A Confederate Catechism
Below is a scan of a third edition (much smaller than the final) of the Confederate Catechism. It was written by Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935), who was the 13th son of John Tyler (1790 – 1862), the 10th President of the United States (1841 – 1845). It is interesting to note that when the War of Northern Aggression began in 1861, former U.S. President John Tyler sided with the Confederate government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death.
In 1917 Lyon Gardiner Tyler picked up a copy of the New York Times and grew angry. What so incensed Tyler was an editorial suggesting that Southern slaveowners were akin to the Hohenzollern autocrats then plaguing the world. The editorial insisted that slaveowners were arbitrary and oppressive and that they had sought to extend slavery. When the North and the Republican Party resisted, the South declared war, characterizing it as defensive, just as the Hohenzollerns described their aggression as defensive in nature. Tyler responded that it was Abraham Lincoln who more closely resembled Prussian militarists in his grotesque flaunting of the Constitution while offering the excuse that necessity forced him to act in a dictatorial manner.
L.G. Tyler was also annoyed that Northern history textbooks, which portrayed Lincoln in heroic fashion, were employed in Southern schools. The youth of the South were being fed the Lincoln myth in neighborhood schools! He joined Mildred Lewis Rutherford’s effort to replace pro-Northern and pro-Lincoln texts with works more reflective of the unreconstructed South’s view of Lincoln and the Civil War. Tyler believed that Northerners, as the winners of the Civil War, had written all the resulting history, and had done so in a fashion that was little more than propaganda that was both inaccurate and painted a distorted image of the South. Lincoln was turned into a saint he never was. Only Lyon Tyler could rescue truth from layers of fiction by scrupulously adhering to the truth. “Real history,” he declared, “cares nothing for the blare of trumpets and the shouts of the propagandists—it cares only for facts.” In or around 1920 he published “A Confederate Catechism”.
L.G. Tyler was a meticulous researcher and prolific author, using primary source materials to generate detailed portraits of Virginia history. Between 1891 and 1933, he authored Parties and Patronage in the United States (1891); The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River (1900); England in America (1904); Williamsburg, the Old Colonial Capital (1907); Men of Mark in Virginia (1906–1909);Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography (1915); and History of Virginia from 1763 to 1861 (1924); as well as articles, addresses, booklets, and a book of verse, Ripples of Rhyme (1933). The Letters and Times of the Tylers, however, would remain his most prominent work. In 1892, he founded the William and Mary Quarterly (then known as the William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine), financing it with his own money after the college’s Board of Visitors expressed reluctance to do so. He remained the journal’s editor until 1919, at which time he changed its title to Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, which he would continue to edit until his death. His collective body of work spurred recognition of the historic significance of Jamestown and Williamsburg, and serves as a rich resource for scholars of Virginia history and genealogy.
Underneath the following PDF scan, is the text from A Confederate Catechism, The War for Southern Self-Government. It is the Seventh Edition: printed 1935 and reprinted 1984.confederatecatechism-1
1. What was the cause of secession in 1861?
It was the yoking together of two jarring nations having different interests which were repeatedly brought to the breaking point by selfish and unconstitutional acts of the North. The breaking point was nearly reached in 1786, when the North tried to give away the Mississippi River to Spain; in 1790, when the North by Congressional act forced the South to pay the Revolutionary debts of the North; in 1801, when they tried to upset the presidential ticket and make Aaron Burr President; and in 1828 and 1832, when they imposed upon the South high protective tariffs for the benefit of Northern manufacturers. The breaking point was finally reached in 1861, when after flagrant nullification of the Constitution by personal liberty laws and underground railroads, resulting in John Brown’s assassinations, a Northern President was elected by strictly Northern votes upon a platform which announced the resolve never to submit to a decision of the highest court in the land. This decision (the Dred Scott Case, 1856), in permitting Southern men to go with their slaves into the Territories, gave no advantage to the South, as none of the territorial domain remaining was in any way fit for agriculture, but the South regarded the opposition to it of the Lincoln party as a determination on the part of the North to govern the Union thereafter by virtue of its numerical majority, without any regard whatever to constitutional limitations.
The literature of those times shows that such mutual and mortal hatred existed as in the language of Jefferson to “render separation preferable to eternal discord.”
2. Was slavery the cause of secession or the war?
No. Slavery existed previous to the Constitution, and the Union was formed in spite of it. Both from the standpoint of the Constitution and sound statesmanship it was not slavery, but the vindictive, intemperate antislavery movement that was at the bottom of all the troubles. The North having formed a union with a lot of States inheriting slavery, common honesty dictated that it should respect the institutions of the South, or, in case of a change of conscience, should secede from the Union. But it did neither. Having possessed itself of the Federal Government, it set up as its particular champion, made war upon the South, freed the negroes without regard to time or consequences, and held the South as conquered territory.
3. Was the extension of slavery the purpose of secession?
No. When South Carolina seceded she had no certainty that any other Southern State would follow her example. By her act she absolutely shut herself out from the territories and thereby limited rather than extended slavery. The same may be said of the other seceding States who joined her.
4. Was secession the cause of the war?
No. Secession is a mere civil process having no necessary connection with war. Norway seceded from Sweden, and there was no war. The attempted linking of slavery and secession with war is merely an effort to obscure the issue – “a red herring drawn across the trail.” Secession was based (1) upon the natural right of self-government, (2) upon the reservation to the States in the Constitution of all powers not expressly granted to the Federal government. Secession was such a power, being expressly excepted in the ratifications of the Constitution by Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York. (3) Upon the right of the principal to recall the powers vested in the agent; and upon (4) the inherent nature of all partnerships, which carries with them the right of withdrawal. The States were partners in the Union, and no partnership is irrevocable. The “more perfect Union” spoken of in the Preamble to the Constitution was the expression merely of a hope and wish. No rights of sovereignty whatever could exist without the right of secession.
5. What then was the cause of the war?
The cause of the war was (1) the rejection of the right of peaceable secession of eleven sovereign States by Lincoln, and (2) the denial of self-government to 8,000,000 of people, occupying a territory half the size of Europe. Fitness is necessary for the assertion of the right, and Lincoln himself said of these people that they possessed as much moral sense and as much devotion to law and order as “any other civilized and patriotic people.” Without consulting Congress, Lincoln sent great armies to the South, and it was the war of a president elected by a minority of the people of the North. In the great World War Woodrow Wilson declared that “No people must be forced under sovereignty under which it does not choose to live.” When in 1903 Panama seceded from Colombia, the United States sided with Panama against Colombia, thereby encouraging secession.
6. Did the South fight for slavery or the extension of slavery ?
No; for had Lincoln not sent armies to the South, that country would have done no fighting at all.
7. Did the South fight for the overthrow of the United States Government?
No; the South fought to establish its own government. Secession did not destroy the Union, but merely reduced its territorial extent. The United States existed when there were only thirteen States, and it would have existed when there were twenty States left. The charge brought by Lincoln that the aim of the Southerners was to overthrow the government was no more true than if King George III had said that the secession of the American colonies from Great Britain had in view the destruction of the British Government. The government of Great Britain was not destroyed by the success of the American States in 1783. Nor would the government of the United States have been destroyed if the Southern States had succeeded in repelling the attacks of the North in 1861- 1865. Had the North refrained from conquest, its example would have been felt by Germany and there would have been no World War costing millions of lives. A group of Northern States in 1861-65 assumed the imperialistic attitude of Great Britain in 1776 and Germany in 1914, and substituted the armed fist for the American principle of self government. Universal peace will never ensue till the principle of self- government, which requires no armies to maintain it, is recognized throughout the world.
8. What did the South fight for?
IT FOUGHT TO REPEL INVASION AND FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT, JUST AS THE FATHERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION HAD DONE. Lincoln himself confessed at first that he had no constitutional right to make war against a State, so he resorted to the subterfuge of calling for troops to suppress “combinations” of persons in the Southern States “too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary” processes. It is impossible to understand how the Southern States could have proceeded in a more regular and formal manner than they did to show they acted as States and not as mere “combinations.” It shows the lack of principle that characterized Lincoln when later he referred to the Southern States as “insurrectionary States.” If the Federal Government had no power to make war upon a State, how could it be called insurrectionary?
9. Did the South in firing on Fort Sumter begin the war?
No. Various hostile acts had been committed before this took place. The first hostile act was committed by the Federal government when Major Robert Anderson secretly removed his garrison at night from Fort Moultrie, a weak fort in Charleston harbor, to Fort Sumter, a very strong fort. Shortly after, the government, under James Buchanan, sent the Star of the West with troops and supplies to Fort Sumter, but she was driven off. If South Carolina had a right to secede, she had a right to all the public buildings upon her territory, saving her responsibility for the cost of construction, which she readily recognized. She took over Fort Moultrie and other buildings and she was joined by other Southern States. Nevertheless no one was hurt, there was no war, and Virginia interposed with her Peace Conference, originated and presided over by John Tyler.
After Lincoln came in, the peace apparently continued for four or five weeks, but secretly Lincoln took means to bring on war.. Despite the assurances of Seward, the Secretary of State, assurances made with Lincoln’s full knowledge,* that the status would not be disturbed at Fort Pickens, and in violation of a truce existing there between the Federals and Confederates, Lincoln sent secret orders for the landing of troops, but Adams, the Federal commander of the squadron before Fort Pickens, refused to land the troops, declaring that it would be a breach of faith to do so, and that it would bring on war. This was before Sumter was fired on, and Fort Sumter was fired on only when an armed squadron, prepared, also with great secrecy, was dispatched with troops to supply that fort also.
But firing upon Fort Sumter did not in any case necessarily mean war. No one was hurt by the firing, and Lincoln knew that all the Confederates wanted was a fort that commanded the Metropolitan city of South Carolina – a fort which had been erected for the defense of that city. He knew that they had no desire to engage in a war with the United States. Not every hostile act justifies war, and in the World War this country submitted to having its flag filled full of holes and scores of its citizens destroyed before it went to war. Lincoln, without any violation of his views of government, had an obvious alternative in putting the question of war up to Congress, which could have been called in ten days. But he did not do it, and assumed the powers of Congress in making laws, besides enforcing them as an executive. By his mere authority he enormously increased the Federal army, marched it to the South, blockaded Southern ports, and declared Southern privateersmen pirates. Every clause of Jefferson’s tremendous indictment against King George in 1776 was true of Lincoln in 1861-1865.
*See J.C. Welling, New York Natton, Vol. XXIX. p. 383.
10. Why did Lincoln break the truce at Fort Pickens and precipitate the war by sending troops to Fort Sumter?
Lincoln did not think that war would result by sending troops to Fort Pickens, and it would give him the appearance of asserting the national authority. But he knew that hostilities would certainly ensue if he attempted to reinforce Fort Sumter. He was, therefore, at first in favor of withdrawing the troops from that Fort, and allowed assurances to that effect to be given out by Seward, his Secretary of State. But the deciding factor with him was the tariff question. In three separate interviews, he asked what would become of his revenue if he allowed the government at Montgomery to go on with their ten per cent tariff. He asked, “What would become of his tariff (about 90 per cent on the cost of goods) if he allowed those people at Montgomery to go on with their ten per cent tariff.” (See authorities cited in Tyler, Tyler versus Lincoln,p. 4.) Final action was taken when nine Governors of high tariff States waited upon Lincoln and offered him men and supplies. The protective tariff had almost driven the country to war in 1833; it is not surprising that it brought war in 1861. Indeed, this spirit of spoliation was so apparent from the beginning that, at the very first Congress, Grayson, one of our two first Virginia Senators, predicted that the fate reserved to the South was to be “the milch-cow of the Union.” The New York Times, after having on March 21, 1861, declared for separation, took the ground nine days later that the material interests of the North would not allow of an independent South!
11. Did Lincoln carry on the war for the purpose of freeing the slaves?
No; he frequently denied that that was his purpose in waging war. He claimed that he fought the South in order to preserve the Union. Before the war Lincoln declared himself in favor of the enforcement of the fugitive slave act, and he once figured as an attorney to drag back a runaway negro into slavery. When he became President he professed himself in his inaugural willing to support an amendment guaranteeing slavery in the States where it existed. Wendell Phillips, the abolitionist, called him a “slave hound.” Of course, Lincoln’s proposed amendment, if it had any chance at all with the States, did not meet the question at issue. No one except the abolitionists disputed the right of the Southern people to hold slaves in the States where it existed. And an amendment would not have been regarded by the abolitionists, who spit upon the Constitution itself. The immediate question at issue was submission to the decision of the Supreme Court in relation to the territories. The pecuniary value of the slaves cut no figure at all, and Lincoln’s proposed amendment was an insult to the South.
12. Did Lincoln, by his conquest of the South, save the Union?
No. The old Union was a union of consent; the present Union is one of force. For many years after the war the South was held as a subject province, and any privileges it now enjoys are mere concessions from its conquerors, not rights inherited from the Constitution. The North after the war had in domestic negro rule a whip which England never had over Ireland. To escape from it, the South became grateful for any kind of government. The present Union is a great Northern nation based on force and controlled by Northern majorities, to which the South, as a conquered province, has had to conform all its policies and ideals. The Federal authority is only Northern authority. Today (1935) the Executive, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the Ministers at foreign courts are all Northern men. The South has as little share in the government, and as little chance of furnishing a President, as Norway or Switzerland.
13. Could Lincoln have “saved” the Union by some other method than war?
Yes. If he had given his influence to the resolutions offered in the Senate by John J. Crittenden, the difficulties in 1861 would have been peaceably settled. These resolutions extended the line of the Missouri Compromise through the territories, but gave nothing to the South, save the abstract right to carry slaves to New Mexico. But most of New Mexico was too barren for agriculture, and not ten slaves had been carried there in ten years. The resolutions received the approval of the Southern Senators and, had they been submitted to the people, would have received their approval both North and South. Slavery in a short time would have met a peaceful and natural death with the development of machinery consequent upon Cyrus H. McCormick’s great invention of the reaper. The question in 1861 with the South as to the territories was one of wounded pride rather than any material advantage. It was the intemperate, arrogant, and self-righteous attitude of Lincoln and his party that made any peaceable constructive solution of the Territorial question impossible. In rejecting the Crittenden resolutions, Lincoln, a minority president, and the Republicans, a minority party, placed themselves on record as virtually preferring the slaughter of 400,000 men of the flower of the land and the sacrifice of billions of dollars of property to a compromise involving a mere abstraction. This abstraction did not even contemplate a real object like New Mexico, for Lincoln in a private letter admitted that there was no danger there. Lincoln stirred up a ghost and professed to find in the annexation of Cuba a pretext for imperiling the Union. It is needless to say that no such ghost could ever have materialized in the presence of Northern majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. (Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, I, pp. 664, 669.)
14. Does any present or future prosperity of the South justify the War of1861-1865?
No; no present or future prosperity can make past wrong right, for the end can never justify the means. The war was a colossal crime, and the most astounding case of self-stultification on the part of any government recorded in history. The war itself was conducted on the most barbarous principles and involved the wholesale destruction of property and human lives. That there must be no humanity in war was, according to Charles Francis Adams, “the accepted policy of Lincoln’s government during the last stages of the war.” (Adams,Studies Military and Diplomatic, p. 266.)
15. Had the South gained its independence, would it have proved a failure?
No. General Grant has said in his Memoirs that it would have established “a real and respected nation.” The States of the South would have been bound together by fear of the great Northern Republic and by a similarity of economic conditions. They would have had laws suited to their own circumstances, and developed accordingly. They would not have lived under Northern laws and had to conform their policy to them, as they have been compelled to do. A low tariff would have attracted the trade of the world to the South, and its cities would have become great and important centers of commerce. A fear of this prosperity induced Lincoln to make war upon the South. The Southern Confederacy, instead of being a failure, would have been a great outstanding figure in the affairs of the world. The statement sometimes made that the Confederacy “died of too much States Rights,” as instanced in the opposition to President Davis in Georgia and North Carolina, fails to notice that Lincoln’s imperialism did not prevent far more serious opposition to Lincoln in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. And yet at the time the South was under much greater pressure than the North.
16. Were the Southerners “rebels” in seceding from the FederalUnion?
The term “rebel” had no application to the Southern people, however much it applied to the American colonists. These last called themselves “Patriots,” not rebels. Both Southerners in 1861 and Americans in 1776 acted under the authority of their State governments. But while the colonies were mere departments of the British Union, the American States were creators of the Federal Union. The Federal government was the agent of the States for the purposes expressed in the Constitution, and it is absurd to say that the principal can rebel against the agent. President Jackson threatened war with South Carolina in 1833, but admitted that in such an event South Carolinians taken prisoners would not be “rebels” but prisoners of war. The Freesoilers in Kansas and John Brown at Harper’s Ferry were undoubtedly “rebels,” for they acted without any lawful authority whatever in using force against the Federal Government, and Lincoln and the Republican party, in approving a platform which sympathized with the Freesoilers and bitterly denounced the Federal Government, were rebels and traitors at heart.
17. Did the South, as alleged by Lincoln in his messages and in his Gettysburg speech, fight to destroy popular government throughout the world?
No; the charge was absurd. Had the South succeeded, the United States would still have enjoyed all its liberties, and so would Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and all other peoples. The danger to popular government came from Lincoln himself. In conducting the war, Lincoln talked about “democracy” and “the plain people,” but adopted the rules of despotism and autocracy, and under the fiction of “war powers” virtually abrogated the Constitution, which he had sworn to support.
18. Was Lincoln’s proclamation freeing the slaves worthy of the praise which it has received?
No; his proclamation was a war measure merely. He had no humanitarian purpose in view, and only ten days before its issuance he declared that “the possible consequences of insurrection and massacre in the Southern States” would not deter him from its use, whenever he should deem it necessary for military purposes. (Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln,I/, p. 235.)
19. Is there any truth in the statement that the South seceded from the Union because it saw itself menaced with the loss of the rule which it had enjoyed from the beginning?
None whatever. The Southerners never ruled the Union in any real sense. They controlled the executive department, but this department was confined to giving directions to the foreign relations and to executing the laws made by Congress. And this body, the lawmaking – the real ruler – was managed by the North from the very start. With the aid of a few delinquent Southern votes the North could always count upon a majority in Congress. The revenue was chiefly levied on the products of the South, and it was mainly disbursed in the North. Never once did the South use the machinery of the Federal Government to enrich herself at the expense of the North. The funding of the National debt, the assumption of the State debts, the bounties for shipping, tonnage duties, bounties for the fishermen, the restrictions on foreign trade, the National bank, the tariff, the pensions, land grants, internal improvement, etc., were all in interest of the North. And this one-sided development remains today  exactly like it was of old. The South is still “the milch-cow of the Union.”
20. What has been the effects of the abolition of slavery?
The negro question has been one of much exaggeration and slighting of facts. The wicked method in which abolition was accomplished was a terrible injury both to whites and blacks. It raised race animosities that have not yet passed away. It threw the South back a hundred years. All the Northern States had rid themselves of slavery by laws contemplating gradual emancipation, and Lincoln at Peoria in 1854 admitted that, “if all earthly power was given him, he would not know what to do as to the existing institution.” His action, therefore, in 1862 in trying suddenly to abolish slavery without regard to time or consequences made him self-convicted as a great criminal. As a war measure it involved the danger of massacre and insurrection, and was, therefore, forbidden by the international law, that massacre did not occur does not lessen the guilt of Lincoln. Ten days before his proclamation he declared that he would not be deterred from its use by apprehension of massacre or insurrection. We are told by Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, that the North had the belief that “a civil war would inevitably lead to servile insurrection, and that the slave owners would have their hands full to keep the slaves in subjection after hostilities commenced,” (Welles,Diary,!!, p. 278.) Lincoln undoubtedly shared in this expectation, and six days after the issuance of the proclamation he wrote to Hannibal Hamlin: “The time for its effect southward has not come, but northward its effect should be instantaneous.” It appears that he was looking to some effect in the South. What “effect” could this have been save a saturnalia of murder, arson and rape and atrocities unspeakable? Lincoln, by the abolition in the manner done, was the true parent of reconstruction, legislative robbery, negro supremacy, cheating at the polls, rapes of white women, lynching, and the acts of the Ku Klux Klan
21. How has the abolition of slavery affected the labor system?
It is absurd to say that slavery was a failure as a labor system. The military system is a form of slavery in which the best results ensue when the discipline is strictest. Freedom is not necessarily a panacea. The negro’s idea of freedom is to do as little work as possible. One works now (1935) where five worked before the war. All that has been accomplished in the South since the war has been by the white people, but it has been at the expense of that splendid leisure that enabled the South to take the lead in Congress and in the Nation. What statesmen have we now to compare with the statesmen of old? None. What scientist to compare with McCormick, Maury, or Ruffin? None. What magazines to compare with the Southern Quarterly Review, the Southern Literary Messenger, Ruffin’s Farmers’ Register, and DeBow’s Economic Review? None.
22. Did Lincoln at any time offer any terms of peace?
None except absolute submission. He refused to see formally or informally the Southern commissioners sent to Washington before the war began on the childest legalism that they claimed to be agents of an independent power, thus mimicking the arrogant attitude of the British Commissioners in 1776 who refused to treat with Congress as a political authority.
This attitude was not kept up by the British but was persevered in by Lincoln to the end. Congress breathed out threatenings of death and confiscations to all concerned in the Confederacy, and Lincoln in a paper December 8, 1863, pretending to be a proclamation of pardon, but which was much more a menace than a pardon, left under the penalties imposed by Congress everybody of any consequence in the South. This was in contrast to the British proclamations during the American Revolution which made absolutely no exceptions.
23. Did the South make any efforts for peace during this time?
The South made several efforts to open peace negotiations with the authorities in Washington, but were rudely repulsed.
But by August, 1864, the Northern people had become tired of Lincoln and the war, and the unhappy President had to change to some extent his policy. He addressed a letter to his Cabinet that he had no hope of a reelection. There was a general cry for peace, and Lincoln gave permission to various persons, at their eager intercession, to visit Richmond to ascertain the views of President Davis.
Shortly afterwards came the victories of Sherman and Sheridan which ensured Lincoln’s election, and Lincoln’s spirit rose again. In his annual message December 6, 1864, Lincoln said: “On careful consideration of all the evidence accessible, it seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgents could result in any good.”
But the South was not conquered, and the prospect of war for some indefinite time induced him to listen favorably to the renewed solicitations of the Confederates for negotiations. It took, however, the added influence of General Grant in favor of peace to induce him to come himself to Old Point in person on February 3rd, to meet the Confederate Commissioners, Alexander H. Stephens, R.M. T. Hunter and John A. Campbell.
24. What happened at the meeting at Old Point?
At this meeting Mr. Lincoln’s course was exactly the reverse of the humane attitude of the British commissioners in 1778. They proposed an armistice and the concession to the Americans of everything short of independence. Lincoln would consent to no suspension of hostilities and declined to make any stipulations. There must be absolute submission, and a trust in his mercy, but even this mercy was confined to an expression of his disposition (no promise) to execute in a very liberal manner the laws of Congress, denouncing death, imprisonment and confiscation of property on all Rebels.
25. Was any importance to be attached to Lincoln’s assurances?
None. As a matter of fact Lincoln as President had very little authority, as pitted against his Cabinet and Congress. And he had not the backbone of Andrew Johnson. How very little could be expected of him was amply illustrated at a meeting of the Cabinet a few days later. The President repeated a proposition of Horace Greely to pay the Southern States $400,000,000 if they would stop fighting and come back into the Union. Lincoln’s proffer was only a war measure, though of a different turn, from his Emancipation Proclamation. There was no suggestion of kindness or mercy, nothing save the practical arithmetical calculation that the war was costing $3,000,000 a day, besides all the lives, and a hundred days more of war would cost nearly the sum proposed.
But the Cabinet unanimously refused to agree to the proposition, and Lincoln readily submitted. If he meant it why did he not stand up resolutely for it? What Congress would have done had the proposal been made to them is scarcely in doubt. They had been too long accustomed to taxing the South for the benefit of the North to turn around and tax the North for the benefit of the South. The vindictiveness of the leaders in Congress was so great that voluntary submission would never have saved the South from the horrors of reconstruction, and Lincoln would have submitted as he had done before.
Lincoln is claimed to have had a keen insight into human nature, but he did not show it in this proposal to pay the Southern people for their slaves. They would have scorned his proposal to pay them, as they were not fighting for the money value of slaves, but in defense of their Fatherland and self-government. Had he had the bravery to promise to protect the Southern States by his veto against vindictive legislation interfering with their local government, however futile the promise may have been, the war at this time may have been brought to an end.
The very last act of Lincoln showed how absurd is the idea that Lincoln was a friend of the South. Whatever he may have said, he always continued to line up with the worst enemies of the South. Upon the evacuation of Richmond, Lincoln made haste to visit the city which had defied him so long. In his joy over the event he gave permission for the old Virginia Legislature to assemble. But when he got back to Washington he was met with the determined opposition of Sumner and his Cabinet, whereupon, at the vehement protest of Stanton, he sent a telegram in the very words that Stanton suggested withdrawing his permission. (Connor, Life of John A. Campbell, p. 182.) It is claimed that Lincoln would have made things easy for the South after the war. But does not this instance show that he was too feeble a man to have dared such a thing?
26. What was the condition of things in the South in 1861?
The South was very flourishing. The most prosperous decade in the history of the South was the decade between 1850 and 1860. Up to 1850 the South lived in a Union hostile to her development. But during this decade the South enjoyed the advantage of a free trade tariff and of the Independent Treasury, which divorced the government from the control of the Northern banks. It was the first time that the South had a fair deal in finance. It was a period in which the South took the lead in using improved machinery and improved methods of farming. Great sums of money were spent on highways, canals, and railroads. Factories in which white labor was wholly employed began to spring up all over the South, thus affording ample opportunities of employment for the poorer classes of white people. The census shows that in this decade Virginia increased 84 per cent in wealth, South Carolina 90 per cent, and Georgia 92 per cent, while Massachusetts increased only 42 per cent and. New York 71 per cent. Dr. Avery Odell Craven, Professor of History in the University of Chicago, declares in his work on “Soil Exhaustion” in Maryland and Virginia that in no section of the nation and in no period of its history were greater agricultural advances made or greater difficulties overcome than in Virginia and Maryland. The future was bright with hope, but Lincoln, by his war and the sudden emancipation of the slaves without regard to time or consequences, put back the South 100 years. This is readily shown by comparing the census of 1860 with that of 1920. If we make allowance for the depreciation of money (4 to 1) and the increase in the population (about 3 to 1) there is less of wealth per head today than in 1860, counting the negro in the population and excluding him from the property. There is no evidence whatever that if slavery had continued, the South would have fewer factories and spindles than it has today. Before 1860 it had been found that negroes free or slaves, were not fitted for the mills. There is no evidence that the industrial system might not have developed side by side with the plantation system.
27. Did the South ever try to dictate to any territory whether it should have slavery or not?
No. All that the Southerners ever asked was to be permitted to go into the Territories with their slaves, subject to the action of the citizens there, when they formed a State Constitution. The Supreme Court decided in the Dred Scott case in 1856 that such was their right.
The Northern speakers spoke of this as an “extension” of slavery, and the word was unfairly used to imply an increase in the number of slaves, but, of course, this would not have added a single slave to the number already in the United States. It was merely a transfer of population.
28. Was it superior humanity that actuated the Northern people in 1861?
No. There was no reason whatever to suppose that the Northern people were more humane than the Southern people. During the war for Southern independence the Northern generals everywhere disregarded the international law. The policy everywhere was cruel imprisonment, waste and destruction.Unlike General Lee, Lincoln reveled in using hard language – “Rebels,” “Insurgent Rebels,” “Insurgents,” etc., occur everywhere in his speeches, letters, and messages. Because these terms are recognized as insulting, the present generation of enlightened Northern people has abandoned the use of them. Such words were greatly objected to by our Revolutionary fathers, and a committee of the Continental Congress imputed to this habit of the British the licentious conduct of the British soldiers. They were taught by these words to look down upon the Americans, to despise them as inferior creatures. And the same influences operated upon the Northern soldiers, who plundered the South. Lincoln taught them. The North having no just cause for the invasion and destruction of the South, which only asked to be let alone, has ceaselessly tried to hide its crime by talking “slavery.” But logically flowing from this attitude is the idea that slavery deprived the South of every right whatever, which was the doctrine of the assassin, John Brown. General Sheridan’s philosophy of war was “to leave to the people nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.” General Sherman’s, “to destroy the roads, houses, people, and repopulate the country.” General Grant’s to leave the Valley “a barren waste” and shoot “guerrillas without trial”; and President Lincoln’s the adoption of “emancipation and every other policy calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the rebellion.” (Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, II, p. 565.) The damage done by the German troops in France was a trifle compared with the damage done by the Northern troops in the South.
29. Was it love that controlled the North in its attitude toward the negro?
No. The New England shipping was the chief sinner in bringing negroes to the South. And when the constitution was formed in 1787, New England delegates voted a continuance of the slave trade for twenty years. This fixed slavery on the South. The feelings of Virginia in opposition were voiced by John Tyler, Sr. (father of ex-President John Tyler), in the State Convention (1788) that “he wanted it handed down to posterity that he opposed that wicked clause permitting the slave trade.”
There was a sectional rivalry from the first which manifested itself in such dissimilar measures as the location of the National Capital, the assumption of the State debts, the navigation of the Mississippi, the national bank, etc. Agitation in 1820 over the admission of Missouri with slavery was only a new form of this antagonism, and it is a mistake to suppose that it arose out of any particular sympathy for the negro. It was rather an expression of the hatred which the free labor system of the North had begun to have for the rival system of negro labor in the South. The former system persuaded itself that slave labor placed free labor at a disadvantage. Slave labor asked no wages and remained quiet and peaceable, which was in contrast to the turmoil in the North, where there was a riot of some sort nearly every year. Then the Northern politician, observing the leisure enjoyed by his Southern competitor which gave the latter superior opportunities for culture and education, became exceedingly jealous. Their able speakers pleaded morality and humanity, but that this must not be taken seriously is shown by the fact that none of the so-called free States of the West permitted the presence of the negroes there, and there was not one of the Northern States that treated the negroes on an equality with the whites. They do not do so even now.
30. Has the decision of the great Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott case ever been overruled?
No. When the case was decided, the Northern States resorted to every form of nullification of the Federal laws and Constitution, and there was no limit to their abuse of the Supreme Court. But the principles of the case both as to the original status of the negro as property and the application of the general clauses in the Constitution to the Territories have been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court over and over again. See Osgood vs. Nicholson (1871), 13 Wallace, p. 661; Bryce vs. Tabb (1873), 18 Wallace, p. 546; White vs. Hart, 13 Wallace, p. 649, and see Ewing, Legal and Historical Status of the Dred Scott Case, pp. 180, 181, etc.
31. Would Lincoln have saved the South from the horrors of Reconstruction if he had survived?
The North has become ashamed of the manner in which the South has been treated and it is now pretty unanimous in calling Reconstruction “a dark blot upon the history of the country,” but it tries to win over the South to recognizing Lincoln as a national hero by claiming that Lincoln was a friend of the South and that if Lincoln had survived the war, the South would have had no trouble.
This claim is based on mere words – passages in his messages and reported conversations, but no one of his admirers has been able to produce any real act of kindness done by Lincoln. And words with Lincoln were mere playthings.
As a matter of fact, Lincoln’s speeches, addresses, and conversations are scarcely more than a collection of sophisms in which a flourish of words is substituted for the truth. He was a word juggler and tried to fool people instead of convincing them by sound logic. Some examples may be given. Lincoln argued that “the States have their status in the Union and they have no other legal status. If they break from this, they can do so only against law and by revolution. The Union is older than the States and it indeed created them as States.” In this remarkable casuistry Lincoln makes the Union a corporate entity which, of course, it was not, but a mere condition or cooperation of certain thirteen unities, each independent of the other. If thirteen slaves united to resist their master and by their joint efforts achieved their independence, could it be said that they had individually no right to their liberty, and, like the Siamese twins, were inseparably joined together forever?
Again Lincoln argued: “If one State may secede, so may another, and when all shall secede, none is left to pay the debts of the Union. Is this quite fair to creditors?” Of course, it did not follow that all the States would secede if one did, nor that any State was relieved of its share of the public debt by secession. Any schoolboy could have told Lincoln that the States would have been obligated to pay the debts even if all did secede.
No more wicked violation of the Constitution was ever devised than the creation of West Virginia out of the territory of the Commonwealth of Virginia. To justify his course, Lincoln got off this grotesque stunt: “It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession and only tolerated because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession for the Constitution and secession against the Constitution.”
Lincoln had declared secession “anarchy,” and it seems that anarchy had no terrors when it sub served his purposes. As a real truth, there was no such thing as either secession for the Constitution or secession against it. There was action in accordance with the Constitution and action in violation of it, and undoubtedly Lincoln’s action was in gross violation of his oath to act in accordance with it.
Lincoln was simply trifling, and just as trifling in its essential character was his Gettysburg speech. Because the words have a resonance about them that appeals to the ear and the imagination, it has been glorified beyond anything. Truthfully speaking, it is a mere rhetorical flourish based upon a dishonest assumption implied and not directly expressed. That assumption is that if the South had succeeded, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people would have perished from the earth.” Nothing is more absurd. The real danger came from Lincoln himself. The Gettysburg address was a gilded fraud. No true fame can be had unless founded on TRUTH.
The suspicion that words in the mouth of Lincoln had little or no weight is proved by his second inaugural, which, next to his Gettysburg address, has caught most the fancy of his admirers. In this paper, while professing “malice to none and charity to all,” he showed the greatest malice and uncharitableness possible in describing the slave owner as an incarnate demon, who did nothing but lash his slaves, without giving the least requital for their service of 250 years! The negroes were the most spoiled domestics in the world. The Southerners took the negro as a barbarian and cannibal, civilized him, supported him, clothed him, and turned him out a better Christian than Abraham Lincoln, who was a free thinker, if not an atheist. Booker T. Washington admitted that the negro was the beneficiary rather than the victim of slavery. His successor, Moton, just the other day declared that contact with the white race has been of the greatest advantage to the negro. The fact is that the South’s taking ignorant negroes and making them work was no more criminal violation of democracy or self-government than the government is guilty of today (1935) in keeping the Porto Ricans and Filipinos under political slavery. The excuse of the present United States Government is exactly that of the old slave masters: “The Porto Ricans and Filipinos are not fit for freedom.”
32. It is often said that Lincoln, in sending armies to the South, acted only in obedience to his oath “to take care that the laws of the United States be faithfully executed.” Is this true?
No. The Constitution required him to take an oath “to execute the office of President,” and, “to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Now the Southern States were either in the Union or out of it. If the ordinances of secession were void, then the President was limited by the acts of Congress, which, under the Constitution, had the whole military power. Now the only act which authorized him to employ the militia or the regular army to suppress obstruction to the laws was the act of 1807, which required that he must “first observe all the prerequisites of law in that respect.” These were the issuance of a writ by a United States judge and a call from the marshal, if he found it impossible to execute the writ. But no call was made upon Lincoln, and only Congress could supply defects in the law. Lincoln, therefore, not only sent the troops without authority, but in raising the army far above the limit fixed by Congress, in declaring a blockade, and in denouncing Confederate privateersmen as pirates, he usurped the powers of Congress. His action, therefore, instead of being in conformity with his oath “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” was in plain violation of it. (See speech of Stephen A. Douglas, Congressional Globe, Part 2, 36th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 1455.) On the other hand, if the secession ordinances were valid, and the States were out of the Union, then his acts were acts of war, and he as plainly violated his oath, for only Congress can declare war and make the laws necessary thereto.
Lincoln claimed that his duty was to preserve the Union, but he had taken no oath to do that, and a Union apart from the Constitution was never thought of by the Fathers.
Worse than that, Lincoln admitted in Seward’s official letters to the United States Ministers at London and Paris (April 10 and April 22, 1861) that the government had no power to war upon a State; so to justify his employment of troops, he invented the idea of “a combination of persons” resisting the laws, though it was impossible to show how the Southern people could have proceeded more formally than they did to show that they were acting as States; but as the war progressed he spoke of “insurrectionary States,” thus exposing his own insincerity.
Lincoln attempted to excuse himself at the beginning by asking (Message, July 4,1861): “Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted and the government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated?” The answer is that the Constitution was a chain of power and the breaking of one link left the chain as inefficient as if a dozen links had been broken. There was the additional fact that Lincoln knowingly violated his oath, while the Southerners thought they had conscientiously absolved themselves from any obedience to it by secession. Of course, the success of the South did not mean a dissolution of the government of the United States. As a matter of fact, Lincoln throughout his administration treated the Constitution as a door-mat and wiped his feet upon it. On the other hand, there are the facts displayed, first, in his beginning an unnecessary war, and, second, in conducting it with a ruthlessness which has never been surpassed. His proclamation of December 8, 1862, which has been called an amnesty proclamation, was more like one of menace and threat of punishment, for instead of offering pardon to everyone who would submit as the British General Howe had done when American affairs in 1776 were at their lowest ebb, Lincoln excepted from his pardon everyone of any acknowledged consequence in the South. When Richmond fell, Lincoln had an opportunity to show real statesmanship by inviting all the leading men in the South to aid him in restoring peace to the distracted South. This is what the British did in South Africa. But this never occurred to him, and such a man as Lee, who would have contributed most to heal the wounds of the country, was not asked to assist.
Neither did it occur to Johnson, who issued a proclamation like Lincoln had done. But beyond this it is absurd to ascribe Andrew Johnson’s policy of reconstruction to Lincoln, for Lincoln in his proclamation of July 8, 1864, declared that he was not bound up to any fixed plan whatever, and Woodburn, in his Life of Thaddeus Stevens, states his belief that “no doubt Lincoln would have cooperated with Congress and the States in carrying out such plan as Congress had proposed if a change of circumstances had made his cooperation desirable.”
Indeed, the character of the men with whom Lincoln was most familiar is an overwhelming argument against the idea that he would have stood up for the South against any serious opposition in Cabinet or Congress. One of these was Benjamin Butler, commonly known as “Beast Butler,” and the other was Edwin M. Stanton, his Secretary of War. Both wanted to treat the South as conquered territory. Dr. John Fiske said of Butler that “he could not have understood in the faintest degree the feelings of gentlemen.” Nevertheless Lincoln wanted Butler to run on the same ticket with him as Vice President. According to Welles, Lincoln spent most of the time in Stanton’s room in the War Department. It is to the honor of President Johnson that he kicked this ruffian out of his cabinet. It is inconceivable that Lincoln would have done so. Johnson was far from an ideal, and he blackened his first year as President in wickedly consenting to the murder of Mrs. Surratt and Major Henry Wirz by courts martial sitting after all hostilities had ceased, and to the shackling of President Davis. But there were things about him that command some respect. In spite of his coarseness and animosities, he showed a nerve in resisting the program of reconstruction that placed him far above Lincoln. He had a superior sense of honor. When informed by Dana of Lincoln’s buying votes in Congress, he declared that such conduct “tended to immorality.” (Dana,Recollections of the War, pp. 173-178.)
33. What were the main features of Lincoln’s “friendship” for the South?
A statement of the main features is as follows: (1) The sacking and burning of homes and towns, and the general destruction of fences, crops, stock, and farm implements; (2) the expulsion from their homes of all persons, including women and children and non-combatants, unless an oath of allegiance was taken. This was as if the German commanders in the World War had required every Frenchman in the occupied territory to swear allegiance to the Kaiser. Sherman drove the white population from Atlanta without even allowing this alternative. Not even the British in the Revolution ever issued any order like this. They exacted paroles of the inhabitants, it is true, but this, though a violation of the international law, acknowledged the Americans as enemies, not merely Rebels. (3) The precipitation upon the South of emancipation with apparently absolute indifference whether it created massacre or not, and (4) the subordination of the lives of prisoners to military success which occasioned the deaths of thousands of poor fellows on both sides.
The volume of suffering covers the whole war, and there is not a particle of evidence of the humanitarian intervention of Lincoln with either his Cabinet officers or generals in the field. The truth is the Reconstruction era was the logical result of the Lincoln era, when the Chief Justice, in standing by the Constitution, apprehended his own arrest by the minions of the President.
34. Explain more fully the course of Lincoln as to Exchanges. Lincoln’s friends have tried to hold the Confederates responsible for deaths in Southern prisons. But it was clearly by the action of Lincoln that this mortality occurred.
His policy was to starve the South by the blockade, a measure involving women and children; to destroy all the grain, stock, and farming utensils; to take from the people of the South and from their own prisoners all protection from disease by making medicines and medical appliances contraband of war; to force the crowding of prisoners into remote prisons by the continual advance of his armies, before other prisons could be erected; and then, by refusing all exchanges – not even taking the sick when offered free or permitting the admission of medicines for them- to hold the South responsible for the sufferings of prisoners!
Such a friend of the South was Lincoln that his government visited upon the helpless prisoners of the South in the North punishment for the result of its own policy in the South. He humiliated them by appointing negro soldiers as their guards, who reviled and insulted them. The fare of prisoners was reduced 20 per cent; all but the sick were deprived of coffee, tea, and sugar, and all supplies by gift or purchase were prohibited. (Rhodes, History of the United States, V, p. 505.) To my knowledge there were no such orders issued by the Germans in the World War. The Northern historian, Rhodes, says: “The fact stands out conspicuously that in 1864 the Confederate authorities were eager to make exchanges, their interest being on the side of humanity.”
35. What were the results of Lincoln’s policy as to Confederate prisoners?
The result was that owing to this policy of “retaliation” urged upon Lincoln by many newspapers, the sufferings of the Confederate prisoners in a land of plenty was simply incredible, and the mortality, as shown by the reports of Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and Surgeon General Barnes, of the United States Army, was far greater than the mortality of Federal soldiers in the South. Lincoln threw every obstacle in the way of exchanges by appointing Benjamin F. Butler Commissioner of Exchanges, a man whom the Confederates had outlawed for base conduct at New Orleans, and by appointing General Grant as his successor, who was opposed to all exchanges, on the ground apparently of the superior patriotism of the Southern men, who, he thought, if exchanged, would hasten to rejoin their regiments. The question for history to decide is whether it was not Lincoln and Grant who should have been hanged instead of the unfortunate Major Henry Wirz, who did all he could for his prisoners. (Read “Andersonville Prison,” by Page and Healey, two Federal soldiers.)
In this matter, General Grant presented a marked contrast to another Northern man, Nathaniel Greene, of Rhode Island, whose name is dear to all in the South! This noble General of the Revolution had the same problem as to exchanges presented to him as General Grant. He knew that any American freed would go home, his term having expired; but all the British prisoners would join the British army. Nevertheless he scorned to win success, as desirable as success was in his great necessity, by keeping the American prisoners in the dreadful British prison ships, and agreed to a cartel ofexchange, with ‘all the advantages against him. (Johnson, Life of Nathaniel Greene.) This was, the course taken by Washington, and the Americans of 1776 are free from censure as to the treatment of prisoners, except in connection with the Saratoga prisoners.
36. What was the personal attitude of Lincoln on this policy of Grant in regard to exchanges?
Lincoln’s personal attitude was shown by his non-interference and a letter which he wrote to Grant, when his Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, who was a man of some humanity, though of not much personal force, negotiated with the Confederate Government an exchange of all Marine prisoners. (War of Rebellion Records, Series II, Vol. VII, p. 924.) In this letter Lincoln admitted that he did not see any objection to Welles’ exchanges, but that Welles had acted without his authority and that he, Grant, was at liberty to set aside the whole operation. His attitude was further shown when a delegation of Andersonville prisoners, with the permission of President Davis, arrived in Washington to pray, in behalf of the 30,000 prisoners at Andersonville, that exchanges might be resumed. Their heartrending petition was published in the New York and Washington papers, but Lincoln, unwilling to interfere with Grant’s inhuman determination, turned a deaf ear. On the whole subject of exchanges the language of Charles A. Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War, ought to be conclusive. He was the man who, in order to celebrate the triumph of his government, did the inconceivably mean act of putting fetters upon Jefferson Davis, who, for four years representing the great Southern people, met in combat the vastly superior forces of the United States. It was this man, certainly no friend of the South, who said that “the evidence proves that it was not the Confederates who insisted on keeping our prisoners in distress, want and disease, but the commander of our armies.” (Treatment of Prisoners During the War Between the States, Southern Historical Papers, Vol. I, pp. 112.327.) The Southern Government gave their prisoners the same rations as it gave its own soldiers, and there is absolutely no proof, except that of violent enemies, that the Southern officials were guilty of any inhumanity to Federal soldiers.
37. Was Lincoln a hero?
The thing next most remarkable to posing Lincoln as a friend of the South is the attempt to pose him as a hero. This, however, had been attempted in favor of John Brown, whose hands were red with the blood of innocent people. In those days, when Lincoln was first coming to the front, hatred of the South was so extreme that, as Wendell Phillips tells us, the first words of everybody in Massachusetts, of every party, that was met by him in the streets or street-cars, on the occasion of the news at Harper’s Ferry, were that “they were sorry that he (Brown) had not succeeded” (Phillips, p. 280), and Welles tells us, as we have seen, that negro insurrections were counted on at the North, when the war began, as something certain to keep the Southern soldiers engaged.
That a great negro uprising would occur was undoubtedly the expectation of Lincoln and his Cabinet when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
Lincoln was not personally a murderer, though his actions brought death to thousands of poor people in both the North and the South. But was he a hero? His early life is set forth by his friends, Lamon and Herndon, and it is impossible to see in it anything else than the very reverse of a hero. Beginning with his passing counterfeit money at 19 (Lamon, p. 71) and sewing up hogs’ eyes for a more ready transportation of them across the river at 21 (Lamon, p. 82; Herndon and Weik, I, p. 74), we are told of his writing anonymous letters at 33, and when challenged to a duel by the man whom he thus secretly defamed, violated all codes by insisting on a weapon that left his brave and honorable opponent at a fatal disadvantage (Lamon, p. 260). He is pictured by these and other friends as slipshod, slovenly, and shiftless to such an appalling degree that some of his debts remain still unpaid. We are told by them of Lincoln’s passion for funny stories, particularly for dirty ones; of a repellent poem he wrote, a salacious wedding burlesque too indecent to quote; of a letter that he wrote to a Mrs. Browning, shamelessly burlesquing a woman to whom he had proposed and by whom he had been rejected (this at the age of 28, an age when William Pitt and James Madison had already attained high honors and distinction); of his scoffing at the Bible, etc.
According to these friends, Lincoln’s tactics as legislator were certainly not of an heroic nature. He log-rolled and traded in the offices (Sandbergh, p. 194) and joined in tricking a Democratic paper into publishing an article which Lincoln was foremost in denouncing after the publication (Herndon, II, p. 370).
There are a thousand other details reflecting upon Lincoln that have been verified by Albert J. Beveridge and set out in his incomplete Life of Abraham Lincoln. (See Major Rupert Hughes’ Review of Beveridge’s Work in the Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1928.)
Nor did the responsibilities of high office raise Lincoln above these objectionable habits. Chandler, in his Life of Governor Andrew, relates a story how the war governor of Massachusetts, in pressing a matter upon Lincoln, was put off with a smutty joke, and Hugh McCulloch, who was Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, is a witness to the unrefined conduct of the President in a stormy contest with Randall, his Postmaster General after the report of Sheridan’s victory in the Valley was received (Rice,Reminiscences, p. 419). His trading in the offices was kept up to the last. Both Lamon (p. 450) and Herndon (III, p. 471) declare his nomination as President was secured by his managers through promises of cabinet appointment which Lincoln afterwards fulfilled. To secure the admission of Nevada, he promised in return for heir votes to three Democratic Congressmen lucrative appointments – one worth $20,000 a year (C.A. Dana,Recollections of the War, pp. 175-178), and to get rid of Salmon P. Chase, his chief competitor for the presidency, he appointed him Chief Justice, who, though a good financier, had no great reputation as a lawyer at the time (McClure, Lincoln and Men of Wartime, p. 123; Warden, Life of Chase;Rhodes, History of United States, Vol. V, p. 45; Pierce, Sumner, IV, p. 207).
Lincoln strictly enforced the draft which forced other people’s sons into the army but kept his own son at college till near the end of the war. Then his (alleged) letter of November 21, 1864 John Hay really wrote it), to poor Mrs. Bixby, who lost five dear boys in the war* appears a positive cruel mockery after reading Lincoln’s letter to General Grant of January 19, 1865, about keeping his own (Lincoln’s) son out of the ranks.
United with high moral qualities a hero should have exceptional ability; but Lincoln, though a shrewd trader in votes and political trickery, had nothing of the sort. No constructive measure stands to his credit at any period in his history. He signed important papers without reading them (Welles, Diary, I,pp. 16-32), and John Hay states that he trusted to him the answering of his correspondence. Hay states that Lincoln was exceedingly “unmethodical” (Hay, in Herndon and Weik’s Life of Lincoln, II/, p. 515). Welles shows that there was absolutely no system during his presidency in the administration of affairs, and every cabinet officer was practically independent of the other and of the President, for whom they had no great opinion, especially Stanton, Seward, and Chase. At the cabinet meetings Seward took the lead, and Lincoln was treated as a kind of junior partner in the concern.
Instead of expediting the war he put it back by bad appointments and constant interference with his generals in the field. One instance alone is sufficient to show Lincoln’s incapacity: Upon the retreat of General McClellan to Harrison’s Landing on James River, General Lee marched with most of his army to attack Pope, who was advancing from Washington. This left Richmond with only 30,000 men. McClellan had 100,000, and he asked permission to attack that city. But Lincoln, fearful for his capital, refused, through Halleck, to grant permission, and soon after removed McClellan and recalled his army, when it had attained the best possible position for future operations. Unfriendly as the historian Rhodes is to the memory of McClellan, he is compelled to confess that the move proposed by McClellan was “the most promising strategy of the whole campaign, both for the security of Washington and for possible results.” Lincoln by this act put back the war two years.
Lincoln had behind him a population four times greater than the South, an old established government which had the recognition of the powers of the world, an established army and navy, credit with the bankers, etc., and yet to win success he had to hire thousands of foreigners and to force the Southern negroes into his army. He was reduced to the ignominious confession that without the 200,000 negroes he had in his army, he would have “to abandon the war in three weeks.” (Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, II, p.562.)
Contrasted with this was the great ability shown by Mr. Davis and his cabinet, who out of nothing created an organization that for four years carried on a war that their own enemies were forced to confess was up to that time the greatest war of all the ages. General Lee said of Mr. Davis that “few men could have done as well and none could have done better.” Nevertheless had a really competent President like Andrew Jackson, been in the place of Lincoln, with a cabinet led by an Edward Livingston or William L. Marcy, instead of such marplots as Seward and Stanton, the South would have been suppressed in eighteen months.
38. What importance should be placed upon the statements of Rhett, Yancey, and other Southern extremists?
None. Their talk was purely defensive, and had a fair set off in the ravings of the abolitionists who declared that the Constitution was “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” In no official declaration did the Southern Confederacy ever say that its purpose was to perpetuate slavery, or establish a slave empire. At all times and all places it proclaimed its purpose was to establish its independence and exercise the right of self-government. It is a curious fact that in 1833, in a solemn judicial opinion, Judge Henry Baldwin, a Pennsylvanian, and Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, declared that “the cornerstone of the American Union was slavery .”
39. Was it Lincoln s desire to preserve the Union that influenced him in violating the Constitution and resorting to barbarous methods of warfare?
No. If the preservation of the Union had been the controlling idea with Lincoln he would have encouraged the efforts of John J. Crittenden and John Tyler to compromise the issues. But he was a thorough sectional party man, and he did not dare to offend those who had made him President. The turning point of his policy was the tariff, a thorough sectional measure, and he determined to make war in order to fix the tariff for protection forever on the South. Having begun the war, he knew that he would be a ruined politician if he failed, hence his acquiescence in the barbarous policy by which he destroyed the Constitution of the Fathers and erected the present Northern Nation on its ruins. It is ridiculous to say that Lincoln preserved the Union. The only way to preserve it was by strict adherence to the Constitution, and Lincoln violated the Constitution constantly. As a matter of fact, the condition of the Southern people is not as free as that of the Porto Ricans and Filipinos, who are held as dependent provinces (1935). In two of the great departments of the government the South has no representation whatever, and in the third the representation being a minority, affords no real protection.
40. Were the terms of surrender granted by Grant, Sherman, and other Federal generals anything extraordinary?
Not at all. These generals had no excuse for devastating the South and destroying its people, save the sentimental idea of Union. They never alleged any other. When opposition ceased, even that excuse failed them. The South had never done the North any harm. The terms consisted in giving the Confederates a meal, paroling them, and turning them loose to shift for themselves as best they could in a country “raided of all supplies,” as Grant himself said. There was nothing gracious in that! The captor is expected to feed his prisoners. The officers were allowed their sidearms, baggage, and horses, but this has been customary in all surrenders. It is true that this exemption as to horses was extended to the few broken-down animals possessed by the cavalry and artillerymen, but Grant says in his Memoirs that this suggestion originated with General Lee, and that he consented to it because he thought that “this would be the last battle of the war,” and “the United States did not want them.” Was this magnanimity?
The terms did not compare with those allowed by General Horatio Gates to General John Burgoyne at Saratoga October 17,1777. In this case the British were allowed to march out of their trenches with “all the honors of war,” drums beating, flags flying, and bands playing. (No such privilege was allowed the Confederates by General Grant.) The British officers were allowed their sidearms, baggage, and horses, and the men were allowed rations and promised care and safe return to England, on parole not to serve again in North America till exchanged. Congress, it is true, shamelessly violated the articles and detained the British troops in America till the end of the war, but that was not the fault of General Gates.
The Confederates, who fully expected, from the barbarous manner in which Grant had waged war, that the whole army would be hanged, or kept in imprisonment for an indefinite time, were grateful at being let go on any terms, but the terms allowed by the Federal generals were poor set off against the desolation committed during the war. And as to General Grant, he approved the Reconstruction measures as President and enforced negro suffrage to the limit, doing infinite harm to the South. George Washington himself, who had approved guerrilla warfare in the Revolution, would have fared badly had he fallen into the hands of General Grant, who telegraphed Sheridan “to hang Mosby’s men without trial.” Obedient to this order, six of Mosby’s men were shot or hung, and Mosby retaliated by shooting or hanging seven of Sheridan’s men, which put a stop to this horrible mode of punishment.
41. What is Lincoln’s present reputation founded upon?
It is founded upon his assassination, the need of the North for a hero, his faculty of juggling with words, and the luminous propaganda put out in his favor. Washington, Jefferson, Henry, Madison, Calhoun, and Webster attracted the admiration and recognition of the people from their earliest manhood, but in the opinion of his contemporaries Lincoln never rose above the ordinary politician, and throughout his administration he was subject to bitter and remorseless criticism. Nothing was more bitterly denounced in the North than Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas comps in States of the North where the courts were in full operation, and the arrest under his authority of thousands of people who were confined for months in gloomy dungeons, without charge, without trial, and without being allowed counsel. Because of this, Wendell Phillips pronounced Lincoln “a more unlimited despot than the world knows this side of China.” The claim that Lincoln was a democrat, that he restored the Union, that he was a friend of the South, is the purest fiction imaginable. The deification of Lincoln commenced with his assassination, and has assumed all the forms of hero worship, without any regard for truth or even probability. The most audacious of these claims is that Lincoln was a friend of the South.
42. Was nullification a Southern doctrine?
No. The South as a whole never held to this doctrine. Only two Southern States, Georgia and South Carolina, ever did, and they resorted to it to make void unconstitutional acts, as an alternative to secession.
It was not only threatened by Northern States, but practiced by them in the War of 1812, and through the personal liberty laws and the other measures in the decade from 1850 to 1860.
The notion of a league implies no such idea of a State suspending a law of the Confederacy, and remaining a member thereof.
But what makes the case of the North exceedingly ugly is that they were willing enough in 1833 to destroy the lives of South Carolinians, find resorted to the nullification policy in 1850-1860, in clear defiance of constitutional provisions, for a mere idea and without any sense of personal injury. The men of New England were wholly averse to fighting foreign soldiers like Englishmen in 1812-1814, and Mexicans in 1846, but were among the first in the field to punish their brethren, the Southerners, in 1861.
43. What was the true nature of the Union in 1861?
In May, 1777, the Legislature of Virginia passed an act requiring all free-born male citizens, above the age of 16 years, to “swear allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia as a free and independent State,” and the other States, or most of them certainly, passed similar laws. No one was required by any authority to swear allegiance to the United States, or its government. In 1781, the Articles of Confederation, adopted that year, called the Union “a firm league of friendship,” and provided that each State “retained its sovereignty, freedom and independence.” In the treaty of peace (1783), Great Britain recognized the United States, mentioning the thirteen States by name, as “free, sovereign and independent States.” Nevertheless, Lincoln, with characteristic sophistry, tried to fool people into thinking that the States had never been sovereign.
But against his views may be placed the facts, and the opinion of another man of national ideas, far his superior in every way – John Marshall – who in a noted case (Gibbons versus Ogden), declared the Union previous to 1787 a league.
John Marshall never resorted to rhetoric or dishonest sophistical argument like Lincoln, but his intense party spirit led him often unto untenable positions. As a member of the Federalist party, he espoused the British doctrine, “once a citizen, always a citizen,” denied the Jeffersonian slogan “free ships make free goods,” wanted, like the other Federalists, to make the common law a part of the law of the United States, and stood for aristocracy, instead of democracy, as the correct principle of government. All Marshall’s views on these subjects stand repudiated by even the present intensely consolidated government of the United States.
So when in the same case (Gibbons vs. Ogden) he reasoned that under the new constitution the Union lost the character of a league, he simply spoke as father to the thought, and .appeared to forget that, if the Union was a league of sovereign States anterior to 1787, as he said it was, the States could not lose that character without some express provision in the new constitution to that effect. It is a fundamental provision of public law that in construing grants from sovereign States, nothing can pass by mere implication or inference (Brown’sLegal Maxims, p. 260); Vattel, 2nd Book, chapter SVII, sect. 305-308). And this is especially true when the grant concerns so serious a matter as the sovereignty of the State.
Now no one can show any express revocation of sovereignty in the constitution, and Marshall’s argument proceeds by way of implication or inference from powers in the constitution which may be explained wholly otherwise. To reason that from a mere change in the operation of the government or distribution of the powers, the sovereignty can be destroyed, is absurd.
There is no real antagonism between a Federal government of despotic power and a Union of sovereign States, and the difference between the articles of Confederation and the Constitution of 1787 lies not in the nature of the Union but in the grants of power. To render this perfectly plain, suppose there was a clause added to the present constitution, “And this Union is a league from which each State may peaceably withdraw,” how would this provision interfere with the operation of the Federal government, as long as the States chose to remain together?
The Confederate Constitution was a mere copy of the Federal Constitution, created “a government proper,” but no one has denied that its object was to establish a league of sovereign States.
Not only was there no express provision in the constitution or the amendments by which the States surrendered their sovereignty, but there were provisions in it which declare and defend that sovereignty. The seventh article declares that the parties to this constitution are “the States so ratifying the same,” and the tenth amendment repels all implications hostile to sovereignty by declaring that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited to the States are reserved to the States or the people respectively.” No one was ever required by the Constitution to swear allegiance to the Federal government or the United States.
44. How was secession connected with sovereignty?
As members of a league, each State, in the exercise of its sovereignty, by which its will is meant, had a right, under the law of nations, to withdraw from the Union at any time, for reasons to be judged of by itself. But this did not relieve it from its share of the public debt or other obligations incurred as a member of the league, and these were the proper subjects of negotiation. The denial of the right of secession was a denial of sovereignty, and secession was an obvious power reserved to the States under the tenth amendment. Indeed, three States — Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York — in their ratification of the constitution expressly reserved the right of secession, and this reservation, according to the rules of law, enured to the benefit of the other States as well.
William Rawle, who stood at the head of the bar of Philadelphia, published in 1825 a book on the Constitution, in which he showed very conclusively the constitutionality of secession, and this book was used as a textbook to teach the young officers at West Point. (Tyler’s Quarterly, XII, p. 87.)
45. How was the right to secede connected with self- government?
Not only had the Southern States the constitutional right to secede, but the natural right to do so. The basis on which the United States was established was the right of self-government, as set out in the Declaration of Independence. The South sought to establish its own government, and was not permitted to do so. A right is independent of circumstances, and if there ever was a time when the great American principle was applicable, it was in the case of the South in 1861. What are the facts? Lincoln himself described the Union as “a house divided against itself.” The two sections viewed each other with abhorrence. The South had a country as large as Great Britain, France, and Germany. Lincoln said in his message July 4, 1861, that its population was as “patriotic and civilized as any other people.” The South had not only a highly organized government, but it showed that it was capable of fighting what General Grant styled was “one of the greatest wars that was ever made.”(Personal Memoirs, II, p. 544.)
Horace Greeley, in November, 1860, put the case exactly: “If the Cotton States consider the value of the Union debatable, we maintain that they have a perfect right to discuss it; nay, we hold with Jefferson to the inalienable right of communities to alter or abolish forms of government that have been oppressive or injurious, and if the Cotton States decide that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on letting them go in peace. The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless, and we don’t see how one party can have a right to do what another has a right to prevent.”
To defend the North for its war in 1861, its writers have necessarily to deny the right of self-government, and to hold that the British had a perfect right to whip the Americans in 1776.
In all international contests, the smaller country is more apt to be right than the larger, for while the larger has the big fist to fall back upon, the latter has only the truth with its conscience-compelling power. Most people of the North have a way of talking about the Union when they mean the North only. If things were reversed, if it was the South that dominated the Union, how differently they would talk! It would be no longer the language of the big fist, but the language of truth. But having the power, force, the weapon of tyrants, is the principle they appeal to, and not the old American principle of consent and self-government.
46. Would the principle of secession have been fatal to the success of the Confederacy as an independent power?
Knowing that the North had no just cause for its terrible war of 1861, its defenders have sought to lessen the odium of its crime by arguing that the doctrine of secession would have proved fatal to the success of the Confederacy, even if it had established its independence. This is another question entirely, and does not affect the right or wrong of the people in 1861. But such persons may be asked what do they know of the future? They deal in surmises, and should be reminded of the surmises entertained in this country about the Russian Soviet government. The papers were unanimous in the opinion that the new Russian government would not last six months, but it has lasted thirteen years (1935), and gives no sign of breaking up. The Russian government is one of the working classes; the United States government one of Northern millionaires, and, for all we know, the Russian government may be the more permanent of the two.
Such writers speak of the troubles Mr. Davis had in North Carolina and Georgia, and the threats that some people made of impeaching him, of the lack of a Supreme Court and various other matters, but they fail to speak of Lincoln’s troubles in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, where Lincoln’s administration did not escape the danger of a hostile Confederacy. And how about the great riot in New York, when Lincoln had to send troops to put down these new rebels? Was Stephens worse than Vallandigham? Did Mr. Davis find it necessary to put 38,000 of suspected citizens in jail as Lincoln did? Was not Lincoln also threatened with impeachment?
So great was the dissatisfaction with Lincoln in 1864 that he wrote to his cabinet that he had no chance of reelection, and he said, moreover, that without the 200,000 negroes taken from the South into his army he would have to give up the war in “three weeks.” There is no doubt that if Sherman and Sheridan had not won victories at this time, and the army had not been used at the polls to frighten people away, Lincoln would have lost the election, or been driven from the government.
How can it be doubted that if the North had been subjected to a blockade and invaded by great Southern armies, Lincoln’s imperialism would have shown far more dangerous symptoms of disintegration than Davis’ States rights.
It is absurd to say, as Lincoln did, that the essence of secession was anarchy. People do not break up a government just for a theory. There must be profound dissatisfaction, and no government, Republican, Imperialistic or Democratic, is safe when that dissatisfaction rises. France overturned its royal government, its imperial government. Russia, the strong powered government of the Czars, and Germany became a Republic. The most enduring principle on which to build a nation is not force, but affection and interest.
How was the case of the South as unfavorable as that of the Americans during the eighteenth century? There were plenty of people then to argue against the permanence of the Union. There were no United States courts. Two of the States actually withdrew from the operation of its laws, and it was only by repeated amendments, all tending to restrict the powers of the Federal Government, that the States contrived to live together. Why refuse the Southern Confederacy the privilege of correcting weaknesses by subsequent amendments?
But there were much stronger arguments for the permanence of the Confederacy than that of the Union in 1776. The States of the South would have been bound together by fear of the great Northern Republic, whose tyrannical disposition they had long experienced. They would have had laws suited to their own circumstances, and developed accordingly. They would not have had to live under Northern laws, compelled to pay pensions to Northern soldiers and debts to Northern creditors, contracted for their own undoing. It is a sufficient reply to this kind of backhanded argument to repeat what General Grant said in his Memoirs, that the South, if successful, would have established “a real and respected nation. ”
47. Some additions.
- Words. Webster, in his speech against Hayne in 1830, without pretending to originality said that “words were things,” pointing out that by the adroit use of words in addressing the highly wrought feelings of mankind a just conclusion is often avoided or a false one reached. Taking the hint, the Northern speakers applied to the Southern policy or Southern men, in the absence of any just argument against them, such terms as “Slavery Extension,” “Fire-eaters,”Rebels, “Border Ruffians,” “Slavocrats,” “Slave Breeders,” and other offensive terms to distract the attention from the true points at issue. Lincoln for this purpose used rhetoric and sophistry.
- Exchanges (see Query 34). In the American Revolution, as in the War for Southern Independence, there were mutual complaints between the parties at war as to ill treatment of prisoners. And Washington in a letter to Congress December 27, 1781, said (Gordon, American Revolution, III, p. 268): “I know of no method so likely to put an end to the mutual complaints of both sides as that of having all prisoners given up to the commissary general to be by him exchanged.” Thus Washington favored exchanges, while Lincoln opposed them. In this connection it may be well to remember that the Federals burnt sixty towns or more in the South and that the mortality at Elmira was greatly in excess proportionately of that at Andersonville (Keily, In Vinculis.)And as for the humanity of Lincoln, in his congratulating Sherman for his march to the sea, and Sheridan for his campaign in the Valley of Virginia, his talk of “charity for all” immediately after was, in the language of Edward Lee Masters, “a perfect blasphemy against human nature.” It is a telling fact in favor of Major Henry Wirz that, when the committee representing the prisoners at Andersonville reached the North and were free to talk as they pleased, they said nothing in their published statement of any murders done by Wirz, but spoke of him as a kind man, and of General Winder, Wirz’s superior officer, they had nothing but praise for his kindness.
- Rebels (see Query 28). It was because of indignation at being called a rebel that the wounded General Mercer, the hero of Princeton, January 3, 1777, lost his life. (Stryker, The Battles of Trenton and Princeton, p. 282.) This term, as used by the British as well as by Lincoln, meant not merely a political offender but a moral one which ranked the person with thieves and cutthroats, and the use of the word in this sense was kept up by Northern Presidents long after the war. Of a far superior character was the action of the loyalist Legislature of Virginia, who in 1677, immediately after Bacon’s Rebellion, imposed a fine of 400 pounds of tobacco on any .one who would call another a rebel, traitor, or other name calculated to stir up the “old quarrels” and “heart burnings.” In a letter of Washington to Lord Howe, January 13, 1777, the American commander, after referring to the cruel treatment visited upon the American prisoners on board the British prison ships, wrote: “You may call us rebels and say we deserve no better treatment, but remember, my Lord, supposing us rebels we still have feelings equally as keen and sensible as loyalists and will, if forced to it, most assuredly retaliate upon those upon whom we look as the unjust invaders of our rights, liberties and properties.” The great kindness of heart that distinguished President Davis prevented him from resorting to the system of retaliation threatened by Washington. He was charged by many Confederates with merely threatening and never carrying out his threat. But the threat, in one case at least, was effective when Lincoln, after having proclaimed Confederate privateersmen pirates, proceeded to carry out his threat in two cases. The privateersmen captured were loaded with irons and treated as felons. Their execution being contrary to the international law, as pointed out by a member of the British Parliament, would have made of Lincoln a murderer, but he (Davis) saved him from the consequences of his act by threatening to put to death an equal number of Federal prisoners. Justly humiliated, Lincoln desisted. Later General Grant affected to place the gallant partisans of Colonel Mosby in the same category with the Confederate privateersmen, and six fine young men of Mosby’s command were hung or shot by order of General Custer in Sheridan’s command in accordance with orders telegraphed by Grant. But Mosby, unlike President Davis, acted first and threatened afterward to put to death seven prisoners who served as soldiers under General Custer.
- Sumner and Brooks. The beating of Charles Sumner by Preston S. Brooks, of South Carolina, and the latter’s reelection, after resignation, to his seat in Congress were ascribed, by New England writers especially, to the demoralizing influence of slavery. Were then the burnings of Catholic churches in Philadelphia and other places in 1854, and the assassinations of John Brown at Pottawattomi in Kansas in 1855 and at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 due to the demoralizing influences of freedom? Of course not. These events were due to the highly wrought passions of men brought to a white heat by personal antagonism. Neither slavery nor freedom was responsible for them. Madame Roland, the French patriot, when taken to the guillotine, exclaimed: “Oh, Liberty, how many crimes have been committed in thy name!”
- The remarkable point is that New England set the example for Sumner’s flagellation. In 1798 Roger Griswold, a high-strutting Federalist of Connecticut, grossly insulted Matthew Lyon, a Democratic Republican of Vermont, and Lyon spat in his face. A motion was made to expel Lyon, but his party in Congress, while condemning his conduct, thought that he had great provocation and refused to vote for it. Thereupon after several weeks Griswold attacked Lyon, while writing at his desk, with a thick hickory cane, rather a contrast to the small guttapercha stick employed by Brooks, which was hollow and broke to pieces in Brooks’ hand. Lyon was, like Sumner, caught in his seat, but he managed with his arm to protect his head from injury and, releasing himself, gallantly charged his opponent. The friends of Brooks believed that Sumner feigned inability to release himself and pretended unconsciousness, and it does seem rather queer that a man of his huge frame could not have disengaged himself from his seat. Both Griswold and Brooks approached from the front. The House refused to expel either Griswold or Lyon, and by vote of their New England constituents both were returned to Congress at the next election in 1800. Were their constituencies necessarily degraded on this account?
- Jefferson Davis. It would be derogatory to the character of General Lee to suppose that he did not mean exactly what he said in praise of President Davis (see page 39), but his evidence is supported by General Grant, who could not be presumed to have any favor for Mr. Davis. Grant declared that no one could have saved the South. “Davis did all he could and all any man could for the South. . . . Davis is entitled to every honor bestowed on the South for gallantry and persistence. The attacks upon him from his old followers are ignoble.”
- The criticism sometimes met with that Lee should have been given control of the whole military situation is founded in ignorance. By commission March 13, 1862, Davis put Lee in command of all the Confederate forces, and on June 1, 1862, he added the special command of the Army of Northern Virginia. But Lee absolutely refused to take both commands, and Davis, thinking that Lee’s presence at the head of the army which defended the Capital was the most important, yielded unwillingly to his wishes and relieved him of the general command. Repeatedly he urged Lee to permit him to extend his authority and Lee would not consent. (Davis’ Reply to the General Assembly of Virginia.) When Congress, in February, 1865, conferred the general command again on Lee, Lee could not resist the universal demand, but it does not appear that beyond issuing a proclamation to encourage his soldiers, he asserted his authority anywhere except in his own immediate army. Probably he recognized that it was too late.
- So near was Davis’ government to success that if Lee had been able to continue his retreat another day, Grant would have been so far from his base that he would have been compelled to abandon the pursuit, and the protraction of the war another year would have resulted in Southern independence. So said General Grant in a conversation during his “Tour Around the World.”
- The failure of the South was the worst thing possible for that people. Disguise it as we may, the South, since 1865, has been virtually a dependent province of the North and has lost that high moral character which made it such a force in the world prior to 1865. Ashamed of its course in the past, the North’s present attitude to the South is that of “benevolent assimilation.”
- Abolition. The means are far more Important than the result. To praise Lincoln for freeing 4,000,000 slaves, as President Hoover did in his recent speech on Lincoln’s birthday, is to exalt the act over the means, which were highly disreputable. Had Lincoln tried to effect abolition in the way that the wise statesmen of the North went about it in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other Northern States, by gradual emancipation and with a careful provision by law against any shock to society, there would have been some sense in President Hoover’s remarks; but with abolition proclaimed as it was, in the first instance, simply as a means to breaking up the Confederate armies and without regard to time or consequences, his words show no sense at all. Besides the confiscation of several billions of dollars, as the value of the slaves and the instigation to massacre of Southern women and children, Lincoln’s action promised, as actually occurred during Reconstruction, to dislocate Southern society politically, socially, morally, and financially; and a high military authority declared that upwards of a million negroes – 25 per cent of the whole – enticed from their homes with the promise of freedom and plenty, perished during the war or shortly after it of neglect, disease; and starvation. (George Lunt, of Boston, Origin of the Late War, p.88, note.) In his speech at Peoria in 1854, Lincoln had professed his absolute inability to deal with the question of slavery in the Southern States and his resort to force during the war was a confession on his part of bankruptcy in statesmanship.
- Southern outrages. It is not pretended that there were not individual cases of outrage committed by Confederate soldiers, but these were without the sanction and against the orders of the Confederate authorities, while exactly the reverse was true as to the Federal authorities. Upwards of sixty towns were destroyed in the South and the country laid waste from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. Chambersburg was burned by the Confederates, but this was in legitimate retaliation for the vandalism of General Hunter in the Valley of Virginia, whose conduct in burning private houses and destroying private property was denounced by General Halleck, the Federal commander-in-chief, as “barbarous.” But this burning was not done till General Early had given the people of Chambersburg an opportunity of saving their town by the payment of $100,000 in gold, or $500,000 in greenbacks, equal to only a small part of the damage done by General Hunter. The Germans in the World War would have smiled at such a small indemnity, but the authorities of Chambersburg, believing that succor was speedily coming, refused. Indeed, the greatest surprise was expressed by officers from the Austrian, Prussian, and English armies that in the presence of the unparalleled ruthlessness and wantonness of the Federal armies and the dislocation of society attendant upon Lincoln’s negro policy, the Southern people should have shown such remarkable forbearance, patience, and humanity. Compare the orders of General Grant with those of General Lee, and note the difference. (McGuire and Hunter, The Confederate Cause and Conduct of the War Between the States.) When it is remembered that Republican speakers had affected to regard the South as utterly corrupted, demoralized by slavery, the contract is astonishing.
- Lincoln’s Tenderness. Lincoln wrote to General McClellan: “Can you get near enough [to Richmond] to throw shells into the city?” (McCIellan’s Own Story, p. 368.) The dreadful massacre of Burnside’s troops at Fredericksburg is ascribed to his orders to that unfortunate general, who was visited by Lincoln in his encampment shortly before the battle. Burnside nobly kept the President’s responsibility to himself. (Dr. William E. Dodd, Lincoln orLee, p. 87; statement of Major W. Roy Mason in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, III, p. 101.) General Don Piatt, who knew Lincoln intimately, denies the claim that he was of a kind and forgiving disposition. In his book,Reminiscences of Lincoln, p. 483, he shows Lincoln’s extraordinary insensibility to the ills of his fellow citizens and soldiers when the misery of war was at its worst. His consent to the policy of refusing to exchange takes from him all claim to real humanity
- Character of the War. The war was not a “rebellion,” because the action of the South was that of free, independent, and sovereign States. Lincoln, at the beginning, admitted as much when Seward, his Secretary of State, wrote to the United States Minister in England and said, in the President’s name, that the Federal government could not war against a State. It was not a “Civil War,” for that implies the existence of a single State; nor was it a “War Between the States,” for the Federal government had erected a despotism over the Northern States and asked them no odds. It was clearly a war of invasion by the Federal government and a war for self- government by the Southern States.
48. If then this is a mere Northern government, how may the old Union of the Fathers be restored?
It may be restored readily enough by the United States reaffirming the doctrine of self-government, expressing sorrow for its war of conquest in 1861-65, admitting the South into a proper share of all the functions of the government, and joining the League of Nations in banishing armies and navies, and war. The South has no vindictiveness. All it wants is truth and justice.