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.
    Fascinating stuff on Vallandigham too, Mr. Mac.

March 11, 1861: Confederate Constitution Adopted

Friday, March 11, AD 2016


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:

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.

    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


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


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


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%.
    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.

Star Trek and the Civil War

Sunday, October 18, AD 2015

Time to brighten my chief geek of the blog credentials.  Long time readers of this blog know that I am a fan of Star Trek and that I have a passionate interest in the Civil War.  Imagine my joy when the fifth episode of Star Trek Continues, fan movies producing new episodes of the original Trek, is set at the battle of Antietam, at least what Kirk and McCoy think is the battle of Antietam.  Enjoy!

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Lost For Over a Century

Friday, September 4, AD 2015

I once sent the government a check for some $35,000.00 to pay estate tax on behalf of a client.  The check was lost for several months by the Feds.  At the time I recalled this historical event:

Robert E. Lee was an advocate of reconciliation after the Civil War.  This was demonstrated by his application for a Presidential Pardon on June 13, 1865, high confederate officers having been excluded from President Johnson’s general pardon and amnesty of May 29, 1865 and being required to appeal directly to the President.  Lee wrote:

Being excluded from the provisions of amnesty & pardon contained in the proclamation of the 29th Ulto; I hereby apply for the benefits, & full restoration of all rights & privileges extended to those included in its terms. I graduated at the Mil. Academy at West Point in June 1829. Resigned from the U.S. Army April ’61. Was a General in the Confederate Army, & included in the surrender of the Army of N. Va. 9 April ’65.

Lee was not aware that an oath of loyalty was required and he took such an oath on October 2, 1865:

“I, Robert E. Lee, of Lexington, Virginia, do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves, so help me God.”

The oath went to Secretary of State Seward, and then it vanished from history for over a century until it was found by Elmer O. Parker, an archivist at the National Archives, in 1970 among State Department papers in a cardboard box  clearly indexed V for Virginia and L for Lee.  Lee had inquired frequently about his application over the five years he had to live from 1865-1870.  Whether his application was lost deliberately or lost through ineptitude is unclear.

On August 5, 1975 President Ford restored the citizenship rights of Lee, making these remarks:

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14 Responses to Lost For Over a Century

  • Interesting story about Lee’s petition, I’d not heard that.

    Lee was cut from the same cloth as Washington, and had the Confederacy prevailed, would no doubt be considered the Washington of that nation.

    Sadly, our modern day iconoclasts are diligently working to efface any memory of Lee from the many prominent public places in which he’s remembered here in Virginia.

  • Wish I could say I was surprised by a govt bureaucracy losing something that long!

  • Judging by recent petitions to remove Gen Lee’s name from schools and public buildings and his statues from public property in 2015, I’d guess that it was a punitive move by some beauracrat in 1865 when though vanquished by the North feelings against the South were still raw. Very sad that a man who contributed so much to the United States of America before and after the War Between the States would be still vilified by the politically correct know nothings. (That’s know nothings with lower case.) What must the old man have thought those last years of his life when there was no answer to his request?

  • “In 1865, Robert E. Lee wrote to a former Confederate soldier concerning his signing the Oath of Allegiance, and I quote: “This war, being at an end, the Southern States having laid down their arms, and the questions at issue between them and the Northern States having been decided, I believe it to be the duty of everyone to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony….”
    If only Lee had done this before the Civil War. Lee was fighting a war to establish slavery. History finds Lee wanting.

  • CAM: ” Very sad that a man who contributed so much to the United States of America before and after the War …” How about during the war?

  • Mary de Voe,
    During the war Lee’s service to the Confederacy did contribute in a way to the United States. His generalship on the field of battle was such that his tactics are still taught at his alma mater, the United States Military Academy. Lee Barracks was built in 1962 and named after him.

    Lee did not fight the war to establish slavery. It was already a fixture of Virginia plantations by 1640. (The first African-Americans, so called because they were from the Caribbean, had arrived in Jamestown as indentured servants in 1619.) In a letter to his wife Lee wrote that slavery was a moral and political evil and an evil to the white man as well.
    In 1857 the father of Lee’s wife, Mary Anna Custis Lee, died. She was the only child of George Washington Parke Custis, grand stepson and adopted son of George Washington. Lee was named Custis’ executor. The will stipulated that his slaves were to be freed within 5 years after all debts and expenses of his estate were settled. Because the estate was in disarray, Lee had to take a 2 year leave of absence from the army. He freed the slaves in 1862 as directed.

    Before the Civil War most U S citizens self identified according to their state. Despite being against secession, as a Virginian he reluctantly resigned his commission in the U.S. Army after a 32 year career.
    Realizing that the South needed more men under arms, General Lee urged the Confederate Congress to allow slaves to serve in the Confederate army with the proviso that they would receive the same training, pay and treatment as the white soldiers and additionally that they and their families would be manumitted. Under pressure from the agro-industrial complex Congress ultimately refused.

  • CAM: Lee’s strategies may have been wonderful but they were enacted and good men died.

  • Lee’s stated purpose for fighting with the Confederates was to defend Virginia.

  • “Lee’s stated purpose for fighting with the Confederates was to defend Virginia.”

    Was Virginia a slave state?

  • Wikipedia shows that Virginia was a slave state. It would not be incorrect for me then, to believe that Gen. Lee was fighting to defend slavery.
    Gen Lee was fighting to defend the state of Virginia for what and from what?

  • “Gen. Lee was fighting to defend the state of Virginia for what and from what?”

    The horrors of being over run & conquered in a war, my dear. Remember, both sides thought at the beginning that the war would not last very long.

    How does one not fight to defend your neighbors, family, extended kin, property, and friends from being over run, killed, and lost? I would fight to defend my friends, family, community, & property.

    There are plenty of first hand accounts re: what happened to private citizens and their property through the actions of the Yankee soldiers over running their communities. My widowed great grandmother’s thousand acre farm was stripped of everything of value–even the doors to her house for use to carry the wounded. The Union Army left her with 10 children to feed on a stripped farm in the middle of a civil war.

  • Barbara Gordon, from the links you cited: Until the day after Ft Sumter was fired upon, all cadets entering USMA swore an allegiance to their home state. On the day after the entire corps of cadets were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves in the country; the border states were exempted (for obvious reasons). President Lincoln referred to secession as the cause for the war between the states. He could not tolerate the “rebellion”.
    Not being a native Virginian I did not know that Virginia seceeded later than the lower South. Today the South still seems mindful of states’ rights as regards the continued over reach of the federal government.

  • The article is nonsense. Edwin Stanton did not become Secretary of War until 1862. Cadets at West Point never took an oath of allegiance to their home states. Here is the 1857 oath of allegiance at West Point:

    I, ______ of the State of _______ aged _____ years, ______ months, having been selected for an appointment as Cadet in the Military Academy of the United States, do hereby engage with the consent of my (Parent or Guardian) in the event of my receiving such appointment, that I will serve in the army of the United States for eight years, unless sooner discharged by competent authority. And I ____________ DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR [emphasis original], that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them HONESTLY and FAITHFULLY [emphasis original], against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever; and that I will observe and obey the orders of the President of the United
    States, and the orders of the Officers appointed over me, according to the Rules and Articles of War.”

    In August 1861 Bowman, the Superintendent of West Point, had all the Cadets who remained at West Point sign an oath of allegiance to which these words were appended:

    ‘I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any State, county, or country whatsoever.’

The Civil War and Slavery

Wednesday, August 19, AD 2015

We’re not fighting for slaves.

Most of us never owned slaves and never expect to,

It takes money to buy a slave and we’re most of us poor,

But we won’t lie down and let the North walk over us

About slaves or anything else.

                              We don’t know how it started

But they’ve invaded us now and we’re bound to fight

Till every last damn Yankee goes home and quits.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body


I certainly agree with video above from Prager University that the Civil War was started over slavery.  As Jefferson Davis stated in his initial address to the Confederate Congress:


In the meantime, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the wellbeing and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slaveholding States had augmented from about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view the legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history. Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party almost uninterruptedly in the majority based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that under the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would “faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed.” The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already adverted – the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people of all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and Independent States and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.

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39 Responses to The Civil War and Slavery

  • Here is how I responded to this last week on Facebook:
    “Note to historians:

    “Dualistic interpretations and explanations that are utterly lacking in nuance; engaging in demonization; arrogant displays of cultural and/or regional superiority; inattention to (or completely glossing over) those details that detract from the particular “narrative” you seek to create; and, in general, triumphalist, oversimplified, chest-thumping bravado, constitute utter rubbish as history.
    “And I don’t care what your credentials are, what rank you hold, how proud you are of the uniform you wear, or which institution of higher learning you work for. If you do the above, you’re crap as a historian.”

  • I followed up with this:
    “I hope that I’m an honest enough student of history that I can acknowledge the fact that differences over slavery and over the South’s economic reliance thereon and Northern reactions thereto were at the root cause of the division between North and South. With that in mind, I utterly reject neo-Confederate interpretations that seek to diminish the primary role slavery played in leading up to the War.
    “But I also utterly reject the sort of “Nyah, nyah, you suck!” chest-thumping jingoism that seeks to downplay all other considerations that went into the decisions of 11 states to secede. Did Virginia secede over slavery, after having initially voted down secession in convention? Or did Virginia secede over Lincoln’s decision to call up troops from Virginia to invade their fellow Southern states? Did Robert E. Lee resign his commission in the U.S. Army — a decision over which he seems to have agonized — over slavery?
    “Any “historian” who glosses over the differences between why, for example, South Carolina seceded a mere 4 months after Lincoln’s election and why Virginia ultimately voted to secede, and goes straight for “ALL Southerners who supported secession and/or who fought for the South did so with the sole intention to keep black people in bondage” is not being an honest broker. Col. Ty Seidule is NOT an honest broker. He is a political HACK.
    “My objection to Col. Seidule is primarily to the tone of his presentation, to what he has left unsaid, and to his appearance of having a simplistic, dualistic ulterior agenda beyond presenting historical facts.
    “As noted above, I don’t seek to downplay our Nation’s sordid history regarding chattel slavery. I hope that this comes through in many of my posts about the American Revolution — I’ve noted on at least two occasions the irony of American patriots producing prose about freedom from bondage and all men being created equal, yet punting on the issue of slavery for future generations to have to deal with, all the while their supposed British oppressors were actually proclaiming freedom for slaves. I’ve said many times before: history is rarely as cut-and-dried as some try to make it. You will very rarely find simplistic answers to the questions history presents to us.”

  • Amen, Jay. While slavery was in some sense the proximate cause of the War of Northern Aggression, there are important facts that do not neatly line up with the current anti-Confederate hysteria.

    Virginia’s secession is exhibit #1. My state did not want to secede and, as the first among the southern states, had voted against secession… until Lincoln insisted on forcing states to raise armies and traverse states in order to invade South Carolina and other seceding states. It was then, and only then, that Virginia took the principled position that the Federal government has no constitutional authority to send armies into peaceful states, such as Virginia, and make those states party to an invasion of a sister state.

    As usual, history is more nuanced than the narrative of the victors. Certainly there were firebrands who wanted to secede over the issue of slavery. But there were Northern firebrands also, like John Brown, who hoped to provoke a war to end slavery, which would be an entirely lawless unconstitutional war, since like it or not, slavery was a practice guaranteed protection under the Constitution. And, contrary to Lincoln’s change of heart on the issue, no state, combination of states, or the Federal government, had (or have) a right to invade a state simply because they disapprove of a lawful practice of that state.

    But if the claim is “the Civil War was caused by slavery” I deny it as an incomplete statement: Virginia’s secession alone proves that for at least for Virginia, the direct “but for” cause of the war was Lincoln’s demand that a peaceful state provide troops for an invasion of a sister state, and allow that invasion force to traverse the sovereign territory of the state.

  • An excellent summation of how Virginia tried to avoid the extremes of Lincoln and the deep south states:

  • I wish I could have said that, Jay Anderson.

  • As a Southerner, I have friends who are descendants of slaves, and friends who are descendants of slaveowners. Is it prudent to uproot an entire society from top to bottom, in order to correct a grave injustice? I know that my friends have differing opinions on that question. Sometimes, it works, e.g. Germany and Japan post-World War II. Sometimes, it does not work, e.g. Iraq.

    I do not rejoice over the sufferings of others. Making an extrapolation from Southern history, it seems that Iraq may face 100 years of violence before she ever finds peace again.

  • “We’re not fighting for slaves.
    Most of us never owned slaves and never expect to,”
    The example of the British West Indies showed that slavery was of dubious economic value to the slave owner. The cost of sugar production showed a small but significant fall after abolition. Free labour could be hired when needed, paid piece-rate and laid off when not required and capital was not tied up in a wasting asset. A very significant part of the compensation was paid to bankers and others with interests in security in slaves.
    Walter Bagehot, usually a shrewd observer, believed that many in the South saw slavery as an essential police measure for the control of the black population, not primarily as an economic issue at all.

  • The whole “northern aggression” argument is, to put it mildly, bunk.
    Virginia’s argument and its modern-day advocates is basically that a government may not respond to a coup d’etat by sending in loyal troops.

    As for why so many non slaveholders fought for the south, they were tied to the slave economy just as much as slaveholders. Plantation owners ginned and marketed cotton for local farmers. Thousands of jobs depended on moving and housing slaves who were transported from one market to another. For a modern parallel just picture just image all the jobs that depend on long-haul truckers (motels, restaurants, services stations).

    The war was caused by the South’s Satanic pride — oops! I mean “honor”.
    Like today’s pro-choice and gay-marriage advocates they would not be satisfied until everyone admitted was slavery was a positive good and legal everywhere.

  • Victor Davis Hanson has documented how many Union soldiers who began Sherman’s march through Georgia with indifference to slavery were actively anti-slavery by the time they reached Savannah. They saw the reality of slavery in a way that no museum could recreate today and still expect their patrons to keep their meals. As Don McClarey has alluded, It is really hard to advocate for slavery’s place as a casus (and continuous) belle without facing the fact that people’s perceptions and motives changed during the course of the war, and not only for tactical political reasons.

  • No one here has taken issue (at least I haven’t) with the FACT that slavery was the cause of the war. I have taken issue with Col. Seidule’s slanted presentation of the facts (not to mention his glossing over and completely ignoring those facts that detract from narrative).
    But not to worry. The view of the “Satanic South” has apparently prevailed in our culture so that monuments of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson will be removed wherever they are located, and those once-honored men and the men who fought for them will no doubt be seen by posterity as little more than the American version of Nazis. And not even historical reenactments of battles will be safe from the ban hammer of the zeitgeist:
    Rather than comparing the “Satanic South” to “today’s pro-choice and gay-marriage advocates” that will “not be satisfied until everyone” conforms to the “correct” view of things, you might want to look at those forces for “progress” for whom victory was not enough — those who seek to wipe out all historical vestiges that don’t conform to “the right side” of history.

  • I think the formal/material distinction works for the motivations of the participants in the Civil War.

    For some, slavery was the formal cause from the beginning–what they were expressly fighting against or for–Jeff Davis, radical Republicans.

    For many Unionists, it became their formal cause after the Emancipation Proclamation, though many Unionists would disavow that long after it was issued (e.g., George McClellan).

    For your average Johnny Reb who didn’t own slaves, I think he could quite credibly deny that he was deliberately fighting *for* slavery right to the very end. That wasn’t the formal reason he took up arms, and he was being honest about that.

    But for everyone, the war was materially about slavery, and what drove the conflict.

  • Dred Scott died in 1858, denied citizenship, sovereign personhood, and freedom. Using the Fifth Amendment, Scott became eminent domain, property of his owner, not to be taken away from his owner. Maybe the Civil War was not about slavery but about, defining the human being as a person, a battle still being waged in Roe v. Wade.

  • “All historical eras are equally near to God.” –Leopold von Ranke

  • “The war was caused by the South’s Satanic pride — oops! I mean “honor”.
    Like today’s pro-choice and gay-marriage advocates they would not be satisfied until everyone admitted was slavery was a positive good and legal everywhere.”

    OK, let’s not overstate the case. The *logic* of the slaveholder argument (and of the Dred Scott decision) led to a claim that slavery should be universal. Lincoln certainly argued that during and after the debates with Douglas. And, indeed, at least one popular pro-slavery extremist (George Fitzhugh) argued that all free laborers should be enslaved, regardless of color. That said, I don’t think most southerners, even the “fire eaters” ever argued that it should be universal across all states. Their essential argument was that it should be preserved where it was and that they be allowed to take slaves into certain of the territories. And that seemed to be the national consensus with the passage of the Compromise of 1850. Then Stephen A. Douglas and Roger Taney blew that consensus to bits with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Dred Scott, respectively.

  • and Johnathan Swift argued that Irish babies (of which some people claimed that there were too many) must be eaten before two years old as after two years old the babies got tough.
    That all men are slaves for having to work for their bread by the sweat of their brow is true. That one person can own another person to deny them their freedom and sovereignty, or cannibalize them or buy and sell them as property. It is a miscarriage of Justice to define the human person as property…as all men are created equal…as “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Did Taney read our founding principles?

  • Yes he did, and like Napoleon, the pig of Orwell’s fable, he thought some were more equal than others.

  • Last time I checked, Roger Taney was not a Confederate. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri were slave states, but they stayed in the Union. So please stop painting the South with a broad brush.

  • I do not know Taney’s state of residence . I do know Taney’s state of mind. Taney was politically correct… but he still had not read…that “all men are created equal and that “We, the people hold these truths to be self-evident truths. But not Taney. Did Taney not consider himself one of the people? Then Taney impeached himself…and everyone who held that the Negro, Dred Scott, was not a sovereign person also impeached themselves. North or South, anyone who did not hold these self-evident truths, that all men are created equal, were responsible for the Civil War. The Confederate states rejected The Declaration of Independence when it came to self-evident truths, and then used The Declaration of Independence to declare their independence. Wouldn’t you say?

  • Funny me, I actually believe in the rule of law and the vitality of the Constitution. That document grants express powers to the federal government. Nowhere in those express powers do I find that the federal government has the right to demand that states provide troops. Nowhere do I find the right for the federal government to send armies through a state, such as Virginia, without its consent, for whatever reason.

    And nowhere do I find the authority for the federal government to abolish by force of arms a practice entirely within the power of individual states.

    Sorry, but Virginia was perfectly within her rights to resist Lincoln’s unconstitutional attempt to compel her to provide troops and a venue by which the federal government would attack a sister state.

    Slavery was a moral evil, but was permitted under the constitution. Was abolishing it worth the discarding of the constitution and the establishment of a centralized federal government that would never again respect constitutional restraints and its limited role under the system of federalism devised by the founders? Perhaps the person who equated the south with pro-choice and gay marriage advocates could tell us, since those two evils have become federalized as a direct result of the passage of the 14th Amendment, a Reconstruction amendment forced on the country by the triumphant radical Republicans.

  • Lincoln had declared martial law under the Constitution, suspended habeas corpus and the press from denigrating him as president with martial law power. This is a good subject to familiarize oneself for when Obama declares martial law under constitutional powers, but not to save the Union but to impose one world government under the godless world bank.

  • Slavery was never permitted under the Constitution. The South had laws to execute any person who would teach a Negro how to read and write. The South denied the Negro the acknowledgement of personhood and citizenship. The Negro had no rights without personhood. See Frederick Douglass See Fort Sumpter. Once the southern states had joined the Union it was not their right to secede.

  • “Nowhere in those express powers do I find that the federal government has the right to demand that states provide troops. Nowhere do I find the right for the federal government to send armies through a state, such as Virginia, without its consent, for whatever reason.”

    Constitution: Article One, Section Eight:
    “Clause 15:

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    Clause 16:

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”

    Militia Act of 1807:

    Ҥ 332. Use of militia and armed forces to enforce Federal authority

    Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State or Territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”

  • “Was abolishing it worth the discarding of the constitution and the establishment of a centralized federal government that would never again respect constitutional restraints and its limited role under the system of federalism devised by the founders?”
    Ben Franklin commented on the ratification of the Constitution, “You have a republic, if you can keep it.” The CW and the stuff committed likely were the beginning of the end of the republic. Today, we operate under the whimsical misrule (and ruination) of omnipotent men and women; corrupt and incompetent bureaucrats, elites, politicians; not laws.

  • “The CW and the stuff committed likely were the beginning of the end of the republic.”

    Rubbish on stilts. The Tories in the Revolution, many of whom had their property confiscated and went into exile at the end of the War, would have loved to have been treated as the erst-while Confederates were after the War. The Civil War has zip to do with the pathologies that currently beset the nation.

  • Rubbish on stilts.

    People do tend to confuse priority with causality.

    If you were serious about this, T. Shaw, you’d understand that the beginning of the end of the Republic occurred when wire-pullers intent on expanding the reach of the central government outrageously mis-interpreted ‘To establish Post Offices and post Roads;’ to mean the federal government could build post roads rather than merely designate post roads. William Voegli, take it away…

  • Slavery was a moral evil, but was permitted under the constitution. Was abolishing it [i.e. the Moral evil of slavery] worth the discarding of the constitution and the establishment of a centralized federal government that would never again respect constitutional restraints and its limited role under the system of federalism devised by the founders?

    Could this be the same Tom whos been haranguing us all this month about the immorality of The Bomb? Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were just here to troll.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more thorough refutation of an argument than Don’s response to Tom above. I doff my cap, sir.

  • “Could this be the same Tom whos been haranguing us all this month about the immorality of The Bomb? Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were just here to troll.”

    Without the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tom might well be speaking Japanese.

  • Is there anyone in this forum who would be in favor of dropping a nuclear bomb on Atlanta or Vicksburg in order to shorten the Civil War?

  • If the Confederacy had killed twenty million civilians in the War, with a death toll of 300,000 each month? Sure. Since they didn’t, no.

  • Mico Razon: If the atomic bomb were dropped on Atlanta Georgia or Vicksberg, make no mistake, the blood guilt and the guilt would be all Jefferson Davis’ and any other individual who gloried in the enslavement of another human being and the denial of sovereign personhood to the other person. Start with Roger B. Taney.

  • “Dred Scott died in 1858, denied citizenship, sovereign personhood, and freedom.”

    Not quite — he died a free man, at least. At the time Scott filed his original suit for freedom in Missouri in 1846, he “belonged” to the widow of an Army doctor who had taken Scott to duty stations located in free states and territories (giving Scott a basis for claiming he was legally free). Several years later, while the case was still winding its way through the courts, the widow married a staunch abolitionist. She later “sold” Scott to a relative of his original owner, who was NOT favorably inclined toward slavery, and who clearly intended Scott’s suit for freedom to be a test case. This owner freed Scott, his wife and his daughters shortly after the Supreme Court decision; the only reason he didn’t do so sooner was to keep the court case alive.

    Today, one of Scott’s twice-great-grandchildren runs a foundation in St. Louis dedicated to preserving Scott’s memory and to promoting genuine, faith-based racial justice:

  • Fascinating Elaine. I was unaware of the Dred Scott Foundation.

  • Scotland had its equivalent of Dredd Scott – the case of Knight v Wedderburn, but with a very different result..

    A Scottish gentleman, Mr. John Wedderburn of Ballendean, who owned plantations in Jamaica, bought Mr Joseph Knight In 1762 from the commander of a vessel, in the African trade.

    In 1769, Wedderburn came over to Scotland, and brought Knight along with him, as a personal servant. Knight wished to learn a trade and Wedderburn paid for his apprenticeship with a barber in Dundee.

    Knight continued in Wedderburn’s service until 1774 and married Annie Thompson, a fellow-servant of Wedderburn. He had got her pregnant and Wedderburn dismissed her from his service, but allowed her to lie in at Ballendean, paid her doctor’s bills and for the funeral of the child, who died. She moved to Dundee and Knight continued the relationship. Thompson fell pregnant again and Knight married her. All this appears to have led to a falling out between Knight and Wedderburn.

    Knight decided to leave Wedderburn’s service. Wedderburn had him arrested and the local justices found “the petitioner entitled to Knight’s services, and that he must continue as before.”

    Knight saved up his pocket money and took proceedings to suspend the warrant before the Sheriff of Perthshire (the sheriff is a judge in Scotland). The Sheriff Depute, John Swinton, pronounced an interlocutor without proof, finding “the state of slavery is not recognized by the laws of this kingdom, and is inconsistent with the principles thereof; that the regulations of Jamaica, concerning slaves, do not extend to this kingdom;” and repelled the defender’s claim to a perpetual service. Mr. Wedderburn having reclaimed, the Sheriff found, “That perpetual service, without wages, is slavery; and therefore adhered.”

    Wedderburn took the case to the Court of Session, where Knight was represented by Mr. M’Laurin, afterwards Lord Dreghorn and Mr. Maconochie, afterwards the great Lord Meadowbank.

    Lord Kames declared that “we sit here to enforce right not to enforce wrong” and the court emphatically rejected Wedderburn’s appeal, ruling that “the dominion assumed over this Negro, under the law of Jamaica, being unjust, could not be supported in this country to any extent.”

  • Perhaps I should have added that, at the hearing in presence, Henry Dundas, the Lord Advocate and future 1st Viscount Melville, led for Knight.

    The Lord Ordinary took it to report, upon informations and these were drawn by M’Laurin and Maconochie. Being a question of general importance, the Court ordered a hearing in presence, and afterwards informations of new, upon which it was advised.

    It is much to the credit of the Scottish Bar that a litigant of such slender means was so ably represented by the leaders of the profession.

    Wedderburn was also reperesented by two future judges, Mr. Ferguson, afterwards Lord Pitfour, and Mr. Cullen, afterwards Lord Cullen

  • Thanks for posting this Michael! It is rather sobering to compare the history of slavery in other English-speaking and European nations with the history of American slavery. I don’t believe any other nation had to resort to civil war to end slavery — IIRC, Brazil was the last Western Hemisphere nation to abolish slavery in 1888, but they did so by a system of gradual emancipation somewhat similar to those proposed in the U.S. prior to the Civil War.

  • Haiti did. The horrific violence involved may have had a role in hardening Southern resistance to ending slavery. I doubt if slavery would have been abolished so easily in Great Britain if slavery had been wide spread in Great Britain. The prime slave holding regions of the British Empire were far from Great Britain and lacked the political clout of the American South, or the ability and willingness to rebel.

    In regard to slavery, a good case can be that in much of the contemporary Arab world it goes on under other names. Migrant workers held in debt slavery and treated abominably in many cases by their “employers”.

  • Elaine Krewer wrote, “IIRC, Brazil was the last Western Hemisphere nation to abolish slavery in 1888, but they did so by a system of gradual emancipation somewhat similar to those proposed in the U.S. prior to the Civil War.”

    Lord Melville, in Parliament and as a government minister, favoured a gradual abolition of the slave trade, as a prelude to emancipation. Of course, as an advocate, he would never allow his personal views to affect the way he represented his client’s interests.

    One of the judges in Knight v Wedderburn, was Lord Auchinleck, father of James Boswell, Johnson’s biographer. He delivered a trenchant opinion: “Although in the plantations they have laid hold of the poor blacks, and made slaves of them, yet I do not think that is agreeable to humanity, not to say to our Christian religion. Is a man a slave because he is black? No. He is our brother; and he is a man, although not of our colour; he is in a land of liberty, with his wife and child, let him remain there.”

    Don’t forget, most British plantation owners did not live on their plantations; a majority never even visited them. For them, it was an investment pure and simple; very different that to the American system.

    The serious opposition came from the ship-owning and underwriting interests; slave-owners were given handsome compensation, much of which went to the British banks that held the slaves in security. Slave traders, by contrast, got nothing. These was not a cause to excite general sympathy.

Truth In a Time of Hysteria

Friday, June 26, AD 2015

Well, the National Park Service has joined the witch hunt against the Confederate flag, with this truly Orwellian statement:

America’s national parks are no longer selling Confederate battle flags in their bookstores and gift shops.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced on Thursday that the historic emblem will no longer be available as a memento for visitors to the parks system.

“We strive to tell the complete story of America,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis in a statement. “All sales items are evaluated based on educational value and their connection to the park.

“Any standalone depictions of Confederate flags have no place in park stores,” Jarvis added.

So much for attempting “to tell the complete story of America”, especially at Civil War battlefields.  (Who was the Union fighting, the “Censored” States of America?)  This is what happens of course in a country where a cadre of left wing activists live to launch Leftist crusades on the Internet, and their allies in business and government quickly fall into lock step.  An additional problem of course is that so many Americans today received a heavily politicized junk education and are bone ignorant of the history of their country.  To help cure the ignorance, I repeat this from a comment thread back in 2011.  Go here to read the original post.

Jesme:  What’s with the creepy Civil War video featuring some guy celebrating the heroism of Confederate soldiers? Practically ruins the article for me. Granted, I’m prejudiced on this point, but I can’t help it. Those nasty, murderous traitors were fighting for the right to buy and sell my ancestors like cattle. Thank God they lost. And kindly don’t hold them up to me as noble heroes. I’d as soon sing the praises of the SS. And yes, I know they weren’t quite as bad as the SS. But the difference is smaller than you might think.


Me:  The scene Jesme is from the movie Gettysburg. The actor is Richard Jordan who portrays Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead who died gallantly leading his men during Pickett’s charge.

The scene is given additional poignancy in that the actor Richard Jordan was dying of brain cancer at the time he appeared in the film.

The men who fought for the Confederacy did not invent negro slavery. It was an institution that was over 250 years old in what would become the United States by the time of the Civil War.

What to do about slavery seems simple to us now. It did not appear so to most people at the time as demonstrated by this statement from Abraham Lincoln in 1854:

This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world; enables the enemies of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it forces so many good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

Before proceeding, let me say that I think I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses, North and South. Doubtless there are individuals on both sides who would not hold slaves under any circumstances, and others who would gladly introduce slavery anew if it were out of existence. We know that some Southern men do free their slaves, go North and become tip-top Abolitionists, while some Northern ones go South and become most cruel slave masters.

When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves and send them to Liberia, to their own native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days, and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon.

What next? Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white peoples will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well- or ill-founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them not grudgingly but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives which should not, in its stringency, be more likely to carry a free man into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one.”

It was the inability of both the North and the South to remove the stain of slavery peacefully from the land that led to the Civil War. Lincoln viewed the war as the punishment of God for this and I agree with him:

“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”

The men who fought in the ranks of the Confederacy were not Nazis. They were men fighting for the freedom of their people to rule themselves. Tragically this included the right to continue the centuries old institution of black slavery. It took the worst war in our history to end that institution and to preserve the Union and it is a very good thing in my mind that the Confederacy lost. However, that fact does not negate that most Confederates fought gallantly for a cause they thought right, just as did their Union opponents, which of course includes their black Union opponents.

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