority to make war – only Congress could do so.

That ‘the Civil War between the Northern and Southern States arose because the citizens of the States owed a supreme allegiance to the United States which the Southern States sought to absolve themselves from, by State secession, and the right of a State to do what was now being decided by wager of battle.’

There was no reason or ground stated to justify the above claim that “the citizens of each State owed supreme allegiance to the United States.” It was a war by the Northern States to hold the Southern States in union with them; a conquest of free, sovereign and independent States to be held under the domination of the more numerous States.

As Senator Baker, of Oregon, declared in the Senate that he favored ‘reducing the population of the Southern States to abject to the sway of the federal government.’ ‘We may reduce the Southern States to the condition of territories and send to them from Massachusetts or from Illinois, loyal governors to control them. I would do that.’ (Cong. Globe LW, pg. 48). Such was the spirit of those who made the war.”

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-1865. Capt. S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, North Carolina. Pg. 53)

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