Browsing "Race and the North"
Feb 25, 2024 - Northern Culture Laid Bare, Prisons for Americans, Race and the North, Race and the South, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Southern Officers and Slaves at Johnson’s Island

Southern Officers and Slaves at Johnson’s Island

Southern Officers and Slaves at Johnson’s Island

‘Dr. Christian was colonel of the 51st Virginia Infantry who was captured after the battle at Gettysburg while Lee’s army was crossing “Falling Waters.” He was sent to Johnson’s Island where the officers [captured at] Port Hudson were also imprisoned. Said the Doctor:

“My recollection is that there were thirteen negroes who spent the dreadful winter of 1863-64 with us at Johnson’s Island, and not one of them deserted or accepted freedom, though it was urged upon them time and again.

You recall that Port Hudson was compelled to surrender after Vicksburg had fallen. The officers were notified they would not be paroled as those at Vicksburg had been but told they could retain their personal property. Some of the officers claimed their negro servants as personal property and took them along to prison with them.

Arriving at Johnson’s Island the federal authorities assured the negroes they were as free as their masters had been, and were not prisoners of war; that they would give them no rations and no rights as prisoners of war if they went in the prison, but they all elected to go in and declared to the Yankees they would stick to their young masters to the end of time, if they starved to death by doing so. Those officers, of course, shared their rations and everything else with their servants.

‘George’ was the negro of an Alabama colonel also a prisoner. George was frequently summoned by the prison’s commanding officer and told he was a free man and had but to say the word and he would be taken out of prison to work for $2 a day and furnished good clothes to wear plus live anywhere he wanted. He was also told he was a fool as his master would never be exchanged or let out of prison, and if he stayed with the Rebel officer he as well would starve in prison.

After George returned to the cell and related this, I asked what he said in reply to the Yankee officer. He told him: ‘Sir, what you want me to do is to desert. I ain’t no deserter, and down South, sir, where we live, deserters always disgrace their families. I’ve got a family down home, sir, and if I do what you tell me, I will be a deserter and disgrace my family, and I am never going to do that.’

‘What did the commanding officer say?’ I asked. ‘Get out of here you d—- fool nigger and rot in prison.’ And now master, here I am, and I am going to stay here as long as you stay, if I starve and rot.’

(The Negroes as Slaves, Capt. James Dinkins. Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXXV, 1907, pp. 62-64)

Feb 25, 2024 - Antebellum Realities, Historical Accuracy, Race and the North, Race and the South    Comments Off on A Yankee Bride in North Carolina

A Yankee Bride in North Carolina

The letter below describes a newlywed Northern woman’s experience in North Carolina and interaction with the colored people on her husband’s plantation. In a subsequent letter home, a few weeks later she wrote that ‘The Negroes are not overtasked on this plantation’ and that ‘one house girl at the North will accomplish more than two here.’ Also observed was an overseer summarily discharged for striking a colored worker; the servants ‘have plots of lands they cultivate and own what they grow from them.’

A Yankee Bride in North Carolina

Clifton Grove, North Carolina, October 10, 1853

My Dear Parents:

I arrived safely at my new home on Friday last, but have had no time to write until now . . . You may imagine I have seen many strange things. As for my opinions, in so short a time, it would not be fair to give them.

I have seen no unkind treatment of servants. Indeed, I think they are treated with more familiarity than many Northern servants. They are in the parlor, in your room, and all over. The first of the nights we spent in the Slave Holding States, we slept in a room without a lock. Twice before we were up a waiting girl came into the room, and while I was dressing, in she came to look at me. She seemed perfectly at home, took up the locket with your miniatures in it and wanted to know if it was a watch. I showed it to her. “Well,” she said, “I should think your mother and father are mighty old folks.”

Just before we arrived home, one old Negro caught a glimpse of us and came tearing out of the pine woods to touch his hat to us. All along the road we met them and their salutation of “Howdy (meaning How do you) Massa Ben,” and they seemed so glad to see him that I felt assured that they were well treated.

At dinner we had everything very nice. It is customary when the waiting girl is not passing things at table, to keep a large broom of peacock feathers in motion over our heads to keep off flies, etc. I feel confused. Everything is so different here that I do not know which way to stir for fear of making a blunder. I have determined to keep still for a while, at any rate.

Yesterday I went to Church in a very handsome carriage, servants before and behind. I began to realize yesterday how much I had lost in the way of religious privileges. On arriving I found a rough framed building in the midst of woods with a large congregation, white and black. Things that Northerners consider essential are of no importance here. I have seen enough to convince me that the ill-treatment of the Slaves is exaggerated at the North, but I have not seen enough to make me like the institution.

I am quite the talk of the day, not only in the whole County but on the plantation. Yesterday I was out in the yard and an old Negro woman came up to me, “Howdy Miss Sara, are you the lady who won my young Master? Well, I raised him.” Between you and me, my husband is better off than I ever dreamed of. He owns 2000 acres of land in this vicinity, but you must bear in mind that land here is not as valuable as with you.  Love to all. Ever your Sara.

PS: I wish you could see the cotton fields. The Bolls are just opening. I cannot compare their appearance to anything but fields of white roses. As to the cotton picking, I should think it a very light and pleasant work.

(J.C. Bonner (ed.), “Plantation Experiences of a New York Woman,” North Carolina Historical Review, XXXIII, pp. 389-400, 532-533)

Jul 22, 2023 - From Africa to America, Historical Accuracy, Race and the North, Race and the South, Slavery Comes to America    Comments Off on America the Dumping Ground

America the Dumping Ground

American colonist protestations against British government importation of unwanted peoples went unheeded until the American Revolution brought an end to it and forced England to turn to Australia as a substitute destination for undesirables.

America the Dumping Ground

“Why then will Americans purchase Slaves? Because Slaves may be as long a Man pleases or has Occasion for their Labour; while hired Men are continually leaving their Masters (often in the midst of his Business) and setting up for themselves.” – Benjamin Franklin

At the time of the Revolution, about half the white population of the Colonies consisted of indentured laborers and their descendants. Some were orphans, debtors, paupers and mental defectives. Others had committed petty crimes. Still others were whores. Children were stolen and spirited off to be sold under indenture.

The Irish in particular were victimized. Oliver Cromwell believed that they were admirably suited for slavery and saw to it that the survivors of Drogheda massacre met their fate in Bermuda. His agents scoured Ireland for children to be sold to planters in the Americas. Between 1717 and 1775, 50,000 English felons were transported to mainland North America.

For the most part, the indentured workers settled in the South where the demand for unskilled labor was greatest. American writers and politicians protested against the use of the Colonies as a dumping ground for the unwanted, the impoverished and, in some cases, the vicious and mentally inferior. Benjamin Franklin compared British emigration policy with sending American rattlesnakes to England to teach them manners.

The importation of Negro slaves became quantitatively significant by the end of the 17th century. At the eve of the Revolution the black population of Georgia equaled or exceeded the white in Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland. Delaware and Pennsylvania were one-fifth Negro; New York one-sixth or so.

Like some of their Northern counterparts, Federalists in the South openly opposed institution and in 1789 an anti-slavery society was founded in Maryland. Further south, in North Carolina, Hugh Williamson worked against any extension of slave power. Opposition both the African slave trade and to the slave-based plantation economy was grounded partly on moral considerations and partly on the belief that the African was a savage who could not and should not be assimilated into American society. When American rationalists in the late 18th century spoke about the unalienable rights of man, it was tacitly understood that the African was not included.”

(The Negro in American Civilization. Nathaniel Weyl. Public Affairs Press, 1960; pp. 23-24)

Ramaswamy and Dred Scott

Though one of the brightest stars in the line-up for US president, Vivek Ramaswamy greatly errs in his uninformed explanation of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s (pronounced “Taw-nee”) majority opinion in the Dred Scott Case of 1857. Ramaswamy recently opined that Justice Taney’s majority opinion denying free status to Scott was for the purpose of “keeping guns out of the hands of black people.” He offers no documentation to support this belief.

First, Justice Taney was born in Maryland in 1777 and had a far better understanding of the Founders’ minds and logic than Mr. Ramaswamy does today. Further, prior to his seat on the Court, Taney served as US Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson.

In the Dred Scott decision before them, Justice Taney and his Court were primarily concerned with Dred Scott’s free or slave status, and if somehow he had obtained citizenship in some State under the Articles of Confederation or the later Constitution. Prior to the postwar 14th Amendment, the US Constitution did not include the word “citizen” and each State set its own standard for citizenship.  As Dred Scott was born an African slave, was not freed from this status and was not a “citizen” of a State who could sue in federal court.

The question of access to weapons had no bearing on the case as Mr. Ramaswamy suggests.

The Court ruled, with two Justices dissenting, that black people descended from American slave ancestors were not such persons as the word “citizen” means when the Constitution gives federal courts jurisdiction over suits between citizens of different States.”

(The Legal & Historical Status of the Dred Scott Decision. Elbert William R. Ewing, Cobden Publishing, 1909, pp. 54-55)

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)

A Second Boston Massacre

New York’s Governor Horatio Seymour, a Democrat, firmly believed that conscription was unconstitutional as the federal government was to depend upon the States to furnish needed troops. He charged Lincoln’s draft with bringing disgrace upon the American name and shamed his administration. Seymour further declared that neither the President nor the Congress had a right ‘to force men to take part in the ungodly conflict which is distracting the land.’ Seymour also charged – and proved – that Lincoln levied higher draft quotas upon New York’s Democratic voting districts as part of a ‘manifest design to reduce the Democratic majority of voters.’ In short, the draft was designed, it appeared to Seymour, ‘to take Democrats into the army and exempt Republicans.’

New York City’s bloody draft riot which began July 11, 1863, ended the lives of some 120 residents as blue-coated soldiers hurried from Gettysburg opened fire on them with muskets and cannon. At least five black men were hung as demonstrators denounced Lincoln’s emancipation war. Strong anti-draft riots occurred across the State to include Buffalo, and throughout the north.

In Boston, though the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Colored Regiment was available, Gov. John Andrew feared that the sight of colored soldiers might excite his white citizenry. This colored regiment contained nearly 400 men enticed mostly from Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania to count toward Massachusetts troop quota and leave white residents at home. Only 22 soldiers were Massachusetts residents; 3 were Canadians. The black soldiers were hurried away and replaced with white men.

The governor’s fears were realized on July 14, 1863, when nearly a thousand angry residents – many of them women and children – gathered in front of the city’s Cooper Street Armory. After they hurled paving bricks at the wooden doors, a nervous officer inside ordered a field cannon loaded with grapeshot wheeled to the door and opened fire on the crowd, killing at least 14 and maiming many more.

This senseless slaughter of civilians recalled the massacre just over 93 years earlier, when British soldiers fired into a crowd of three hundred jeering and rock-throwing Boston residents. Eight were killed and five wounded. The post-riot investigation featured future US president John Adams representing the British soldiers.

(Lincoln and the War Governors. William B. Hesseltine. Alfred A. Knopf. 1948, pg. 305)

 

 

Dissent in the Northern Ranks

Northern military officers soon found that any Democrat political leanings were an obstacle to promotion from Republican politicians. One officer wrote his brother that “several sources advised that if I change my political views and make a few Republican stump speeches to my troops it would be greatly to my advantage.” Democrat officers claimed that promotions and dismissals were more often based upon partisan politics and Lincoln’s desire to win elections. Historian Michael Holt noted that Lincoln did appoint prominent Democrats to high rank, but only for the purpose of luring Democrat votes to union parties in northern States.

Dissent in the Northern Ranks

“While Republican soldiers had no difficulty [obtaining or] writing to their hometown newspapers, Democratic soldiers often found themselves in hot water. In August 1864, Pvt. Newton B. Spencer of the 179th New York Infantry wrote a letter to his local newspaper of which he had previously been editor, the Penn Yan Democrat, claiming that the “Abolition mania for employing “n****r” soldiers has culminated in the worst disaster of the whole campaign and discouraged and nearly demoralized the whole army.”

Spencer believed that it “was to glorify the sooty abolition idol, that upon a Division of raw and worthless black poltroons, was devolved the most important part of the whole conflict – in the hope that they would crown our temporary success with decisive victory and bear off the hard-won laurels of the white fighting men.”

Spencer was charged with conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, contempt and disrespect for his commanding officer, violation of the Fifty-seventh Article of War (giving intelligence to the enemy), and “giving aid and comfort to the enemy,” which was essentially a charge of treason. Spencer admitted writing the letter but pleaded not guilty to each of the charges.

In like manner, Sgt. William B. Gillespie of the Twenty-eighth New York Infantry was convicted by courts-martial for publishing a newspaper article in January 1863 in which he stated that Lincoln’s emancipation edict “will be the cause of a large number of our best officers resigning and of a large number of desertions,” to which he added that the freed people should all be “shipped to Washington . . . for a heart welcome and cordial embrace.” Gillespie was sentenced to be reduced to the ranks and then drummed out of the service.

Capt. Thomas Barrett of the Nineteenth Illinois Volunteers was summarily and dishonorably dismissed for publishing a letter in the Chicago Times on May 25, 1863, critical of Lincoln’s policy of enlisting black soldiers.”

(Emancipation, the Union Army and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln. Jonathan W. White. LSU Press, 2014, pp. 55-57)

Colorphobia at New Orleans

In early 1863 Gen. Nathaniel Banks commanded occupied New Orleans and had to deal with problems between his New England troops and colored soldiers of the former Louisiana Native Guards – reconstituted as “Gen. Butler’s Native Guards.” The original Louisiana Native Guards of the city, officers and men, were all free, and in May 1861 were mustered into State service. They became the first black unit in the Civil War, serving a Confederate State. After conquering New Orleans Butler worked to change this during his tenure with most free blacks leaving the unit and replaced by contrabands.

Butler’s replacement, Gen. Banks, was a Waltham, Massachusetts native who shared the deep prejudices of his fellow New Englanders.

Colorphobia at New Orleans

“British-born Colonel Leonard Currie of the 133rd New York Infantry told his men “to continue in the performance of their duty until such time as the regiment is brought in contact with [black soldiers] by guard duty, drills or otherwise.” If that happened, he promised to march them back to their camp so as not to cause “their self-confidence or manliness to be lowered by contact with an inferior race.” The colonel’s prejudices were shared by the post commander, Brigadier General Cuvier Grover, who refuse to recognize Butler’s Native Guards 3rd Regiment as part of the Union army and would not allow it to draw clothing, blankets, or pay.

The volatile situation exploded within days of the 3rd Regiment’s arrival when a black captain reported for duty as officer of the day. The guard was composed of white soldiers from the 13th Maine Regiment of Colonel George Foster Shepley, a Saco, Maine native and Harvard graduate. When the black captain arrived to inspect the guard, the soldiers refused to recognize his authority. The white soldiers were willing to “obey every order consistent with their manhood,” a news correspondent reported, “but as to acknowledging a [black man] their superior, by any virtue of the shoulder straps he might wear, they would not.” The situation quickly turned ugly. The black officer pressed his authority; the white soldiers grounded their rifles in protest and threatened to kill him should he attempt to coerce their obedience.” (National Anti-Slavery Standard, February 28, 1863).

Gen. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts, the new department commander at New Orleans, soon heard of the episode but did not punish the mutinous white soldiers from the 13th Maine. Banks called the black officers for an interview, listened to their grievances, then instructed them that it was not the government’s policy to commission blacks as officers in the US Army. Banks then recommended they all resign to avoid the embarrassment of being kicked out. Uncertain of their future, the black officers agreed and all sixteen resigned and to their surprise soon found that their white replacements had already been named to take their place.”

(Louisiana Native Guards, James G. Hollandsworth, LSU Press, 1995, pp. 44-45)

Apr 26, 2023 - Antebellum Realities, Northern Culture Laid Bare, Race and the North, Race and the South    Comments Off on The Antebellum North and South

The Antebellum North and South

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia on 6 October 1808, Ellwood Fisher spent his life in Maryland and the District of Columbia. A well-educated man and endowed with perspicuous mind, he delivered a lecture in early 1849 entitled “The North and the South” from which the excerpt below is taken. Fisher died in Atlanta, Georgia on his birthdate in 1862.

Fisher was no friend of slavery but castigated Northern agitators who “had at home thousands of criminals to reform and hundreds of thousands of paupers to be relieved, and on whom their philanthropy may be exhausted.” He saw their supposed concern as ill-placed when the North’s wage-slavery cast its subjects out of the factories at the end of a 14-hour workday and into the streets to endure the crime and cold at night, only to return to their low-wage toil in the morning. Lacking the plantation healthcare, the slave of the South received, high mortality was common among Northern factory workers.

The Antebellum North and South

“But we are told slavery is an evil. Well, so is war an evil, and so perhaps is government itself an evil since it also is an abridgement of liberty. But one of the first objects of our Constitution is to provide for war – for the common defense. And the people of the United States prefer the evil of war to the greater evil of anarchy.

So, the people of the South prefer slavery to the evils of a dense manufacturing and commercial population which appear to be inevitable without it; and the black man may prefer the slavery of the South to the want, the crime, the barbarism and blood which attend his race in all other countries.

In the practical affairs of human life in its present state, choice of evils is frequently all that is in our power. Good an evil in fact become relative, and not positive terms. And the necessity is recognized by the example of our Saviour, who applied the extreme remedy of the lash to the moneychangers who profaned the temple.

And we may all hope for the time to come when in the progress of Christianity, the evils of slavery in the South, and those of pauperism, crime and high mortality in the North will be greatly mitigated or abolished. But the North can now make no protest because the luxurious system of Northern civilization not only subjects the great mass of people to unwonted labor and privation, but actually sacrifices in peace a greater amount of life than is usually expended by communities at war.”

(The North and the South. Lecture Delivered before the Young Men’s Library Association of Cincinnati, Ohio. January 16, 1849, by Ellwood Fisher. Daily Chronicle Job Rooms, Cincinnati. 1849. pp. 43-44)

A Great Evil to the Cause of Human Liberty Itself

A Great Evil to the Cause of Human Liberty Itself

“We must remember that by 1860 a “Cold War” had been in progress between the North and the South for some thirty years. There were political and ideological extremists on both sides. If Southern leaders were determined that the US Constitution would be followed to the letter or they would withdraw, Northern extremists were just as determined to dominate the South and force it to remain in the 1789 federation.

Politically the South felt she was being “frozen out” of a voice in the federal government. The Democratic party was split between opposing views of its Northern and Southern wings, and there appeared no way of resolving their differences. The Whig party was dying as an audible voice in government with no hope of recovery. The new Republican party was controlled by radical leaders who were bent upon winning an election with the surest way being the destruction of the South’s labor system of African bondage. This institution was already in its twilight years for in 1860 only 10 percent of Southerners owned slaves. Only one man in the South owned over 1000 slaves with 187,356 owning less than five Negro servants.

However, the great majority of Southerners felt that the Constitution gave no authority to Congress to interfere with a State’s internal labor system – North or South. But if slavery were to be legalized out of existence, there should be some way for the country as a whole to assume the responsibility for dissolving the institution without putting the burden or the stigma upon one section where slave-labor happened to form a basis of its economic system. The slave-labor system was essentially mass-production agriculture and New England mills hummed with the product of this labor system.

That said, the slave-labor system in the South did not arise because the Englishmen who settled Virginia were particularly committed to the enslavement of their fellow human beings. It arose for the same reason and at the same time that the transatlantic slave trade arose in New England – because it was profitable. Slavery came to the South for the same reason that cattle-raising came to Texas, cattle-slaughter to Chicago, the exploitation of Okies to California, and the exploitation of immigrants to Northern factory owners. It came because, in a new and vast land where everyone had come for opportunity. The soil and the climate of the American South were peculiarly adapted to the use of chattel labor imported from the hot climate of Africa.

From 1831 to 1861 Southerners were aroused to defense by the vindictiveness of the fanatics who were as callously indifferent to the means as they were irresponsible for the ends.

To Northern abolitionists, the emancipation of slaves achieved the goal of “freedom”; to all Southerners, four million black people in a society of five and a half million whites created an appalling problem. It was a problem that Lincoln, contrary to the myth of a logical progression toward human liberty, understood very well. He wrote on slavery: “I think no wise man has yet perceived how it could be at once eradicated without producing a great evil even to the cause of human liberty itself.”

(Martin County During the Civil War. James H. McCallum, M.D., Enterprise Publishing Co., 1971, pp. 4-6)

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