Browsing "Southern Statesmen"

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)

Antebellum Race Relations

Antebellum Race Relations

Clifton Rodes Breckinridge (1846-1932) was the son of former US Congressman, Vice President and Major-General John C. Breckinridge (1821-1875). Clifton served in the war under his father and in the CS Navy; was elected to the House of Representatives from Arkansas and served as US Minister to Russia.

The following is excerpted from his early May 1900 address to the Southern Society for the Promotion of the Study of Race Conditions and Problems in the South,” held in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Take the period of slavery. For generations, and under conditions generally considered the most trying, the races lived together in peace. If we had reason to believe that, with the great and permanent racial differences which exist, the nature of the races, or the nature of either of them, were truculent, then, indeed, would the future be dark.

But during all that period the relations of the races were not only peaceful, but, in the main, they were most kindly. Side by side with the assured power of the law, there were the associations of childhood, the sports and domestic service of later life, the care of sickness and old age, uniform consideration for good character of old age, and the respect and fidelity which were fit reflections of the manly honor, womanly care and refined and elevated rule which generally marked the domestic authority of the times.

All had their influence. All were developed under and enlightened construction of the Christian religion, and the aggravated crimes of later days were absolutely unknown.”

(Published in the Negro Universities Press, 1969, pp. 171-172)

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)

Robert Hayne Lectures Daniel Webster

Famed orator and debater Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina served as South Carolina Senator 1823-1832, governor of that State 1832-1834, and mayor of Charleston 1836-1837.  He famously debated Daniel Webster of Massachusetts in Congress in early 1830 over concerns that the federation’s government was attracting too much revenue, accumulating too much debt and trending toward consolidation. Hayne further reminded Webster of New England’s infamous trading with the enemy and threats of secession during the War of 1812.

Robert Hayne and Daniel Webster

“If there be one State in this Union (and I say it not in a boastful spirit) that may challenge comparison with any other for a uniform, zealous, ardent and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that State is South Carolina.

Sir, from the very commencement of the Revolution, up to this hour, there is no sacrifice, however great, she has not cheerfully made; no service she has ever hesitated to perform.”

“What sir, was the conduct of the South during the Revolution? Sir, I honor New England for her conduct in the glorious struggle . . . [but] I think equal honor is due the South. Favorites of the mother country, possessed of neither ships nor seamen to create commercial rivalship, they might have found in their situation a guarantee that their trade would be forever fostered and protected by Great Britain. But trampling on all considerations, either of interest or of safety, [the South] rushed into the conflict, and, fighting for principle, periled all in the sacred cause of freedom. Never was there exhibited, in the history of the world, higher examples of noble daring, dreadful suffering and heroic endurance, than by the whigs of Carolina, during that Revolution.”

And the War of 1812, called in derision by New England, said Hayne, “the southern war,” what was the conduct of South Carolina? The war was for the protection of northern shipping and New England seamen.

‘What interest had the South in that contest? If they sat down coldly to calculate the value of their own interests involved in it, they would have found they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But sir, with that generous devotion to country so characteristic of the South, they only asked if the rights of any portion of their fellow-citizens had been invaded; and when told that northern ships and New England seamen had been arrested on the common highway of nations, they felt that the honor of the country was assailed . . . they resolved to seek, in open war, for a redress of those injuries which it did not become freemen to endure.’

The conduct of Massachusetts, declared Hayne, was in that war so unpatriotic and disgraceful, her acts in opposing the war so shameless, that “her own legislature, but a few years ago, actually blotted them out from the records as a stain upon the honor of the country.”

(The True Daniel Webster. Sydney George Fisher. J.B. Lippincott Company. 1911, pp. 254-255)

South Carolina’s Devotion to the Union

Famed orator and debater Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina served as South Carolina Senator 1823-1832, governor of that State 1832-1834, and mayor of Charleston 1836-1837.  He famously debated Daniel Webster of Massachusetts in Congress in early 1830 over concerns that the federation’s government was attracting too much revenue, accumulating too much debt and trending toward consolidation. Hayne further reminded Webster of New England’s infamous trading with the enemy and threats of secession during the War of 1812.

South Carolina’s Devotion to the Union

“If there be one State in this Union (and I say it not in a boastful spirit) that may challenge comparison with any other for a uniform, zealous, ardent and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that State is South Carolina.

Sir, from the very commencement of the Revolution, up to this hour, there is no sacrifice, however great, she has not cheerfully made; no service she has ever hesitated to perform.”

“What sir, was the conduct of the South during the Revolution? Sir, I honor New England for her conduct in the glorious struggle . . . [but] I think equal honor is due the South. Favorites of the mother country, possessed of neither ships nor seamen to create commercial rivalship, they might have found in their situation a guarantee that their trade would be forever fostered and protected by Great Britain. But trampling on all considerations, either of interest or of safety, [the South] rushed into the conflict, and, fighting for principle, periled all in the sacred cause of freedom. Never was there exhibited, in the history of the world, higher examples of noble daring, dreadful suffering and heroic endurance, than by the whigs of Carolina, during that Revolution.”

And the War of 1812, called in derision by New England, said Hayne, “the southern war,” what was the conduct of South Carolina? The war was for the protection of northern shipping and New England seamen.

‘What interest had the South in that contest? If they sat down coldly to calculate the value of their own interests involved in it, they would have found they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But sir, with that generous devotion to country so characteristic of the South, they only asked if the rights of any portion of their fellow-citizens had been invaded; and when told that northern ships and New England seamen had been arrested on the common highway of nations, they felt that the honor of the country was assailed . . . they resolved to seek, in open war, for a redress of those injuries which it did not become freemen to endure.’

The conduct of Massachusetts, declared Hayne, was in that war so unpatriotic and disgraceful, her acts in opposing the war so shameless, that “her own legislature, but a few years ago, actually blotted them out from the records as a stain upon the honor of the country.”

(The True Daniel Webster. Sydney George Fisher. J.B. Lippincott Company. 1911, pp. 254-255)

The Hardship of Wheatless Days

Mississippi Senator John Sharp Williams (1854-1932) was born in Tennessee but raised in Mississippi after being orphaned in the Civil War. After attending several fine universities in the US and Europe, he took his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1876. As a patriotic response to England launching its HMS Dreadnought in 1906, Senator Williams introduced a bill to change the name of an American battleship to the USS “Skeered O’ Nuthin’.

The Hardship of Wheatless Days

“In March 1918, the New York World, in an editorial article on the World War of the early twentieth century, took occasion to state:

“It will do the country no harm to note the reminder of Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi that its war sufferings in the matter of food have reached no very heroic stage as yet.”

Senator Williams was then quoted as saying:

“Men go out and exploit themselves about ‘wheatless days’ and the lack of food. The Southern Confederacy had no wheat for three years during the Civil War. I went from 1862 to Lee’s surrender without seeing anything made out of wheat except an occasional Christmas or birthday cake, and that was sweetened with molasses. What is the use of talking about hardships? We are having no hardships in this country. If you cannot stand hardships, then you are not worthy of your ancestors. Let us send men, munitions and food to France and quit our patrioteering camouflage.”

(The Women of the South in Wartime. Matthew Page Andrews, The Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pg. 30)

Jul 30, 2023 - Antebellum Realities, Historical Accuracy, Recurring Southern Conservatism, Southern Statesmen    Comments Off on American Jews in Grey

American Jews in Grey

To put the below in perspective, the number of Jewish men in the northern army was anywhere between 6,000 to 15,000. The Jewish contribution to the military effort of the Confederacy was significant, and Secretary of War John Seddon’s estimated that there were between 10,000 and 12,000 Jews fighting in grey.

American Jews in Grey

“At the time of the Civil War there were about 150,000 Jews in the United States among a white population of 27 million. Jews thus constituted slightly more than half of one percent of the total.

The intense loyalty of Southern Jews to the Confederacy was to be expected in view of the fact that the South was the first region in the United States to tear down the barriers blocking the political and social advance of Jews. Thus, the first Jew to serve as a State governor was David Emanuel, who, having distinguished himself for valor in the siege of Savannah in the Revolutionary War, was elected Governor of Georgia in 1801. In contrast, the last State to retain discriminatory laws against Jews holding public office was New Hampshire, which did not remove them until 1876.

The first Jew to be elected to the United States Senate was also a Southerner. David Levy Yulee was elected Florida’s first United States Senator in 1845. In Congress he was vociferous in his opposition to federal restrictions on the introduction of slavery into the territories to be acquired from Mexico.

The second Jew to serve in the Senate was Judah P. Benjamin, a man descended from Spanish Jews who were expelled from the peninsula, then ended to England, then to the American South. He left Yale without graduating, arrived in New Orleans with four dollars in his pocket, married into a distinguished Creole family, became an immensely successful lawyer and planter, and pioneered in the mechanization of sugar cultivation.

President Zachary Taylor nominated him for Attorney General; Millard Fillmore nominated him for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”

(The Jew in American Politics. Nathaiel Weyl. Arlington House. 1968, pp. 50-51)

Britain, Slavery and Emancipation

As did George Washington before him, President Jefferson Davis in early 1865 agreed to the enlistment of 300,000 emancipated Africans into the army of the Confederate States. Recognizing that the Constitution he held office under limited federal authority and that he had no power regarding the institution, Davis correctly saw emancipation the purview of those who could – and did – free Africans for military service.

Britain, Slavery and Emancipation

“If the institution of African slavery gained first a foothold, then an entrenched position, the greed of the British crown was largely responsible. As early as 1726, the planters of Virginia became alarmed at the growth of the Negro population and imposed a tax on slave importations. Britain’s Royal African Company interfered and had the law repealed. South Carolina restricted slave imports in 1760 only to be rebuked by London. In 1712 the Pennsylvania legislature moved to curb the increase in Africans, but the law was annulled by the Crown.

Briain’s Queen Anne, who personally held a quarter of the stock of the Royal African Company, the chartered organization which monopolized the slave trade, ordered it to provide New York and New Jersey with Africans and directed the governors of these colonies to give it full support.

Thomas Jefferson charged the British crown with forcing African slavery on the colonies; James Madison asserted that England had checkmated every attempt by Virginia “to put a stop to this infernal traffic”; Bancroft taxed Britain with “steadily rejecting every colonial restriction on the slave trade and instructing the governors, on pain of removal, not to give even a temporary assent to such laws.” In the words of the rabidly anti-Southern historian and politician, Henry Wilson: “British avarice planted slavery in America; British legislation sanctioned and maintained it; British statesmen sustained and guarded it.”

Virginian George Washington, at first opposed permitting Africans, whether slave or free, to serve in the American armed forces. Later, expediency and Alexander Hamilton’s powers of persuasion made him change his mind.”

(The Negro in American Civilization. Nathaniel Weyl. Public Affairs Press, 1960; pp. 25-26)

 

 

Mar 18, 2023 - America Transformed, Antebellum Realities, Southern Conservatives, Southern Statesmen, Southern Unionists    Comments Off on John C. Calhoun – Jeffersonian Democrat

John C. Calhoun – Jeffersonian Democrat

John C. Calhoun – Born March 18, 1782 at Abbeville, South Carolina

The passage below is taken from Dr. Clyde N. Wilson’s Introduction to “John C. Calhoun: American Portrait” by Margaret Coit. (Houghton Mifflin, 1950). Dr. Wilson notes that the outcome of the war of 1861 -1865 “fixed and image of Calhoun as a fanatic” and a defender of African slavery by authors who knew little of the early history of that worldwide institution or the American political system created by the States themselves. In her book, Coit reminds the reader that Calhoun was educated in Connecticut where slavery was still practiced, and Jeffersonian Democracy was still preached by many.

Calhoun the Jeffersonian Democrat

“From 1811 to 1850 – as a representative from South Carolina, secretary of war, vice president, twice a presidential contender, secretary of state, and senator for fifteen years – John C. Calhoun was a central figure in the American experience. He was never predominant in influence, even in the South in his own lifetime, but there was never a time when he was not a major player who had to be taken into account.

Despite the absence of all the hallmarks of political power – large political base and patronage power – Calhoun arrested public attention and influenced public opinion. He had a major if not always decisive influence on every issue of the period – in regard not only to State and federal conflict over authority, but also to free trade and tariff, banking and currency, taxation and expenditures, war and peace, foreign relations, Indian policy, public lands, internal improvements, the two-party system, and the struggle between congressional and presidential power.

Calhoun was part of the Great Triumvirate with Webster and Clay which ‘triangulated the destiny of the nation’ according to Merrill D. Peterson. They were American political life between the time that Jefferson crossed the Potomac going South for the last time, leaving behind a modest federal establishment for a union of the States, and that time when Lincoln, with the help of General Grant and Sherman, forged the modern American state out of blood and fire.”

 

Nathaniel Macon, Model Conservative

Nathaniel Macon, Model Conservative

From the Congressional Globe, February 14, 1826:

“The government which John Quincy Adams found when he moved into the White House in 1825 was a much bigger government than his father had left; and Nathaniel Macon, who had represented North Carolina in Congress since 1791, was far from happy with it.

He regretted that everything had grown, just like the number of doorkeepers of the houses of Congress. “Formerly two men were sufficient for doorkeeper, etc., for the two houses,” Macon complained, “but now there is a regiment.”

As he recalled at the time, during the presidency of John Adams, when the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions had been passed, he asked: “If there was reason to be alarmed at the growing power of the General Government [then], how much more has taken place since? Congress now stopped almost at nothing, which it deemed expedient to be done, and the Constitution was construed to give power for any grand scheme.”

To Macon, it was a dangerous development. “Do a little now, and a little then, and by and by, they would render this government as powerful and unlimited as the British Government was,” Macon told his colleagues in the Senate in 1825.

At the next session, Macon declared that “he did not like to go on in this way – the Government constantly gaining power by little bits. A wagon road was made under treaty with an Indian tribe some twenty years ago – and now it has become a great national object to be kept up by large appropriations. We thus go on by degrees, step by step, until we get almost unlimited government power.”

(Nathaniel Macon and the Southern Protest Against National Consolidation. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr.  North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XXXI, No. 3, July 1955, pg. 376)

 

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