Christmas Bells Ring On

Saturday, December 10, AD 2016

 

Something for the weekend.  One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.   It is based on the poem Christmas Bells written  by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863.  Still devastated by the death of his wife in a fire in 1861, he had been rocked by news that his son Charles, serving as a lieutenant in the Union army, had been severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church in November of 1863.  In a nation rent by civil war, along with his personal woes, one could perhaps understand if Longfellow had been deaf to the joy of Christmas that year.  Instead, he wrote this magnificent poem of faith in the power of Christmas:

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George Washington’s Vision

Wednesday, September 7, AD 2016

 

I see this piece of fiction floating around the internet:

“The last time I ever saw Anthony Sherman was on the Fourth of July, 1859, in Independence Square. He was then ninety-nine years old, his dimming eyes rekindled as he gazed upon Independence Hall, which he had come to visit once more. “I want to tell you an incident of Washington’s life one which no one alive knows of except myself; and which, if you live, you will before long see verified.”

He said, “From the opening of the Revolution, we experienced all phases of fortune, good and ill. The darkest period we ever had, I think, was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge, where he resolved to pass the winter of 1777. Ah! I often saw the tears coursing down our dear commander’s careworn cheeks, as he conversed with a confidential officer about the condition of his soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington’s going to the thicket to pray. Well, he also used to pray to God in secret for aid and comfort.

“One day, I remember well, the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees. Though the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly, he remained alone in his quarters nearly all afternoon. When he came out, I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mentioned who was in attendance at the time. After preliminary conversation of about half an hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity that he alone could command, said to the latter:

“I do not know whether it is due to the anxiety of my mind, or what, but this afternoon, as I was preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturbed me. Looking up, I beheld, standing opposite me, a singularly beautiful being. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of the visit. A second, a third, and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor, except a slight raising of the eyes. By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me, and I would have risen, but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to speak, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed. A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed to become filled with sensations, and grew luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, including the mysterious visitor.

“I began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations which I have sometimes imagined accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion.

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Good-bye Old Glory

Saturday, August 6, AD 2016

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Good-bye Old Glory.  Published on September 29, 1865 with music by the most prolific song writers of the Civil War era, George Frederick Root and lyrics by L.J. Bates.  This song was popular at Union Army reunions and at meeting halls of the Grand Army of the Republic.  This rendition is performed by Bobby Horton who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War era music to contemporary audiences.

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Fortnight For Freedom: Battle Cries of Freedom

Saturday, July 2, AD 2016

fortnight for freedom 2016

Something for a Fourth of July weekend.  The Battle Cry of Freedom was a popular song North and South during the Civil War.  Of course they sang different lyrics to the song.  The Union version was such a favorite among the Union troops, that President Lincoln, in a letter to George F. Root, the composer, wrote:  “You have done more than a hundred generals and a thousand  orators. If you could not shoulder a musket in defense of your country, you certainly have served her through your songs.”

Here is the Southern version sung by Bobby Horton who has waged a one man campaign to bring Civil War music to modern audiences:

 

Here is the version from the Lincoln (2012) movie:

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Palm Sunday 151 Years Ago

Sunday, March 20, AD 2016

 

 

It is poor business measuring the mouldered ramparts and counting the silent guns, marking the deserted battlefields and decorating the grassy graves, unless we can learn from it some nobler lesson than to destroy.  Men write of this, as of other wars, as if the only thing necessary to be impressed upon the rising generation were the virtue of physical courage and contempt of death.  It seems to me that is the last thing we need to teach;  for since the days of John Smith in Virginia and the men of the Mayflower in Massachusetts, no generation of Americans has shown any lack of it.  From Louisburg to Petersburg-a hundred and twenty years, the full span of four generations-they have stood to their guns and been shot down in greater comparative numbers than any other race on earth.  In the war of secession there was not a State, not a county, probably not a town, between the great lakes and the gulf, that was not represented on fields where all that men could do with powder and steel was done and valor exhibited at its highest pitch…There is not the slightest necessity for lauding American bravery or impressing it upon American youth.  But there is the gravest necessity for teaching them respect for law, and reverence for human life, and regard for the rights of their fellow country-men, and all that is significant in the history of our country…These are simple lessons, yet they are not taught in a day, and some who we call educated go through life without mastering them at all.

Rossiter Johnson, Campfire and Battlefield, 1884

 

 

 

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between north and south.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox.

Grant in his memoirs wrote, “When Lee and I separated he went back to his lines and I returned to the house of Mr. McLean. Here the officers of both armies came in great numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as much as though they had been friends separated for a long time while fighting battles under the same flag.”

Lee so appreciated the generosity of the terms of surrender given by Grant, that for the remainder of his life he would never allow a word of denigration about Grant to be spoken in his presence.

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3 Responses to Palm Sunday 151 Years Ago

  • Interesting find, Don… so this method of vivid documentary story-telling did not originate with Ken Burns, as I sometimes hear.

    Haven’t watched it all yet, but so far, pretty balanced presentation, with a slight bent in the direction of the victors! Even Vallandigham gets a mention, the Democrat congressman who amazingly was imprisoned for giving speeches critical of the war and of Lincoln, whom he called “King Lincoln.”

    Definitely love seeing Hal Holbrook at Appomattox, just an hour down the road from my house.

  • “Haven’t watched it all yet, but so far, pretty balanced presentation, with a slight bent in the direction of the victors! Even Vallandigham gets a mention, the Democrat congressman who amazingly was imprisoned for giving speeches critical of the war and of Lincoln, whom he called “King Lincoln.””
    Vallandigham was ultimately exiled to the Confederacy. He made his way back into the Union through Canada, after seeking money from Confederate representatives in Canada to buy weapons to set up a Northwest Confederacy, with Lincoln turning a blind eye to his reappearance. He was the moving force behind the peace plank of the Democrat platform in 1864 and was listed by the Democrats as Secretary of War in a McClellan administration. After McClellan repudiated the peace plank Vallandigham withdrew for a time in campaigning for him.

    Vallandigham had a shadowy relationship with the undercover Southern spy group, the Knights of the Golden Circle, later renamed the American Knights. He testified at the trial of several of them in April 1865. While denying that he had joined that organization, he admitted to talking with representatives of the Confederacy in Canada.

    His death in 1871 is a caution to all defense attorneys:

    “Vallandigham died in 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio, at the age of 50, after accidentally shooting himself in the abdomen with a pistol. He was representing a defendant (Thomas McGehan)[citation needed] in a murder case for killing a man in a barroom brawl at the Golden Lamb Inn. Vallandigham attempted to prove the victim, Tom Myers, had in fact accidentally shot himself while drawing his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position. As Vallandigham conferred with fellow defense attorneys in his hotel room at the Golden Lamb, he showed them how he would demonstrate this to the jury. Selecting a pistol he believed to be unloaded, he put it in his pocket and enacted the events as they might have happened, snagging the loaded gun on his clothing and unintentionally causing it to discharge into his belly. Although he was fatally wounded, Vallandigham’s demonstration proved his point, and the defendant, Thomas McGehan, was acquitted and released from custody (to be shot to death four years later in his saloon).”

  • Oddly coincidental, I just received this post, also dated Palm Sunday.
    ..http://vaflaggers.blogspot.com/2016/03/va-flaggers-re-lee-statue-in.html
    .
    Fascinating stuff on Vallandigham too, Mr. Mac.

March 11, 1861: Confederate Constitution Adopted

Friday, March 11, AD 2016

confconst_copy

It has always been intriguing to me that, as microscopically studied as the Civil War has been over the years, more attention has not been paid to the Confederate Constitution. It is a fascinating document.  Crafted by men who had lived their entire lives under the United States Constitution and who had served in the Federal government, its similarities and differences illuminate what these men thought was good with the old Constitution and what needed improvement.  This Constitution took the place of the Provisional Constitution of the Confederacy, go here to read it, a document that by its own terms was meant to be temporary and had a hurried, improvised feel to it.  The permanent Confederate Constitution was the product of more mature reflection and the additional time that the drafters had to think about this new government and nation they were helping to midwife.  Here are some observations on this document:

  1.  The Preamble of the Constitution invokes God, 1861 being a more religious time than 1787.
  2. The preamble states that this is to be a permanent federal government, the Founding Fathers of the Confederacy obviously being eager that secession not be repeated against the Confederacy.  This is underlined by the fact that the representatives from South Carolina proposed that a right to secession be explicit in the Constitution.  Only the South Carolinians voted in favor of this proposal.
  3. Article I dealing with Congress is quite similar to that Article in the US Constitution with some significant changes:  State legislatures were given the power to impeach their members of Congress on a two/thirds vote.  Each House of the Confederate Congress could allocate seats to the heads of Executive Departments, in order to allow them to discuss the activities of their Departments, which seems to be an attempt to adopt the practice of the British Parliament.  The President of the Confederacy was granted a line item veto, but any bill on which he exercised such a veto would be resubmitted to Congress with such a veto being overridden by a two-thirds vote.  Congress was forbidden to allocate funds for internal improvements not set forth explicitly in the Constitution, such improvements being limited to waterways and coastal navigation improvements.  The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution was set forth in Article I, except for the ninth and tenth amendments which were set forth in Article VI.  All appropriations had to pass by a two-thirds vote, except as otherwise enumerated in the Confederate Constitution.  All bills appropriating money had to list the exact amount being appropriated and the purpose for which the funds were to be appropriate.  All bills had to have a single subject which was to be set out in the title to the bill.
  4. Under Article II Presidents were to be limited to a single six year term.  The only two  term President during the adult lives of the men involved in drafting the Confederate Constitution would have been Andrew Jackson, and even his most ardent partisans would have admitted that his second term had been rocky.  The frustrated desires of many Presidents following Jackson for a second term might have been regarded as a source of friction best avoided altogether under the new government.  Confederate Presidents had to have resided within the bounds of the Confederacy for 14 years.  If strictly construed this provision would have rendered every man in the Confederacy ineligible for the office.
  5. Article III dictated that no State could be sued in the Confederate court system by a citizen or a subject of any foreign State.
  6. Article IV made a two-thirds vote necessary for a State to be admitted to the Confederacy.
  7. Article V required only a two-thirds vote of the States to amend the Confederate Constitution.
  8. The most significant differences with the Federal Constitution were on the various issues arising on the question of slavery.  The Confederate document used the terms slaves and slavery.  The international slave trade is banned, except with the United States.  Congress is given the power to ban the importation of slaves from any State not a member of the Confederacy.  Congress is denied any power to pass a law impairing the right to own slaves.  No State could pass a law impairing the right of a citizen of the Confederacy to own slaves.  Slavery in Confederate territories was mandated.

Here is the text of the Confederate Constitution:

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3 Responses to March 11, 1861: Confederate Constitution Adopted

  • I’m reading Jefferson Davis’ monumental “Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,” and in regard to the Constitution he makes this interesting argument:

    With regard to slavery and the slave-trade, the provisions of this Constitution furnish an effectual answer to the assertion, so often made, that the Confederacy was founded on slavery, that slavery was its “corner-stone,” etc. Property in slaves, already existing, was recognized and guaranteed, just as it was by the Constitution of the United States; and the rights of such property in the common Territories were protected against any such hostile discrimination as had been attempted in the Union. But the “extension of slavery,” in the only practical sense of that phrase, was more distinctly and effectually precluded by the Confederate than by the Federal Constitution. This will be manifest on a comparison of the provisions of the two relative to the slave-trade. These are found at the beginning of the ninth section of the first article of each instrument. The Constitution of the United States has the following:

    “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importations, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”

    The Confederate Constitution, on the other hand, ordained as follows:

    “1. The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country, other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

    “2. Congress shall also have the power to prohibit the introduction [pg 262] of slaves from any state not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.”

    In the case of the United States, the only prohibition is against any interference by Congress with the slave-trade for a term of years, and it was further legitimized by the authority given to impose a duty upon it. The term of years, it is true, had long since expired, but there was still no prohibition of the trade by the Constitution; it was after 1808 entirely within the discretion of Congress either to encourage, tolerate, or prohibit it.

    Under the Confederate Constitution, on the contrary, the African slave-trade was “hereby forbidden,” positively and unconditionally, from the beginning. Neither the Confederate Government nor that of any of the States could permit it, and the Congress was expressly “required” to enforce the prohibition. The only discretion in the matter intrusted to the Congress was, whether or not to permit the introduction of slaves from any of the United States or their Territories.

    Mr. Lincoln, in his inaugural address, had said: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Now, if there was no purpose on the part of the Government of the United States to interfere with the institution of slavery within its already existing limits—a proposition which permitted its propagation within those limits by natural increase—and inasmuch as the Confederate Constitution precluded any other than the same natural increase, we may plainly perceive the disingenuousness and absurdity of the pretension by which a factitious sympathy has been obtained in certain quarters for the war upon the South, on the ground that it was a war in behalf of freedom against slavery

  • “The preamble states that this is to be a permanent federal government, the Founding Fathers of the Confederacy obviously being eager that secession not be repeated against the Confederacy.”

    If I remember right, Shelby Foote says the argument that persuaded Confederates not to include a secession option was that it would have implied their own secession from the USA was illegal, not being explicitly permitted in the US Constitution.

  • Holy Cow, Mac!
    .
    Are you clairvoyant? Or, do the writers at “Jeopardy” also link dates in History in their productions?
    .
    Tonight’s Final Jeopardy answer was the Preamble to the Confederate Constitution, which I knew because of this post. The issue was the Confederate Constit. replaced “a more perfect Union” in the US Constit. with a “permanent Federal government.” The winner knew it.
    .
    Good one, Mac.

Presidential Assassins: Born Under an Unlucky Star

Monday, February 15, AD 2016

Hattip for the above video to commenter Greg Mockeridge.

I have never liked Presidents’ Day. Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln? However, most presidents, for good and ill, have shaped the story of America.

To say that presidents have had a large impact on our history is to merely recite a truism. Presidential assassins, regrettably, have also had a large impact on our history.

On this President’s day we will look at the murderer of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth. The rest of the week we will look at other successful assasins of presidents.

On July 4, 1835 Junius Brutus Booth, founder of the Booth theatrical family, sat down and penned a letter to President Andrew Jackson. Booth and Jackson knew each other and were friends, which makes the letter quite odd indeed. The text of the letter:

To His Excellency, General Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, Washington City,

You damn’d old Scoundrel if you don’t sign the pardon of your fellow men now under sentence of Death, De Ruiz and De Soto, I will cut your throat whilst you are sleeping. I wrote to you repeated Cautions so look out or damn you. I’ll have you burnt at the Stake in the City of Washington.

Your Master, Junius Brutus Booth.

You know me! Look out!

Booth was one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his day, and he often gave unforgettable performances. However, he was often noted for his off stage escapades, usually fueled by copious amounts of alcohol. I have little doubt that when he penned this missive Booth was quite drunk. De Ruiz and De Soto had been convicted of piracy. Many Americans had asked for clemency for the men. De Soto did receive a Presidential pardon on July 6, 1835 after an interview with De Soto’s wife and defense attorney with Jackson. In 1832 De Soto had saved the lives of 70 Americans aboard the burning ship Minerva in 1831 and that made him a sympathetic figure to the American public and Jackson. De Ruiz and the other men convicted of piracy were hung. Go here for the details of the piracy trial.

And what happened to Booth? Nothing apparently. I assume that Jackson probably laughed off the letter, assuming that his friend was drunk when he wrote it, and in any case threatening to assassinate the president was not a crime in 1835. One fervently wishes that Booth’s son, John Wilkes Booth had merely written a letter threatening to assassinate Lincoln.

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4 Responses to Presidential Assassins: Born Under an Unlucky Star

  • Thank you, Sir. This was a fascinating read on a subject with which I had only passing familiarity.

  • Interesting stuff… I agree about President’s Day; in Virginia it is officially “Washington’s Day”.

    Lincoln’s assassination was one of the most immoral, tragic events in our history. I’ve often wondered how Lincoln would have handled Reconstruction, and if he would in fact have “let them up easy.” Andrew Johnson pretty much agreed but the radical Republicans rolled over him. I suspect Lincoln would have had much firmer control of the party. Fascinating to imagine what his actual steps would have been in the aftermath of the war.

  • “Initially Booth and his co-conspirators had planned to kidnap Lincoln and smuggle him South…”
    One recalls King Charles I’s prescient remark, “I know that there are but a few steps between the prison and the grave of princes.”

  • Well, the Union had similar plans for a hit and run strike on Richmond whereby they could kill Jeff Davis and the Confederate cabinet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlgren_Affair

The Free State of Jones?

Thursday, February 11, AD 2016

The film The Free State of Jones, is being released in May.  Surprisingly, it is the second Hollywood film to depict alleged events in Jones County Mississippi during the Civil War, the first being the forgotten film Tap Roots (1948) which was based on the novel Tap Roots (1942) by James Street.

James Street noted that his novel was a heavily fictionalized account of local legends in Jones County of events that occurred in the Civil War.  That of course is the usual problem when Hollywood attempts to depict history:  legends and myths come to the forefront with history being a rear guard.

In regard to the events in Jones County in Mississippi during the Civil War, history is handicapped by the fact that the events were regarded as fairly minor at the time, and thus contemporary documentation is light.  No adequate scholarly examination of the history of Jones County during the War has yet been undertaken, although in the past few decades some pioneering studies have been undertaken.

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One Response to The Free State of Jones?

  • Short on history, but filled to the brim with the ideological dregs that Hollywood and the Left have brought to the Civil War for years.

    It happens for all wars, I suppose. Vietnam, anyone? And remember how Spielberg used “Saving Private Ryan” to transform WWII from a war against National Socialism and Hitler’s aggression into a crusade to save Jews from Nazi persecution. At the same time, he portrayed the war in the Pacific as a racist American war against Asians. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tom-hanks-wwii-comments-spark-controversy/

    Lesson: only idiots get their history from Hollywood, TV, or the film industry.

But We Have Forgotten God

Sunday, February 7, AD 2016

As we approach Lent in this Year of Mercy it is striking to me how most who call themselves Christians have lost any sense of sin.  Christ seems to be perceived as a divine Pal, with a dog like eagerness to embrace us just the way we are.  Such a deity would seem to resemble Barney the Dinosaur more than the God of the Bible.  Forgotten is the need for sorrow for sins, repentance for sins and amendment of life.  Our ancestors tended to think much differently.  Consider Proclamation 97 of Abraham Lincoln calling for a national day of prayer and humiliation to pray for forgiveness of national sins.  Here is the text of the proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

 

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8 Responses to But We Have Forgotten God

  • “No God condones terror. No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.” President Obama 2/5/16. National Prayer Breakfast.

    Until abortion is classified as an act of terror, innocent lives, weaker and fewer in number, will continue to be slaughtered under the nose of an arrogant hypocritical President who continues to use God for his purposes… not asking God how he might do his will.

  • And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon…”

    Why is it that I sense a far stronger “Catholic” view of the essential need for man to actually have sorrow and “repentance” for sins, from this non-Catholic man, than I do from most of the modernists at the “Kasper show,” or for that matter, (in this “year of mercy”) from the Vatican?

  • Confess sins?
    Receive Mercy?

    How about that!

    Abe has it down pat.
    Go figure.

    Canon 915 is merciful.
    It reinforces the stance the Catholic Church has taken regarding abortion, and mercifully instructs as to the consequences instore for those who disobediently refuse the direction.

    Stop the sin of protecting abortion rights or do not present yourself for Holy Communion.
    Seek forgiveness, confess and receive Mercy!

  • How often does the Sunday Mass homily discuss sin? For more than 50 years, I dare say not much.

  • (I just noticed this gem.)
    “Jefferson Davis issued similar proclamations during the War. ”

    As this nation heads south for primaries and a leader which will determine our direction, the one remaining sin, according to our modern sophisticated liberalized nation, appears to be that Jefferson Davis’ people largely still believe in sin and the need to repent.

  • I’ve seen an uptick in various non-Catholics taking up Lent– as with when they take on other Catholic observations, they’re learning it from the ancient Jews.
    Kind of like explaining that of course we honor Mary, she’s Jesus’s mom, Lent can reach them by framing it as following in Christ’s steps, rather than “Oh, that CATHOLIC thing.”
    A rose by any other name does smell as sweet, but if you call it sinus destroying stinkbomb folks are unlikely to find out. 😀

  • Penguin Fan – I always wonder when I read comments like this. Our homily today was about sin, how each sinful act we commit is a decision we make to put ourselves above God. Awareness of sin isn’t the final goal, of course. Isaiah, Paul, and Peter were made aware of their unworthiness, but God moved them past that into a relationship with Him. Lent is a time for giving things up – not to some inanimate object, but to the God who is worthy of our adoration. We were urged to offer up this Lent for the people we have wronged, the people we have led into sin over our lives.

  • “….designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.”

    Yes we have a lot to be humiliated about especially for a number of Godless Supreme Court decisions made over the many years. The court has taken liberties with the law that were never intended by the founders. Let us, during this lent, set aside a day of prayer for the Supreme Court that a solution can be found to overturn their evil decisions.

Shelby Foote and His Short History

Thursday, January 14, AD 2016

The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth — not a different truth: the same truth — only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.

Shelby Foote

In 1954 Bennett Cerf, the President of Random House, decided that with the coming Civil War Centennial his company needed to publish a short history of the War, not longer than 200,000 words. Wanting the history to be entertaining he hit upon the idea of having Shelby Foote, author of a novel on the battle of Shiloh in 1952, undertake the task.  Foote, 37, accepted a $400.00 advance and assumed that he could pound out the history quickly and get back to writing fiction.  Nineteen years, and a million and half words later, Foote completed the final volume of his immortal three volume history of the War.

Foote wrote his books during the years of the fight over segregation in the South.  Although far from being a political liberal, in his bibliographical note to the second volume published in 1963 Foote made clear where he stood:  In a quite different sense , I am obligated also to the governors of my native state and the adjoining states of Arkansas and Alabama for helping to lessen my sectional bias by reproducing, in their actions during several of the years that went into the writing of this volume,  much that was least admirable in the postition my forebears occupied when they stood up to Lincoln. I suppose, or in any case hope, it is true that history never repeats itself, but I know from watching these three gentlemen that it can be terrifying in its approximations, even when the reproduction–deriving, as it does, its scale from the performers–is in miniature.

Foote in his 19 years of studying, thinking and writing about the Civil War, became convinced that it was impossible to understand America without understanding the Civil War:

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2 Responses to Shelby Foote and His Short History

  • If Ken Burns were to go through the raw footage of his The Civil War interviews and release direct to DVD The Shelby Foote Interviews or something of that nature, I’d be all over it.

  • I recall Burn’s interviews with Foote and two things really stuck in my mind: Foote’s characterization of Stonewall Jackson as a “psychopath” and his apt description of how the war changed us from “the United State are” to “the United States is”.
    I’ve read only the first volume of his magnus opus (just need the time for the other two), and found it interesting that the ‘Stonewall’ description may not have been intended as a compliment.

Glory Music

Saturday, January 9, AD 2016

We bide our chance,
Unhappy, and make terms with Fate
A little more to let us wait;
He leads for aye the advance,
Hope’s forlorn-hopes that plant the desperate good
For nobler Earths and days of manlier mood;

James Russell Lowell, Memoriae Positum

Selections from the score of the movie Glory (1989), the story of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first Union black regiments, up to their valiant assault on Fort Wagner in 1863.  A prime example of historical movies should be made, Glory performs the epic feat of bringing to life again the days of the Civil War when the fate of the nation was decided.

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Red Tape

Sunday, January 3, AD 2016

med_res

A good object lesson to those under the mistaken belief that government red tape was an invention of the last century.  Hamilton K. Redway was born in 1829 and died in 1888.  During the Civil War he served in the 24th New York Volunteers and as a Captain in the 1rst New York Veteran Cavalry.  After the war he served as a Second Lieutenant with the 1rst Colored Cavalry until April 15, 1866.  It is interesting that his widow was fighting with the Federal government over his pay during the Civil War with this claim not being settled until May 7, 1891, three decades after the start of the Civil War.  Wars come and go, but the red tape of governments is eternal.

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One Response to Red Tape

  • Here is a curious thing. Lawyers really do use red tape to tie up their papers (but green tape to sew deeds) However, it is always referred to as “pink tape,” a bit like “hunting pink.”

    Then again, we talk of “white grapes” not green ones and “white wine” rather than yellow, or “white people” for that matter.

    Just a whimsical thought.

Southern Soldier

Saturday, November 14, AD 2015

Something for the weekend.  A rousing rendition of Southern Soldier by the 2nd South Carolina String Band, a group dedicated to bringing to modern audiences Civil War music played on period instruments.  Southern Soldier was immensely popular among Confederate troops during the latter part of the War and was one of their favorite marching tunes.

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Little Giffen of Tennessee

Wednesday, November 11, AD 2015

torchhillhm

Out of the focal and foremost fire,
Out of the hospital walls as dire,
Smitten of grape-shot and grangrene,
(Eighteenth battle, and he sixteen!)
Spectre! Such as you seldom see,
Little Giffen, of Tennessee.

“Take him- and welcome!” the surgeons said;
“Little the doctor can help the dead!”
So we took him and brought him where
The balm was sweet in the summer air;
And we laid him down on a wholesome bed-
Utter Lazarus, heel to head!

And we watched the war with abated breath-
Skeleton boy against skeleton death.
Months of torture, how many such!
Weary weeks of the stick and crutch;
And still a glint of the steel-blue eye
Told of a spirit that wouldn’t die.

And didn’t. Nay, more! In death’s despite
The crippled skeleton learned to write.
“Dear Mother,” at first, of course; and then
“Dear Captain,” inquiring about the men.
Captain’s answer: “Of eighty-and-five,
Giffen and I are left alive.”

Word of gloom from the war, one day;
“Johnston pressed at the front, they say.”
Little Giffen was up and away;
A tear-his first-as he bade good-by,
Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye.
“I’ll write, if spared!” There was news of the fight;
But none of Giffen. He did not write.

I sometimes fancy that, were I king
Of the princely knights of the Golden Ring,
With the song of the minstrel in mine ear,
And the tender legend that trembles here,
I’d give the best on his bended knee,
The whitest soul of my chivalry,
For Little Giffen, of Tennessee.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Tecumseh Sherman

Friday, October 23, AD 2015

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I think we can whip them in Alabama and it may be Georgia, but the Devils seem to have a determination that cannot but be admired. No amount of poverty or adversity seems to shake their faith. Slaves gone, wealth & luxury gone, money worthless, starvation in view within a period of two or three years, are Causes enough to make the bravest tremble, yet I see no signs of let up. Some few deserters are plenty tired of war, but the masses determined to fight it out.

 

 

 

Sherman pays a tribute to the Confederates in a letter dated to his wife March 12, 1864

 

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7 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Tecumseh Sherman

  • Brave men served on both sides. Thank God, today we are blessed with such men and women in uniform.

  • What will happen today when liberal progressives start to use violence to force their homosexualism and gender equality policies down our throats? The blood bath of 1860 to 1865 wiill be mild in comparison.

  • Exactly when did Sherman say this? It must have been early in the war.
    His campaign thru Georgia and the Carolinas seems to have had the desired effect of breaking Southern morale, undermining confidence in the CSA gov’t and encouraging desertion.

  • It was on March 12, 1864. Southern morale did not start breaking until the winter of 64-65. Even then after the failure of the abortive peace conference most historians detect a resurgence in Confederate morale just before the end of the War. The Confederates fought on until almost every major city was occupied and all state capitals except Austin and Tallahassee. Theirs was truly a half past midnight resistance.

  • Regarding bravery, devotion to duty and full measure, The losses (37%) of the Light Brigade at Balaclava sink to insignificance when compared to 82% losses in the charge of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg (another comparison the First saved the line, the Light Brigade charge was a fiasco). The numbers of troops involved at Waterloo and Gettysburg were similar. However, the American losses were graver. The worst losses of a Prussian regiment in the Franco-Prussian War were 49%. In the Civil War, there were 64 Federal regiments and 53 Confederate regiments with casualties over 50% in single actions. There were 13 battles (not including Fort Donelson and Vicksburg) where one side or the other lost over 10,000. Among the greatest losses on both sides Gettysburg was the worst, then Spotsylvania – 36,800, then Wilderness 35,300, Chickamauga – 34,600, Chancellorsville – 30,000. Info source the Book: Campfires and Battlefields, A Pictorial Narrative of the Civil War by Rossiter Johnson, The Civil War Press, New York, 1967, Chapter entitled “The Measure of Valor.”
    .

    Thinking of names: “Tecumseh.” A close friend of Alexander Hamilton was a man named Hercules Mulligan. I could have named my sons: Hercules, Achilles, and Agamemnon, except these are not Christian names.
    .

  • “compared to 82% losses in the charge of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg”

    When they were ordered to charge they were on a rise and could see precisely the Confederate mass moving forward that they had to stop temporarily to buy time with their lives. Veteran soldiers, they knew what the cost to them would be. They did not hesitate. Incredibly the survivors of the regiment were involved in combat on the next day.

  • “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.” Chapter heading in Laurence Stallings’ book The Doughboys.

October 22, 1836: Sam Houston-First President of the Republic of Texas

Thursday, October 22, AD 2015

“Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming….Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet….You may after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence…but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction…they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South. “

Sam Houston, 1861

 

One hundred and seventy-nine years ago Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas.  This was only one of many roles Houston assumed during his tempestuous life: husband, father, soldier, lawyer,  Congressman from Tennessee, Governor of Tennessee, drunk, adopted Cherokee, Major General of the Texas Army, President of the Republic of Texas, Texas Representative, Senator from Texas, but perhaps his greatest role was at the end as Governor of Texas in 1859-1861.  As secession fever built in Texas at the end of 1860 he stumped the state vigorously, although he knew it was hopeless, arguing against secession which he viewed as an unmitigated disaster for Texas and the nation.

“To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country-the young men.”

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22 Responses to October 22, 1836: Sam Houston-First President of the Republic of Texas

  • Houston seems to be one of the few leaders on either side who foresaw what the true cost of the war would be. Some Southern leaders offered to wipe up all the blood resulting from secession with their handkerchief and even Lincoln initially only called up 75,000 militia for 90 days.
    I wonder how different things would be if leaders on both sides if they had been given a vision of the carnage to come?

  • Wasn’t one motive in setting up the Republic of Texas the extension of slavery? RE Lee I believe didn’t see the good of secession either. Kindly enlighten this ignorant Garden State Yankee.

  • Lee indeed, like most Virginians, did not support secession over the election of Lincoln and the threat it posed to slavery.

    Only after Lincoln called upon states to contribute troops to an invasion of the south did Virginia secede.

    Houston was prescient, of course… but no great movement comes without cost; recall that the sober thinking about the war for Independence from Britain was rightly thought to be a disastrous undertaking given the vast resources and military superiority of the Brits. And yet we fought.

    So with the South, and the issue was a close one for several years. For the Confederacy, the cost for their freedom in the “second war for independence” was worth the cost. That they did not succeed is not a valid argument against their endeavor.

  • “Houston seems to be one of the few leaders on either side who foresaw what the true cost of the war would be.”

    Both Lincoln and Davis swiftly saw how long and bloody the War was going to be. Lincoln initially called only for 75,000 volunteers because the chaotic systems that prevailed North and South at the beginning of the War had a great deal of difficulty feeding and equipping new troops.

  • Tom wrote:
    “For the Confederacy, the cost for their freedom in the “second war for independence” was worth the cost.”

    Freedom to do what?

  • Freedom to order their states (i.e., their societies) on whatever basis they chose, something they perceived, rightly, that the North was increasingly hostile to. The freedom to be left alone, which was becoming increasingly difficult, and with accession of the radical Republicans, promised to become even more difficult.

    Whose business is it, anyway, what object their freedom had? There’s no authority in the constitution for the federal government or any gathering of states to obstruct the activities of a sister state unless it directly conflicts with an express provision of the constitution.

  • Much like now, if several states could gather a moral majority against abortion or homosexual marriage, it would not give them any right to interfere with those evil practices in states that adopt them.

  • Tom wrote-
    “Freedom to order their states (i.e., their societies) on whatever basis they chose, something they perceived, rightly, that the North was increasingly hostile to. The freedom to be left alone”
    Freedom of whom to do these things? Mississippi (my home state) and South Carolina had majority black populations. So certainly not for black people to “order their states on whatever basis they chose” or black people’s “freedom to be left alone”.
    I believe in and have defended federalism, “states rights properly understood” as a bulwark against unbridled centralized authority, seen today in the government in Washington D.C. dictating to the states against the will of a majority of their people. I think the biggest blow against real states rights was not the confederacy’s loss of the Civil War, but the 17th amendment.
    Why do states exist as political entities, other than to ensure the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of it’s people? And what if a state says to (some or even a majority of) it’s people “you are a lesser form of humanity, so the greater form of humanity in our society can abrogate your rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” ?
    Perhaps I misunderstand you Tom, but you seem be saying: “The Confederate states existed for the white people who could vote, and I’m alright with that.”

  • Blacks could not vote in the North, either. Even during Reconstruction, many Northerners and Republicans resisted the black franchise and political equality. We don’t hear about all the civil disabilities against blacks in the North because slavery in the South was relatively worse than what blacks faced in the North.

    And yet, states’ rights are still a bedrock principle. Again, whatever one thinks of the morality of slavery, it’s irrelevant to the question of the right of a state to order its own affairs without interference from other states, group of states, or the federal government.

    You won’t get me to say that slavery is OK, it’s not, but just because I don’t agree with a practice does not mean that I think any means can be taken to eradicate it.

    In the universal practice among all the states of the day, freedom to direct a states’ activities necessarily referred to those admitted to civic life. By the way, it was not only blacks who were excluded from civil life, many poor whites were also.

    Bottom line: moral outrage cannot be allowed to trump the constitution, as Lincoln and the radical Republicans did in ostensibly making slavery the casus belli in 1862. Lincoln himself knew at the beginning of the war that extirpation of slavery was not a legitimate constitutional aim of the war, which he initially claimed was all about maintaining the “Union.”

  • Technically, Houston was the first popularly-elected president of Texas. The first man to serve as President of Texas was David Burnet, elected to the position on March 22, 1836 by the delegates to the Convention of 1836 in Washington-on-the-Brazos. Burnet’s service, and those of the Cabinet elected with him, were always intended to be interim appointments until such time as popular elections could be organized, which was done in October of that year and resulted in the election of Houston as president.

  • “David Burnet”

    Houston called Burnet a hog thief. I do not know if the allegation was literally true.

  • “Blacks could not vote in the North, either.”

    Untrue. Blacks did have the franchise in some states including New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire prior to the Civil War.

  • Tom wrote-
    “Blacks could not vote in the North, either. Even during Reconstruction, many Northerners and Republicans resisted the black franchise and political equality. We don’t hear about all the civil disabilities against blacks in the North because slavery in the South was relatively worse than what blacks faced in the North.”
    Actually free blacks could vote after the Revolution in Mass., New Hampshire, NY, and Pennsylvania. and had been able to vote at other times in other states. Justice McLean called out Chief Justice Taney for ignoring this fact in the Dred Scott decision. Historically, its true that blacks weren’t fully able to exercise their inalienable rights or enjoy full political equality in the north before the civil war. But being free of having one’s children sold away from their mother and father, being able to legally remove oneself from intolerable and abusive conditions, not being treated as little more than a beast of burden, and eating the bread you earn without leave of anyone is NOT just “relatively” better and failure to see that indicates, at the very least, a lack of empathy.
    Tom wrote
    “And yet, states’ rights are still a bedrock principle.”
    No Tom, individual liberty under law is the bedrock principle. The Declaration is our “why” the Constitution is our “how”. Our Declaration recognizes (and only recognizes–not gives) the God-given rights “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”. The constitution begins with “We the People”, not “We the States”. The ends are securing the “inalienable rights” and the “blessings of liberty”. Governments of any sort exist to secure these ends. Can you really believe states rights, as practiced by the confederate states were NOT destructive of those ends?!
    Tom wrote
    “whatever one thinks of the morality of slavery, it’s irrelevant to the question of the right of a state to order its own affairs without interference from other states, group of states, or the federal government.”
    What about the inalienable rights of blacks to “order their own affairs”? I think, with Jefferson, that any government, to the extent it is complicit in abrogating the rights of it’s citizens (and blacks were born in the south and fought in it’s wars against the British and Indians, so yes they were citizens even if the white politicians who ran the south didn’t recognize that fact) makes itself illegitimate. So blacks had the legitimate natural right to rebel, more of a right to rebel than the white confederates. And so if the northern states assisted them in this rebellion, even if they didn’t call it that at first or even realize it, they were right to help their black neighbors, which IS a bedrock principle of Christianity. They DID better than they KNEW!
    Tom wrote-
    ” just because I don’t agree with a practice does not mean that I think any means can be taken to eradicate it.”
    What means do you think would have been the rights ones to eradicate slavery? What if slave owners had resisted those means? Our Revolution in the late 1700s was justified by the facts that the British governments, by jailing colonial citizens without trial, disregarding efforts of local governments arbitrarily, quartering soldiers in citizens homes, etc was reducing British colonial citizens to little more than slavery.

  • The Declaration is not law, the Constitution is. Much mischief has been done appealing to the Declaration instead of sticking to the Constitution.

    As I stated, I will not accept the invitation to defend slavery, but note that blacks suffered in the North as well. As a constitutional practice, like it or not, no state, states, or the federal government had any authority to interfere with the right of a state to permit slavery.

    As for the alternative to bloody civil war which killed well over 600,000 men and altered forever the original system of federalism as envisioned by the Founding Fathers? Well, the tide of history and economic necessity would eventually have made slavery cost prohibitive, and compensated gradual emancipation worked elsewhere in the world. And while standing corrected on black suffrage in some parts of the North, I would point out that this process was gradual, not done overnight or by means of violence. And it bears repeating that the vast majority of Southerners, including the soldiers who fought for their independence, had nothing to do with slavery, which was an institution mostly reserved to an aristocratic elite.

    I don’t know– how do we end abortion or homosexual marriage, the former of which has done more damage to more lives than slavery ever did? That some moral evils are or appear to be intractable does not justify throwing away constitutional government or initiating bloody civil war. I wouldn’t do it to eradicate abortion, and Lincoln was wrong to do it to eradicate slavery. Of course, the dirty little not-so-secret is that Lincoln didn’t give a damn about eradicating slavery when he launched the war, he simply seized on the issue to shore up shaky Northern support for the war and as a virtue-signal to England to keep them out of the war.

  • If the South had seceded to defend porn or some obscenity *other* than slavery, I wonder if Christian neo-confederate apologists would spill the same amount of ink in her defense?

  • Well, Dale, I’ve already said that if we could wage a civil war to rid ourselves of abortion, I would not do it if it meant violating the constitution. It’s cute how for neo-Unionists any discussion of secession and the constitution quickly devolves to “but slavery!”

    In other words, your insinuation that “neo-confederates” support slavery is, like the neologism “neo-confederate,” a cheap ad hominem.

  • “Whose business is it, anyway, what object their freedom had?”

    So, if you lived in one, you’d defend the right of your State to secede to protect modern peculiar institutions like porn, abortion or birth control mandates?

  • Tom wrote:
    “The Declaration is not law, the Constitution is. Much mischief has been done appealing to the Declaration instead of sticking to the Constitution”
    The United States Code Annotated includes the Declaration of Independence under the heading ‘The Organic Laws of the United States of America’ along with the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance. Enabling acts frequently require states to adhere to the principles of the Declaration. It is true that southern political philosophers such as Calhoun and Alexander Stephens had little use for the Declaration, and frequently attacked the principle contained in it, because they did not agree with it’s statements on human equality.
    Tom wrote:
    “no state, states, or the federal government had any authority to interfere with the right of a state to permit slavery.”
    The Northwest Ordinance set the precedence by forbidding slavery in the Northwest Territory.
    Tom wrote:
    “As for the alternative to bloody civil war which killed well over 600,000 men and altered forever the original system of federalism as envisioned by the Founding Fathers?”
    We can agree to disagree about whether the civil war altered the system of federalism. I don’t believe it did, other than to definitively determine that state do not have the right to leave the union other than by the same way they entered the union, by majority vote of congress.
    Tom wrote:
    ” the tide of history and economic necessity would eventually have made slavery cost prohibitive, and compensated gradual emancipation worked elsewhere in the world.”
    Slavery was different in the south. Slave owners were beginning to make money from nascent industrializtion. Fully 1/2 of Tradegar Iron Works 900 man workforce was leased slaves. And Lincoln tried to institute conpensated emancipation in Delaware and EVERY slaveholder rejected it.
    Tom wrote:
    ” the vast majority of Southerners, including the soldiers who fought for their independence, had nothing to do with slavery, which was an institution mostly reserved to an aristocratic elite.”
    Recent studies show that while young confederate soldiers may not have owned any slaves themselves, they were from families who did. Adding those who owned slaves directly with those whose lived with their slaveowning families before becoming soldiers, and the percentage rises to 36%.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/08/small-truth-papering-over-a-big-lie/61136/
    Tom wrote:
    “That some moral evils are or appear to be intractable does not justify throwing away constitutional government or initiating bloody civil war. I wouldn’t do it to eradicate abortion, and Lincoln was wrong to do it to eradicate slavery.”
    Thought experiment- In 2018, President Cruz appoints and a republican senate approves two conservative supreme court justices replacing Breyer and Ginsburg, and they reverse Roe V. Wade. California secedes from the union, and orders the U.S. government to vacate Vandenburg AFB and San Deigo Naval Base or they will be fired on by the Ca National Guard. Do you believe the U.S. military is wrong to defend the bases?
    Tom wrote:
    ” dirty little not-so-secret is that Lincoln didn’t give a damn about eradicating slavery when he launched the war”
    I think slavery is wrong, morally, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, “Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio” (September 17, 1859), p. 440.
    Those don’t sound like the words of a man who “doesn’t give a damn”. And Lincoln didn’t launch the war. The confederates, led by PGT Beauregard, fired on Fort Sumter first.

  • I think, with Jefferson, that any government, to the extent it is complicit in abrogating the rights of it’s citizens (and blacks were born in the south and fought in it’s wars against the British and Indians, so yes they were citizens even if the white politicians who ran the south didn’t recognize that fact) makes itself illegitimate.

    I agree. And any state (or federation of states) that permits abortion is likewise illegitimate. Which goes to show that the current crop of Americans simply don’t have the cajones to do what their civil war era (technically, a war of secession, which is slightly different) counterparts did – fight against something they allegedly believe is an abomination.

  • Well c matt, I believe in the rule of law, whether I agree with what’s being enacted or not. And under Jefferson’s rule as interpreted by you, all the Northern states should have faced rebellion as well, since all had to some degree or other, denied black civil rights. Alexis de Tocqueville described the situation of free blacks:

    In almost all the states where slavery has been abolished, voting rights have been granted to the Negro, but, if he comes forward to vote, he risks his life. He is able to complain of oppression but he will find only whites among the judges. Although the law makes him eligible for jury service, prejudice wards him off from applying. His son is excluded from the school where the sons of Europeans come to be educated. At the theatre, any amount of gold could not buy him the right to take his seat beside his former master; in hospitals, he lies apart. The black is allowed to pray to the same God as the whites but not at the same altars. He has his own priests and churches. Heaven’s gates are not blocked against him. However, inequality hardly stops at the threshold of the next world. When the Negro passes on, his bones are cast aside and the differences in social conditions are found even in the leveling of death. Thus, the Negro is free but is able to share neither the rights, pleasures, work, pains, nor even the grave with the man to whom he has been declared equal…

    And what of the Indians, utterly oppressed by the federal government? Point being, there is plenty of oppression to go around, not all of it in the South, simplistic portrayals notwithstanding.

    And if California wanted to secede as suggested by BPS, I’d say “great, and take Washington state and probably Oregon with you if you don’t mind!”

    All the moralism about slavery and the status of blacks does not in the slightest alter the constitutional reality that the Southern states had the right to secede to protect their interests, however they themselves saw them, and as I said, even LIncoln (who did indeed personally disapprove of slavery) knew that he had no authority to use force to abolish slavery, and only went to war to vindicate his view that the Union must maintained even if a bunch of states wanted nothing to do with it.

  • “does not in the slightest alter the constitutional reality that the Southern states had the right to secede to protect their interests,”

    They had no such right since the right to secession was not granted by the Constitution and they had no pre-existing right to secede from the Union. As the Father of the Constitution, James Madison noted at length late in his life:

    TO N. P. TRIST. … MAD. MSS.

    Montpellier, Decr 23, 1832.

    Dr. Sir I have received yours of the 19th, inclosing some of the South Carolina papers. There are in one of them some interesting views of the doctrine of secession; one that had occurred to me, and which for the first time I have seen in print; namely that if one State can at will withdraw from the others, the others can at will withdraw from her, and turn her, nolentem, volentem, out of the union. Until of late, there is not a State that would have abhorred such a doctrine more than South Carolina, or more dreaded an application of it to herself. The same may be said of the doctrine of nullification, which she now preaches as the only faith by which the Union can be saved.

    I partake of the wonder that the men you name should view secession in the light mentioned. The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater fight to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it. And certainly there is nothing in the Virginia resolutions of –98, adverse to this principle, which is that of common sense and common justice. The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a single party, with the parties to the Constitutional compact of the United States. The latter having made the compact may do what they will with it. The former as one only of the parties, owes fidelity to it, till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created. In the Virginia Resolutions and Report the plural number, States, is in every instance used where reference is made to the authority which presided over the Government. As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I may say as I do with a distinct recollection, that the distinction was intentional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning employed on the occasion. The Kentucky resolutions being less guarded have been more easily perverted. The pretext for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is the word respective, prefixed to the “rights” &c to be secured within the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense, than that all having the same rights &c, should unite in contending for the security of them to each.

    It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, vol. 2,1 with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.

    I know nothing of what is passing at Richmond, more than what is seen in the newspapers. You were right in your foresight of the effect of the passages in the late Proclamation. They have proved a leaven for much fermentation there, and created an alarm against the danger of consolidation, balancing that of disunion. I wish with you the Legislature may not seriously injure itself by assuming the high character of mediator. They will certainly do so if they forget that their real influence will be in the inverse ratio of a boastful interposition of it.

    If you can fix, and will name the day of your arrival at Orange Court House, we will have a horse there for you; and if you have more baggage than can be otherwise brought than on wheels, we will send such a vehicle for it. Such is the state of the roads produced by the wagons hurrying flour to market, that it may be impossible to send our carriage which would answer both purposes.

  • cmatt wrote:
    “any state (or federation of states) that permits abortion is likewise illegitimate.”
    I agree!
    cmatt wrote:
    “the current crop of Americans simply don’t have the cajones to do what their civil war era (technically, a war of secession, which is slightly different) counterparts did – fight against something they allegedly believe is an abomination.”
    But I disagree with that in the current situation, because you don’t “resort to bullets when you have the resort of the ballot.” Unless we are fired upon like the British did their colonial citizens or the confederates on their fellow citizens at Ft. Sumter, and as long as we have the right to try and convince our fellow citizens by persuasion and argument to change this illegitimate government to a legitimate one, we must not resort to war.